Go Metro Weekends, Jan 31 − Feb 2

Happy Friday Source readers and mass transit riders!

On the horizon: Chinese New Year, Superbowl Sunday, and a host of other cultural, comedic, and sporting events happening across the city. It’s looking like a busy weekend ahead, and Metro can get you to the heart of the action with ease.

Below, our weekly list of transit-adjacent fun for this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Friday

Metro Presents free salsa music at Union Station. LA Picante will perform inside the gorgeous, art deco-style Fred Harvey Room (usually closed to the the public) from 6 – 8 p.m. and there will be a mini-dance lesson at 6:45 p.m. If you get hungry for salsa you can eat, El Pueblo de Los Angeles is just across Alameda Street with numerous eateries to cure your craving. (Metro Gold, Red, Purple, or Silver Line, or various downtown buses, to Union Station).

The L.A. Lakers take on the Charlotte Bobcats at the Staples Center. Game starts at 7:30 p.m.; ticket prices vary. (Metro Blue/Expo Line to Pico Station.)

Saturday

Baraka and Samsara at the Egyptian Theatre. Shot in 25 countries and five continents, these meditative, visually-awesome, 70 mm films by director/cinematographer Ron Fricke were made for the big screen. Baraka starts at 7:30 p.m.; tickets range from $7 – $11. A discussion with producer Mark Magidson will occur between movies. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland Station, Metro Rapid 780 or Bus 156/656 to Hollywood/Highland, or Bus 212/312, 217, or 222 to Hollywood/Las Palmas.)

The L.A. Kings take on the Philadelphia Flyers, and the L.A. Clippers play the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center. Puck drops at 1:00 p.m. Clippers take on the Jazz at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices vary. Metro riders can save 10% on official merchandise at the L.A. Clippers Team Store and the L.A. Kings Team Store with valid TAP card. (Metro Blue/Expo Line to Pico Station.)

John Oliver visits L.A. If you miss him on the Daily Show, catch the British comedian’s standup routine at 8 p.m. at the Wiltern Theater. Ticket prices vary. (Metro Purple Line or Metro Rapid 720, 757, or 710 to Wilshire/Western Station.)

Sunday

Go Metro on Superbowl Sunday. If you’re watching the Superbowl out on the town, Metro is a safe, hassle-free alternative to driving.

Secret Stairs of the Hollywood Hills. Get some exercise before you start in on the Superbowl chips n’ dip–best selling author and city stair aficionado Charles Flemming will lead a free tour of the secret stairs of the Hollywood Hills, including Hollywood history, celebrity homes, and a visit to the bat cave. Meet at the Ferndell entrance to Griffith Park at 10 a.m. and be back around noon. The walk is approximately three miles. (Metro Red Line or Rapid 757 to Hollywood/Western Station, walk north on Western to Ferndell – be warned: it’s uphill – or catch Metro Bus 207 at Hollywood/Western and take it one stop to Western/Franklin. From there it’s about a six minute walk north on Western to Ferndell.)

Fútbol: The Beautiful Game at LACMA. If “football” to you means Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain, you’ll want to check out the opening day of LACMA’s new exhibit examining soccer and its significance to people around the world on the eve of the 2014 World Cup. Museum hours are 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Sundays; tickets range from $10 – $15. Metro riders can save $2 on general admission with valid TAP card. (Metro Rapid 720, Bus 20 or DASH Fairfax to Wilshire/Fairfax, or Metro Rapid 780 or Bus 217 to Fairfax/Wilshire.)

All weekend

Celebrate the Year of the Horse! There are numerous free events happening in Chinatown this Saturday and Sunday for the Lunar New Year. (Metro Gold Line to Chinatown Station or Metro Gold, Red, or Purple Line to Union Station and walk 10 minutes north on Alameda to Chinatown.)

L.A. Art Book Fair at the MOCA Geffen Contemporary. Browse or shop artists’ books, art catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines presented by over 250 international presses, booksellers, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers. Entry to the fair is free. Hours are Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, 12 – 6 p.m. Metro riders can receive 2-for-1 admission to MOCA with valid TAP card if you want to check out the museum too. (Metro Gold Line to Little Tokyo/Arts District Station, or Metro Bus 30, 330 or 40 to 1st/San Pedro.)

