Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 30

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: Very nice photo of the under-photographed Green Line, which runs mostly down the middle of the 105 freeway. Photo by Matthew Grant Anson, via his Flickr stream.

ART OF TRANSIT: Very nice photo of the under-photographed Green Line, which runs mostly down the middle of the 105 freeway. Photo by Matthew Grant Anson, via his Flickr stream.

Metro fare increase postponed, will take effect September 15th (Streetsblog LA)

The fare increases and changes approved by the Metro Board in May will begin on Sept. 15, a couple weeks behind the originally targeted date, reports Joe Linton. At that time, the regular fare will increase from $1.50 to $1.75 and also include two hours of free transfers. The cost of regular daily, weekly and monthly passes also increases — meaning that riders really need to consider whether it’s a better deal to pay per trip or still purchase a pass. Students who pay the discounted cash fare — which will not increase — don’t get the free transfer, according to a Metro staff report.

Senate tees up last-minute showdown on transpo funding (Streetsblog Network)

The Senate and the House continue to bicker over a short extension of the federal transportation funding bill. The House has a plan to keep it limping along until May, the Senate wants to shorten that time until December and get rid of some financial tricks — such as “pension smoothing” — that would keep the Highway Trust Fund from becoming an empty balloon.

Long story short: neither bill really tackles the main problem, which is that the federal gas tax — which hasn’t been raised since 1993 — doesn’t cover the nation’s transportation funding program anymore.

California high-speed rail project considering a tunnel under San Gabriel Mountains (Daily News) 

In its ongoing studies of the Palmdale-to-Burbank segment of the bullet train line, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will study a tunnel under the San Gabes in addition to a route that largely follows the 14 freeway. The tunnel would be a more direct shot but, presumably, would come at a higher cost. It currently takes Metrolink trains about two hours to travel between Union Station and Lancaster — that’s a two-hour train trip that never leaves Los Angeles County!

83-year-old good Samaritan scores rare victory in fight against City Hall (L.A. Times) 

Columnist Steve Lopez gets the bat squarely on the ball in a column that efficiently chronicles the difficulty in getting a curb painted red in a no parking zone and a certain major utility letting its sprinklers run all day in a drought before….just read it.

Op-Ed: is bicycling the new rude (Glendale News-Press)

Peter Rusch isn’t too thrilled with spandex-clad cycling groups that run stop signs, saying he doubts they would behave that way if behind the wheel of a car. No doubt there are some cyclists who flout the law. And that’s wrong. But pleeeeeeeease. There’s equally no doubt it would easy to write a column every day about motorists who blow through red lights, stop signs and who illegally nose their cars into crosswalks — and who far outnumber cyclists on the road.

MBTA adding wi-fi to commuter rail system (Metro)

Free wi-fi will be available on 14 commuter rail lines in the Greater Boston area, including some stations. A contractor is installing it for free — they hope to make money by getting people to pay $15 a month for premium wi-fi that would allow customers to stream video.

 

Service Alert: #SunsetFlood affecting Metro bus service around Westwood/UCLA

UPDATE 8 p.m.: The burst water main pipe near Westwood/UCLA has been shut off and water flow stopped, according to LADWP. At this time, detours on the 761, Late Night 233, and 2/302 remain in effect.

Metro Rapid 761 and Late Night 233, as well as bus Lines 2/302, and 20/720 are currently experiencing detours and delays in Westwood due to a major water main break just north of the UCLA campus. The #SunsetFlood began around 3:30 p.m. this afternoon at Sunset Boulevard and Maryland Place, blowing open a 15-foot sinkhole, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. As a result, Sunset Blvd will remain closed to traffic in both directions between Veteran and Hilgard Avenues, until the main is slowly shut off.

Affected Metro buses in the Westwood/UCLA area will operate according to the following detours until further notice:

Metro Rapid 761 and Late Night 233 northbound will detour from Hilgard and Sunset to Beverly Glen, Wilshire, and Veteran to continue north. Southbound buses will use Church Lane, Montana, Gayley, and Le Conte to continue south.

Lines 2/302 westbound will detour via Beverly Glen, Wilshire, and Le Conte.

Customers of the 20/720 should expect delays in service due to heavy traffic along Wilshire Boulevard.

LADWP recommends the following detours for drivers in the area: Drivers traveling westbound on Sunset should go south on Beverly Glen, then west on Wilshire Boulevard, then back north on Veteran/Sepulveda to get around the closure. Eastbound traffic should head south on Veteran/Sepulveda, then east on Wilshire Boulevard, then north on Beverly Glen.

For details about specific detours, please see our Service Advisories page. For minute-by-minute updates, follow us on twitter @metrolosangeles or @metroLAalerts.

Metro Motion wins Emmy at 66th Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards

Metro has won an Emmy for the Metro Motion Union Station 75th Anniversary TV show, which aired prior to the May 3 Union Station anniversary celebration. The show contains interviews with many key players in the Union Station story, including Metro CEO Art Leahy.

The Emmy award in the public programming category for news was received Saturday night, July 26, at the 66th Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in North Hollywood.

Metro Motion Union Station is the story of the last of the great rail stations: its history, its important role as a transit hub anchoring today’s expanding transit network and its future as the center of mobility for our region.

Since opening festivities in 1939 that attracted half a million spectators to downtown Los Angeles, beautiful Union Station has played many roles throughout its 75 years, including one as Hollywood’s rail station. It has appeared in hundreds of films, TV shows and commercials. Currently it serves 70,000 daily commuters who link through Union Station via Metro rail and bus, Metrolink, Amtrak and municipal carriers.

Metro Motion is co-produced with Santa Monica City TV and runs quarterly on 80 cable stations throughout Los Angeles County and on metro.net.

Here’s the Emmy-winning show:

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, July 28

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! 

And 30 years ago today…

So how many people are paying to ride? (L.A. Times) 

This article about fare evasion, turnstiles and ridership estimates is generating a lot of discussion on our Twitter feed. The story looks at the sometimes wide discrepancy between Metro’s ridership estimates and data from the TAP system. The problem is that ridership is more than the TAP numbers, suggesting that the difference consists of people either not paying to ride and those who have paid but aren’t tapping. But pinpointing the number who are evading fares has proven difficult.

Excerpt:

Reducing fare jumping as much as possible has become increasingly important to Metro, which is under pressure to boost ticket revenue as its rail network rapidly expands. Income from fares covers just 26% of Metro’s bus and rail system operating expenses, one of the lowest rates of any major world city. That ratio must increase in the next few years or the agency risks losing crucial federal funding needed to continue building and operating the train network.

Metro has responded by raising fares, starting in September, with more hikes proposed for coming years.

In addition to fare hikes, some elected officials are asking the agency to examine other ways to bring in more revenue. And they are taking note of the disparities between Metro’s ridership estimates and the numbers of tickets being counted at rail stations.

“They owe it to you and to anybody else who’s interested to explain the difference,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a Metro board member, who says it’s still too easy to get on trains without paying.

 

Those four graphs frame the issue. It’s a considerably longer article accompanied by some interesting graphics. Please read if you’re interested in the issue.

As the article mentions, there is some evidence that increased fare enforcement and latching the turnstiles present in half of the Metro Rail stations might be having an effect. I also think it’s important to remind everyone that paying fares helps keep the system running and that it’s important for everyone to always tap when boarding a Metro bus or train. That will help riders avoid potentially costly citations and also helps Metro because having better ridership data will also help the agency better plan future service and projects.

Metro picks Skanska venture to build first phase of subway extension (L.A. Times) 

A look at some of the issues in play in the Metro Board’s decision last Thursday to award a $1.6-billion construction contract to build the first phase of the Purple Line Extension between Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/La Cienega. Metro did not pick the low-bidder price-wise and instead selected a contractor — in this case, Skanksa, Traylor and Shea — based on a variety of criteria including price, project management and technical approach.

Metro July meeting recap: subway, SRTP, active transpo and more (Streetsblog LA)

A good recap and analysis of the many issues tackled by the Metro Board at their meeting last Thursday. Streetsblog has been keeping an eye on the short-range plan and funding for pedestrian and bike projects. As Joe Linton notes, the short-range plan approved by the Metro Board is being seen by some as a “casting call” for a potential 2016 ballot measure and thus the interest in particular projects.

Gold Line on schedule, on budget for Azusa extension (L.A. Register) 

A progress report on one of the Measure R-funded projects, the 11.5-mile extension of the Gold Line from eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border with six new stations along the way — and considerable development opportunities near the tracks and stations. Construction continues to progress well and is on schedule to be completed by next September, when the process would begin of handing the line over to Metro and testing. Metro is currently forecasting opening the line in early 2016.

Mayor sets out to transform L.A. streets through ‘urban acupuncture’ (L.A. Times) 

A deeper look at Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s initiative to transform sections of 15 streets in the city — one per council district — into more walkable, bike-friendly and transit-friendly streets  to encourage residents to eat, shop and play locally instead of driving to distant points in the L.A. megalopolis.

As the article notes, there will be hurdles to cross and this type of effort has been tried in the past. Most notably, some residents say don’t necessarily want streets that will slow down their journey to the nearest freeway.

My hunch is that zoning regulations spelled out in local community plans will play a big role in this effort in terms of attracting the type of development — commercial and residential — that could help re-establish a Main Street type feel to some streets .

Century Crunch, update #5

Good morning!

Demolition work overnight went according to plan and traffic to and from the airport is flowing well. The intersection of Aviation and Century boulevards remains closed and is scheduled to reopen by 6 a.m. Monday.

Work today will include demolition of the bridge’s abutment walls, removal of the final rubble from the bridge demolition, picking up steel plates, installing K-rails and re-striping the roadway.

By all accounts, people heeded the warning about the closure on Saturday and traffic moved well for most of the day. Everyone would like to see a repeat of that today. Avoid driving in the area, use Sepulveda Boulevard if driving, take the LAX FlyAway bus or use transit. Again, a lot of helpful info in this earlier post about getting to and from LAX this weekend.

If headed to LAX, check for traffic updates on the airport’s main Twitter feed with the hashtag #centurycrunch. We’ll also be updating the Source over the weekend as well as Metro’s general Twitter feed.

 

 

Full closure of the ‘Carmageddon’ Bridge tonight

The Mulholland Bridge over the I-405 — made infamous by Carmageddon I and II — will be fully closed tonight (7/25) so that the deck can be resealed to coat some non-structural cracks that were discovered during routine inspection. The resealing will help ensure the long life of the surface.

Tonight’s closure will begin at 10 p.m. and last until approximately 8 a.m. Saturday. It will be followed by four nights of lane reductions — but not fully closures — Saturday (10 p.m. to 8 a.m.) through Tuesday nights (10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday).


Update: Red and Purple Lines resume normal service

7:32 a.m. Red and Purple Lines resume normal service with some residual delays through 8:30 a.m. Metro thanks you for your patience and understanding.

The Red and Purple Lines are experiencing major service delays due to a track power issue near Vermont/Beverly station. Trains are currently sharing one track between Westlake/MacArthur Park and Vermont/Santa Monica (Red Line) and Wilshire/Normandie (Purple Line) stations. Expect major thru travel delays.

Please consider using alternate routes listed here for your rush hour commute.

For up to the minute updates, follow us on our general twitter account @metrolosangeles or our service alerts account @metroLAalerts.