Metro celebrates Dump the Pump Day by squashing a pump

A media event was held at El Monte Station this morning; video is above. Here’s the news release from Metro:

With gasoline prices topping $4 per gallon the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) stresses now is the perfect time to try bus, rail or vanpool to discover how much money and time can be saved compared to driving. National Dump the Pump Day, June 19, 2014, highlights transit as a way to help people save money.

Commuting to work alone in a car costs more than the price of gasoline. Drivers have to take into account insurance, maintenance, wear and tear and parking at many destinations. For example, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) estimates the cost of driving a car annually at $10,174. By using transit or vanpooling, commuter can save about 75 percent.

“Every day, Metro puts 2,000 buses on our streets and trains on 88 miles of light rail and subway tracks. There is a very good chance that Metro has a transportation alternative that works for you,” said Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois. 

For commuters with a roundtrip drive of at least 30 miles, Metro also offers an extensive vanpooling program supporting a fleet of 1,331 public vanpool vehicles destined to L. A. County work sites each day. Nearly 90 percent of Metro Vanpool commuters used to drive alone and, based on ridership statistics, vanpooling results in nearly 7,000 cars off the road each day.

 “Vanpool passengers save time and money and benefit by not having wear and tear on their personal vehicles driving to work and back every day,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “In terms of reducing carbon footprint, we estimate that taking people out of their cars and putting them into vanpools reduces carbon emissions by nearly 4,000 metric tons in L.A. County each month.”

APTA reports that in 2013, Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation, the highest in 57 years. According to APTA, since 1995, public transit ridership is up 37.2 percent outpacing population growth, 20.3 percent and vehicle miles traveled, 22.7 percent.

Metro bus and rail riders continue to increase in numbers. In Fiscal Year 2011, Metro had a total of 453 million boardings. In the FY2013, Metro increased that to 472.7 million boardings. 

APTA estimates that public transportation in the United States reduces the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually, which is the equivalent of the electricity usage of Los Angeles, New York City, Washington D.C., Atlanta and Denver combined. In addition, research by the Texas Transportation Institute Census Bureau shows that in 2011, U.S. public transportation use saved 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel in 498 urban areas. 

Stay informed by following Metro on The Source and El Pasajero at metro.net, facebook.com/losangelesmetro, twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.

About Metro

Metro is a multimodal transportation agency that is really three companies in one: a major operator that transports about 1.5 million boarding passengers on an average weekday on a fleet of 2,000 clean air buses and six rail lines, a major construction agency that oversees many bus, rail, highway and other mobility related building projects, and the lead transportation planning and programming agency for Los Angeles County.  Overseeing one of the largest public works programs in America, Metro is helping change the urban landscape of the Los Angeles region. Dozens of transit, highway and other mobility projects largely funded by Measure R are under construction or in the planning stages. These include five new rail lines, the I-5 widening and other major projects.

crusing pump

Photo by Gary Leonard for Metro.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, June 18

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! 

Five key tips for Metro regarding safe bus-bike interactions (Streetsblog LA)

Joe Linton tackles an issue that has been in the news lately: conflicts between buses and bikes on area streets. He offers some safety tips of his own about the best way to pass a bus that is moving to the right to drop off/pick up passengers. He also recommends that Metro get more serious about funding and/or backing more bicycle infrastructure, including bike lanes and a countywide bike share program.

Joe also does not think bus-bike conflicts — i.e. buses cutting off bikes — are isolated events and that they happen more frequently than is reported via social media. Here’s a recent post on The Source about such conflicts with some information on bus operator training concerning sharing the road with bicyclists. It’s obviously an issue of great importance — with or without Metro’s ongoing “every lane is a bike lane” campaign.

Visualizing MBTA data

A pair of grad students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute created this amazing web page filled with charts, animations and other visual goodies based on data from the Boston area transit system. You can track delays, frequency of service, how long it takes to run different trains on the same line, station entries, etc. Really great stuff.