Transportation headlines, Thursday, January 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 DROUGHT: The Badger Pass ski area in Yosemite National Park as seen on a park webcam this morning. Snow may be on the way for the park today but the photo shows how little of the white stuff there has been to date.

ART OF DROUGHT: The Badger Pass ski area in Yosemite National Park as seen on a park webcam this morning. Snow may be on the way for the park today but the photo shows how little of the white stuff there has been to date.

Are people really going to take the train to LAX? (LA Weekly) 

Reporter Gene Maddeus takes a skeptical look at ongoing studies to connect Los Angeles International Airport to Metro Rail via a people mover. He focuses on two concerns: 1) the Crenshaw/LAX Line doesn’t serve the areas where many airport passengers are coming from to reach the airport, and; 2) therefore the trip to the airport from places such as downtown L.A., Santa Monica, Hollywood, etc., will involve many time-munching transfers.

Example: Maddeus points out it would take 38 minutes via transit to get from 7th/Metro to Aviation/Century, according to Metro. Can’t argue with him about that: it took me 24 minutes on the Expo Line last week to travel between Expo/Crenshaw and 7th/Metro thanks to many red lights courtesy of the city of Los Angeles.

The conclusion to his story:

By now, it should be clear that the Crenshaw Line was not designed with LAX passengers in mind. Instead, it was designed for people who live along Crenshaw and currently take the bus. (Crenshaw is the second-most-trafficked bus corridor in the city, after Wilshire.) Adding an airport connection will not change that fundamental fact.

Jose Ubaldo, the MTA spokesman, said that the agency is considering express service on the Crenshaw Line for LAX passengers. Good idea. Let’s hear more about that. However, if it requires design changes it may already be too late, seeing as MTA just broke ground on the Crenshaw Line.

Bottom line: Everybody wants to be able to take the train to the airport. That would be tremendously convenient, if done correctly. But don’t count on MTA and LAWA to do it correctly. In the real world, the convenient system that everybody is imagining may not be what we end up with.

I think this was a good article with a journalist asking smart questions. I would, however, like to add a couple of points to consider:

•Will the masses abandon their cars to get to LAX via train? Probably not — as evidenced at other airports in the U.S. served by trains. But LAX also serves more than 63 million passengers a year and is also a major employment center. Given traffic in the area, having a transit option for even a small percentage of passengers seems worthwhile — and at LAX, a small percentage could still be a significant number of passengers each year. Here’s the employment density map from the project’s environmental studies:

1.0_Purpose_and_Need

•The 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line that is now under construction is just part of what could be a considerably longer rail line. For example, the line will allow trains to run one day from the South Bay via a Green Line extension under study and partially funded by Measure R. Extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line north of Exposition Boulevard is not funded at this time, but is in Metro’s long-range plan. Just getting the Crenshaw/LAX to the future Purple Line would certainly make it easier to reach the airport for many more people near the Metro Rail network.

Finally, I thought Maddeus’ article indirectly attacks another worthy question that will continue to be debated: how much money should be spent on the Airport Metro Connector project, considering all the factors above?

RELATED:

Four alternatives move forward for Airport Metro Connector project — with more study of two other options

Motion seeks to restore two alternatives that would bring light rail directly into LAX terminals

Connecting Metro Rail to LAX: a look at issues currently on the table

More than a fourth of Orange Line passengers may ride for free, study shows (L.A. Times)

Coverage of the two-day fare check in December by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department  that found a 22 percent fare evasion rate one day and a 16 percent rate on the second day. Metro officials say the agency is losing $1 million to $2 million annually in fare evasion on the line and two Metro Board members — Paul Krekorian and Zev Yaroslavsky — have asked for an awareness campaign to teach/remind the public to pay fares as well as a report on the feasibility and cost of adding gates to the Orange Line.

