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

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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.

Caltrans seeks public input on statewide freight mobility plan

The Los Angeles meeting will take place on July 22. Here’s the press release from Caltrans:

With the economic recovery expanding, California’s highways, seaports, and railroads are again teeming with freight being transported across the state and on to the rest of the nation. Caltrans has invested billions of dollars in projects aimed at improving freight movement and reducing its environmental impacts, and this summer it will ask the public to weigh-in on the future of freight movement in California.

Caltrans will host eight public workshops between June 17 and July 24 to solicit input on the draft California Freight Mobility Plan (CFMP), which lays out a vision for all the ways freight is moved, including seaports, air cargo, railroads, and trucking. While promoting economic competitiveness, the plan will also benefit the environment and promote public health by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.

“To maintain and improve California’s status as the eighth-largest economy in the world, we must create a multimodal freight plan that sustains freight jobs, improves transportation, protects the environment and our communities,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

 

The U.S. Department of Transportation will rely on the CFMP and other state freight plans as it shapes a national freight plan. Projects identified in California’s plan will be eligible to apply for a higher percentage of federal funding.

This plan is especially important because California is a national and global trade leader. Of the country’s internationally traded consumer products, about 40 percent is transported through California’s seaports. With 12 seaports, California has an unparalleled geographic trade position on the Pacific Rim.

California has set aggressive goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve a sustainable environment. The freight plan’s goal is to transition the freight industry to zero or near zero emissions by 2050. California has already made progress in reducing freight’s effects through better engines, cleaner fuels, infrastructure changes, and improved operations.

To review the draft plan and comment, please attend any of these eight public workshops:

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, June 10

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! 

There are many reasons that the Los Angeles Kings are up three games to none over the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals. One big reason is that the Rangers don’t know how to defensively cover the most dangerous part of the ice in terms of allowing opponents to take shots. Top photo is Jeff Carter’s first goal in last night’s game and the bottom photo is Justin Williams taking the overtime winner in Game 1. Notice any similarities?!!! Game Four is Wednesday night in New York and Game Five, if necessary, Friday afternoon at Staples Center, located conveniently near the Pico Station served by the Blue Line and Expo Line and a pleasant stroll from the Red/Purple Line station at 7th/Metro Center.

House rejects cuts to Amtrak (The Hill)

Perhaps the source of the cuts — an outgoing Georgia politician — were the issue. Still pretty amazing, given the un-love that some Congress members have heaped on Amtrak in the past.

Why Chicago’s botched privatization of parking meters is bad for the environment (Next City) 

A while back, Chicago leased its parking meters to a private firm for $1 billion for 75 years. The idea was that the city would get an instant cash shot-in-the-arm in exchange for the revenue stream from its meters. The deal has had its critics and this article certainly takes a dim view of it — including examples of how the deal is getting in the way of other goals. Example: installing bus lanes is now more difficult as it’s more difficult to remove meters.

Eric Garcetti endorses funding mass transit with cap-and-trade revenues (L.A. Times)

Coverage of the media event held at Metro’s Division 13 last week about pending state legislation to use revenue from California’s cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions to help fund mass transit. In related news, the New York Time’s Thomas Friedman published an interesting interview with President Obama about climate change, with the president saying that putting “a price on carbon” is crucially important.

More on the Westwood Boulevard bike lane issue (Biking in LA)

Some interesting background on the bike lanes that the city of Los Angeles is not going to install of Westwood Boulevard. I mention it here because two future Metro Rail projects will have stations on the street: the Expo Line will stop just south of the Westside Pavilion and the Purple Line Extension will stop at Wilshire and Westwood. Bike connections from both stations could help with first mile/last mile issues, I suppose.

No longer for punks, skateboards cater to yuppie commuters (Wall Street Journal) 

Speaking of first mile/last mile…here is how a few people are solving the problem — by riding. The private sector is responding with electrified skateboards to tackle hills, skateboards with fat tires to handle bumpy and rocky city pavement and other contraptions that are skateboard-like. I don’t see a ton of commuters on skateboards but I’ve definitely see more skateboards in bike lanes than in the past.