Transportation headlines, Friday, May 11

The L.A. Subway Terminal Building as it looks today. 65,000 Angelenos used to board here every day. Photo by Alissa Walker.

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.

Design East of La Brea tours L.A.’s original subway (Gelatobaby)

Alissa Walker of the Galatobaby blog and host of the urban design group, de LaB, has this excellent recap of yesterday’s tour of Los Angeles’ original subway terminal. Yes, back before Metro Rail tunneled under downtown’s streets, the Los Angeles urban rail network carried thousands of Angelenos underground between Hill Street and where Beverly Boulevard crosses over 2nd Street. Check out the story for more present-day photos — like the one above — juxtaposed with historic photos from the Metro Transportation Library.

Mica: Highway bill negotiations ‘moving along’; will meet with Boxer next week (The Hill)

Time for a quick check-in on the federal transportation funding bill that’s three years overdue. The Hill reports that a working group of members from the House of Representatives and the Senate is meeting to hammer out the details of a multi-year bill that funds many of the nation’s highway, transit and bike-ped projects. A key sticking point seems to be that Republicans in the House want to insert into the bill Congressional approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline project.

Add a green buffered bike lane and number of cyclists explode (L.A. Streetsblog)
The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition recently completed an on-the-ground survey of bicycling rates in Los Angeles and found that biking is increasing citywide. Some particularly good news: the installation of the green bike lane on Spring Street has coincided with a dramatic increasing in cycling on that street, especially among women — a heartening sign given that women presently make up only about one-fifth of cyclists in L.A.

What's happening at other transit agencies?

The Institute for Transportation Development & Policy hopes to define the gold standard for BRT (and Silver and Bronze too). Photo via ITDP.

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.

Bus rapid transit systems getting an international rating standard

The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy — an organization that “works with cities worldwide to bring about transport solutions that cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce poverty, and improve the quality of urban life” — has released a report card that seeks to standardize the way we assess the quality of bus rapid transit lines.

After all, a variety of bus lines get lumped in together as BRT, despite having very different levels of amenities, speed, frequency, etc. ITDP sought to remedy that by assigning points to different factors that play an important role in the quality of a BRT line. Then, depending on how many points a given line picks up, you end up with a ranking of gold (85–100 points ), Silver (70–84 points), Bronze (50–69 points); anything lower and ostensibly it’s not BRT at all.

The features that will earn you the most points include some of the big time-savers like off-board fare collection, a segregated right-of-way and level boarding. The report doesn’t go through the steps of actually assigning scores to existing services, but it does give a shout-out to the Metro Orange Line for doing a good job integrating bicycling infrastructure.

New York bike share gets a name, price schedule

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday that the city’s soon-to-debut bike-sharing program has a name: Citi Bikes. The New York Times reports that the name comes courtesy of Citibank, which has ponied up for the official corporate naming rights to the tune of a $42 million contribution to the program. That money and other private contributions mean no public funding will be required for the system, which will feature 10,000 bikes docked at 600 stations spread throughout lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.

The Transportation Nation blog breaks down what it will cost you to rent a bike and how that compares to other cities’ bike sharing programs. For $95 per year, all rides under 45 minutes will be free of charge. After that, fees will be tacked on to discourage New Yorkers from hanging onto one bike all day.

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, May 10

Photo by Rob J. Young via Flickr

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.

Advocacy group says public supports federal funding for bikes and pedestrians (Washington Post)

With Bike Week next week — and free rides on Metro for bicyclists 5/17 (!) — all thoughts that aren’t on George Clooney’s party tonight, have turned to bicycles. The Washington Post reports that a nationwide telephone poll found that 83 percent of those surveyed support federal funding for sidewalks and bike lanes, and that 91 percent of those under the age of 30 back the spending. Are you listening Washington?

Will it be ‘Starmageddon’ tonight in Studio City? (LA Times)

And speaking of George Clooney’s social life, the LA Times is calling the Presidential  fund-raising event at the star’s Studio City home tonight “Starmageddon,” for the effect it will likely have on SF Valley traffic. Not that anyone needs a reminder but, as with Carmageddon, leave early, be patient and avoid the Fryman Canyon area, if possible.

How high-tech carpooling saves gas, money and time in LA and elsewhere (Mashable)

With gas prices way above what they were a year ago, along with car maintenance costs and environmental concerns, the concept of carpooling to work and around town is growing in popularity not just in L.A., but around the world.