Here’s the staff report that the Times article is based on. In the meantime, please remember to tap your TAP cards at the validators on the platform. If you don’t, you could be cited for fare evasion and this report pretty much guarantees that deputies will be cracking down.

The day we lost Atlanta (Politico)

Snowpocalypse! Photo by William Brawley, via Flickr creative commons.

Snowpocalypse! Photo by William Brawley, via Flickr creative commons.

Interesting story looks at the root causes that saw two inches of snow earlier this week shut down the metro Atlanta area and strand thousands in cars, schools and other buildings. The gist of it: everyone tried to hit the road at once to get home before the snow, balkanized governance over the metro area and not enough transit in Atlanta’s ‘burbs. In other words, it was a sprawlstorm now a snowstorm that tanked Atlanta.

The New York Times also has a strong article explaining the storm, pointing out that allowing tractor trailers with no tire chains on freeways through the heart of the city was kind of dumb — and that city leaders did little because they thought the storm was going to veer south of the metro area.

I’d like to make fun of Atlanta but then I took a moment to ponder what would happen if two inches of snow fell across sprawling Los Angeles County….

Jamzilla countown clock, banner ads now available for public use

Sample 405 80-Hour Counter

Sample 405 80-Hour Counter

In efforts to help individuals, businesses, agencies and other organizations count down to the planned partial daytime and full nighttime closures of the northbound I-405 freeway in the Sepulveda Pass Presidents’ Day Weekend Feb. 14-18, Metro has created an official online countdown clock and banner ads that are freely available for public use here.

The  online clock counts down the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds before the anticipated 80-hour northbound I-405 paving operation between Getty Center Drive and Ventura Boulevard officially begins.  On Friday night, February 14, ramps along the 5.6-mile closure area will begin to be shut down as early as 7 p.m., and closure of freeway lanes will begin at 11 p.m. to ensure full freeway closure by 1 a.m.  The operation and related daytime/nighttime lane closures will continue until 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, February 18.  For specific information on the operation, click here.

The clock and banner ad will remain live on Metro’s home page at metro.net and project page to serve as a constant, urgent reminder advising motorists to “Avoid Delays, Reduce Driving or Stay Away” to avoid potentially significant congestion and multi-hour delays.  A selection of “I-405: 80-Hour Closure” banner ads in various sizes and options can also be used to help raise public awareness as much as possible.

The web page provides code enabling webmasters to easily add the clock and banner graphics to their web sites.

Northbound I-405 freeway closure between Getty Center Drive and Greenleaf planned for two consecutive nights, Jan. 30 and 31

It’s not Jamzilla weekend yet, but there’s plenty of work still happening around the 405. Here’s the press release from Metro:

The northbound I-405 will be fully closed from Getty Center Drive to Greenleaf Street on-ramp on the nights of Thursday, Jan. 30 and Friday, Jan. 31.  The closure will accommodate shifting k-rail from the outside lanes to the inside lanes and shifting traffic to the east. A restriping of the freeway lanes near the Skirball ramps will also take place.

Closure hours are as follows:

  • Thursday Night, January 30: midnight to 5 a.m. (Friday morning),
  • Friday Night, January 31: 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. (Saturday morning)

Additional Closures

  • Ramp closures begin at 7 p.m.
  • Lane closures begin at 10 p.m.
  • Northbound I-405 connector to US 101 north
  • Northbound Sunset Boulevard o-ramp
  • Northbound Moraga Drive on-ramp
  • Northbound Getty Center Drive on-ramp
  • Northbound Skirball on-ramp

Detour Route

From I-405 northbound: take the northbound Sunset off-ramp, head north on Church Lane, head north on Sepulveda Boulevard to the northbound Greenleaf Street on-ramp.

What to expect:

Jamzilla 405 operation more complex than Carmageddon

The Presidents' Day northbound 405 paving operation will realign a portion of the freeway centerline to the west in the San Fernando Valley.

The Presidents’ Day northbound 405 paving operation will realign a portion of the freeway centerline to the west in the San Fernando Valley. Photo taken from project area on the southbound side of the 405.

