Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 6

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Grove developer wants to extend trolley beyond shopping center (L.A. Times) 

The trolley at the Grove. Photo by Prayitno, via Flickr creative commons.

The trolley at the Grove. Photo by Prayitno, via Flickr creative commons.

Rick Caruso says he wants the trolley that ferries people around the Grove to possibly run all the way to the Beverly Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the new movie museum being installed at Wilshire and Fairfax — where there will be a future Purple Line Extension subway station. He also says he’s willing to put some of his money behind such an effort.

Not so fast, says others. One prominent homeowner group says no way, there’s already too much traffic on local streets without streetcars and railroad tracks. And the city of Los Angeles says an environmental review would be needed.

As for Caruso, he wrongly cites the cost of the subway to the sea (his words, not ours) at $1 billion and the Times fails to bother to correct him. The cost is $6.3 billion to build nine miles to Westwood if the project is not accelerated. And he seems to suggest that putting people underground in our balmy climate is somehow inappropriate and that it would be better to move them at street level.

All that said, it is absolutely an interesting idea precisely because of the fact that the new subway station is being built and it would surely help ridership if the subway offers easy connections to businesses and homes along/near Fairfax and Beverly Boulevard (of course, the Metro Rapid 780 bus stops at both Wilshire/Fairfax and Fairfax/3rd). The current forecast is that the first segment of the Purple Line Extension will open in late 2022, so if the city of Los Angeles is serious about anything, the time to get moving is now.

Developer has big plans for Macy Plaza (L.A. Times) 

The fortress-like shopping mall along 7th Street is scheduled for a serious makeover that would open it to the street — i.e. shops would be accessible from the street, not from inside the building. The current glass roof over the atrium would also go.

The reporter also weirdly says that plans are to connect a new plaza to a “planned subway station.” What the what? The existing 7th/Metro Center station is across the street. Yikes. Not a good day for transit facts in the Los Angeles Times!

At DTLA Rising, Brigham Yen elaborates on why this is an exciting proposal — and he’s especially happy about the prospect of an underground connection between the station that serves the Red, Purple, Blue and Expo lines and the mall.

Dodgers owner says it’s trying to bring second sport to Chavez Ravine (Curbed LA, following L.A. Times)

In a court filing related to former team owner Frank McCourt’s divorce, Guggenheim Sports Management says that it’s in sensitive negotiations with a major entity over the use of the land around Dodger Stadium. The Times broke the story and Curbed does a nice job of summing it up. The major entity is likely the National Football League, which has long coveted the site over existing stadiums in the region and other potential sites (next to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles or the City of Industry, a site that will have 25,000 parking spaces according to its developer).

Here’s what I don’t get. The owners of Dodger Stadium and its acres of parking lots certainly have the right to pursue plans for their property. But it would sure be nice to know what the people of Los Angeles want and to have that solidified in the city’s zoning code. As I’ve written many times, Dodger Stadium and Chavez Ravine are far removed from the core of downtown Los Angeles, separated by topography, the 110 and 101 freeways and the street grid. I’m unaware of anyone having plans at this time to extend rail service to the stadium, a proposition that is both very expensive and somewhat impractical given that the ballpark is only used relatively few hours out of the year.

On a related note, have fun finding the words “City of Industry” on the “Los Angeles Stadium” website.

25 ideas for transforming Los Angeles (Frying Pan News)

Occidental professor Peter Dreier has a robust list of things-to-do for the mayor-elect, including transportation. Excerpt:

Los Angeles outgrew its suburban roots years ago when the freeways became parking lots. Now Los Angeles needs to grow up around transit stops. Making public transit a real possibility for people trapped in their cars means both building up Los Angeles’ bus and rail system and building up the areas within walking distance of that system.

Los Angeles needs to grow up around transit stops.

In recent years, traffic flows have improved, and new rapid bus routes are in place. The city is now in the early stages of a large-scale expansion of public transportation, which will be the largest land-use change in the city since the build-out of the freeway system. Garcetti’s job will be to help manage land-use policies around that expansion so that they create livable, walkable neighborhoods and maximize use of the transit system, thereby reducing traffic congestion, pollution and harmful gas emissions. Such goals require that working families and core transit riders be able to live around the transit stops and do not get displaced or shut out of those areas by rising rents and home prices.

The success of Measure R in 2008, the “30-10” plan to accelerate implementation of our transit revolution and the 66 percent “yes” vote on Measure J in 2012 (just short of the two-third needed for passage) demonstrate that Los Angeles voters are ready to invest in a transportation transformation. Garcetti should build on this voter trust – and on the partnership between elected officials and labor, business, environmental and community groups – to expand our transit system into one that is robust, environmentally sustainable and financially sound, and that contributes to economic prosperity.

