Transportation headlines, Friday, June 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! 

Metro is running longer trains than usual this evening to serve those headed downtown to attend or watch Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Kings and the Rangers and the Dodgers-Diamondbacks game. If the Kings win tonight, the Stanley Cup sticks around Southern California for an extended stay. If not, the Cup catches a flight back to New York for Game 6 on Monday night. That is not a highly desirable proposition :)

Editorial: Bullet train scam is a bad budget deal (Oakland Tribune)

“Scam” is a pretty strong word, but the Trib’s editorial board doesn’t like the budget deal that would allocate 25 percent of the state’s future cap-and-trade revenues to the high-speed rail program. Their big beef: they don’t believe the bullet train would help cut California greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as is the goal. Excerpt:

Even the most starry-eyed believers in the bullet train would not claim it’ll be running in six years, let alone producing cost-effective environmental gains. Using cap-and-trade revenues for this purpose is legally questionable at best. Critics from the start said the revenue would just become a slush fund, and Brown wants to prove them right.

The Legislature should set rigorous, performance-based standards for the use of cap-and-trade dollars to achieve the goal by 2020. Fortunately, there are plenty of feasible projects that would, for example, increase affordable housing near employment centers to cut long commutes and expand cities’ public transit. Both could swiftly produce gains.

The budget deal reportedly would send only 15 percent of the cap-and-trade money to local transportation projects, 20 percent to affordable housing and the remaining 40 percent to a combination of energy and natural resources projects. All of these could pay off by 2020.

Actually, even getting local transit projects that aren’t funded built by 2020 is probably a stretch given the time it takes to do environmental studies, planning and construction these days. That said, this editorial hits a good public policy question: is money better spent on connecting cities by rail or on rail projects that serve daily commuters?

New CicLAvias to hit the road (ZevWeb)

A look at Metro’s Open Streets grant program to help cities in Los Angeles County cover the expense of CicLAvia-type events. Applications have been turned into Metro and, ZevWeb reports, events in the next couple of years are planned for Santa Monica, Long Beach, Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley.

BART sets fare at $6 for new airport connector service (KTVU.com)

The BART Board voted to impose $6 fares on the new airport train connecting BART to the airport terminals. It was the most expensive of the options considered. Officials say they may offer promotional fares. BART projects that about 3,200 people each day will use the service at about a $5 million annual loss to the agency.

The ridiculous politics that slow down America’s best BRT project (Streetsblog USA) 

The 7.1-mile Healthline in Cleveland takes about 44 minutes to cover that distance despite being called bus rapid transit. Why? Poor signal timing overseen by the city of Cleveland. It’s proven to be a popular bus route but is only marginally faster than the route it replaced.

Brazil averts transit strike on eve of World Cup (Associated Press) 

Union officials got cold feet, saying they may not be ready for a confrontation with police.

How airlines are sticking it to travelers, in six charts (Atlantic CityLab) 

No news here if you’ve been flogged by the airline industry recently. I recently paid United Airlines $25 to keep my bag at LAX while I flew to Cincinnati — after checking in curb-side 75 minutes before my flight. To United’s credit, they refunded me the 25 clams after it took 24-plus hours for my bag to catch up with me.

 

Southbound 405 closures between Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards planned nights of June 15 and 16

Here’s the press release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is scheduled to conduct two consecutive nighttime freeway closures on the southbound I-405 between Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles the nights of Sunday, June 15 and Monday, June 16, 2014 to facilitate traffic loop installation and thermoplastic freeway striping.

Closure information is as follows:

  • Midnight on Sunday, June 15 to 5 a.m. Monday, June 16
  • Midnight on Monday, June 16 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, June 17

Ramps will begin to close at 7 p.m. and lanes will begin to close at 11 p.m.

Ramp Closures:

Southbound on-ramp from eastbound Wilshire Boulevard

Southbound on-ramp from westbound Wilshire Boulevard

Southbound on-ramp from eastbound Sunset Boulevard

Southbound on-ramp from westbound Sunset Boulevard

Detour:

Take the Southbound Sunset off-ramp, head north on Church Lane, turn south on Sepulveda, to west on Santa Monica Boulevard to the Southbound Santa Monica on-ramp.