The planned 80-hour “Jamzilla” paving operation now scheduled for Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 14-18 is more complex, requires new construction and is more time-consuming than the epic “Carmageddon” bridge demolitions of 2011 and 2012.

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements project contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West, will not benefit from gravity in the frenzied destruction of an iconic freeway bridge. Instead, the contractor will take its time to pour a single layer of pavement at a time.  Each concrete layer takes its own time to cure.  The operation is similar to baking layers of a wedding cake.

“Operationally speaking, demolishing a bridge is a much simpler operation than paving and striping freeway lanes that must return to public use as quickly as possible,” said K.N. Murthy, Executive Director of Transit Project Delivery at Metro. “It’s the essential difference between destroying a structure and building a structure. Building something is much more difficult, and the paving methods we are using vary between each material type and have specific requirements that must be adhered to.”

A car drives on the No. 1 lane that will receive a final pave during Jamzilla lane closures.

A car drives on the unfinished No. 1 northbound lane that will receive a final pave during Jamzilla lane closures.

The operation officially begins Friday night, February 14.  After a full northbound freeway closure at 1 a.m., Kiewit will begin excavating and paving multiple areas within the 5.6-mile area of the northbound I-405 in the Sepulveda Pass simultaneously. In order to complete as much paving work as possible, the contractor will use new polyester pavement that cures and reaches specified strength within hours instead of days, and provides an extremely durable roadway surface for the hundreds of thousands of vehicles that drive on the northbound 405 every day.

But the operation depends on the weather.  The polyester paving requires favorable temperatures in order to cure properly and give strength. If temperatures are less than favorable or if it rains, it could complicate the operation, or at worse, cause it to be rescheduled over several consecutive 55-hour weekend operations.

Polyester concrete has quick-dry, high-strength properties and is very compact.

Polyester concrete has quick-dry, high-strength properties and is very compact.

The contractor will perform up to four separate paving operations during the 80-hour period on various portions of the northbound 405.  The contractor must grind, tack, pave and stripe the freeway in a carefully choreographed sequence. Because the paving areas abut one other, the contractor will operate in a very confined work zone.  Maneuvering construction vehicles within this area for all needed work will be a logistical challenge.

Adding to the complexity of the operation, the contractor must shift the freeway centerline 20 feet to the west for approximately 1,000 feet as the northbound I-405 winds its way down into the San Fernando Valley.  There was no room for the freeway to be widened to the east due to the existence of a multi-residential building adjacent to the northbound 405 in Sherman Oaks.

A 1,000 portion of the freeway centerline in Sherman Oaks must be shifted 20 feet to the west.

A 1,000 portion of the freeway centerline in Sherman Oaks must be shifted 20 feet to the west.

Also in this area, approximately 1,700 feet of freeway and shoulder lanes must be completely excavated to full depths and rebuilt in order to realign the freeway to the west.

The most complex work will occur where the northbound 405 meets the Sepulveda Boulevard undercrossing bridge just before the U.S. 101 connector ramps.  The contractor must demolish and then rebuild the approach slabs on both sides of the freeway bridge to upgrade the slabs for seismic safety and roadway durability.  This includes first building a seat to accommodate the new approach slab. The contractor must also reinforce the concrete with rebar for seismic safety and ensure the new approach slabs comply with state highway standards.

Three concrete pours will be required to rebuild the approach slabs.  Each of those pours requires its own 8-hour cure time.  The extensive work required to rebuild these slabs drives the critical path for the entire 80-hour operation.

Approach_Slab

The Sepulveda undercrossing approach slab has to be rebuilt. The new roadway surface will be much improved for motorists.

Finally, when all paving and approach slab work is completed, the contractor will restripe the freeway prior to reopening lanes by 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, February 18.

Compared to the flurry of activity of the Carmageddon bridge demolitions, this new paving operation will have little visual excitement.  There will be periods during the 80-hour operation when concrete is curing where nothing appears to be happening. However, the contractor will still be working from a meticulous schedule to complete all tasks within the 80-hour period.

A Caltrans engineer shows the different layers of paving needed for the 80-hour operation.

