Below is the press release issued Wednesday from the commuter rail agency. Metrolink’s Board of Directors approved a $120-million contract to install positive train control systems along its 512-mile rail system in October. Metro, on behalf of Los Angeles County, is one of the five county transit agencies in So Cal that funds Metrolink.
Metrolink Receives $6.6 Million Federal Grant for Positive Train Control
Los Angeles – On Fri., Nov. 19, United States Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood announced that Metrolink received a $6.6 million Federal Railroad Administration grant to help fund Positive Train Control (PTC) collision avoidance systems. The project will receive money through the new Railroad Safety Technology Grant program.
PTC systems use Global Positioning System technology to monitor and control a train’s movements, in order to enforce speed limits, prevent train collisions and help keep railroad workers and passengers safe. Continue reading
Here’s the press release below from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, saying that agency staff is recommending that the initial 65-mile segment of tracks be built between Madera and Corcoran in the San Joaquin Valley, with a completion date of 2017. The segment of track would be part of the Anaheim to San Francisco line that is scheduled to be built before the line is extended south to San Diego.
The press release doesn’t say anything about the purchase of rail cars or when the tracks would actually come into use:
STARTING POINT FOR STATEWIDE CONSTRUCTION RECOMMENDED
Authority staff have recommended a starting point for construction on a critical portion of track in the heart of the Central Valley, which the Board will review along with three other options, at its December 2, 2010, meeting.
About the recommendation:
* Spanning about 65 miles, the recommended segment would start near Madera, include the construction of two new stations – one in downtown Fresno and the other east of Hanford – and continue south to Corcoran.
* Estimates place the cost of the proposed section at $4.15 billion, which leaves enough money to – if necessary – connect these tracks with existing rail lines as per a federal “independent utility” requirement.
* The cost of the project accounts for two new stations, right-of-way acquisition, viaduct construction, site preparation, grading, vegetation restoration, rail bridge construction, roadway realignments, relocation of existing railways and utilities. The final track would be ready in 2017. Continue reading
A map of the Wilshire bus lane project recommended by Metro's planning staff. Click above to see a larger image.
The Metro Board of Director’s planning committee discussed the Wilshire bus lane project on Wednesday and moved the project’s environmental study and staff recommendations to the full Board. The committee declined to makes its own recommendation for or against the project — a common scenario in committee discussions.
The Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit project proposes to install 8.7 miles of rush hour bus lanes in the curb lane of Wilshire Boulevard — mostly in the city of Los Angeles — between the Santa Monica-Los Angeles border and just west of downtown L.A. Metro staff have said the lanes will shave 12 to 17 minutes off bus trips along Wilshire.
The focus of Wednesday’s discussion was a mile-long stretch of Wilshire between Comstock and Selby avenues in Westwood (here’s a Google map). In that high-rise residential area, residents have objected to the project as it was originally proposed — which would have eliminated the parking lane in that area during peak traffic hours. In response, Metro staff have recommended keeping the parking lane intact and putting the bus lane in the righthand of three general traffic lanes in each direction.
Residents in that area are also saying the bus lane isn’t needed in this stretch of Wilshire and will mess up traffic. Metro staff have said the bus lane is needed there to help speed up bus trips on the length of the corridor. Continue reading
With the release this week of the Wilshire bus lane project’s final environmental impact report, I thought it would be timely to look more closely at the job and population numbers along the corridor.
After all, it’s fair to wonder about who may be served by this project, along with the Westside Subway Extension that will be built largely along Wilshire.
I used the Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics OnTheMap tool and the Center for Transit Oriented Development’s TOD Database to determine several things.
First, roughly eight percent of the jobs in Los Angeles County and almost three percent of the county’s population live within half a mile of an existing 720 line Rapid Bus stop on Wilshire between downtown and Santa Monica. The graphs below break down jobs and population data by station (with a few exceptions; the stops at 26th, Barrington and Beverly Glen are missing; also, it appears that jobs data at the VA and the Federal Building are also omitted).
Population within half-mile of existing 720 stops. Data source: Center for Transit Oriented Development's TOD Database, drawing upon 2000 Census data.
With the first phase of the Expo Line under construction between downtown L.A. and Culver City, Metro had been exploring naming the line after a color — as is the case with Metro’s rail and express bus lines. We even polled Source readers in April and 49.5 percent backed the Aqua Line with 18 percent behind the runner-up, the Bronze line.
Aqua does make sense, as the terminus for the second phase of the Expo Line will be near the ocean in Santa Monica.
Now, according to Curbed LA, Metro officials are saying the color issue has for now been settled: The name of the line will remain the Expo Line — as it has been called for years during the planning and construction process — but it will be colored aqua on Metro maps.
Of course, all of this could change a few years down the road. When the regional connector opens, the Expo, Blue and Gold lines will be connected in downtown L.A. and the plan is for the lines to share trains — i.e. trains will be running between Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley and between Santa Monica and East L.A. (Here’s map of how that will work). At that point, Metro officials have said it may make more sense to rename the lines to avoid passenger confusion over the destination of their trains.
The Gold Line's Eastside Extension on opening day in 2009.
It seems like just yesterday but a full year has passed and today, Nov. 15, is the first anniversary of the Metro Gold Line/Linea de Oro del Metro, as Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina requested it be named in Spanish.