Got any brilliant ideas for a great car-free day in LA? (GOOD magazine)

What would you say is your ideal car-free day in LA? Submit a creative itinerary for a great day without a car and maybe receive $500 from LA/2B and GOOD to implement the idea.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, 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.

Kids love Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus. Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro

A first look at the Orange Line extension from Canoga to Chatsworth (Los Angeles Streetsblog)

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton takes a ride on the soon-to-open Metro Orange Line Extension. Newton’s article features a nice video of the trip he took along with a group of Brazilian journalists touring and reporting on American bus rapid transit. The Metro project, ahead of schedule and under budget, is expected to open in June.

Grimy Centinela/Pico corner getting Expo-adjacent apartments (Curbed LA)

Transportation reporter Neal Broverman writes that “Metro might want to take a bow when West LA’s latest mixed-use project comes online.” The 95-unit ADC Realty Group development is being built on what is currently the home of a Rent-a-Wreck location. The $11.15-million project is only three blocks away from the planned Metro Expo Line station at Olympic Blvd and Bundy Drive in gridlocked West Los Angeles.

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 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.

Do Joss Whedon’s kids go to Beverly Hills High School? (L.A. Times)

The video made by the PTA in Beverly Hills is soaking in media attention thanks to shots of fireballs consuming the school and warnings from experts that Westside Subway Extension trains would run right through the actual school (to clarify: Metro is considering running trains under the school, not through it). This opinion piece by Times writer Dan Turner compares the video to the Whedon-directed “The Avengers” — and not so favorably — and concludes with this line: “all I can say is that somewhere along the line, logic, perspective, rationality and common sense loaded up the truck and moved out of Beverly Hills.”

It’s not very surprising that the media is in love with the video. Beverly Hills is a city known the world over and it’s not everyday that concerned parents allege the local transit agency is on the verge of blowing up their school.

Over at NBC, reporter Ted Chen did a straight up news piece on the video and interviews some members of the PTA. And, of course, the Beverly Hills Patch has been all over the video — publishing a story last week when the video snared its 3,000th view on YouTube and another story yesterday to report that the L.A. Times used the adjective “dramatic” to describe the video in its news story on the video. The Times’ news story, btw, required the efforts of two reporters. In the meantime, the Times also offers this piece by columnist Patt Morrison, who revisits Beverly Hills’ opposition to the Beverly Hills Freeway that was proposed in the 1950s.

Metrolink CEO John Fenton resigns to take job in freight industry (L.A. Times)

Although he’s only been on the job for 25 months, Fenton was credited with improving the safety culture at — in particular pushing for anti-collision technology to be installed on trains — and boosting ridership and staff morale. Fenton said family issues led to him accepting the chief executive job at Patriot Rail Corp., based in Boca Raton, Fla. Here’s a long interview The Source did with Fenton last year.

City of L.A. widens Expo bike lane at Exposition/Grammercy crossing (LADOT Bike Blog)

The road crosses the tracks at a diagonal angle. To address community concerns, the city of L.A. widened the bike lane to give cyclists a better chance to cross the tracks at a right angle (to prevent tires from catching in the tracks’ wheel well) and narrowed the vehicle lane by two feet.

What about converting the Orange Line to rail? (Ride the Pink Line blog)

Blogger and transit advocate Dan Wentzel takes a smart look at the many issues involved with swapping rail for the current busway. Among them: a state law (known as the Robbins bill) that prohibits any rail along the corridor that is not a subway. Dan also makes a good point that elected officials in the neighboring San Gabriel Valley have effectively fought hard for new rail lines — i.e. the Gold Line Foothill Extension — while things have been relatively quiet in the San Fernando Valley.

Willie Robert Middlebrook, Jr. 1957-2012

Willie Middlebrook at the installation of his artwork at Expo/Crenshaw Station.

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of Willie Robert Middlebrook, Jr., just one week after the opening of the Metro Expo Line, featuring Middlebrook’s artwork at the Expo/Crenshaw Station.

Born in Detroit in 1957, Middlebrook relocated to Los Angeles in 1960. Over his lifetime, Middlebrook’s photographs and photo-painting portraits were exhibited in over 200 solo and group shows, including venues such as the Studio Museum of Harlem, Art Institute of Chicago, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Cleveland Museum of Art and the California African-American Museum.

