Transportation headlines, Friday, June 8

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.

Transit that serves all requires some sacrifice (L.A. Times)

To provide some perspective on the Beverly Hills versus Westside Subway Extension controversy, columnist Hector Tobar visits the Blue Line in Compton, where trains run at street level, access to stations is not always easy, public art is lacking and many residents say they’re utterly dependent on the train. Tobar takes a dim view of Beverly Hills’ arguments against the proposed subway tunnel under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus, writing:

“Public good requires public sacrifice. Compton, Boyle Heights, and many other communities have sacrificed a lot in the building of the rail lines and freeways that link us together. I don’t think it’s asking too much to expect Beverly Hills to do its share.”

 

Can ditching your car make you more free? (GOOD)

Nice article looking at a few local folks who have bid adieu to their cars and instead rely on transit, walking and cycling to get around. The pros: money is saved and an intense connection with the city around them. The cons: you can’t get everywhere you want to go.

Desert XPress looks toward Palmdale (VegasInc.)

Officials with the proposed Desert Xpress bullet train and County Supervisor Mike Antonovich — the incoming Metro Board Chair — signed papers agreeing to pursue a common strategy for extending the Xpress train from Victorville to Palmdale. The Xpress, as originally proposed, would link Las Vegas and Victorville. Antonovich wants to see the train continue along the proposed High Desert Corridor freeway to Palmdale, where there would be connecting service to Los Angeles Union Station via Metrolink and possibly the California state bullet train project. One note: the Xpress still needs major funding from the federal government in order to make it to Victorville.

What's happening at other transit agencies?

This weekly post features news from other transit agencies and planners from around the world. Did we miss a good story? Let us know in the comments.

DC Metro to add more rush hour trains, with updated map

Washington D.C. Metro has produced this handy video that describes its new service plan for rush hour, called Rush+ (aka “Rush Plus”). The Transportation Nation blog highlights some of the new features: namely, more trains at rush hour on certain lines to reduce crowding and a couple of different service plans for lines that currently share tracks. Check out the video for all the details.

Streetcar headed to downtown St. Louis?

The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, an organization promoting investment in the city’s core, has issued a request for qualifications to have transportation firms conduct a feasibility study for a downtown streetcar. The early concept for the line has it connecting St. Louis’ beautiful and historic Forest Park to downtown via Midtown, the Central West End, and Skinker-DeBaliviere — some of the city’s more walkable, retail-oriented neighborhoods. The line would also potentially link up with the regions light rail system, Metrolink. STL’s Citizens for Modern Transit blog adds: “The feasibility study will include the process of planning, funding and design of the St. Louis Streetcar.”

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 7

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.

 

A rendering of a 1961 Lockheed proposal for a monorail in L.A. Credit: Metro Transportation Library & Archive's Flickr photostream.

Ray Bradbury — and the free L.A. monorail system that never was (KPCC)

Going back to the early 1960s, the author was a big-time supporter of criss-crossing the L.A. region with monorails. His enthusiasm started with a proposal from a firm in the early 1960s to spend $105 million building a monorail system in L.A. in exchange for the rights to collect fares from it — a proposal shunned by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

For more background on monorails, transit writer Jarrett Walker has a good discussion of some of their limitations from a transit operations and urban design standpoint.

Rollin’ on the river — the L.A. River! (ZevWeb)

Good article on the history of the L.A. River bike ride, which takes place this Sunday. There’s also more bike paths coming to the river — the 1.5-mile West Valley Bike Path is scheduled to open later this year and four miles of bike path along the new Orange Line Extension parallels the river course.

Foothill Transit expected to drop fares for Silver Streak bus (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

Foothill Transit is expected on Friday to cut 30 cents from the Silver Streak’s fare — from $2.75 to $2.45 — to complete with Metro’s Silver Line. The Silver Streak runs between Montclair and downtown L.A. and competes with Metro’s Silver Line for passengers between El Monte and downtown. Problem is, the Silver Streak has been losing passengers to the Silver Line, which already has a $2.45 fare. In addition, there’s this good news: Foothill Transit is expected to begin accepting Metro passes on the Silver Streak and vice versa, Metro will accept Foothill Transit passes on the Silver Line.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, 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.

Small decrease in driving = huge decrease in congestion (League of American Bicyclists)

The Leagues breaks down the numbers to show that taking a few cars off the road really does make a difference. It’s hardly a new hypothesis, but interesting to see in the context of the recent decline in miles driven by Americans.