In just 365 days, the entire light-rail line from Sierra Madre Villa in Pasadena to Atlantic in East Los Angeles has grown from an estimated 22,000 weekday boardings to more than 35,000. Nothing spectacular … but right at the projected ridership for the first year.
As the sleek rail cars cruise over the 101 Freeway, the downtown skyscrapers appear. And then you reach the first station at Little Tokyo/Arts District. The landscape of Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles have definitively changed along the six-mile length of the rail system and its eight new stations.
“Now it’s so pretty, so clean and it makes me feel proud,” said Mercedes Velado, as she sits enjoying the morning sunshine on Mariachi Plaza. “One year? So soon? I remember when the construction was taking place. Now everything is much better.”
For Columba Gazca, owner of La Placita del D.F., the coming of Metro Rail has been a blessing. “Yes, I believe there are more people coming to my restaurant. Even so, the economic downturn has hurt everybody. Some businesses feel it differently but the economic effect is there.”
This map shows the various features of the bus lane project. Click above to see a larger image.
Metro’s planning staff have issued their recommendations for the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project, which proposes to install rush hour bus lanes in the curb lane of 8.7 miles of Wilshire Boulevard, mostly in the city of Los Angeles.
Here’s the staff report. This is a project being built by Metro, the city of L.A. and Los Angeles County.
It will be up to the Metro Board of Directors to approve the staff recommendation, which is part of the project’s final environmental impact report. The Directors are scheduled to consider the project at the Planning & Programming Committee next Wednesday and to vote on accepting the staff proposal at the full board meeting on Dec. 9. Both the Los Angeles City Council and County Board of Supervisors will also have to approve the project.
A few details on what Metro planning staff are proposing:
•The bus lanes would be mostly in the curb lane of Wilshire and be operating on weekdays between the hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 and 7 p.m.
•The lanes would run between Wilshire & Centinela and Wilshire & South Park View, a distance of 8.7 miles. Private vehicles turning right can use the lanes. Conversely, buses will be allowed to use general purpose lanes to pass other buses.
•There would not be any bus lane in the portion of Wilshire in Beverly Hills. Metro staff says they didn’t have time to consult with the city before applying for federal funding for the project in 2007 but that the bus lane could be added there in the future.
•The parking lane and the curbside jut outs on Wilshire between Comstock and Malcolm in the Westwood area would be retained and not converted to a bus lane. This is being done because of neighborhood concerns over the loss of about 85 parking spaces on Wilshire and 40 trees that would have had to be removed. The furthest right of the general traffic lanes in this area — there are three in each direction — will be used for the bus lane. Continue reading
The first set of bonds to be repaid by Measure R sales tax receipts were sold last week, according to Metro CEO Art Leahy’s daily email to staff:
Last Thursday, we sold $732 million of Measure R bonds, made up of $574 million of taxable Build America Bonds and $158 million of tax exempt bonds. Proceeds of the bonds will provide $750 million, including bond premiums, for Measure R projects. Following extensive marketing, the AAA/Aa2 rated bonds were favorably received by investors as evidenced by the nearly 2x over subscription. Because of the 35% federal subsidy, the net interest cost for the entire bond issue is approximately 3.52% as compared to an estimated 4.24% had we sold the entire amount on a tax exempt basis.
Bonds are sold in order to obtain the money to build projects now and to offset the increased cost of building them later. The alternative is to wait until Measure R receipts flow into county coffers over time — but the key word there is ‘time.’ It can take many years for enough money to accumulate to build all of the projects Metro wants to build. Here’s the list.
We’re a little behind the news on this one — my apologies — but we just got word that a free shuttle began operating on Nov. 1 between the Red Line station in NoHo and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. The press release from the airport is after the jump.
The shuttle doesn’t run at regular intervals — passengers have to phone first and request it (details are on the press release). It’s part of a three-month trial and is being operated by SuperShuttle, the private service, in conjunction with the airport.
The Metrolink Ventura County line and Amtrak share a station at Bob Hope Airport. But some transit advocates and business interests have long called for the Red Line to connect with the airport, as the subway operates for longer hours and much more frequently than commuter and intercity rail. In fact, further study of a Red Line connection to Bob Hope is in Metro’s long-range plan, but it’s in tier 2 of the strategic unfunded projects portion.
In plain English, that means it’s a project that’s very far down the list and must be further evaluated before planning ever starts. Continue reading
That’s an average of more than 1,500 people per game that took the bus from Union Station to Dodger Stadium — pretty good numbers for the first full season of the bus service.
Even better, more than 60 percent of the people who used the Dodger Stadium Express also used mass transit to get to Union Station, an indication that they were able to take the full trip to the ballpark on transit, not just the last mile. The Dodger Stadium Express was free to those holding tickets to the ballgame.
Will the service be back for 2011? This past year’s service was paid for with a $300,000 grant from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC). County Supervisor Mike Antonovich is a member of the committee and member of the Metro Board of Directors and he helped secure the money.
The news release from Metro, posted after the jump, indicates the agency will try to secure money to continue the bus service for next season.
EDITORS NOTE: An earlier version of this post had an incorrect ridership number for the bus that was slightly lower than the number above.