Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 2

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! 

Photo: Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Photo: Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Garcetti’s anniversary spin (on Metro) includes World Cup stop (L.A. Times) 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recognized his first anniversary in office by tooling around L.A. on Metro Rail on Tuesday, including a stop at Buffalo Wild Wings in the Crenshaw District to watch the USA-Belgium match. Excerpt:

On the trip, Garcetti lamented getting “stuck in City Hall,” saying quick, unplanned encounters with people help him gauge people’s concerns and can build trust with residents, particularly in his early years as mayor. “Most people don’t want a half-hour meeting with the mayor,” he said.

The mayor will also serve as the Chair of the Metro Board for the next year (the Board Members take turns). It will be interesting to see what kind of agenda he pushes at Metro — and think a good starting place is to talk to folks who ride the system and pay the bills here. Semi-related: a great way to gauge people’s concerns about Metro is to also read our general Twitter feed, including tweets from riders.

Metro commits to deal ensuring subway won’t hurt Disney Hall acoustics (L.A. Times) 

The agency and Disney Hall agree to several mitigations to ensure that the Regional Connector — running 135 deep underground and adjacent the concert venue — won’t cause vibrations that could impact acoustics. Tests last year established the ambient noise in Disney Hall and Metro has agreed to limit vibrations to well under those standards.

Burbank-Palmdale segment added to bullet train timetable (L.A. Times) 

In response to criticism and doubts from state lawmakers, the California High-Speed Rail Authority wants to accelerate construction of a Burbank to Palmdale segment of the bullet train project. Such a segment could reduce travel time for trains from more than an hour to 14 to 16 minutes.

That said, there remains considerable challenges. The first is finding the funding — the L.A. to Palmdale segment is estimated to cost more than $13 billion and that could rise if a more direct tunnel to the Antelope Valley is built under the San Gabriel Mountains. The segment would presumably later connect to Union Station and Bakersfield and the segment being planned between there and Madera.

My three cents: I think there are plenty of reasons to remain skeptical about the ability to build a $68-billion project between San Francisco and Los Angeles with the major funding source a $10-billion voter-approved bond. That said, if funding is limited, it sure would be great to see commuter rail get a boost in populated and taxpayer-heavy Southern California, an area where commuters are already riding trains on a daily basis.

Contractor for 405 sues MTA over cost overruns, delays (Daily News) 

Kiewet filed the lawsuit in May, seeking $400 million in costs, according to the Daily News. Excerpt:

In a statement, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said that “Metro does not believe this claim complies with those contract requirements. However, Metro continues to negotiate in good faith with Kiewit to resolve specific outstanding claims under terms of its contract.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents this portion of Los Angeles and has publicly blamed Kiewit for the project’s delays, declined to comment Tuesday.

 

Jenna Hornstock shares refinements to Union Station’s Master Plan (The Planning Report) 

Jenna is heading up Metro’s team of planners working on the Union Station Master Plan. In this interview, she talks about the many details of the emerging plan that were released last month (Here’s a Source post about the plans).

The Planning Report saved perhaps one of the juiciest questions for last, asking Jenna how the Master Plan would be funded and if there could be money available from a potential Measure R 2 sales tax. As Jenna wisely pointed out, the key word with Measure R 2 is “potential” and that it’s impossible at this time to say what will or will not be funded by it. As if often the case at Metro, projects are planned before all the funding is secured — the agency often needs to have firm plans in in order to get money to build them.

Donald Shoup, parking guru, on how L.A. should manage its meters (L.A. Times) 

Interesting interview with the UCLA professor who literally wrote the book on big cities and parking policies (a book highly critical of big cities, that is). There’s nothing fantastically new in the interview but it’s always fun to revisit the question of whether developers should be required to build parking or not (they almost always are for both residential or commercial properties). Parking is very expensive to build and maintain and folks such as Shoup believe it results in a lot of expensive, free and unnecessary parking that consumes a lot of space that could be better used for other purposes.

In other words, if someone in a city wants a car badly enough, they’ll find a parking place and the money to pay for it. Agree or disagree, Angelenos?

 

Metrolink to offer new 91 Line weekend service, adjust San Bernardino Line

Metrolink riders will now have more weekend travel options. Metrolink is adding new 91 Line weekend service between Downtown Riverside and Los Angeles. From their press release:

This Saturday, Inland Empire travelers will now have additional options to reach destinations in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, with Metrolink beginning new 91 Line weekend service.  Four new trains will now run between Downtown Riverside and Los Angeles on both Saturdays and Sundays, with interim stops at the Riverside-La Sierra, North Main Corona, West Corona, Fullerton, Buena Park and Norwalk stations.