A Caltrans engineer shows a cross-section of freeway to indicate the multiple layers of needed paving during the 80-hour operation.

Motorists are reminded to fully cooperate with agency calls to stay off the freeway just as they did during the previous Carmageddon closures.  Motorists should eliminate unnecessary auto trips, avoid the area and/or divert to other freeways to avoid major traffic delays.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, January 29

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!

Talking headways podcast: rail to LAX? (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The Streetsblog podcast discusses connecting LAX to the Metro Rail system — and last week’s Board discussion about whether rail should go all the way to the terminals or to a people mover. The people mover gets some love, btw. The airport segment is the first one on the podcast and there is also talk about trains and airports in general that’s interesting.

The revival and future of public transit in Los Angeles, part one and part two (transport blog NZ)

This New Zealand-based blog takes a nice look at the recent history of rail expansion in Los Angeles County — and all the distances are in kilometers, a nice tactic I may borrow to make everything sound even more grandiose.

My favorite part of the post is this reader comment:

Dave B

Very interesting to read this, having made a recent trip to Los Angeles myself, and made a point of using the rail system as far as possible. The trip from LAX to Union Station required four stages/three changes: Free shuttle bus, Green line, blue line, then red line, so it was not the fastest transit. However what impressed me was the cheapness of travel. US$1.00 to purchase a TAP-card which could then be loaded with credit. $1.50 per single ride anywhere within the metro area (bus or train), or $5.00 for day-pass.
Auckland and Wellington overpriced PT fare-setters please take note!!

And clearly visible was the proposed branch-off point for the spur to LAX airport on the Green Line. Unfortunately this line does not go to the city centre (or allow for through-running onto the Blue line which does), so unless something changes, the city will still not be accessible from the airport without a change of trains. The system is clearly still a work-in-progress, but an exciting and inspirational one, given how it had to claw its way back into existence from nothing just a couple of decades ago.

DOT chief: Obama transportation funding proposal ‘bold’ (The Hill)

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx praises his boss’ proposals in the State of the Union speech to close tax loopholes and use the money to pay for infrastructure improvements. President Obama also briefly urged Congress to approve a multi-year transportation funding bill in 2014 — the current one expires later this year. Others say the President largely skirted the issue and didn’t address the need to raise the federal gas tax in order to keep up with federal transpo expenses.

New ranking of best U.S. cities for public transit (WalkScore)

Los Angeles ranks ninth, one notch below Baltimore and slightly ahead of Portland, Oregon. The ratings are based on the average resident’s accessibility to transit. Empty calories, IMO, but fun to ponder in combination with the walkability ratings.

Who’s to blame for Santa Monica’s traffic hell? Readers weigh in (L.A. Times)

Somewhat mixed views from readers on the impact of bike lanes and some downright negative views on new residential developments in Santa Monica and Pasadena.

And this laugher: one reader says she visits Old Town in Pasadena less often because of traffic on Colorado and lack of parking. Hint: there are several other east-west streets that can easily be taken into and out of downtown Pasadena, such as Walnut, Union, Cordova and Del Mar. As for parking, there are almost always meters available on Raymond and Fair Oaks next to Central Park, a five-minute walk to Colorado.

And not speaking of transit….could KISS have been any more terrible the other night at the Kings-Ducks game? Too bad because I was quite fond of them back in the days of yore, by which I mean the 1970s. Here’s a fun piece of nostalgia for those who need a work break:

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, January 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!

Rest in Peace, Pete Seeger….

Rail alone can’t reinvent L.A. (L.A. Times)

Ethan N. Elkind is pleased to see that three rail transit projects are simultaneously under construction in Los Angeles County. But…and it’s a big ‘but’…here’s the excerpt:

But these billions risk being wasted if city leaders do not promote, and residents do not allow, new growth around rail stations and corridors. Why? Rail is expensive to build, operate and maintain compared with other forms of transit. It only becomes cost-effective with high ridership. And the best way to boost ridership is to locate new jobs, housing and retail near stations.

