Go Metro to Lit Crawl LA: NoHo this Wednesday night

Photos from last year's LA Lit Crawl: NoHo by Rosalind Helfand.

Photos from last year’s Lit Crawl LA: NoHo by Rosalind Helfand.

The second-ever Lit Crawl LA: NoHo returns this Wednesday evening, Oct. 22, from 7 p.m. to midnight–and getting there via Metro is as easy as A-B-C!

Over 170 writers, literary organizations, and series will offer free readings and cultural events at 30 venues along Lankershim and Magnolia Boulevards. Each Lit Crawl location is within walking distance of the other, and of course, the entire NoHo Arts District is reachable by Metro Red Line, Orange Line, or bus. Simply hop on the Red or Orange Line to North Hollywood Station, or bus lines 152/353, 156/656, or 183 to Lankershim/Chandler.

Lit Crawl LA is organized into three 45-minute phases. At each phase, visitors chose from a diverse program of 10 to 12 events. The night ends with a “speakeasy” party at the Federal Bar at 10 p.m. All events are free to attend, however, food and drink are not included. That’s where Metro can help again: present your valid TAP card at the Federal Bar or Bow and Truss restaurant and save 10% and 15% on food, respectively. Just keep in mind that Metro Rail and Orange Line close around midnight Sunday through Thursday.

Transportation headlines, Monday, October 20

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.  

No winners in this MTA train wreck (L.A. Times)

In his opinion column, Jim Newton looks at the dispute between rail car manufacturer Kinkisharyo and a local union that resulted in Kinkisharyo announcing that it won’t build a permanent manufacturing facility in Palmdale. Excerpt:

That won’t be quite the end of it, of course. Kinkisharyo will still do assembly work in Palmdale as long as its MTA contract lasts and will still employ almost 200 people in its existing assembly plant, but the company says it’s finished with the idea of a long-term manufacturing plant in the area. Labor leaders maintain that the company has an obligation under its contract to create these jobs in Los Angeles County, but the MTA disagrees. Officials at the agency say that while Kinkisharyo had committed to doing the rail car assembly locally, the agency cannot, under federal law, force the company to build in the area. Lawsuits already are being filed, and courts will sift through the arguments for months, maybe years.

But that’s all squabbling over the wreckage. The undisputed fact is that a stubborn company and a stubborn union went to war, and because of it, the residents of Palmdale, who could have had a couple of hundred good new jobs, instead will be looking at a vacant lot. Who won that battle? No one. But there are plenty of losers, including California, Los Angeles County, Palmdale and the of men and women who would have built and staffed the manufacturing facility.

 

As Newton writes, the real story here is probably the difficulty of doing business in California. In the meantime, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich — also a member of the Metro Board of Directors — held a news conference this morning at the County Hall of Administration to discuss the situation.

Photo by Paul Gonzales/Metro.

Photo by Paul Gonzales/Metro.

Antonovich called again on Gov. Jerry Brown to ask the union, the IBEW Local 18, to drop its state lawsuit against Kinkisharyo. He also accused the union of supporting a different rail car manufacturer during the bidding process with Metro and that this is a back door attempt by that firm to gain business with Metro. The union is perhaps best known recently for its significant financial support for the losing candidate in last year’s election for mayor of Los Angeles.

Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford said that he was devastated by the news and that it reinforces the notion that California is not business friendly. He reiterated that Palmdale is very open to working with local businesses to keep and create job and that he remains committed to building the new permanent facility for Kinkisharyo.

Officials celebrate Gold Line milestone in Azusa (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Coverage of the last piece of track work being completed in Saturday for the 11.5-mile Gold Line Foothill Extension between Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border. Azusa officials say they are using a Metro grant to study the best ways to use and/or develop land around the two stations in Azusa — one is downtown and the other is adjacent to Citrus College, Azusa Pacific University and the Rosedale development.

Streetsblog L.A. also had a four-part series over the summer on the Gold Line Foothill Extension which includes a ton of photos. Part one, part two, part three and part four. Just to give you an idea how quickly the track work was done, here’s a pic I took back in February when the work was getting underway:

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Did diversity miss the train in Union Station’s architecture (Denver Post) 

A bar in the refurbished Union Station in Denver. Photo by Misty Facheux, via Flickr creative commons.

