Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 14: another look at young Americans driving less and bike sharing booms

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.

ART OF TRANSIT: Metro buses on Broadwayal, taken with the iPhone’s Hipstamatic app. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.


Young Americans lead trend toward less driving (New York Times)

The NYT looks at the Americans-are-driving less story through the prism of Charlotte, where light rail has proven popular and some people are definitely taking advantage of walkable, bikeable, transitable neighborhoods — and the mayor was recently appointed to be U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

Is it a trend that will last, asks the NYT. Some experts say probably not and that it’s inevitable that the milleniels will move to the ‘burbs and drive more once they have kids and/or better paying jobs. Fair point, I suppose, but I would have added this point: it may not be babies that drive people to the suburbs but rather a combination of babies + escalating real estate prices in popular walkable/bikeable/transitable urban areas.

A user’s guide to the L.A. mayoral race: 5 key differences between Garcetti and Greuel (LA Weekly)

Reporter Gene Maddeus writes a very well-informed piece that I think deftly and fairly looks at both candidates (I covered the L.A. City Council between 2005 and 2007). A section on development is the closest the article comes to looking at issues involving transportation.

Dozens of U.S. cities board the bike-sharing bandwagon (Earth Policy Institute)

A good look at the booming popularity of bike sharing programs in the U.S., which offer short-term bike rentals to urban dwellers. A big test of the concept will come this year as more big cities put their programs online. Check out this nifty chart:

The bike share criticism challenge (Brooklyn Spoke) 

New York City has been installing its bike sharing stations and suddenly complaints have soared whereas there was almost none when bike sharing was just a concept. See this New York Times story. The Brooklyn Spoke blog, however, offers a great visual rebuttal to most of the complaints, vividly showing that automobiles should be generating the same kind of complaints.


Transportation headlines, Monday, May 13

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.

Laurie Becklund on transactional planning in Hollywood (The Planning Report) 

The Hollywood Hills resident wants to see development in her end of Hollywood but has a lot of issues — issues she wants studied further — with the Millenium Hollywood skyscrapers being proposed near the Hollywood/Vine Red Line station. The gist of it: she thinks the project is too large and will greatly harm traffic in the area. Thoughts, readers?

Extreme commuter: UCLA staffer commutes 22 miles from Valley to campus (UCLA Today) 

Good post for the first day of Bike to Work Week.

Opinion: Metro must keep faith on Gold Line (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) 

Two members of the Foothill Extension Construction Authority Board say that Metro must commit $950 million to complete the Gold Line to Claremont instead of just funding it to Azusa as part of Measure R. I think it’s important to understand that Measure R doesn’t fully fund all of the Measure R transit projects or the more expensive alternatives of those projects. For example, outside money will be needed to complete the Airport Metro Connector, the Regional Connector, the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor and the light rail alternative for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor.

Transportation headlines, Friday, May 10

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.

CicLAvia: iconic Wilshire Boulevard (CicLAvia) 

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I predict big crowds for this one — go early for better cycling! The June 23 event will be easily accessed from Metro’s Red and Purple Line subway.

Lower bus fares? One transit agency is considering it (GOOD)

AC Transit is studying a possible 10 cent reduction from $2.10 to $2, a more common fare among large transit agencies; AC Transit runs bus service in Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the Bay Area.

The article also has this excerpt:

The agency will also look into other cost-saving alternatives, like getting rid of paper transfers in favor of day passes. AC Transit says abuses of paper transfers, like re-using or selling them, are a source of lost revenue. Other proposals include increasing the automated transit pass Clipper Card network and reducing the cost of a monthly pass.

That line of reasoning contributed to Metro getting rid of transfers and instead going with day passes. Not mentioned here is that making those who transfer pay more is extremely unpopular among riders — and perhaps impacts ridership.

Transit commuters are stinking low-lifes, Subaru tells commuters (Streetsblog) 

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As the Streetsblog post explains, the above ad ran in a Canadian newspaper and conveniently fails to mention the joy of sitting in traffic, smog, climate change, etc. I own a 2007 Subaru and it’s a great car, but the idiots who came up with this ad overlooked another reality: some customers use their 2007 Subarus to drive to transit stops.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, May 9

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.

Delays, costs build up for 405 project (L.A. Times) 

A good look at the various issues that have delayed completion of the project that is adding a northbound carpool lane to the 405 between the 10 and 101 as well as widening bridges and rebuilding the on- and off-ramps to/from Wilshire Boulevard. Excerpt:

The 405 project is being built under a speedier-than-typical process. State lawmakers fast-tracked the construction by choosing the so-called “design-build” method over the more traditional “design-bid-build.”

Design-build puts a single contractor in charge of final design and construction, in theory enabling projects to run more smoothly and to be completed at lower cost.

Shaving years off the project “saves hundreds of millions of dollars in construction impacts, costs and travel delays for the public,” said Dave Sotero, a Metro spokesman.

But there can be downsides to this approach.

Some tasks that normally would be completed before the bulldozers and pile drivers move in — such as relocating utility lines — must be completed while construction is underway. Nasty surprises can derail plans.

In addition to the utility relocations, other problems have involved retaining walls and securing a property easement to build ramps from Getty Center Drive. The project is scheduled to be completed by mid-2014 with some parts of it opening prior. That’s a year behind the original schedule but seven years ahead of the 2021 completion date if design-build had not been used.

Crenshaw Subway Coalition gets ready for Leimert Park station showdown (Los Angeles Wave) 

A rendering from the Crenshaw/LAX Line's final environmental document showing the light rail running at grade between 48th and 59th.

A rendering from the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s final environmental document showing the light rail running at grade between 48th and 59th.

An update on a recent community meeting by the group fighting to add a Leimert Park station to the Crenshaw/LAX Line and have the segment between 48th and 59th streets put underground (as approved it will be built at street level). The article also included the Coalition’s update on what the Los Angeles mayoral candidates have written to the Coalition. Excerpt:

“As soon as possible upon taking office as mayor [I commit to directing] staff to review the design options in the [Environmental Impact Report/Statement] as well as funding opportunities for underground portions of Crenshaw Blvd between 48th and 59th streets,” Greuel wrote.

Meanwhile, Garceti declared: “As mayor, I will continue to aggressively fight for the rail stop in Leimert Park to improve safety, create jobs, boost local businesses and provide better access to a transportation option that will help South L.A. residents get where they need to go without a car, which will reduce congestion and pollution for us all.”

Bids to build the project are scheduled to be released soon by Metro, as well as a Metro staff recommendation for who should be awarded the contract. At this point, the earliest the Board would consider that contract is in late June; Garcetti or Greuel will take office on July 1. The Board has already approved adding a Leimert Park station if it could be built within the project’s budget. Putting the segment south of 48th Street underground is a bigger deal because that’s not the project approved that was approved by the Board or put out to bid, nor was it the project approved by the Federal Transit Administration in late 2011. Stay tuned!

L.A. Council approves controversial rail yard for port complex (L.A. Times) 

Cargo ships on the Panama Canal in a 2008 photo. Credit: ThinkPanama, via Flickr creative commons.

Cargo ships on the Panama Canal in a 2008 photo. Credit: ThinkPanama, via Flickr creative commons.

The 153-acre facility in Wilmington would allow more cargo containers to be transfered from trucks to Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains closer to the ports. Proponents say it would vastly reduce truck trips on the nearby 710 freeway and that it will be the greenest facility of its kind. Opponents counter that the yard will spew more pollution into the area and have threatened to sue. Looming over the entire issue is the widening of the Panama Canal, which may or may not (depending on who is doing the predicting) inspire the largest cargo ships from Asia to bypass the West Coast and instead unload at harbors along the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast.

Has high-speed rail been derailed? (Governing) 

A good, balanced article on federal funding of President Obama’s initiative to build high-speed rail lines around the U.S. As the article notes, the $42 billion needed from the feds to build a San Francisco-to-Los Angeles line seems unlikely to come from the current Congress given recent budget cuts. But proponents point to smaller projects around the country that are speeding up existing Amtrak lines and say high-speed rail is much like the interstate highway system — it will be done in increments.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 8: Distance-based road usage, green ports, social media outreach, transit use and city usage

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.

Photo by Diyanski via Flickr

Photo by Diyanski via Flickr

Advocates of distance-based road pricing look to Oregon (Road Pricing)

As vehicles become more fuel efficient, fuel tax revenues continue to shrink. That’s one of the reasons eyes are on Oregon, as it explores a distance-based road usage charging system for the state. The feds no doubt are watching, too. Here are the details.    

L.A. is a leader in green ports, Mayor says (Los Angeles Times)

The world looks to L.A. for ways to reduce pollution, Mayor Villaraigosa said at a ports conference this week. He cites a modernization of the Port of L.A. and the state’s tough emissions law. He also could add Metro’s efforts to improve mobility to and from the ports by work on the I-5 and I-710 south, as well as the Alameda East Corridor. The story doesn’t mention it, so we will.

Public agencies lag behind in social media outreach (Transportation Issues Daily)

Social media is changing the way organizations engage with the public. And public agencies are not up-to-speed on conveying messages via mobile media. Okay. We buy that. Any suggestions for what Metro could do? 

What public transit teaches us about how people use cities (The Atlantic: Cities)

Ridership is an identifyer of how and at what time people use — or don’t use — transit: whether movement is centralized, decentralized or has mutiple focal points. Three videos track travel patterns on public transit in San Francisco, Geneva and Zurich. Interesting to see Californians up and about before folks in two of the great European business centers. We can also see that at 1 and 2 a.m. it’s lights out in Zurich, while San Francisco is on the move. Wonder what L.A. would look like.

Metro to receive more than $390 million to improve public transit and air quality

Excellent news for L.A. County this evening. Metro will receive funds to support a variety of notable projects. Here’s the release:

This week Metro was awarded more than $390 million from the California Transportation Commission (CTC) and the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) to support construction of new rail, upgrade existing transit service, buy much needed rail cars, repair and improve buses and create jobs. The money comes from Proposition 1B, the 2006 voter-approved transportation bond, Proposition 1A, the voter-approved High-Speed Rail Bond, and the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The High-Speed Rail Bond program targets some funds at connectivity with future high-Speed rail service. Metro used its Measure R funds, approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008, to aid in leveraging state funding to Los Angeles County.

Projects benefiting from $390 million in state bond funds include $264 million for the Regional Connector project, which will improve connectivity county wide by linking Metro’s Blue, Expo and Gold lines via a 1.9-mile extension of light-rail tracks beneath downtown Los Angeles, and $61 million included in the current Life of Project for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, an 8.5-mile light-rail line that will connect the Metro Green Line with the Metro Exposition Line and provide a link to LAX. Another portion of the funding — $45.4 million — will aid in the purchase of 78 light-rail vehicles for system-wide service expansion and for use on future light-rail lines that will open during the next few years. The state also released $19.9 million for Metro’s Bus Rehabilitation Program to repair and improve up to 321 buses.

“These funds will help us continue to expand and upgrade the Metro system,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “They are slotted for bus and rail projects that will work together to buy us improved mobility and move us closer to our goal of creating a 21st Century transit network for our region.”

The projects were included in the Metro Long Range Transportation Plan and were chosen because they already are underway and the new round of funding will ensure they stay on schedule.

The Caltrans funding comes from Proposition 1B, the 2006 voter-approved transportation bond, which is providing $3.6 billion over a 10-year period to improve public transit in California. To date, Proposition 1B has provided more than $2 billion in funding to approximately 750 transit projects statewide, with 340 completed.


Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 7: What does Mickey Mouse have to do with streetcars? Improved bike parking at Dodger Stadium? Does Foxx know enough to be transpo secretary?

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.

Is Mickey Mouse driving up costs of Anaheim streetcar? (Voice of OC)

The costs look to be higher than expected for the Anaheim streetcar project. Is this worthy of attention here in L.A.? Only if we’re considering a downtown streetcar project for our own.

Improved bike parking at Dodger Stadium: No home run yet (StreetsBlog LA)

One bicyclist cruised the scene looking for improved bike access and services and offers a little coaching. Perhaps better — at least for the moment — to take the Dodger Stadium Express from Union Station. 

What does Anthony Foxx know and what should he know? (National Journal Transportation Experts Blog)

As mayor of a major city, the Transportation Secretary nominee Anthony Foxx obviously knows something about transportation issues. But is it enough for this time in history when a wrong step could be critical to public momentum in favor of mass transit? What should Foxx be fighting for in the administration and in Congress? What can he learn from LaHood’s experience? What do you think Foxx ought to know and push? And, finally, will it do any good?