Focusing development around rail provides multiple benefits. It allows the region to accommodate new residents and natural population growth without building endless subdivisions on open space and worsening traffic and air pollution. It can reduce the high cost of housing by boosting in-town supply, making it easier for businesses to attract and retain talented employees. Finally, rail-accessible development can create convenient, walkable neighborhoods that meet the growing demand among millennials, childless professionals and empty nesters to move “back to the city” — as many recent urban success stories attest.

Couldn’t agree more. Which leads to the next story…

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-elkind-los-angeles-rail-transit-20140127,0,6436265.story#ixzz2riZNuJjl

We’ll be fine (Santa Monica Next)

Gary Kavanaugh takes a look at the Bergamot Transit Village proposal that goes before the Santa Monica City Council tonight for approval. I included an op-ed against the project in yesterday’s headlines (traffic was the big gripe) and Gary’s piece largely finds the project favorable. Excerpt:

My own stance on urbanism and environmentalism that has evolved in recent years . Conserving nature requires a certain amount of letting cities be cities, keeping what development we do inward, and kept away from pushing out edges expanding the total footprint of industrial civilization upon the landscape. Lowering our dependency upon voracious rates of oil consumption and high transportation CO2 emissions requires planning new housing and workplaces around our most energy efficient transportation investments, such as the developing light rail system.

As the data emerging from the truncated Expo Line Phase I has shown, rates of driving do in fact drop off quite significantly for many with car access, but the effect is strongest in that immediate walking radius of the stations.

Also informing my view is an expectation that the completed Expo Line to Santa Monica will exceed expectations. Phase 1 has already hit its 2020 ridership projection. Traffic studies, such as the ones on the impact of the Hines development, are often loaded with assumptions that are already eroding, and that I believe will erode further as we progress through the 21st century.

The long-standing criticism against development in Santa Monica is that it will cause traffic to get worse. But here’s the thing: Santa Monica’s population has barely budged since 1960 — from a little more than 83,000 to about 92,000 in 2012, according to the Census Bureau. I think it’s fair to ask if keeping population growth in Santa Monica artificially down (the rest of the region has grown at a much larger rate) has also ensured bad traffic because of all the people drive into and out of Santa Monica who work or visit there frequently.

One semi-related thought: I think ridership on Expo should be healthy with a caveat: people boarding on the far western side of the line and riding to downtown L.A. will get frustrated if the run times are not more consistent between Crenshaw and downtown L.A.

Broadway traffic lanes to be slashed (Downtown News) 

As part of the Bringing Back Broadway effort, a city proposal seeks to reduce traffic lanes from six to three while widening one of the sidewalks and adding pedestrian seating and bump outs. If the streetcar gets built, it would share a lane with traffic.

Councilman proposes DASH trolleys to make transit more fun (Curbed LA)

L.A. Councilman Tom LaBonge wants a couple of DASH buses to look like open-air streetcars to encourage more ridership. Not a bad idea. Maybe start with a route on weekend nights running between the Art District and Little Tokyo to LA Live via the revived Spring Street corridor?

Time-based transfers are key to transit’s success (Global Toronto)

The Toronto area is considering allowing those who purchase fares on buses and trains to ride an unlimited amount in a 90-minute time period — instead of allowing a transfer only in one direction. Proponents say that’s good for folks who want to run round-trip errands for a single fare — and that will increase ridership. Metro is proposing the same thing here — a higher base fare but unlimited transfers for 90 minutes, including round-trip rides.

Transportation headlines, Monday, January 27

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!

When is a fare hike really a fare cut (Human Transit) 

Transportation planner Jarrett Walker gives a brief review of Metro’s proposed fare restructuring/increases and likes what he sees. In particular, he’s pleased that the agency is proposing to get rid of the transfer penalty, which requires passengers to pay full fare whenever they transfer buses and/or trains.

Excerpt:

The vast dense core of Los Angeles is one of North America’s great grid systems, designed to allow easy travel between any point A and any point B via a single connection.   Unfortunately, their current fare structure charges for a connection.  This makes as much sense as a road tolling system that charges only for turns.