A bar in the refurbished Union Station in Denver. Photo by Misty Facheux, via Flickr creative commons.

Post architecture critic Ray Mark Rinaldi has been visiting the newly revamped Union Station in downtown Denver and by his own counts found the place to be filled with white faces. He finds that troubling, given that 47 percent of Denver’s population are minorities.

His take: the local transportation agency, the RTD, put too much emphasis on restoring the building to its older European roots and put too much emphasis on attracting businesses that catered to an exclusive, upscale and white clientele. Excerpt:

Still, something is missing. There’s no traditional Mexican restaurant, no soul-food restaurant, no sushi bar, as if no one noticed that the Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-American families that own and operate those places across the city are also our best food purveyors.

This country is full of union stations, old train depots, once the center of civic life, that fell out of use in the auto era. St. Louis fixed up its station by adding a mall. It’s not as successful, but it’s diversified. Kansas City filled its hall with a science center, and kids from across the city’s neighborhoods are regulars there.

Washington, D.C.’s train station now has swank shops, but also a food court. It has, notably, a B. Smith’s restaurant, part of a small, African-American-owned chain that is a touchstone in the black community.

Interesting article and worth a read. I haven’t been to the station in 20 years and have no idea what it’s like now — so it’s hard to form an opinion about the article. Obviously with our Union Station on deck for a major refurbishment and expansion, it’s worth considering such opinions.

The emptying of New York City (Salon)

Manhattan has gotten taller in the past century. But it has also gotten much less dense. The suspected reason: wealth, with fewer people taking up more space. Reminds me of a recent item here on a new Gotham skyscraper that will be the tallest in the city (1,396 feet) and will house only 104 residential units.

Again, something to chew on as development continues in downtown.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, October 16

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Why the 405 isn’t any faster with more lanes (KPCC Take Two)

An economist says expanding a road — 405 over the Sepulveda Pass included — will probably mean an increase in the number of vehicles that use the road. His answer to quickening commutes: congestion pricing, a la the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeway that help discourage everyone from driving at the same peak hours.

Labor dispute kills Kinkisharyo’s AV plant (San Fernando Valley Business Journal)

The rail car manufacturer under contract by Metro to produce new light rail vehicles has decided not to build a $50 million, 400,000-square-foot facility in Palmdale. The firm had said it would build the new facility as part of its contract with Metro. But a labor-supported residents group — specifically the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 — tried to hold up a needed zoning change unless Kinkisharyo agreed to be a “card check” facility. “Card check is a process by which a workplace can unionize if 50 percent or more of workers sign cards stating they want to be represented for collective bargaining,” reports the Business Journal.

Excerpt:

Agency spokesman Marc Littman said he was disappointed by the company’s decision but added it would not affect the delivery of Metro’s cars.

“This is a real loss,” Littman said. “We wanted them here to help the local economy but we cannot require Kinkisharyo do (manufacturing) here.”

IBEW Local 11 was in the news in 2013 when it got heavily involved in the campaign for mayor of Los Angeles. It didn’t work. Eric Garcetti, now the chair of the Metro Board of Directors, easily won the election without the union’s support.

Metro moving forward with flawed ‘Complete Streets’ policy (Streetsblog L.A.)

Joe Linton takes a look at the Complete Streets policy being considered this month by the Metro Board of Directors. While parts of it are commendable, he opines, other parts are vague with no assurance that the policies will be enforced to encourage roads where walking and biking are safe and desirable. While street design is usually up to local cities (or the county in unincorporated areas), Metro may have the ability to influence street design in rail corridors or with projects that involve Metro funding.

California high-speed rail wins big round in state Supreme Court (Sacramento Bee)

The California Supreme Court turns away a lawsuit challenging the issuance of state bonds needed to help pay for construction of the first segment of the high-speed rail line that is eventually planned to run between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s good news for the project but there are other remaining legal challenges that assert the project doesn’t live up to what was promised voters in Prop 1A in 2008.

The self-driving Tesla may make us love urban sprawl again (Slate)

The key graph — and something I’ve pondered in this space before:

As driving becomes less onerous and computer-controlled systems reduce traffic, some experts worry that will eliminate a powerful incentive—commuting sucks—for living near cities, where urban density makes for more efficient sharing of resources. In other words, autonomous vehicles could lead to urban sprawl.