Passing a transportation bill is job one, Congress (NRDC Switchboard blog)

This sentence neatly sums up this blog post: Seriously? Republicans in Congress decrying a lack of jobs are holding the biggest job creating bill hostage in order to weaken environmental safeguards, stymie citizen input and pave the way for an oil pipeline.

Ending climate change begins in the city (C40 Cities)

Check out this series of infographics that show how much energy cities consume and how urban density can lead to efficiencies that lower greenhouse gases.


Transportation headlines, Tuesday, June 5

A self-portrait of one Kings fan on the trip home on Metro after last night's 4-0 triumph over New Jersey. Photo by Mark Nakata, via Twitter.

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.

How legal challenge are affecting work on four L.A. rail lines (Curbed L.A.)

Thus far, the challenges aren’t impacting work. But the post is a good round-up of the three ongoing lawsuits and one legal appeal against, respectively, the Expo Line’s second phase, the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Westside Subway Extension and the Regional Connector.

Environmental report for downtown football stadium blasted (Daily News)

Putting aside the verbiage in the headline, some environmentalists and other residents have criticized the draft environmental report by AEG, saying it doesn’t offer enough specifics on reducing car trips to the new stadium (if it’s built). My two cents: as long as there’s a glut of downtown parking, some people will insist on driving to games. I’m not sure why that’s the responsibility of AEG or any other downtown developer.

Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council wants more barriers to high-density development (L.A. Streetsblog)

The Council says it wants to preserve the single-family home nature of the community and, besides, that Boyle Heights doesn’t have the infrastructure needed to support more developments. I humbly suggest the opposite: new development would likely improve the community, help local businesspeople and lead to infrastructure being improved. Thus far, development along the Eastside Gold Line has been lacking and that’s really a shame.

National transit ridership up 5 percent in first quarter of 2012

Below is the news release from the American Public Transportation Assn. — the Los Angeles area saw big gains in light rail and commuter rail ridership. That mirrors the gains in Metro’s rail ridership in April, although overall Metro ridership in April 2012 is down from April 2011 and April 2010 (complete ridership numbers here).

The APTA news release:

Public transportation ridership surged in the first quarter of 2012, as Americans took nearly 2.7 billion trips, an increase of 5.0% over the first quarter of last year, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This was the fifth consecutive quarter of U.S. public transit ridership increase, as 125.7 million more trips were taken than the first quarter of 2011.

All public transit modes saw increases and several saw significantly high increases.  Light rail use increased by 6.7 percent and heavy rail use increased by 5.5 percent. Some public transit systems throughout all the areas of the United States reported record ridership for the first quarter. (i.e. Ann Arbor, MI; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Fort Myers, FL; Indianapolis, IN; Ithaca, NY;  New York, NY; Oakland, CA; Olympia, WA; San Diego, CA; and Tampa, FL).

 

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Transportation headlines, Monday, June 4

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.

 

An Expo Line train testing the tracks between La Cienega/Jefferson Station and Culver City. Photo by ExpoLineFan.

Pasadena residents weigh freeway extension efforts (Pasadena Sun)

Opinions of community members were all over the place at last week’s meeting at the Rose Bowl on the project to improve traffic in the area surrounding the gap in the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena. Some want the gap closed, others see any kind of freeway extension as bringing more traffic to the region. Here’s the project’s homepage on metro.net.

Stalled Grand Avenue development may get a second look (L.A. Times)

The massive residential development with commercial space has been talked about for years but the developer — Related Cos. — hasn’t done anything with the recent collapse of the real estate market. Related is indicating they will adjust their plans soon. In the meantime, that part of downtown L.A., even though well connected to transit, remains the usual collection of dreary parking lots.

Young Americans aren’t the only ones driving less than their parents (The Atlantic)

New research indicates the same trend is underway in Germany, where teens and young adults are using public transit and cycling more — even among those who own cars. One factor: a rise in the cost of car ownership and parking policies in Germany that discourage driving in some places.

 

 

Bill Rosendahl: Mobility is Westside’s number one priority (The Planning Report)

Interesting interview with the Los Angeles Council member who represents the far westside of the city. Rosendahl points to Prop 13 as one reason cities such as Santa Monica, Culver City and L.A. made a push for more commercial real estate on the Westside to bring in tax revenues — and, as a result, more traffic.