It’s nonsense.  Connections are an inconvenience to passengers that is required by the structure of an efficient network.   Charging for connections encourages riders to demand wildly inefficient services like the late and famous 305, which zigzag diagonally across the grid, increasing complexity without adding much useful service.  It amounts to punishing customers for helping Metro run an efficient and attractive service pattern.

Like other fees, fare penalties for connections arise in part because journalists and activists over-react to the base fare figure, creating more political heat for raising that number.  So like money-losing airlines, the agencies have to look for other things to charge for to hit their fare recovery targets.  But charging for connections is counterproductive, because connections are the foundation of the network.  Airlines don’t do it.  In fact, airfares via a connection are often cheaper than the nonstop.  That’s because the connecting itinerary lets the airline run a more efficient service pattern.

Walker acknowledges that under the pair of Metro staff proposals, fares would overall increase. It depends on what the Metro Board ultimately approves but under the proposals some people would end up paying more — in particular those who use passes — while some passengers may find that they are paying a lower fare because transfers would be free.

The public hearing on the fare proposals is at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 29, at Metro headquarters in downtown Los Angeles (next to Union Station). Here is an earlier Source post looking at the proposals.

Gold Line extension gets low priority from SanBag (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin) 

The San Bernardino Associated Governments subcommittee that deals with transportation funding has recommended first providing funding a pair of Metrolink projects over extending the Gold Line to Montclair and eventually to the airport in Ontario.

SanBAG officials say at this time there’s only so much money to go around and the Metrolink projects — extending tracks to Redlands and double-tracking some sections of the San Bernardino Line — have more countywide appeal at this time. That said, officials are generally supportive of the Gold Line projects but say that it’s a moot point until the Azusa-to-Montclair segment secures funding. If the project stays within L.A. County and ends at Claremont, then San Bernardino funds for construction and operating costs wouldn’t be needed.

In the meantime, the Board of the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority last week approved issuing a RFP to find a firm to conduct an Alternatives Analysis of a Gold Line segment between Montclair and Ontario airport. The study is expected to take a couple years to complete.

My write: High noon at Bergamot Transit Village (Santa Monica Daily Press) 

The proposed development near the future Expo Line station in Santa Monica would have five buildings, 765,095 square feet of development, 473 apartments (93 affordable/workforce units) and 25 artist live/work spaces in three buildings. The tallest building would be 85 feet — taller than surrounding buildings. In this op-ed, Bill Bauer writes that the City Council should reject the development for being too tall, too large and too much of a traffic generator.

Santa Monica’s traffic woes in recent years are legendary; the question is what, if anything, can be done about it? The second phase of the Expo Line will at least offer an alternative for some east-west commuters. I suppose the ultra-hypothetical question is what if Santa Monica was served by Expo, the Purple Line Extension (which is funded only as far as Westwood) and a Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project that connected with Expo, the subway and traveled south along the 405? They key word there is ‘hypothetical,’ btw.

Are streetcars really part of a city’s transit network? (The Atlantic Cities)

Yes and no, writes Eric Jaffe. On the one hand, they are often run by regional transit agencies and allow transfers to their buses and trains. On the other hand, they usually carry a very small portion of overall ridership, raising the question whether streetcars are the best use of local and federal funds.

Satellite photos show how dire snow conditions are at Yosemite and in the Sierra range (National Parks Traveler) 

Not a transportation story, but since drought is in the news — and we will all be impacted — the visuals here are pretty striking. If the mosquitos aren’t too bad, looks like 2014 will be an early backpacking year. Maybe this will be the summer I finally haul my ever-widening backside up to Honeymoon Lake and Granite Park.

Northbound I-405 closure between Moraga Drive and Ventura Boulevard planned the nights of Jan. 27, 28 and 29

A few 405 closures leading up to Jamzilla! Here’s the press release from Metro:

The northbound I-405 will be fully closed from Moraga Drive to Ventura Boulevard on the nights of Monday, January 27, Tuesday, January 28, and Wednesday, January 29, 2014 from midnight to 5am. The closure will accommodate shifting k-rail from the outside lanes to the inside lanes and shifting traffic to the east. A full restriping of the freeway in this area will take place.