 

Hard to argue with that! One note: The 30/10 plan was renamed America Fast Forward a couple of years ago to help build its national appeal. Congress approved part of the plan by expanding a federal loan program known as TIFIA in the most recent multi-year federal transportation bill. Metro is currently lobbying Congress to adopt the other equally important half that would give transit agencies access to interest-free loans in exchange for tax credits for those who invest in the bonds. Here’s a more detailed explanation.

Metro survey results of those who rent bike lockers

The Metro Bike team together with Metro Research just completed an online survey of their current bike locker holders. The online survey collected data on several satisfaction indicators as well as trip type, distance, and demographics. Satisfaction feedback will help the bike team improve service, and trip data helps us see how the lockers are being used. Jeff Boberg, head of Metro Research, comments on the trip data: “I really think this is a great aspect that doesn’t always get enough attention: if we care about reducing congestion and cleaner air, we should be looking for cost effective alternatives for lowering car trips without decreasing mobility, and the bike locker program is very cost effective.”

Read on for the key findings!

The bike lockers scored well on all the key indicators, especially price and safety.

Percentage of Locker Holders Satisfied by Issuesatisfaction

Almost all of locker holders claim they would not use a rack if the lockers were not available.

If there were no lockers, would you use a rack?       Graphs for jpeg export

 Trip Type        Trip type

Continue reading


Transportation headlines, Wednesday, June 5

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Metro Library: Changes are coming to our Transportation Headlines — same great content in a new improved format (Primary Resources) 

20130529_paperli

The Metro Transportation Library is preparing to move the daily transortation headlines from Blogger to Paper.li. Please see the post to learn more about the new format and receiving it through RSS / Feedburner or email.

Senseless (Bicycling)

The concussion rate from bike accidents in recent years has grown faster than the sport of cycling. Why? This long and excellent magazine article by Bruce Barcott seeks the answer and comes up with some interesting conclusions. Most troubling, to me, is that federal government standards for bike helmets have not changed since 1999 despite considerable research into brain injury prevention since then. Nonetheless, some companies are making progress at creating helmets that can both prevent catastrophic injury and more routine concussions. If you’re interested in cycling, please read.

LaHood: expect big announcement from Obama on transportation funding (Governing) 

The outgoing U.S. Secretary of Transportation hints that perhaps the President may have an idea to replace the federal gas tax which funds many projects but has been struggling to keep pace with demand (the tax hasn’t been raised in 20 years and is also taking a hit because cars are more fuel efficient these days). Replace the gas tax with what? Governing speculates that maybe it’s a tax based on how many miles people drive, a solution backed by many transportation experts.

Assembly wants part-time carpool lanes in Southern California (L.A. Times)

A bill that would allow single occupant vehicles to use carpool lanes on parts of the 134 and 210 freeways during non-rush hours sailed through the Assembly last Thursday. Yes, I know that was almost a week ago — but overlooked this one last week and it’s certainly newsworthy. Seems like the next big regional conversation we’ll be having in future years is over management of the HOV lanes. Should they be carpool lanes all the time? Some of the time? Or congestion pricing lanes sometimes or all times?

 

Digging set to begin on Central Subway project in San Francisco

Clever/fun PR move by the San Francisco MTA: they’ve created Twitter accounts for both of the tunnel boring machines that will be used to dig the Central Subway project. The subway will extend one of the existing light rail lines for 1.7 miles north between the Caltrain station — Caltrain is the commuter rail serving the San Francisco Peninsula — to Chinatown and North Beach.

There was a public ceremony held on Friday in San Francisco to celebrate the tunneling, which is scheduled to begin June 10. Of course, we’re ramping up to begin work on the first segment of the Purple Line Extension between Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/La Cienega.

Here is a segment that ran last week on KCBS in the Bay Area; sorry about the commercial.

Transportation headlines, Monday, June 3

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

11 small ideas for Mayor-elect Garcetti to make L.A. less blighty (Curbed LA) 

Many of Curbed's suggestions are aimed at improving L.A.'s streetscapes for lack of a better term. This is Lincoln & Washington on the Westside. Beautiful! Photo: Google Maps.

Many of Curbed’s suggestions are aimed at improving L.A.’s streetscapes for lack of a better term. This is Lincoln & Washington on the Westside. Beautiful! Photo: Google Maps.

I thought this post went 11-for-11 on ideas to clean up and/or better use Los Angeles’ streets. Among the proposals: more street medians, narrower driveways interrupting driveways and street parking, less awful signage and closing parts of Hollywood Boulevard on the weekend.