What to expect:

Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 12

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 future of Leimert Park (KCET)

Great video hosted by Nic Cha Kim on the future of Los Angeles’ well-known African American neighborhoods. The segment hits a significant issue head on: what will Crenshaw/LAX Line and/or gentrification mean for the African American population in the neighborhood? The visuals are great, too — and really give a sense of the community.

As for the Crenshaw/LAX Line, major construction is underway. The project is scheduled to open in 2019 and will allow trains to run from the Green Line’s current Redondo Beach station to the intersection of Exposition and Crenshaw, where passengers can transfer to the east-west Expo Line.

Those interested in the issue of transit and gentrification should read these two posts that appeared recently at The Atlantic Cities:

Does new transit always have to mean rising rents?

It’s not always a bad thing for rents to rise with transit growth

Pedaling toward segregated bikeways (redqueeninla)

Excellent essay about the proliferation of bikes on our local roads — a good thing — and the inherent challenges of forcing cyclists and motorists together on the same patch of asphalt. Excerpt:

Bicycles need more segregated space on our roadways, dedicated to them. This is imperative for the safety of cyclist and motorist alike, but as well for the sake of the soul of our city. It is not appropriate to marginalize this mode of transportation which has grown so popular. And in attending to the safety we all need better addressed, this will open up a floodgate of participation among the wary. If segregated, secure bicycle roadways were as common in Los Angeles as across Europe and elsewhere in North America, cycling commutes and bicycled errands in Los Angeles would become viable for the more cautious among us.

Redqueeninla concludes by predicting that building more protected bikeways will lead to even more people riding. Completely agree.

Boston’s new “smart transit” gets you to work faster–for a price (Gizmodo)

Good post on a new startup that plans to run private buses across the Boston area in which the routes are, in part, determined by riders and the data they generate. The idea is that the routes are more flexible than that of a public transit agency, meaning riders willing to pay steeper fares can help customize their transit. Excerpt:

Privatized transit—the kind that’s not funded or maintained by the city’s transportation agency—has become a touchy issue for cities over the last few years, if only because of one specific example: The tech buses in San Francisco. As you’ll remember, protesters believe that the buses cause gentrification because the easy access to these corporate shuttles cause wealthier people to move into certain areas of San Francisco where they wouldn’t normally live, displacing longtime residents. While there isn’t really any kind of direct correlation that can prove that—desirable areas of San Francisco are getting more expensive, period—the city has responded (a little) by charging the shuttles to use its bus stops.

While it seems on the outset like Bridj is kind of the same thing—these are fancy buses targeted to tech workers, too—the biggest difference is that this is a service which is open to the public. It’s privatized transit, but not a closed system. It’s another option for getting to work, and it’s more like a high-tech carpool than an alternative transit system. And as the branding clearly states—and I’m not saying I agree with it—this is for people who don’t like touching other humans or getting sweaty on the subway.

Privately-run transit systems don’t exist in many parts of the country for a variety of reasons — including unwanted competition to public transit — although private firms contract with agencies (including Metro) to provide service on their routes. It will be interesting to see how this changes over time. I’m sure transit agencies don’t want private firms to cherry-pick the more profitable routes, leaving agencies to heavily subsidize the rest. On the other hand, if a private firm can better serve a particular route, shouldn’t the free market be allowed to prevail? We’ll see.

CTA bans e-cigarettes on all buses, trains (Chicago Tribune) 

The agency that runs the bus and train system across the Windy City follows in Metro’s footsteps and prohibits the use of e-cigarettes. Similar issue as here: the agency believe that a rule already on the books forbidding smoking on agency property likely covered e-cigarettes but decided to make the ban more explicit.

Southbound 405 closures between Santa Monica and National Boulevards planned nights of June 13,14

Here’s the press release from  Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is scheduled to conduct two consecutive nighttime freeway closures on the southbound I-405 between Santa Monica Boulevard and National Boulevard in West Los Angeles the nights of Friday, June 13 and Saturday, June 14, 2014 to facilitate thermoplastic freeway striping.

Closure information is as follows:

  • Midnight on Friday, June 13 to 6 a.m. Saturday, June 14
  • Midnight on Saturday, June 14 to 6 a.m. Sunday, June 15

Ramps will begin to close at 7 p.m. and lanes will begin to close at 11 p.m.

Ramp Closures:

Southbound on-ramp from Santa Monica

Southbound on-ramp from eastbound Wilshire Boulevard

Southbound on-ramp from westbound Wilshire Boulevard

Southbound on-ramp from eastbound Sunset Boulevard

Southbound on-ramp from westbound Sunset Boulevard

Detour:  Take the Southbound Santa Monica off-ramp, head east on Santa Monica Boulevard, south on Sepulveda Boulevard, west on National Boulevard to the Southbound National on-ramp.

What to expect:

Service Advisory: Blue Line to run every 40 minutes between DTLA-Willowbrook tomorrow night

andresBL

On Thursday night after 8:30 p.m., the Metro Blue Line will again run every 40 minutes between 7th Street/Metro Center and Willowbrook Station due to essential track maintenance that is part of the ongoing Blue Line improvement project.

Trains will serve the remainder of the Blue Line, between Willowbrook and Long Beach, every 20 minutes after 8:30 p.m. This means every other northbound train will turn around at Willowbrook Station, and its destination sign will either display “Willowbrook” or “Imperial.” Customers should expect all trains continuing to 7th Street/Metro Center to arrive on the Downtown L.A.-bound track between Vernon and Willowbrook Station.

The Expo Line will not be impacted by the track work and will follow a regular Friday evening schedule, departing every 10 minutes.

For Blue Line departure times from 7th Street/Metro Center and Downtown Long Beach Station, please refer to Metro’s Service Advisories page. Please note these times may be subject to work-related delays.

For those commuting between Downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach on Thursday evening, an alternative option is the Metro Silver or Green Line. Extra buses will run on the Silver Line after 9 p.m. on Thursday night, increasing the level of service to every 20 minutes. At Harbor Freeway Station, Green Line trains will follow the regular evening schedule, departing every 20 minutes.

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Groundbreaking ceremony held for I-10 HOV Lane Project this morning

Metro

Metro, Caltrans, Federal Highway Administration and California Highway Patrol officials at the groundbreaking. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

Metro Deputy CEO Lindy Lee joined Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty and officials from the Federal Highway Administration and California Highway Patrol today for the groundbreaking of the I-10 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lane Project. The project area is located between Puente Avenue and Citrus Street in Baldwin Park and West Covina.

This is the second of three projects that, once complete, will offer one continuous HOV lane from downtown Los Angeles to I-15 in San Bernardino County. Metro programmed $151.6 million towards the construction of the HOV project, which accounts for 77.5% of the total project cost.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, June 11

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! 

Have fun watching the game tonight, Los Angeles Kings fans — and travel home safely! If you are planning on potentially (over) celebrating a visit from Lord Stanley Cup, please consider taking transit or a taxi!

L.A. half-cent tax proposal for street, sidewalk repair is pulled (L.A. Times) 

Two Los Angeles City Councilmembers pulled their proposal to ask voters in the city to ask voters in November to raise the sales tax by a half penny to pay for $4.5 billion in repair work. Some transit advocates were concerned that voters wouldn’t approve both a city sales tax hike and then a potential countywide tax measure in 2016 to fund Metro and Caltrans transportation projects.

Group casts transit hub as L.A. River Walk destination (L.A. Register) 

The Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council is trying to get ahead of the curve by proposing a site for a future transit hub in the Valley that would also be river-adjacent. The idea is to create a place that could potentially be served by local and express buses and future rail lines, including one that could link the Valley and the Westside. Neat idea, says one Metro official — but the agency isn’t looking for parcels to acquire at this point.

The suburbs didn’t die — just short-circuited (High Country News) 

A look at recent Census data showing that the ‘burbs are still alive and growing in some places in the western U.S. while in other cities, such as Seattle, the urban areas are growing at a faster rate than the ‘burbs. In other cases, suburbs are taking on a more urban tone with more walkable areas and transit stations linking them to the rest of the metro area.

Mona Freeman, first ‘Miss Subways’ dies at 87 (New York Times) 

She was the first of many models whose images adorned posters in the New York subway system between 1941 and the mid-1970s. At the time she was chosen, Mona had never ridden the subway although she subsequently became a familiar site to millions of riders. The gig lead to movie and TV roles and a later career as a portrait painter. She passed away in Beverly Hills.

You might be able to soon watch Netflix on Amtrak (The Atlantic CityLab) 

Amtrak is talking about a serious upgrade to the free wifi it offers along Northeast Corridor routes — good enough to watch streaming shows and movies on Netflix potentially. Riders have been complaining the wifi isn’t fast enough.