 

Transportation headlines, Friday, June 1

More bike lanes coming to a downtown L.A. street near you this summer. Photo by flickr user ubrayj02.

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.

The Bikeification of L.A.’s Civic Center Hits This June (Curbed L.A.)

Downtown L.A. got the first of many bike lanes, when the Spring Street green lane debuted earlier this year. The next batch of 2.6 miles of lanes is on its way this month. Expect to see lanes on Main Street between Ninth and Cesar Chavez, an east-west link on First Street connecting Grand to San Pedro Street, as well as lanes traveling up Los Angeles Street right to Union Station’s front door. H/T also to the BIKAS blog.

Second suit against Westside Subway Extension (Beverly Hills Patch)

The city of Beverly Hills on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Metro, alleging the project’s environmental study was inadequate. The Beverly Hills Unified School District filed a similar lawsuit on Wednesday.

Downtown L.A. park to open this summer (L.A. Times)

When you’re pedaling around downtown this summer, be sure to check out the newly revamped Civic Center park, which spreads over three city blocks between the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and City Hall. Or, if biking isn’t your thing, you can take the Metro Red or Purple Lines to the Civic Center Station; it’ll drop you off right smack in the middle of the park.

Bill Rosendahl: Mobility is Westside L.A.’s priority one! (The Planning Report)

This interview with Westside City Councilman Bill Rosendahl touches on a number of interesting subjects including: why traffic is particularly bad on the Westside (in part, lots of jobs) and what Measure R can do to give people additional travel options to the Westside’s jobs, health care, education and entertainment options — not to mention LAX.

Making rural transit work (D.C. Streetsblog)

This is about a week old, but I missed it the first time around and it deserves a look. Writer Angie Schmitt delves into a report from transit advocacy group Reconnecting America on the lessons we can learn from rural communities that are successfully providing public transit — and thus, a basic level of access for those in rural communities who cannot or chose not to drive. After reviewing the success stories, Schmitt distills it to this: “What all the success stories have in common is coordination — between metropolitan planning organizations, area agencies serving the elderly, healthcare providers and other stakeholders. The other thing they share is an understanding of local travel patterns.”

What's happening at other transit agencies?

Bus stop of the future, according to urban designer Marc Aurel.

This weekly post features news from other transit agencies and planners from around the world. Did we miss a good story? Let us know in the comments.

The bus stop of the future concept in Paris

Some bus stops are nothing more than a sign planted in the ground. But that doesn’t mean it has to be that way — or always will be that way. Transit planner and writer Jarrett Walker highlights a rendering of what a full-feature bus stop could look like situated on a Parisian boulevard. Designed by Marc Aurel, the station turns over 800 square feet of sidewalk into a “a multi-purpose public space [where] you can buy a bus ticket, get information about the neighborhood, have a coffee, borrow a book, play music, recharge a phone, buy a meal to take away, rent an electric bike, stay warm while eating a sandwich, or set up a bag on a shelf to do your makeup.” Click through additional renderings.

San Francisco land-use plan calls for new growth near transit

The Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments have approved a road map for how to accommodate the region’s population growth in the coming years, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The key to finding homes for the expected 2.1 million additional residents — all without adding too much traffic and pollution — will be focusing new housing around public transportation. And this will keep the Bay Area in compliance with state law requiring regions to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, 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.

Beverly Hills Unified School District files state lawsuit against Metro (P.R. Newswire)

As I posted earlier, it’s Metro’s policy to decline comment on litigation filed against the agency. The above news release is from the School District.

Metrolink raises fares by average of seven percent (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

The increase is the largest in the agency’s history and the 11th in the past 14 years, according to agency records. The fare increase, triggered largely by soaring fuel costs, will help cover about a third of a $13-million budget deficit, with the rest of the money coming from the five counties that fund Metrolink (which includes Metro on behalf of L.A. County). One transit advocate backed the increases, as long as there were no service cuts.

Wi-Fi and Amtrak: missed connections (New York Times)

The heavily-promoted wi-fi service in the Northeast Corridor has led to a lot of jokes and angry passengers who say it’s slow and frequently non-existent. Amtrak officials say they’ve heard the complaints and are updating equipment in order to improve service by year’s end.

Expo Line landscaping lunacy (Huffington Post)

Columnist Lisa Novick opines that only California native plants should be used along phase 2 of the Expo Line in order to save water and fit in better with the local environment (or, what’s left of it).