With this added service, San Bernardino Line weekend trains 351, 367, 364, and 376 will no longer start or end at the Riverside-Downtown Metrolink station. The first 91 Line weekend train leaves the Riverside-Downtown station at 7:40 a.m., while the final train returns at 8:55 p.m. For a complete schedule, visit metrolinktrains.com.

The added service will give Inland Empire residents more options to travel into Los Angeles and Orange counties.

As always, once riders reach Los Angeles Union Station, individuals can transfer to the Metro light-rail and many bus lines at no additional cost to access attractions such as Chinatown, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Pantages Theatre, Universal Studios, L.A. Live, Old Town Pasadena and others.

The 91 Line weekend service also offers riders access to attractions near Orange County stops such as Knott’s Berry Farm and Downtown Fullerton. The San Bernardino Line and 91 Line weekend services complement the existing Inland Empire-Orange County Line, which provides two round-trips between San Bernardino and Oceanside each Saturday and Sunday.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 1

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! 

Boo!

Boo!

Hello Metro riders and readers. I was on vacation for a couple of days, so I’m catching up. As usual, please bear with me.

Train station to connect Metro rail lines with LAX approved (L.A. Times) 

The Times neatly and succinctly summarizes the Metro Board’s decision last Thursday to go forward with environmentally clearing an additional station on the Crenshaw/LAX Line that would connect with a people mover to be built by Los Angeles World Airports. Excerpt:

Officials say the new station will speed up airport access and could include check-in counters, flight information boards and currency exchange locations. The board also asked for a review of baggage check facilities at similar airport transportation hubs in other cities to determine whether that service could be added.

In an early Metro concept sketch, the station is depicted as a glass, multi-story building with covered rail platforms and a passenger drop-off area.

The 96th Street station still must go through a final design process, environmental review and cost analysis. Additions such as ticketing areas and concessions would increase the $200-million cost.

 

MTA predicts less than one percent of LAX passengers will take train to LAX (LA Weekly) 

Gene Maddeus dives into the Metro staff report and focuses on ridership estimates that show that the majority of LAX passengers in the future will likely travel to and from the airport by car — and that the FlyAway bus may attract significantly more passengers than a light rail-people mover connection. Excerpt:

The station approved Thursday is a much cheaper alternative, which probably won’t have all the bells and whistles that Garcetti had envisioned. Nevertheless, it is a rail connection to LAX, and Garcetti heralded it as a key step in the direction of building a world-class airport.

Assuming that LAX and MTA can continue to cooperate on this, the rail link could open around 2022. That leaves one big unanswered question: Will anybody use it?

As the saying goes, predictions are hard, especially about the future. Nevertheless, MTA has made its best effort to guess how many people will take the train to the airport. The answer:

0.8%.

[snip]

This is not to say that the train-to-LAX link should not be built. It is to suggest that expectations be kept in check until MTA can plan, fund and build a more comprehensive rail network.

 

The new Aviation/96th station will likely be most convenient to those using the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line. An extension of the Green Line to the south (a Measure R funded project) and extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the north to a connection with the subway (a project in Metro’s long-range plan but without any current funding) would, of course, significantly increase the reach of both lines.

Supervisor Don Knabe on the Aviation/96th station (Supervisor Don Knabe’s website)

LAX is in Don Knabe’s district and the Supervisor and Metro Board Member sent this note to constituents about last week’s vote — the last graph is key:

For years, I’ve said it’s embarrassing that the second largest city in America with the third busiest airport still does not have a direct transit connection. Major airports across the country, as well as internationally, can be accessed by subway, people mover, or air train, yet traveling to LAX requires a car, or a shuttle ride from the Green Line.

We’ve struggled for decades trying to solve this transportation puzzle, but finally, the MTA Board took a giant leap towards creating a solution last week. On a motion by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Mike Bonin, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and me, the Board voted in favor of constructing a rail station at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard as part of the new Crenshaw/LAX rail line. This state-of-the-art station will serve as a “front door” for riders, connecting them to the LAX terminals via airport people mover.

Though this is a major milestone in finally linking the airport to our regional transit system, there are still hurdles to clear. Metro must continue working with Los Angeles World Airports and the Board of Airport Commissioners to ensure that a people mover will be constructed. Without their guarantee, we could end up stuck with a state-of-the-art station to nowhere. As the details surrounding the new rail station and a people mover continue to develop, I will be sure to keep you updated.

