Get Ready to ShakeOut on October 18!

Living in earthquake country, a question you sometimes have to ask yourself is: Are you prepared for the next big one? If you’re not sure, don’t worry. Union Station is hosting this year’s Great CA ShakeOut on Thursday, October 18 so you can pick up some tips on earthquake preparedness during your commute to work.

Stop by the Emergency Preparedness Fair in the East Portal between 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. or participate in the duck and cover safety drill wherever you are at 10:18 a.m. Participants will drop, cover and hold on, the recommended safety action to take during an earthquake. The drill is your chance to practice how to protect yourself and do your part to help prevent a major earthquake from becoming a catastrophe.

Metro will be conducting a special safety drill in the East Portal at 10:18 a.m. A train evacuation drill demonstration will take place at 11 a.m. north of the Union Station Gold Line platform. Metro employees will demonstrate the procedures to be used in the event of an incident, such as an earthquake, when the system may become disabled.

Metro and Metrolink trains will also slow down at 10:18 a.m. on Thursday as they would during a real earthquake. If a real quake were to occur, the trains would be traveling slow enough to stop quickly and safely if they encountered track damage or obstructions. The process will take approximately 15 minutes.

Cyclist killed in incident involving Metro bus

A female cyclist was killed Saturday afternoon shortly before 2 p.m. when she and a Metro bus on Line 534 made contact on southbound Pacific Coast Highway and Civic Center Drive in Malibu. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation with Metro participation.


Metrolink unveils first train with anti-collision technology

Metrolink's Neil Brown shows PTC technology in a locomotive -- the computer screen at left is PTC. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro.

With the fourth anniversary on Wednesday of the deadly crash in Chatsworth in 2008 that killed 25 people and injured 135 — many critically — aboard a Metrolink train, transportation officials on Monday showed media the work they're doing to ensure that something similar never happens again.

The technology is called positive train control, or PTC. It's a GPS-based system that tracks the movement of trains across the region and is capable of stopping trains before they run into trouble. Although PTC is found on a few other stretches of track in the United States, it's hardly widespread — although its implementation is mandated by 2015 by federal law for most rail providers (some of which are trying to push back the deadline).

Sandbags are being used to simulate the weight of passengers on the Metrolink test train.

Metrolink has installed PTC technology on a test train — seen in the accompanying photos — that is presently being used after hours on tracks in the Inland Empire. In addition, several SUVs capable of running on railroad tracks are testing the technology on tracks throughout the region. Metrolink's goal is to have the system fully implemented by 2013.

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The 3.2-magnitude quake in Beverly Hills

The big yellow square shows the location of the earthquake in Beverly Hills on Monday. Source: USGS.


UPDATE: A 3.4-magnitude earthquake occurred in Beverly Hills at 12:03 a.m. Friday, with the epicenter just south of Wilshire Boulevard near Reeves Drive, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That's about one-half mile from Monday's earthquake (more info below). No damage was reported, according to City News Service.

As Metro continues engineering and design work for the Westside Subway Extension, we’ve had a few inquiries from readers about the location of the 3.2-magnitude earthquake that was felt in Beverly Hills early Monday morning. Their question: did the quake occur on one of the fault systems near the future rail line?

The short answer: it’s hard to say for certain at this time. The epicenter of the quake was just east of downtown Beverly Hills, near the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Oakhurst Drive, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Google Earth map (you need Google Earth to view this).

Dr. James Dolan, a Professor of Earth Science at USC and a consultant with the subway project, said that this was “such a small earthquake that it need not have occurred on any major fault.” There are many small faults throughout Southern California, some of which periodically produce little earthquakes, he said.

For more information about building a subway in earthquake country, please see this FAQ (pdf) with answers about geotechnical studies for the project and safety measures that Metro will be taking. In addition, here’s a recent post on The Source about how a subway is designed to withstand an earthquake.


Blue Line train, Metro Bus accident in downtown Los Angeles; Blue Line resumes normal service

Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

UPDATE, 9:40 a.m.: The Blue Line is resuming normal service between Washington-7th/Metro.

A Blue Line train collided with a Metro bus Line 51 in downtown Los Angeles at approx. 6:56 a.m. The train was heading southbound when it hit the southbound bus at Washington and San Pedro on the south side of downtown. Bus and train were both full.

Bus bridges are in place to shuttle Blue Line passengers between 7th/Metro and Washington. The Expo Line has resumed service with residual delays at all stations.

Here is the most recent update from the Los Angeles Fire Department website:

Train vs. Vehicle 8/26/2012
*UPDATE: 1900 S San Pedro St* Most injuries appear minor; Some taken by
ambulance to area hosp; Updated patient count pending – Brian

The L.A. Times is reporting that about 48 people received mostly minor injuries in the incident. The Fire Department says that the injured were “most if not all from the bus.”

UPDATE, 9:40 a.m.: The LAFD just posted this to their Twitter feed:


*UPDATE: 1900 S San Pedro St* Final patient count = 32 total; All in good-to-fair condition (31 minor injury; 1 ill); NFD -Brian Humphrey###

The cause of the accident is under investigation, according to Metro. The agency also said that one rail car and the bus suffered major damage.

The 51 Metro local bus runs between Wilshire Center and the Artesia Transit Center, including a long stretch on San Pedro Street. The Blue Line runs down the middle of Washington between Flower Street and Long Beach Avenue.

