Metro ExpressLanes live internet chat at noon, Friday, Nov. 2

The ExpressLanes on the 110 open on Nov. 10, so this is a good chance to get your questions answered. And I know you have questions!

Here’s the link for ordering a transponder — everyone who uses the lanes must have one — and below is the news release from Metro:

On Nov. 10 the carpool lanes on the I-110 Harbor Freeway will be transformed into High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes and all vehicles traveling in those lanes will need to have a FasTrak® transponder. If you have a question about ExpressLanes, how they work, who benefits from them or what they will cost those choosing to use them, then please join the LIVE CHAT. Send your advance questions and opinions to Metro ExpressLanes Executive Officer Stephanie Wiggins now at livechat@metro.net and join her at noon on Friday, Nov. 2 for a live Internet chat at metro.net.

Metro ExpressLanes is a one-year demonstration project along the I-110 and the I-10 freeways to ease traffic congestion. It will turn HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes into HOT lanes that allow solo drivers to use the carpool lanes by paying a toll. Among the questions to be answered will be:

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LAX FlyAway tickets on Union Station and Van Nuys routes now available online — and you don't have to print them!

I checked it and it works! It was easy-peasy. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

As Tony the Tiger might say, that’s great! One less thing to do at Union Station for those headed to LAX. Here’s the news release from Los Angeles World Airports, the city of Los Angeles agency that operates LAX:

(Los Angeles, California – October 16, 2012) – Tickets to ride the FlyAway® nonstop bus service to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on the Union Station and Van Nuys routes can now be purchased on-line. The link to purchase on-line is

https://efleet.digital-dispatch.com/bauerslax/ .

On-line purchased tickets are good for up to 30 days after purchase date.  At time of boarding, customers can present printed confirmation as a boarding pass or have the capability to access the confirmation e-mail on their phones to be scanned by the bus driver.

Airport officials noted that the bar code is good for as many scans as the number of tickets purchased in a single transaction.  There is no need to print multiple copies of the confirmation unless passengers are traveling separately.

Tickets are $7 per passenger each way, with children five years old and under riding free (limit two per paying passenger).  All major credit cards are accepted.  Cash is not accepted at this time.

On-line ticketing for the LAX FlyAway® between Westwood and the airport is expected at a future date.

Passengers ride dedicated, clean-fuel, high-occupancy buses to reduce ground traffic congestion and vehicle emissions around LAX and the region.   LAX FlyAway® bus service is also in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

For additional information on the LAX FlyAway® log on to www.lawa.aero/flyaway or dial1-866-IFLYLAX (1-866-435-9529).

Ribbon cutting this morning for new platform at Los Angeles Union Station!

For those of you who use Union Station, this one's not exactly a shocker — everyone can see the crews that have been working on this project since the spring of 2011.

Still, it's a pretty big deal. A new platform — for tracks 13 and 14 — and three new tracks have been added to the east side of Union Station to serve Metrolink and Amtrak. They were removed more than 35 years ago as demand for train travel in L.A. dwindled — and have now been restored as train ridership out of Union Station is higher than it was during World War II.

Construction of the new platform was overseen by Metrolink, the commuter rail agency that uses Union Station as a hub. The project cost $24.8 million, with $21.8 million of that coming from Prop 1B, the state transportation bonds approved by voters in 2006. The federal government contributed $2.65 million and $344,000 came from local funds.

I'll add some photos to this post later today.

 

Metro staff report on proposed improvements to Pico Station for Blue and Expo lines to serve Farmers Field

Pico Station Improvements staff report

Interesting item that will be heard in the Board of Director’s Finance committee on Wednesday afternoon (1 p.m., Metro Board Room, 3rd floor) on a proposed agreement with AEG to add a second platform to the Blue and Expo lines’ Pico Street station (pdf download here). That’s the station, of course, that’s two blocks from Staples Center and the proposed Farmers Field football stadium.

The Metro staff report proposes that the new platform be on the west side of the tracks and that it would eliminate one lane of traffic in that spot on Flower Street, as studied in the environmental documents for the stadium. The report also looks at the issue of street closures near the tracks during big events in order to minimize the number of cars crossing the tracks.

AEG is paying for the improvements and additional staffing that will be needed. All of this is conditional on an NFL team relocating to Los Angeles. And, might I add, if it’s the Chargers, let’s hope last night’s second half was a terrible, horrible aberration.

Metro officials speak at Rail-Volution conference

Both Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Michael D. Antonovich and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke this morning in Hollywood to Rail-Volution, the national conference of that draws hundreds of transit planners and activists.

A few highlights of what both men said:

Antonovich argued against Measure J, the proposal to extend the Measure R sales tax to accelerate transit projects. He said a regional transportation plan must include clear benefits for the county's 88 cities and he believes Measure R and J both clearly favor the city of Los Angeles over other cities.

Villaraigosa argued for Measure J, saying that Los Angeles was the pre-eminent example of a city re-thinking itself and that Measure R was the first leap forward. He said accelerating projects such as the Westside Subway Extension, Regional Connector, the Eastside Gold Line Extension and the Metro Airport Connector would have regional mobility benefits and lead to thousands of jobs being created.

•Antonovich also stressed the need to better integrate transit schedules across different agencies in Southern California and to use money from the high-speed rail project to create a seamless rail connection between Palmdale and San Diego.

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It's opening day for new El Monte Station

The lower level at the new station. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Patrons waiting for buses at the new station. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

I was over at the new El Monte Station earlier this morning and a steady trickle of patrons are arriving at the new facility. The ribbon cutting on the station occurred earlier this week but it’s great to see VITs — Very Important Taxpayers — using the new station.

So far, the few folks I talked to seem to like the facility. And it has to be said: patrons definitely seemed interested in checking out the new restroom facilities!

If headed to El Monte Station today or tomorrow and have questions, please see one of the many Metro greeters who are staffing the station — they’re the ones wearing the yellow vests. They’re glad to help you find your bus on either the lower or upper level.

Also, there are plenty of signs around the station showing where to find different buses — the signage and the maps are good. The Silver Line — one of the more popular buses that stops at the station — uses Bay 22 on the Upper Level. Here’s the map of the new facility:

Click above to see larger image.

Work starting on other bridges for Gold Line Foothill Extension

Here’s the good word from the Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency building the 11.5-mile light rail line from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border, funded by Measure R:

Throughout the 11.5-mile Pasadena to Azusa construction project now underway, there are a total of 17 existing bridges that must be altered or replaced to accommodate the dual-track light rail system. Although we have focused much attention on the I-210 Gold Line Bridge over the last year, there will be many stories to tell about these other bridges that support our project and require significant work in the coming months and years.

[Above] is a map of the existing structures along the corridor and photos of the first three that FTC crews are preparing for construction. Lead paint removal on the 700-linear-foot San Gabriel River Bridge (top left), built in the early 1900s, is now complete. The bridge will soon be demolished and a new dual-track light rail bridge will be constructed. Two single track bridges within the Azusa shared corridor – at Palm Drive (bottom) and Citrus Avenue (top right) – will be renovated. Two additional single track bridges will be built alongside the existing bridge in these two locations to support two light rail tracks and one freight track.

Also, here’s the latest video update on the construction of the bridge for the Foothill Extension over the eastbound lanes of the 210 freeway: