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.
One of the things we’ve been hearing from readers as part of our reader survey is that they would like more coverage of other things that Metro does besides the bus and rail service provided by the agency. That’s certainly a fair enough request, as Metro does have its hand in a number of other transportation programs around Los Angeles County.
For example: Metro’s vanpool program, which began in 2007, has exceeded performance projections in the past two years and is the fastest growing vanpool program in the country, as the chart at right shows. It’s a program especially targeted at long-distance commuters who may not live or work (or both) near existing transit services.
What exactly is a vanpool? It’s a group of 5 to 15 people who have similar commutes of 20 miles or longer roundtrip and who share the cost of leasing and operating a van. Metro helps organize vanpools and subsidizes part of the cost. The benefits for vanpoolers: less wear and tear on their private vehicles and often quicker commutes because the vans get to use the carpool lane. Not to mention the benefits of not having to actually drive during rush hour.
Here’s the vanpool page on the Metro website with more information on how to join a vanpool and the associated costs — typically about $140 per passenger per month. And here’s a recent Metro staff report to the Board of Directors on the vanpool program, along with a power point presentation.
As for Metro, being involved in vanpools makes sense. In big, sprawling Los Angeles County, transit can’t afford to go everywhere. And vanpools offer users the chance to customize their route and take advantage of a big road system that’s already in existence. Check out this chart on how the vanpool program compares to other Metro services (PMT is passenger miles traveled):
That’s the question asked by the L.A. Times in a strong weekend story by reporters Richard Simon and Dan Weikel. Republicans won the majority in the House of Representatives in last week’s elections and are vowing to cut spending — which could impact 30/10′s prospects of becoming law.
The 30/10 Initiative proposes to use federal loans and other financing to build Measure R transit projects in 10 years instead of 30. The Times reports that although Measure R would be used to repay the federal government, there are still $2 billion in costs to the U.S. Treasury associated with 30/10 — paying interest on a new kind of transportation bond, for example — and that may be a tough sell with Republicans.
“With this year’s deficit at $1.3 trillion, and next year’s projected to be a trillion dollars or more, it’s going to be extremely difficult to convince Congress to increase spending for anything,” said Jim Specht, deputy chief of staff to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands), who could return as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine) said he is open to hearing Los Angeles officials make their case, but added: “We have got to reduce a lot of spending…. The people just voted, we believe, get this deficit and this debt under control.” Continue reading
The final design by EE&K Architects evolved from a design charrette held at Metro in March. The challenge was to take the south-facing boundary of the Patsaouras Transit Plaza that edged along the 101 freeway and create a first class transit experience for commuters. The final result is a true gateway that leads commuters along a trellised pedestrian promenade from the plaza, descending into a landscaped, covered and brightly-lit boarding area.
The Silver Line, the new transit service that runs on dedicated busways along the I-10 and I-110 between the El Monte Station and the Artesia Transit Center, opened just 11 months ago.
Now plans are underway to build a new station for the Silver Line at the Patsaouras Transit Plaza at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. The new station will complete a transit center troika for the Silver Line, providing connections to Metro bus and rail service, as well as to Metrolink commuter rail service and Amtrak at Union Station. Continue reading
I had the chance to sit in this morning with the subway planning team at Metro. It was the first time the entire team had gathered since Thursday, when the Metro Board of Directors approved the staff recommendation to build the Westside Subway Extension on an alignment mostly along Wilshire Boulevard.
The meeting was basically devoted to getting organized for the vast amount of work ahead. Emphasis on the word “vast.”
First and foremost, the team has immediately started to work on the final environmental impact statement/report for the project. The three big issues to be settled there are the locations of the three westernmost stations: Century City (Avenue of the Stars/Santa Monica Boulevard or Ave. of the Stars/Constellation Boulevard), Westwood/UCLA (Wilshire/Westwood or under Parking Lot 36) and the VA Hospital (north or south of Wilshire). Continue reading