The following closures will take place:

  • Ramps begin closing at 7 p.m. each night
  • Lanes begin closing at 10 pm.  each night
  • Northbound I-405 connector to US 101 north
  • Northbound I-405 connector to US 101 south
  • Northbound  on-ramp from eastbound Wilshire Boulevard
  • Northbound on-ramp from westbound Wilshire Boulevard
  • Northbound Sunset Boulevard o-ramp
  • Northbound Moraga Drive on-ramp
  • Northbound Getty Center Drive on-ramp
  • Northbound Skirball on-ramp

What to expect:

Transportation headlines, Friday, January 24

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ART OF TRANSIT: The abandoned section of Highway 39 in the San Gabriel Mountains as seen from Mt. Waterman. Photo by Steve Hymon.

ART OF TRANSIT: The abandoned section of Highway 39 in the San Gabriel Mountains as seen from Mt. Waterman. Click above to see larger! Photo by Steve Hymon.

Metro shelves directly rail line to LAX (L.A. Times) 

Laura Nelson sifts through yesterday’s marathon discussion by the Metro Board on the Airport Metro Connector project. As the story notes, it’s probably an uphill battle for two project alternatives that would run rail directly into and under the LAX terminals — an expensive and pricey proposition. While that will sure disappoint some, others say the other alternatives that would link the terminals to the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line would be more passenger-friendly and cost far less to build.

Metro considering fare hikes (Daily News)

The story includes some of the public testimony from yesterday’s Board meeting — in which the Board approved scheduling a hearing for the two fare restructuring proposals by Metro staff. No surprise here: the Bus Riders Union is against any kind of fare increases and accuses Metro of spending too much money on rail and highway projects while ignoring bus riders. If the point is that bus riders are more apt to be poor, the average annual household income for Metro bus riders in 2013 was $16,250 versus $20,770 for those who rode Metro rail, according to the agency’s latest customer survey.

CicLAvia announces 2014 schedule (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The Wilshire route returns on April 6 and the “Heart of L.A.” downtown route in October. New is a route for South L.A. on Dec. 7 that will link Leimert Park to the historic Central Avenue business district — a great idea! All three events should be easily accessible by Metro Rail.

In-N-Out Burger: we’re not coming to DTLA without a drive-thru location (DTLA Rising)

Good post by Brigham Yen who got In-N-Out to explain why they won’t consider putting a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles: they want an acre of land, at least 45 parking spaces and room for a drive-thru that can accommodate 15 cars. In other words, In-N-Out only wants to pursue suburban, car-centric locations.

Of course, it’s amazingly short-sighted and a bit stupid, as parking spaces don’t produce revenue and idling cars in drive-thrus are just kind of an out-dated (but perfectly legal) idea in a metropolis with some of the worst air in the nation, not to mention the whole climate change thing.

The worst part about it: an In-N-Out in a growing and transit-centric downtown L.A. would probably do just fine without parking or a drive-thru (imagine if In-N-Out was in Union Station). As Brigham notes, In-N-Outs in two urban locations — downtown Glendale and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco — are apparently doing just fine.\

BTW, about six million people who live in inland parts of Southern California — i.e. the ‘burbs that In-N-Out prefers — are breathing air that still does not meet federal clean-air standards, according to the L.A. Times.

Leimert Park, take II: 1992 (KCET)

An interesting look at Leimert Park Village, which Erin Aubrey Kaplan says remains a bright spot for the African American community but challenges remain in terms of keeping local businesses viable. As she notes, getting Metro to add a Leimert Park Village station for the Crenshaw/LAX Line was a victory for the community.

Mountain lion kitten killed by car (Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Facebook page) 

Sad news; the kitten was killed on Kanan Road, which runs north-south in the Santa Monica Mountains between Malibu and Agoura Hills. However, rangers don’t believe the kitten was the offspring of one of the lions the park is tracking — the implicating being there may be additional lion(s) in the Santa Monica range.