In other words, if you can sit in your own car and not have to drive or pay much attention to the road, would your commute seem less onerous? Yes, there still could be a lot of traffic with self-driving cars. But perhaps the door-to-door attractiveness of a car coupled with technology (i.e. playing PacMan, Asteroids or Missile Command) on your tablet will trump the yuckyness of traffic.

 

Sneak peek into fabrication for artwork at future Expo/Sepulveda Station

Susan Logoreci inspecting color in ceramic tile sections at artwork fabricator's shop. Photo: Mosaika Art & Design

Artist Susan Logoreci inspecting color in ceramic tile sections at artwork fabricator’s shop. Photo: Mosaika Art & Design

Detail of artwork rendered in ceramic tile pieces.  Photo: Mosaika Art & Design

Detail of artwork rendered in ceramic tile pieces. Photo: Mosaika Art & Design

This is the third in a series of Source posts providing a behind-the-scenes look at the artwork fabrication process for each of the seven new Metro Rail stations under construction along the second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica.

The artworks will create a welcoming environment for future riders and connect the stations to surrounding neighborhoods. Commissioned artists include Constance Mallinson, Shizu Saldamando, Abel Alejandre, Susan Logoreci, Nzuji de Magalhães, Carmen Argote, and Judithe Hernandez.

This post introduces the artwork of artist Susan Logoreci, which will be featured at Expo/Sepulveda Station. Logoreci’s original artwork, Right Above The Right-Of-Way, uses colored pencil drawings to express the area’s urban form and housing. The original drawings were translated into hand-cut ceramic tile pieces that were kiln fired. The eight hand-glazed, hand-cut ceramic mosaic panels will be installed in overhead structures at Expo/Sepulveda Station entries and throughout the platform, highly visible to transit customers and the general public.

Logoreci is integrally involved in the process to ensure that the ceramic tile artwork matches the color and hue of her original drawings.

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Oct. 15

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

The many reasons millennials are shunning driving (Washington Post)

New research from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group dives deeper into a phenomenon that has been well-documented to date: the generation known as millennials are driving much less than any generation since World War II. Among some of the reasons why:

•Millennials are marrying later and starting families later, meaning they’re also waiting longer before moving to homes and the ‘burbs (if they do).

•Gas prices are high and millennials don’t know the concept of cheap gas.

•Technology has made car sharing, bike sharing and ride sharing far easier — and the advent of the internet and smart phones and tablets makes taking transit more appealing.

•Millennials don’t see cars as valuable as previous generations — they would rather spend money on technology or experiences.

Interesting stuff. None earth-shaking news perhaps. However, the Post doesn’t get into another reason that I think is worth mentioning: a lot of metro areas across the U.S., including our area, have made considerable investments in new transit in the past 25 years. While the new transit may have come along too late to get 40somethings and later out of their cars, millennials are a generation that is growing up with transit.

What remains to be seen is whether millennials flex their political muscles when it comes time for ballot measures and other elections around the country that determine how transportation gets spent. Thoughts, readers?

The Molina Station naming mess (Downtown News)

The DN’s editorial board takes the Metro Board of Directors to task for their vote earlier this month to name the East Los Angeles Civic Center Station after Board Member Gloria Molina and the NoHo Red Line Station after Zev Yaroslavsky. Their main issue: Supervisor Molina has announced her intent to run for the Los Angeles City Council and a station with new signage is not appropriate during an election, the Downtown News argues.

Why Minneapolis’ bike freeways are totally the best (Grist) 

Great post on the new network of bike and pedestrian paths around the Twin Cities. Explanation:

How did this happen? Minneapolis is unusual, as cities go, because it has a funny-shaped park system called the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway that encircles most of the city like a ring road. The Grand Rounds had a network of entirely separate paths for cars and pedestrians that dated back to the WPA era, but in the mid ’90s, Minneapolis began to lay down new paths for cyclists, too. These paths were mostly recreational until, in the last decade, Minneapolis began to draw lines between different points on that circle by converting old railroad infrastructure, like the Midtown Greenway, for pedestrians and cyclists, and connecting them to the city itself.

Cities like New York and San Francisco have added bike routes to the grid of regular street traffic, but if you look at the map of what Minneapolis is doing, it becomes clear that something entirely different is happening: Minneapolis is building a freeway system for bikes. But a nice one — a freeway where you can bike past flocks of geese rising off the lake in the morning and never have to breathe truck exhaust.

 

Of course, there is that little thing called “the weather” that Twin Cities denizens must contend with. Then again, when not icicling, they can listen to one of our favorite radio stations, The Current, whose great music is available online. WNKU in Northern Kentucky is also great if you’re out and about on transit and want to try a new station. Of course, our own KCRW’s music programming gets major hugs, too :)

How not to measure traffic congestion (Planetizen)

Todd Littman performs a well-reasoned takedown of data and conclusions from a new report by the firm Inrix that predicts a significant rise in congestion and related costs in the next 20 years. Excerpt from Todd’s blog post:

Such very large numbers are virtually meaningless. For economic analysis it is usually best to convert impacts into annual costs per capita – let’s see what that means for these congestion impacts. According to the graph on study’s page 40,average annual hours of delay for an average automobile commuter are projected to increase from a current 22.0 up to 23.4 in 2030, a gain of 1.4 hours per year or 42 seconds per day for 200 commute days. Since adults devote about 90 daily minutes to travel, current 22 annual hours of congestion delays add about 4% to total travel time, and the projected increases this to 4.5%. These impacts are tiny overall.

The INRIX report makes several other basic errors. It describes traffic congestion as “gridlock,” a greatly abused term. Gridlock refers to a specific situation in which vehicles in a network are totally stuck due to clogged intersections. It almost never occurs. In fact, congestion tends to maintain equilibrium: it increases to the point that some potential peak-period automobile trips shift to other times, modes or routes, so threats of “gridlock” based on extrapolating past trends are almost always exaggerations.

 

Smart piece. I’m not wild about apocalyptic predictions of future traffic, although I do think trying to understand its impacts has some merit (smog, cultural, etc.). I tend to think the whole subject can be easily summed up in one sentence: “If we don’t do anything, traffic may get worse and there won’t be enough alternatives to sitting in it.”

And today’s closing photo…looks like I transferred to the wrong bus….

Rail is a thing of the past in Cincinnati, where transit means "Go Metro." Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Rail is a thing of the past in Cincinnati, where transit means “Go Metro” on the bus. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

 

 

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Oct. 14

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Art of Transit, sort of: Fall colors earlier this month along U.S. 395 near Conway Summit. Photo by Fred Moore, via Flickr creative commons.

Art of Transit, sort of: Fall colors earlier this month along U.S. 395 near Conway Summit. Photo by Fred Moore, via Flickr creative commons.

Metro bus driver quarantined after passenger yells ‘I have Ebola’ (L.A. Times)

Non-hysterical and straight-up coverage of yesterday’s very unusual incident in which a bus passenger wearing a mask said he had ebola and then exited the bus. “Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials don’t believe the rider has Ebola and believe the incident was a hoax, spokeswoman Sarah Kissell Garrett said,” reports the Times.

The only verified cases of Ebola virus in the U.S. have involved either healthcare workers who had been in Western Africa and were brought back to the United States for treatment and the patient who died in Dallas last week and one of his nurses. From the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.

Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients.

The CDC has plenty of information on Ebola on its website. Obviously it is not a disease to be taken lightly but it’s also important to understand the facts.

What would L.A. look like if 100-year-old transit plans come true? (KPCC CityCast)

A brief article and podcast covers some well-trod but interesting ground: the many transit plans that burped forth in our region over the year, some of which were permanently shelved and some of which eventually were built and are busy today — i.e, the Red Line, Blue Line and Orange Line. My three cents: when you hear about a transit project, a good first question usually is: “and how will you pay for it?” If there isn’t a solid answer, be leery.

Hopes rise again for abandoned Philly rail line (Next City)

Interesting story about possible plans for a rail tunnel abandoned in the early 1990s that runs under Broad Street in downtown Philadelphia. Several bus rapid transit alternatives are under study.

Seattle bike share kicks off (Post-Intelligencer) 

Bike sharing kicks off with about 50 stations across the Emerald City. “The Seattle program is the first in the U.S. that includes helmet use as part of the rental. Annual memberships for the bike share program range from $85 to $125. The first half hour of usage is free and there is a charge beyond that for use of the bike,” reports the PI.