Moscow pledges $83 billion to fight traffic (Moscow Times) 

Even though the city has an expansive subway, officials want to accelerate rail construction, rebuild roadways and do anything possible to get people to consider taking transit more often. The average motorist, says the Times, spends three hours a day commuting. By comparison, the average one-way commute in L.A. is about 29 minutes, according to the Census Bureau.

The existing Moscow Metro.

The existing Moscow Metro.

The triumphant return of U.S. passenger rail (Citylab)

Interesting story about the All Aboard Florida project, a private venture that will run passenger trains between Orland and Miami beginning in 2016. It’s being billed as the first privately run regular passenger train service in the U.S. and will mostly use an existing freight corridor. The rail line says trips will take about three hours between Orlando and Miami — a trip that takes about 3.5 hours by car. Sounds promising and there’s an interesting real estate component, with upcoming development around key stations.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, June 17

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! 

Report urges new light rail station, circulator for LAX travel (L.A. Times)

Good coverage of the Metro staff report released yesterday recommending a new light rail station at Aviation and 96th that would connect with a people mover the airport would build to connect to LAX terminals and a few ground transportation hub. The new rail station would serve the Crenshaw/LAX Line trains and some Green Line trains. Please see our post for the staff report, maps and charts.

Valley coalition formed to advocate for rail (Post-Periodical)

The Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., a group representing business interests, has formed a group called “Valley on Track” to push for conversion of the Orange Line to light rail and using rail on two Measure R projects, the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor (bus rapid is also being considered) and the Sepulveda Pass Corridor. Of the trio, the Orange Line conversion is perhaps the toughest one. There is a pending state bill to lift the restriction on using rail in the corridor, but it’s a project with no funding presently in Metro’s long-range plans.

Bergamot Station’s tenants at odds over its future as Expo Line arrives (L.A. Times)

Many of the smaller art galleries at Bergamot Station are concerned that the three development proposals being reviewed by the city of Santa Monica — which owns the site — could lead to them being squeezed out. The most expensive of the proposals would cost $92 million and keep some of the old warehouses but also add non-art retail, a new hotel and underground parking. I like the present station but a lot of the land is under-utilized — it’s basically a series of galleries with a big parking lot in the middle. As for the Expo Line, a new station will sit on the northern part of the site next to Olympic Boulevard.

Editorial: a three-phase purple money eater (L.A. Register) 

They say the Purple Line Extension will cost too much and not fix traffic. They forget to mention the part about it serving as an alternative to traffic and that 68 percent of voters in 2008 voted for a package of transit projects, including the Purple Line Extension, as part of the Measure R sales tax increase. They also forget to mention that transit hasn’t “fixed” traffic in places such as San Francisco, Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, etc.

20 before-and-after Google Street views show downtown L.A.’s dramatic changes (LA Weekly)

Great idea for a post using a new feature on Google Maps that lets you see past street views. It’s nice to see some of the buildings that were virtually abandoned get a new lease on life.

Patsaouras Bus Plaza closure from June 21 to 23

A Metro Rapid bus leaving the transit plaza. Metro currently operates the nation's largest clean air fleet.Patsaouras Bus Plaza will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians from 1 a.m. Saturday, June 21 through 4 a.m. Monday, June 23 for landscaping renovations. Work being done will address water damage to the plaza and structures underneath and replace waterproofing, landscaping, electrical and irrigation systems.

No vehicles or pedestrians will be able to enter the plaza while work is being done. Metro buses that normally enter the plaza will stop at Cesar Chavez/Alameda to both board and drop off customers.

FlyAway will pick up and drop off in front of Union Station West near the Fred Harvey Room.

Megabus.com will operate service from the Amtrak bus pick-up/drop-off location on the west side of Union Station during the plaza closure.

Follow Metro on Twitter @metrolosangeles or @metroLAalerts to stay up-to-date on transit news and service advisories. To see what other improvements are taking place around Union Station, check out this previous post.

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.