Dana Gabbard’s rules of transit advocacy (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The rules were first compiled 13 years ago by the long-time transit activist but I think they stand the test of time. Pay heed and bow before No. 7: “Never promise congestion relief resulting from a transit project.” I certainly try not to — the reason to build transit isn’t to solve traffic, it’s to provide an alternative to it and give everyone more mobility options.

Roger Snoble named SunLine interim general manager (Desert Sun) 

The former CEO of Metro has agreed to step in for the summer and oversee the transit agency that provides bus service for the Coachella Valley. Roger retired from Metro in 2009 and lives in the Coachella Valley area. The current g.m. at SunLine is under investigation over the agency’s finances and some recent employee dismissals.

New free bus in downtown Denver? All aboard! (Denver Post)

The editorial backs a proposal to add a second free circulator in downtown Denver despite some criticism that it will be costly and the agency can’t afford it. The Post points out that many people who will use the bus to reach jobs will be transferring from the region’s expanding rail system and would not have had to pay a fare anyway. (Transfers are free on the Denver RTD system although the RTD’s base fares are higher than Metro’s, a typical arrangement on many large metro systems in the U.S.).

On most weekdays, btw, the existing free shuttle in Denver runs every 1.5 to three minutes. I kid you not. See for yourself!

Keystone hires lobbyists with ties to John Kerry (Grist) 

The headline is somewhat misleading as this blog post serves as a good roundup of the hires by both proponents and opponents of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline that would carry oil from Alberta’s tar sands fields to refineries in the U.S. Bottom line: both sides have lobbyists in their holsters. President Obama is expected to make a decision soon; Canada is pressing hard for the pipeline, the reason that Secretary of State Kerry is involved.

Self-driving cars for testing are supported by USDOT (NYT) 

Driver-less cars may not be ready for prime time but the feds see enough safety benefits to encourage firms such as Google to keep working on them. I’m mixed on this one. Lord knows our local streets are festooned with people who have no business ever being behind the wheel, but this doesn’t strike me as a problem as easy to solve as looking up “how do I make the perfect mojito.”

Transportation headlines, Friday, May 31

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Bike to death (Voice of OC)

The lede of this article is buried, but a review of data shows accidents involving bikes is up significantly in both Orange and Los Angeles counties over the last decade. According to Bike in LA, there has been 30 cycling deaths in Southern California so far in 2013 — at this juncture in 2012, there had been 20 deaths. These are all scary numbers and I’m not sure what’s going on exactly — and I’m not sure the data exists to draw conclusions. I do think we can all agree that we live in a climate and area very favorable to cycling, a lot of people are on bikes and bike infrastructure — although expanding — remains sorely lacking in many areas.

Rep. Schiff asks Metrolink to assess yard’s health risks (L.A. Times)

The Congressman wants Metrolink to formally study any health risks from its rail yard along the Los Angeles River just north of downtown. Nearby residents in Elysian Valley and Cypress Park have concerns about the impact about diesel emissions.

By the way, this new study finds that while deaths from driving dropped across the planet in 2012, safety for pedestrians is not increasing at a rate as fast.

Lawsuits once again challenge LAX runway and construction work (L.A. Times) 

Four local governments, a labor union and a resident’s group have filed a legal challenge to LAX’s specific amendment study that proposed moving the north runway further north, building a people mover and a consolidated rental car facility, among others. The runway seems to be the issue that sparked the suits, which are seen as the latest obstacle in modernizing the entire airport. The people mover and potential locations for light rail stations close to the airport are, of course, critical to Metro’s Airport Connector project, which seeks to link the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the LAX terminals via either light rail, people mover or bus rapid transit or some combination of those.

Can New York’s Penn Station ever be great again? (The Atlantic Cities) 

Everyone is re-imagining their train stations these days! Planning is underway to improve the extremely busy Amtrak and commuter rail station that is buried under Madison Square Garden, home to the Knicks, Rangers and many concerts. There’s no guarantee anything will come of it — and it will be hard to accomplish much of anything as long as the station remains buried under a sports arena. But there’s hope, albeit limited, that perhaps the arena and the train station can get a divorce, with perhaps one moving across the street to the site of a current postal complex. The original Pennsylvania Station — considered by many as an architectural gem — was torn down in the 1960s to make way for Madison Square Garden and the new underground train depot.

Microbes hitch a ride on the subway (NYT) 

A study of the air in the New York subway finds a lot of bacteria and other tiny life forms — and nothing that riders should worry about. About five percent of microbial species found probably come from human skin and are zapped through the air courtesy of the air pressure created by millions of feet striking pavement and pushing air around each day. One more reason to take care of your feet, people!