Go Metro – back to school!

Students board the Gold Line.

Photo by plattypus1 via Flickr.

Despite the heat wave, summer is just about over for many Los Angeles students. Major bummer, I know.

As students begrudgingly prep for the early morning wake-up calls and the endless homework, there’s one school supply that should be on every student’s list: a Student TAP Card.

A Student TAP Card gives K-12 students access to reduced fares: $24 for a 30-day pass or – for those who don’t ride every school day – a $1 one-way fare. College students and vocational school students are eligible for reduced fares too – a College/Vocational TAP Card slashes the price of a 30-day pass to $36.

It’s important to know that students (or their parents) need to apply for these special TAP Cards. They’re not available for purchase on buses or at rail stations. Links to the applications are available on the Reduced Fares page of Metro.net.

Parents who are intimidated by the prospect of sending their kids off to school on a bus or train should definitely take a look at our three-part series (originally posted last year) entitled Back to school on transit.

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Sheriff's deputies arrest suspect in Metro Red Line stabbing

Sheriff’s deputies arrested a suspect in the stabbing death of a passenger during a fight on a Metro Red Line train in Hollywood on Friday, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department reported today.

The suspect was identified as 33-year-old Gene Sim, described as a transient, who was found in Buena Park and arrested without incident, the department reported.

Metro Board Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a statement in response to the arrest.

I congratulate Los Angeles County Sheriff Baca and his team on making an arrest in this case. I am confident they will conduct the case in a swift and responsible manner.

I want subway riders to know they are safe. Our transit system as well as our streets and neighborhoods are the safest they’ve been in a generation. Crime in Los Angeles is down to levels we have not seen since the Eisenhower Administration. Immediately following the incident Friday night, the Sheriff’s Department increased the number of deputies on the Red Line and additional deputies will be on patrol during the evening hours.

Though we cannot prevent every random act of violence, I will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Sheriff’s department and the MTA to keep public transit safe in Los Angeles. I have asked the MTA and the Sheriff’s Department to review security on the rail and bus system to ensure we maintain appropriate levels of security as we build the 21st Century transit network Angelenos deserve.

The Metro Rail system remains safe, said Metro Transit Security Commander Pat Jordan of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. In the wake of the homicide, Sheriff’s deputies have increased patrols in the subway system.

Described as an isolated and rare occurrence, the homicide is the first to occur on a subway train. The Metro Red Line opened in 1993. More than one billion passengers have traveled the Metro Rail system since the Blue Line opened in 1990.

Update regarding coverage of the incident on The Source: The incident was widely reported in the media. LASD homicide detectives were on scene to give reporters updates on the incident and investigation underway. Metro is not the investigating authority and does not compromise an ongoing investigation with independent reporting.

Metrolink secures more funds for anti-collision system

The commuter rail agency received $46.3 million from several sources. There is a federal requirement to have the anti-collision system in place by 2015; Metrolink officials are hoping to get their system done well ahead of that deadline. Metrolink last October awarded a $120-million contract to build the GPS-based system known as positive train control (PTC).

Here’s the news release from Metrolink, which is partially funded by Metro:

Metrolink Secures $45.3 Million in PTC Funding

Southern Californians will be the first to benefit from new, life-saving safety technology

Los Angeles – Metrolink’s plans to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) ahead of the federal mandate received a boost last week when the agency received $45.3 million dollars in funds to support the installation of the new rail safety technology.

PTC is collision avoidance technology that monitors and controls train movements remotely, and can prevent train-to-train collisions, unauthorized train movement into a work-zone, movement of a train through a switch left in the wrong position and trains exceeding authorized speeds. PTC implementation is mandated for all rail providers by 2015 by the federal Rail Safety Improvement Act.

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A distracted driving reminder

In case you need a reminder that you’re endangering the lives of others when screwing around with your cell phone when behind the wheel, then check out the above, courtesy of the folks from Pixar.

Too bad the video doesn’t also tackle the issue of distracted walking: I can’t begin to count how many pedestrians I see walking across the street while thumbing away on their phones. Really? You’re “what are you wearing?” text can’t wait another 10 seconds? Same applies to people walking around train platforms texting and with headphones on.

By the way, you can screw around with your cell phone all you want when riding transit. You may not always get a signal — hey AT&T, you do know Highland Park exists, right? — but there’s always off-line distractions, too.

Video: multimodal chaos in NYC

Roads that are safe for all modes of transport – automobiles, bikes and pedestrians – can prove to be a real challenge. While it’s common to blame whatever mode you’re not using for transgressions in safety, the above video proves that all mode users are guilty of breaking the rules in attempt to save a little time.

Aside from its clever use of graphics, this video serves as a reminder of how we each need to take responsibility for our safety on the streets, and that the rules are there to be followed. Is it really worth endangering your life and the lives of others just to shave a few seconds from your commute?

New maps track pedestrian and cycling injuries and deaths in California

Click above to see a larger map and legend.

As the feel-good-edness of Bike Week wears off, I’d like to point your attention to maps getting some attention in the blogosphere. They were produced by UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System and show pedestrian and cycling injuries and deaths in relation to their proximity to schools between the years of 2006 and 2008.

One of the maps — for the northern part of the city of Los Angeles — is above. There are dozens of such maps available for throughout the state available at the above website.

To put the above maps into context, here are some very grim statistics:

•4,872 pedestrian and cycling deaths in the U.S. in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

•563 pedestrians and 99 cyclists killed in California in 2009, according to the NHTSA’s state charts.

•166 pedestrians and 22 cyclists killed in Los Angeles County in 2009, according to the NHTSA’s county charts for California.

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Quad gate simulation testing concludes on Eastside Gold Line

Here’s the item from Metro CEO Art Leahy’s daily email to staff:

We successfully concluded the traffic simulation being conducted at three East Los Angeles intersections located along the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension. The six days of testing began on Wednesday, May 11, 2011. The traffic simulation modified the traffic signals at selected intersections along the Gold Line to simulate gating along the alignment. All signals went to an “all red” signal phase when Metro Gold Line trains were detected to simulate the train pre-emption timing that would occur following installation of rail crossing gates. The primary purpose of the simulation was to identify the potential changes that would occur with Metro Gold Line train operations as well as impacts to motorist, pedestrian traffic and emergency response operations in the corridor.

Our Planning, Operations, Community Relations and Corporate Safety team members worked in close coordination with the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to conduct the simulation. A final report of the simulation findings will be prepared in the coming weeks. The report will be distributed internally and submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission.

Law enforcement officials encourage transit riders to be vigilant

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca speaks at a news conference this morning. Photo by Luiz Inzunza/Metro.

In the aftermath of Osama Bin Laden’s death, and as a precaution against possible terrorist threats, law enforcement officials today encouraged transit riders, “if you see something, say something.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, flanked local elected officials and law enforcement partners, said that while there are no specific threats against high-profile targets in Los Angeles, the public are the “eyes and ears” to remain vigilant and are encouraged to call (877) A-THREAT or visit iWatchLA.org to report suspicious activity.

“Transit systems throughout the world have been attacked by extremists who are extraordinarily determined to disrupt the lives of people,” Baca said.

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