I’ve been in Cincy for the past 10 days or so (helping the parents) and was pleasantly surprised to see bike share has also landed in the Queen City with some colorful Red bikes. Of course, Metro is working on a bike share program for Los Angeles County and is currently trying to finalize station locations for phase 1 of the program in downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena and Santa Monica. See this recent Source post.

The startingly artful world of Soviet bus stops (Architizer)

Christopher Herwig used a Kickstarter campaign to fund a photography book on these unlikely bus stops. He traveled thousands of kilometers and spent 12 years assembling this impressive collection of photos.

 

 

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, Oct. 13

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

The past, present and future of Metro Rail (KPCC AirTalk)

Host Larry Mantle has a segment that includes Metro CEO Art Leahy and Ethan Elkind, the UC professor whose new book is “Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the Future of the City.” Good conversation includes the topic of how rail corridors are selected in our region. Larry’s first question for Art: is rail worth the expense? Listen for the answer! Listeners also get to throw some questions at the guests — including the “is it safe to ride” question. Another listener gives taptogo.net a Darth Vader-type hug (read: the kind of hug you don’t want).

Transit project’s cover was a bit of a trip (L.A. Times)

Reporter Laura Nelson gets to the bottom of the original, colorful and now-replaced cover page of the High Desert Corridor’s draft environmental document. She also reveals Brad the Tortoise’s true identity and scores this gem of a quote: “I feel like I know the tortoise intimately.” You don’t hear that everyday in transportation journalism.

In Texas, traffic deaths climb amid fracking boom (Houston Public Media & Houston Chronicle)

Excerpt:

The Texas Department of Transportation says that between 2009 and 2013, the state’s traffic fatalities rose by eight percent, even as those in most other states continued to fall. And deaths linked to commercial vehicle crashes, like trucks, soared by more than 50 percent over the same period.

The boom has triggered a huge demand for both tractor-trailers and drivers.

“People who’ve never been in the seat of a truck before go to school for two weeks, and they graduate, and now they’re a truck driver, you know,” says Larry Busby, the long-time sheriff of Live Oak County in the Eagle Ford shale region of South Texas. “Well, they’re not a truck driver yet. They’ve just passed the school.”

The Texas Trucking Association, an industry trade group, says the rising death toll has more to do with drivers sharing the road with trucks than with the truckers themselves.

Smart series of article that expounds on a public safety issue that is probably not obvious to many people. This is probably a Pulitzer candidate.

Meet the man who has met ‘about 500′ women on the subway (New York Post) 

In a story that perhaps is better suited to April 1 or the Stone Ages, the Post interviews a “railway Romeo” who claims to have dated 500 or so women he has met on the New York Subway in the past 15 years. He says he’s written a book about it, thus triggering the Post’s interest. The article’s kicker is my favorite part in which we get this stale/creep advice: once a phone number is secured, never call for at least 60 hours. Reminds me of “Swingers.” Perhaps Gawker’s take on the Post article is more accurate (warning: adult language).

I include the article here as a teachable moment. Look, we’re all for people being friendly when they take mass transit and, yes, we even held a speed dating event on Valentine’s Day when willing riders could meet other willing riders. Outside of such events, we encourage riders to respect other riders’ privacy and private space and remember ‘no’ means ‘no’ — not ‘mabye’ or ‘I’m thinking about it.’ Bottom line: please do not stare, leer or pester folks who want to be left alone.

New Park Avenue Tower: the tallest, if not the fairest, of them all (New York Times)

A pretty ordinary looking kitchen at 432 Park Avenue if you ask me. Photo: 432 Park Avenue website.

A pretty ordinary looking kitchen at 432 Park Avenue if you ask me. Photo: 432 Park Avenue website.

Talk about densifying….construction is underway on a 1,396-foot skyscraper that will be the tallest skyscraper in New York (excluding the spire of the One World Trade Center). Here’s what is amazing: it’s a condo building, not an office building and there will be 104 residential units spread out on its 96 floors with the penthouse listed at $95 million and the cheapest unit costing $7 million. If there are any of the ‘have nots’ left in Manhattan, please raise your hand!

Closing tweet: