4:16 pm: Red and Purple Lines resuming normal service

At approximately 3:24 p.m. a Union Station-bound, Metro Red Line train made contact with an individual at Wilshire/Vermont Station, requiring in a police investigation that resulted in delays of up to 20 minutes to Red and Purple Line trains.

The police investigation was cleared at approximately 4 p.m. and LASD reported the individual was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The Red and Purple Lines are resuming normal service at this time, with residual delays expected through 5 p.m. as trains adjust back to their normal schedules.

For up-to-the-minute status updates, follow Metro on Twitter @metrolosangeles or @metroLAalerts.


Transportation headlines, Wednesday, March 5

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! 

Obama’s budget is a populist wish list and an election blueprint (New York Times) 

The $3.9-trillion budget for fiscal year 2015 is designed to draw contrasts with Republicans and gets rid of comprises the President made last year, the Times reports. More than half the budget would go to mandatory spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest on the federal debt) and about $1.2 billion is spending directly controlled by the President and Congress. Excerpt:

Mr. Obama again proposed to overhaul the corporate tax code, by ending various business tax breaks and using the savings to reduce the maximum 35 percent tax rate for corporations. With about $150 billion in additional one-time revenues that businesses would pay in the transition from one tax system to another, Mr. Obama would finance half of a $302 billion, four-year plan for work on highway, bridge, rail and mass transit projects, as he first suggested last summer.

The budget, as we posted yesterday, also includes $100 million apiece in New Starts funding for the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector projects.

And some Twitter commentary from Yonah Freemark of the excellent Transport Politic blog:

Recent trends in bus and rail ridership (Transport Politic) 

Speaking of Yonah, here’s an interesting post about bus service and rail service — and which may contribute more to overall ridership gains by transit agencies around the country. As the post explains, there are limitations to the data, but some number-crunching indicates that rail seems to have a better chance of building ridership than does bus service. “Riders respond when they’re offered better service!,” writes Yonah, who also points out that we don’t know how bus rapid transit would attract more riders because there aren’t that many BRT projects in place.

I think there’s one other issue here: rail is pretty easy for new riders to figure out. Bus service in many metro areas — including ours — can be complicated with dozens of bus lines, each running on multiple streets, with different service frequencies and sometimes different fares and line names that seem to be random numbers. It’s not intuitive, yet overhauling bus service in many areas is a massive chore likely to upset as many riders as attract new ones.

Apple’s CarPlay: the smart car wars are getting serious (Washington Post)

Apple’s operating system will be running the mapping-texting-music playing systems in Volvos, Mercedes and Ferraris — and the hardware/software giant has agreements with other vehicle manufacturers. “Cars have long been pegged as the next major battleground for consumer tech companies looking to bring their smart technologies to more parts of consumers’ lives,” the Post says. Hmm. I remember the Days of Yore when I was excited to get a Subaru with a jack for my iPod.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 4

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! 

Blue Line train strikes vehicle–at least 12 injured (L.A. Times)

Initial reports are that a mini-van ran a red light and was struck by a Blue Line train on Washington Boulevard and Maple Street in downtown Los Angeles. Metro officials said that 10 people aboard the train were injured — none life-threatening and mostly described as cuts. The Los Angeles Fire Department said that 12 people overall were hurt. The train runs down the middle of Washington Boulevard and train and car traffic are both controlled by traffic signals. Therefore, there are no crossing gates.

Earlez Grill relocates to make way for Crenshaw/LAX Line (Intersections South LA)

The popular restaurant that used to be a stone’s throw from the Expo Line’s Crenshaw station has to move south. The new address will be 3864 Crenshaw Boulevard, about a half-mile south of the Crenhaw & Exposition intersection and an easy walk.

Los Angeles redoubles its efforts to win 2024 Olympics (Daily News)

The big question among the experts: what the International Olympic Committee will ultimately want from a host city: an effort starting from scratch requiring billions of dollars in investment or a more modest effort using existing buildings and infrastructure? The latter would seemingly favor a bid from the Los Angeles area. As I’ve written before, one thing our area can boast to the IOC (if it comes to that): in 1984 there were ZERO miles of rail serving the area. By 2024, there will be 117 miles of light rail and subways (and possibly more if projects are accelerated by America Fast Forward, etc.) and another 512 miles of commuter rail provided by Metrolink.

How Buenos Aires unclogged its most famous street (The Atlantic Cities) 

The answer: Avenida 9 de Julio saw three lanes of car traffic converted to bus rapid transit lanes in the middle of the street — even with a subway that runs below. A lot of opposition surfaced before the change and apparently melted away after the world didn’t end.

Cities move to help those threatened by gentrification (New York Times)

With cities enjoying a renaisance in some parts of the U.S. and property values rising thanks to new market-priced development, cities such as Boston, Philadelphia and Boston (to name a few) are changing laws to freeze or lower property taxes of long-time residents who stuck out the hard times. The property tax issue is not really an issue in California thanks to Prop 13 which greatly limits the amount that property taxes can be raised year-over-year. That said, there isn’t much in place to regulate the actual price of housing, the reason that affordable housing advocates fret (rightfully, in my view) that some parts of California cities will become off-limits to anyone but the wealthy.

Iron Maiden singer planning on circumventing the globe twice in world’s largest airship (Salon) 

Looks like a nice way to travel. Hopefully passengers don’t have to listen to Iron Maiden, a band who reminds me of a broken jackhammer.

Photos from the California drought (PolicyMic)

A little off-topic, but pretty amazing photos of two depleted reservoirs, Oroville and Folsom.

Transportation headlines, Monday, March 3

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 bike, will ride train — if only Metro will provide bike lockers (L.A. Times) 

Good opinion piece by Nicolas Goldberg. His dilemma: he wants to bike to the Wilshire/Western Purple Line Extension and take the train from there to work sans bike, which he doesn’t need to bring all the way downtown L.A. But there are only 16 bike lockers at Wilshire/Western and there’s a waiting list to get one. And thus the headline — he argues for more bike lockers at busy stations.

Obama turns to light rail to salvage transit legacy (The Hill)

Bad headline — I’m not sure any recent President has a “transit legacy” given the relative paucity of federal dollars available to build transit across the U.S. (about $2 billion a year to be shared by many different agencies). This blog post argues that Republicans have been largely successful at blocking high-speed rail projects touted by the President in his first term. As a result, his Department of Transportation may step up efforts to help fund light rail and streetcar projects around the country.

Why does downtown Los Angeles have parking minimums? (Better Institutions) 

The writer argues, in essence, that a chronic shortage of street parking in L.A. guarantees that developers in downtown will build parking. And, thus, there’s no need for zoning laws that mandate certain amounts of parking get built — instead it would be better for the markets to decide so that those who don’t need parking don’t have to pay to build it for those who do.

Google sets roadblocks to block distracted driver legislation (Reuters) 

The internet giant, Reuters reports, is lobbying against potential laws that would prohibit driving while wearing devices such as glasses embedded with small computer screens. The article doesn’t specify Google’s exact concerns with the laws, although Google already tells customers to comply with existing distracted driving laws. Will be interesting to see who prevails on this one — I’m hoping common sense, but not betting on it.

Service Alert: Red Line up to 15 min delays due to disabled train near North Hollywood

FINAL UPDATE: The Red Line is running with residual delays. Metro thanks you for your patience through this incident.

 

The Red Line is running with 15 minute delays between Universal/Studio City and North Hollywood due to a disabled train east of Universal/Studio City.

Trains share 1 track in between North Hollywood and Hollywood/Highland at the moment. Delays could possibly last through rush hour so please plan for extra travel time.

Metro will provide updates on this incident as they become available. For up-to-the-minute status updates, follow Metro on Twitter @metrolosangeles or @metroLAalerts.


Transportation headlines, Friday, February 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! 

One way to make traffic vanish: long exposures! The view late Thursday from The Source's window on the world. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

One way to make traffic vanish: long exposures! The view late Thursday from The Source’s window on the world. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The transit plaza at Union Station last night. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The transit plaza at Union Station last night. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

CicLAvia: our story

Click above to check out a very nice photo essay.

Google says $6.8 million for Muni youth passes just a start (San Francisco Chronicle) 

Wow. The tech giant donates the money to the agency that runs buses, light rail and streetcars — enough money to cover two years of free transit for low- and middle-class kids aged five to 17. The donation comes at a time when Google and other tech firms are being criticized for their free shuttles that take employees from San Francisco to offices south in Silicon Valley and the area. With real estate prices soaring in S.F., many citizens are feeling squeezed out and say the shuttles — with free wifi — make it easy for wealthy employees to live in the city and commute south.

Legislation would change composition of Metro Board (L.A. Streetsblog) 

Thoughtful post by Damien Newton on the implications and reasoning behind AB 1941, a bill by Assemblyman Chris Holden that would have the Legislature appoint two members to the Metro Board. Holden tells Streetsblog that it would help provide more equitable representation around the county and help plan projects that extend beyond the borders of Los Angeles County. Metro Board Member Ara Najarian, however, responds this way:

“The last thing we need on this already political board, is to inject two new players with no stakeholders and no constituents to answer to, only the politicos in Sacramento,” writes Ara Najarian, Glendale City Councilmember and the representative to the Metro Board from the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments. “A huge mistake and not a well thought out piece of legislation. Now, if we wanted to add directors who actually had constituents to answer to…then fine.”

I couldn’t agree more. Having two people on the Board who don’t even have to live in the region seems like a good way of asking for trouble when it comes to doling out contracts and making other decisions that could impact fund-raising for elected officials in Sacramento. Unless I’m hugely mistaken, I don’t see this bill going anywhere.

America’s 20 fastest-growing cities (Forbes)

Los Angeles didn’t make the list. But San Jose, Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta and Ogden (Utah) did.

Rep. Bill Shuster on federal role in transportation

The Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Transportation Committee talks to highway officials in Washington D.C. Rep. Shuster will play a critical role when it comes to passing the next multi-year transportation spending bill. President Obama’s bill proposal includes the America Fast Forward initiative. The most interesting remarks — embracing the federal role in mobility for goods and people — is after the introductory remarks.

Construction commences on Transit-Oriented Gateway Project in El Monte

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Renderings by MVE Institutional, Inc., courtesy of City of El Monte.

The City of El Monte broke ground today on the Gateway Project, which promises to bring affordable housing, retail and restaurant space next to Metro’s El Monte Bus Station. It’s great to see more transit oriented development happening in San Gabriel Valley! The above renderings show what the area will look like once the project is completed.

Here’s the press release from the City of El Monte:

In a move that aims to position El Monte as a model for smart development in the San Gabriel Valley, City officials and its development partners, Grapevine Advisors, LLC and Jamboree Housing Corporation, hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 27 to celebrate the commencement of construction on the much anticipated Gateway Project.

The planned 14-acre development, which is connected to the El Monte Bus Station and the historic Downtown El Monte area, will deliver housing, retail and restaurant space, as well as improvements to the surrounding area. A $15 million grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development is also helping to fund significant infrastructure upgrades to surrounding streets.

“This project boasts so many tremendous benefits for our entire community and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate this important milestone with such a special ceremony,” said El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero. “This development will translate into the creation of hundreds of jobs, while revitalizing our City and stimulating our local economy. I believe the Gateway Project will be a model of smart planning and development in the San Gabriel Valley.”

El Monte Gateway is adjacent to Metro’s new El Monte Bus Station, a $64 million station, which opened in 2012 and features such amenities as clean energy buses. The El Monte Metro Bus Station currently serves more than 20,000 riders per day.

“We are proud to partner with the City of El Monte on this much-anticipated and vital economic development project,” said James Acevedo, president of Grapevine Advisors LLC. “We believe this is a model project for Public-Private Partnerships moving forward, creating jobs and tax revenues, and providing quality housing at a time when our region as a whole is facing a serious  housing shortage. The El Monte Gateway project is also a great example of how transit-oriented developments can encourage use of mass transportation, which reduces congestion and has a positive impact on air quality.”

The groundbreaking ceremony, held at the project site at 3535 Santa Anita Ave., featured speeches from City Councilmembers and representatives from the development partners. The event’s celebratory lunch highlighted various local restaurants unique to El Monte.

Upon completion, the project will feature 485 one-, two, and three-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 550 to 1,050 square feet, including 132 affordable housing units developed by Jamboree.

“The apartment homes community at El Monte Gateway is Jamboree’s first workforce housing development in partnership with the City of El Monte, and is the first step in what we see as a long and productive relationship with the city,” said Laura Archuleta, president of Jamboree.  “In addition to working with the City of El Monte, this is an especially important development for our company in that it is part of the larger El Monte Gateway master-planned urban community and it is a transit-oriented development.  This will be the third transit-oriented development that Jamboree has built in Los Angeles County, which is a significant milestone for our company.”

In addition, the development will include 25,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants, creating new opportunities for businesses in El Monte. This first phase will be a catalyst to the future developments within the 60-acre Gateway Specific Plan, further creating new housing and business opportunities, and place making for dining and social gatherings.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, February 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! 

That’s right, I don’t drive in Los Angeles (Zocalo Public Square) 

A lot of good stuff in this first-person account by Nicolei Gupit, whose family has relied on Metro and mass transit since moving here from the Phillipines in 1998. One nice graph:

I enjoyed observing Los Angeles in its different faces, like cities within the city, from MacArthur Park to Park La Brea, Downtown L.A. to West L.A. I was able to travel as far west as Santa Monica and as far south as Long Beach on public transportation for $1.25. I could catch any one of the dozen buses heading every cardinal direction away from my busy home-base intersection of Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. I learned by heart the cadence of passing streets as I rode the buses plying Vermont: Sunset, Fountain, Santa Monica, Melrose, Beverly, First, Third, Sixth, Wilshire. I created my own map of L.A. by surveying who got on and off the bus at which stops. While I heard mostly Spanish and Armenian spoken around East Hollywood, I would hear mostly Korean, Chinese, or Tagalog when passing neighboring areas heading south and west from home.

Not everything in the post is flattering to Metro or transit. Long waits at bus stops are mentioned, as are no-show buses.

New high-rise building on Broadway would be one of the tallest in Southern California (L.A. Times) 

The 34-story residential building is proposed for the corner of 4th and Broadway — it would be the first skyscraper built on Broadway in decades. It still needs city of Los Angeles approval and will likely need variances from existing zoning codes (like many other projects in L.A.). Still, exciting to see more big developments proposed in downtown L.A. which IMHO could use more big buildings and more residents. The location is along many Metro bus lines and is a short walk to the Pershing Square station for the Red/Purple Line and not far from the future 2nd/Broadway station for the Regional Connector.

On a related note, here’s a nice time-lapse of the 32-story building rising at Olive and 9th at Brigham Yen’s DTLA Rising blog.

Boxer: ‘We have to save the highway trust fund’ (The Hill)

Good article on the pending insolvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund that is used to help fund transportation projects around the country. The issue is that the federal gas tax hasn’t risen from 18.3 cents since 1993 and vehicles are getting much better mileage. Senator Boxer says there’s no political support for raising the tax — remember this is an election year in Congress — and she believes that President Obama’s proposal for a multiple year transportation spending bill has some creative funding solutions.

The bill also contains both elements of Metro’s America Fast Forward initiative. More on that at this post.

Metro’s bicycle brain trust (ZevWeb) 

A nice look at the way that cyclists and Metro are engaging each other these days. Metro’s Bicycle Roundtable helped get things rolling (pun intended) and have led to bikes being allowed on trains at peak hours and the ‘every lane is a bike lane’ public service announcement that debuted last year. Other issues remain, such as building bike channels in stairways at transit stations — something the cycling community wants to see.

Beverly Hills Weekly attorneys receive $40,000 from the Courier (Beverly Hills Weekly)

In this legal dispute between newspapers in Beverly Hills, the Courier sued the Weekly over unfair business practices. A judge recently awarded the Weekly $40,000 in attorney fees although appeals are underway. The Weekly’s attorney says the award demonstrates that the courts believe the Courier’s accusations had no merit.

Why more U.S. cities need to embrace bus rapid transit (Atlantic Cities) 

Another article touting the benefits of bus rapid transit lines, which mimic the benefits of rail but at a lower cost. But there’s a catch: cities need to give up road space, not an easy thing politically to do. On the plus side, most BRT lines around the country have done a good job of attracting ridership — probably because they can be much quicker than traditional local bus lines that stop frequently and get held up by red lights.

Nearly 600 small business reps attended Metro’s Meet the Primes

Nearly 600 small business representatives attended Metro’s annual Meet the Primes networking event on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Gateway. Twenty-seven of the major construction firms that work in the L.A. region were on hand to meet and discuss future partnering opportunities.

Meet the Primes is a unique opportunity for small businesses and prime contractors to meet with actual decision-makers in a friendly and supportive environment. Sponsored by the Transportation Business Advisory Council (TBAC) and Metro’s Diversity & Economic Opportunity Department, this year’s presentation included information about the Project Labor Agreement and the resultant Construction Careers Policy. This is the sixth year Metro has hosted the event in support of Metro’s Small Business and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Programs.

Upcoming Service Advisory: Heads up for stormy weather

As many are already aware, in the next few days L.A. County may get some of the rain that has been eluding us this winter.

Current forecasts indicate two storms are headed toward the Southland, the first beginning this evening and continuing through tomorrow morning, the second starting Friday morning and lasting through Saturday evening. The storms are predicted to be the wettest the region will have seen in two years.

The oncoming storm via the National Weather Service.

The oncoming storm via the National Weather Service.

There are many reasons to prefer staying indoors during foul weather: hot tea, the sound of rain on the roof, and, what Metro is most concerned with, the increased difficulty of your daily commute. Metro would like to remind motorists and bicyclists to be wary of slick roads and decreased visibility. If driving, reduce your speed and leave extra space between your vehicle and the car in front. When biking, please walk (don’t ride!) your bike on rail station platforms or near bus stops.

For rail customers, additional Metro track and maintenance personnel will be on standby to resolve any potential issues that may arise due to the storms. That being said, passengers should consider a cushion of extra travel time in their normal commute, in case of weather-related delays.

If you are running late, please never run for trains (or buses). This applies as a general rule, but is especially important given the wet, slippery conditions we are likely to experience over the next four days. Where possible, make use of handrails and handholds for extra security.

And finally, customers riding the Metro Blue, Expo, Green, and Gold Lines during stormy weather may note that their train doors aren’t opening automatically. This is because trains may be operating in “passenger door release mode,” which means customers wishing to board or exit the train must press the illuminated, green buttons adjacent to the doors in order for the doors to open. The buttons can be found on both the interior and exterior of the train doors, and will only release the doors when lit up. “Passenger door release mode” helps minimize the intrusion of weather elements on board, improving customer comfort.

So, enjoy this week’s much-needed respite from a particularly dry winter, but please, be safe and alert in foul weather. To stay up-to-date on the status of your bus or train, follow Metro on Twitter at @metrolosangeles and @metroLAalerts, and be sure to check back here at The Source.

Service alerts can additionally be found on metro.net’s home page. The Go Metro app for Android smartphones, iPhones and iPads also includes service alerts.