If you were delayed because of the accident this morning and need verification for your employer or school please call Metro Customer Relations at 213-922-6235 or fax them at 213-922-6988.

Unlike New York, there will be no blasting to build subway in Los Angeles

Earlier today, something went wrong with construction of New York City’s Second Avenue Subway when a planned underground blast broke through the surface sending dirt and debris into the air and causing other property damage. Here’s coverage by the New York Times and the New York Daily News — the Daily News actually has photos of the blast.

This is certainly unfortunate and we will be watching as our colleagues in New York work to figure out what caused this accident. It’s worth noting that no blasting at all is planned here in Los Angeles as part of the construction of either the Regional Connector or the Westside Subway Extension, both of which require tunnels to be built.

In its cover story on this project earlier this month, the New York Times Magazine noted that geology is a critical factor in determining how tunnels and stations get built. The geology is quite different in Los Angeles than it is in New York.

We understand that there have been hundreds and hundreds of planned blasts for the Second Avenue Subway over the last year that have gone off without a hitch. This is the first time anything like this has happened. On the positive side, it appears that there weren’t any injuries from this accident and that the scene was cleaned up with streets reopened within an hour. We’ll keep monitoring this and pass along any relevant information.

Designing a subway to withstand an earthquake

Metro’s subway rode out the 1994 Northridge earthquake, but a section of the Santa Monica Freeway collapsed and other area roads suffered serious damage.

After a pair of 4.5 magnitude earthquakes were felt throughout the Los Angeles area earlier this week, a Source reader asked this question:

What magnitude are the tunnels or stations designed to withstand?

Here is the answer from Metro’s engineering and operations staff, as well as consultants who work with Metro to design projects:

There is no specific magnitude that subways are designed to universally withstand. The strength and flexibility the subway is designed for depends on the characteristics of earthquake faults in the area and their proximity to the structure being designed. In other words, the main question engineers ask is this: how strong is the ground shaking likely to be at the tunnels and stations?

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Recap of today's Metro Board meeting

The Metro Board approved amendments to the Measure R ordinance and its extension, which included the motion by Director John Fasana to allow for the transfer of funds between the transit capital and highway capital subfunds within the same subregion.

Board members voted 10 – 1 to approve the Fasana amendment and to integrate the amendment into the existing Measure R Extension Ordinance, with Board Chairman Antonovich voting against and Director Mark Ridley-Thomas abstaining. The remaining portions of the item to place the amended Ordinance on the Nov. 6 ballot passed 9 – 3, with directors Antonovich, Knabe and Ridley-Thomas voting no. Mayor Villaraigosa was absent from today’s proceedings.

The amendments will be considered by voters with the Measure R extension language on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Board Chairman Antonovich proposed that members consider items 4 and 5 together within the context of a reevaluation of safety procedures. Here are links to the individual items:

  •  Update on the Expo Line / BLue Line junction, regarding Metro and CPUC investigation of an alignment issue on the junction at Washington Boulevard and Flower Street, where the Blue and Expo Lines merge. The report from the Metro Inspector General is still in progress and should be completed in the fall. 
  • And the Yaroslavsky motion to convene a Metro Blue Line Task Force to examine safety procedures and strategies for the Blue Line operation.

Directors approved the Yaroslavsky motion as amended by Director Mark Ridley-Thomas to establish public information protocols to report accident and service disruption information when incidents occur and regularly report the information to news media and via social media.

Review of today's Metro Board meeting

•The Board approved a motion by Board Chair and Supervisor Mike Antonovich that Metro take a position of support for a federal loan application for Desert Xpress project, which proposes to connect Las Vegas, Victorville and Palmdale by high-speed rail. The motion does not involve any financial support for the project from Metro. California’s high-speed rail project is also planned to have a station in Palmdale, which could allow for transfers between the two rail systems. At this point, federal officials are still reviewing the loan application from Desert Xpress.

•The Board also approved a motion by Antonovich that calls for Metro to develop a plan to improve transfers and schedule coordination with other transit agencies — for example, between Metrolink and local bus service. Another motion by Antonovich, also approved by the Board, requires Metro to develop a regional airport connectivity plan to connect Metrolink and Metro to LAX, Bob Hope Airport, Ontario Airport and Palmdale and Long Beach airports

•The Board approved a plan to proceed with the construction methods on Flower Street for the Regional Connector that was approved as part of the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report. That would involve using a tunnel machine north of 4th Street and cut-and-cover method to dig the tunnel for the train between 4th and south of 6th.

The general manager for the Westin Bonaventure hotel, which has filed a lawsuit challenging the project’s environmental studies, said that his client would drop its suit if tunneling extends past 5th Street on Flower. Otherwise, the attorney said that the hotel could lose over half of its business and half the staff could lose its jobs.

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Safer pedestrian crossings for the Expo Line

“Tiger stripes” at Expo/USC crossing. Photo by Anna Chen/Metro

Some of you may have noticed the neat new stripes at the crossings of 23rd Street Station and Expo/USC Station.

It’s all part of making Expo Line’s pedestrian crossings that much safer. Not only do the stripes designate proper crossing areas, they remind everyone to be a little bit more aware of the train tracks. Even if you’ve got your head down and eyes glued to your phone, the glittery stripes are hard to miss.

The tiger stripes will be installed at all non-gated pedestrian crossings along the Expo Line over the next few months and eventually cover crossings at the Blue and Gold Lines as well.