 

Metro buses get multi-camera surveillance systems (KABC-7) 

In order to prevent crime and remind riders that law enforcement is watching, Metro is overhauling the video systems on its buses — including monitors showing riders a real-time video feed. The move was prompted, in part, by the 191 assaults on Metro bus operators between 2010 and 2013. “We have every confidence that this is going to increase safety and discourage those who might be inclined to do otherwise,” L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is quoted in the article. Here  is our post from last week announcing the upgrades.

The painful consequences of liking fake subway maps (Los Angeles Review of Books) 

Ben Pack ruminates on transit maps, driving and bike riding in the Los Angeles area, culminating in a cycling accident in Hollywood.

 

 

Public invited to attend How to Do Business with Metro workshop

Learn how to do business with Metro at a business workshop on Tuesday, July 8. Firms will be provided with with information on Metro’s certification program, vendor registration, contract look-ahead schedules and other useful information. Metro’s procurement staff conducts one-on-one interviews with firms during the workshop.

The workshop will take place on July 8 from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the Board Room at Metro Headquarters. Register for the workshop here. You can download Metro’s Construction Contractor Certification fact sheet here.

For more information, contact Marisela Villar at VillarM@metro.net or at 213.922.2235.

Bob Hope Airport officially opens Regional Intermodal Transportation Center

Bob Hope Airport held a grand opening ceremony this morning for the $112 million Regional Intermodal Transportation Center (RITC). The RITC took two years to complete and is the largest capital project in the airport’s history. It also establishes the first direct rail-to-terminal connection at any Southern California airport.

The RITC is located immediately across the street from the Bob Hope Airport Station served by Metrolink and Amtrak. It will house a new bus transit station and rental car facilities and is connected to the passenger terminal via an elevated walkway.

Transit officials also announced the plans for a pedestrian bridge between the RITC and the existing Metrolink station along Empire Avenue. You can read the Metro staff report on the project here.

Southbound 405 closures between Getty Center Drive and Wilshire Boulevard planned nights of June 27-July 2

Here’s the press release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is scheduled to conduct consecutive nighttime freeway closures on the southbound I-405 between Getty Center Drive and Wilshire Boulevard beginning on the night of Friday, June 27 through the morning of Wednesday, July 2, 2014. The contractor will conduct freeway striping.

Closure information is as follows:

  • Midnight, Friday, June 27, to 6 a.m., Saturday,  June 28
  • Midnight, Saturday, June 28, to 6 a.m., Sunday, June 29
  • Midnight, Sunday, June 29, to 5 a.m., Monday, June 30
  • Midnight, Monday, June 30 to 5 a.m., Tuesday, July 1
  • Midnight, Tuesday, July 1 to 5 a.m., Wednesday, July 2

On weekends ramps will begin to close at 7 p.m. and lanes will begin to close at 11 p.m.

On weekdays ramps will begin at 7 p.m. and lanes will begin at 10 p.m.

Ramp Closures:

  • Southbound on-ramp from Getty Center Drive
  • Southbound on-ramp from westbound Sunset Boulevard
  • Southbound on-ramp from eastbound Sunset Boulevard

Detour:

Exit southbound Getty Center off-ramp, head southbound on Sepulveda Boulevard, make a right going west on Wilshire Boulevard to the westbound Wilshire on-ramp to the southbound I-405.

What to expect:

Metro Board of Directors June meeting is underway; Airport Metro Connector item to be considered today

Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois has dropped the gavel on the June meeting on the Metro Board of Directors. The agenda is above. Click here for the regular online version here with links to staff reports.

If not here in person, you can listen to the meeting over the phone at 213-922-6045. You can try to listen online by clicking here.

For those at the meeting trying to watch the USA-Germany World Cup game over Metro’s wifi…good luck.

Perhaps the item that will interest the most people today involves the Board considering whether to approve a new light rail station at Aviation and 96th Street as the locally preferred alternative as part of the Airport Metro Connector project. The station would serve the Crenshaw/LAX Line and some Green Line trains and would be the transfer point to a people mover planned by LAX that would connect to airport terminals. More at this recent Source post.

The Los Angeles Times published an editorial today on the preferred alternative.

This is Diane DuBois’ final meeting as Board Chair. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti takes over chair duties in July.