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Transportation headlines, Monday, May 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.

Rail capacity project launches (Caltrans)

Caltrans, BNSF and Amtrak announced groundbreaking on a 3.8-mile section of new track last week — part of the “triple track” project to add 15 miles of new track between Commerce and Fullerton to increase rail capacity in this key chokepoint.

Expo Line: success, failure or perhaps a little too early to tell? (L.A. Streetsblog)

The Reason Foundation has already condemned the line to decades of poor ridership and money losses. Streetsblog throws a little perspective into the mix, declaring the Reason Foundation “study” to be more than a little flawed.

City of L.A. adds more bike lanes (LADOT Bike Blog)

Two bike lanes totaling three miles in South L.A. means that the city has now installed 30 miles of bike lanes in this fiscal year. The new lanes are on Vernon Avenue and Main Street. There are now about 200 mile lanes in the entire city — a lot or a little, depending on your point of view.

Heartland Institute compares belief in global warming to mass murder (The Guardian)

The conservative “think tank” uses billboards with images of criminals such as Charles Manson to briefly make its point. The Institute in a news release briefly mentioned that not all global warming alarmists have actually killed someone. Welcome to American political discourse, circa 2012.

Transportation headlines, Friday, May 4

A rendering of a proposed parklet for Highland park. Photo via Living Streets LA.

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.

Huizar, Living Streets, unveil parklet designs for El Sereno Ave., York Blvd. (L.A. Streetsblog)

Two parking space–to–parklet conversions on L.A.’s Eastside are starting to take shape with the release of these renderings. Collaborating on the project are Living Streets LA and Los Angeles Councilmember Jose Huizar. The two proposals would go into some of the busier commercial areas of Highland Park, creating a public porch for the community right in the street.

Higher fuel standards could reduce federal transportation funds by $57 billion by 2022 (Transportation Issues Daily)

Larry Ehl notes an inconvenient truth: even as federally-mandated fuel economy standards help us conserve fuel, they’re undermining the principle way that we finance highways, transit and other transportation programs — the gas tax. The gas tax, faithful Source readers will recall, is levied as a flat per-gallon fee that hasn’t changed at the federal level since the first Bush administration. Ehl sees three courses of action for how to make up this yawning funding gap:

  • Reducing spending on highways and mass transit,
  • Transferring additional money from the Treasury’s general fund to the Highway Trust Fund, and
  • Increasing the gasoline tax or raising revenues from other sources to provide receipts to the [transportation] trust fund.

Does suburban local service get cars off the road? (Human Transit)

Jarrett Walker provides another great look into the nuts of bolts of transit in this piece. Walker notes that suburban local service can serve a lot of valid goals, like providing universal access to all, but reducing car traffic is not likely to be an outcome. The crux? The geometry of most suburbs — low density, non-gridded streets — makes high ridership difficult to achieve.

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.

SFMTA launches Transit Effectiveness Project

The San Francisco agency that runs its network of buses and light rail is holding a series of meetings to introduce the public to its recently-launched Transit Effectiveness Project. The program is designed “to improve reliability and provide quicker trips for Muni customers,” according to the project website. The program in particular seeks to develop a Rapid Muni network — sounds familiar — along the busiest transit corridors in San Francisco. The proposal seems to draw a healthy amount of inspiration from Metro’s own Rapid bus program, which is now going on 12 years. A rundown of proposed changes would speed up buses by reducing sources of delay. Those changes include features that should be a real boon to the transit-riding public, namely: “adding sidewalk extensions and boarding islands; replacing stop signs with traffic signals or other measures; transit stop changes including moving stops, eliminating stops, and adding new stops; traffic engineering changes such as adding turn lanes, turn restrictions, and transit-only lanes; and pedestrian improvements such as curb extensions and other crosswalk treatments.”

Dramatic changes on London streets in the congestion pricing era

Since London implemented congestion pricing in the city center — a policy that requires drivers to pay a fee to offset the cost of delays they cause to others — Londoners have responded with some pretty remarkable travel shifts. A DC Streetsblog analysis of the data found that people are switching to transit and bicycling in big numbers. The latter is up 110 percent since the congestion fee was put into place, and transit riders have benefited from having congestion fee revenues plowed into service enhancements. Streetsblog also has some excellent visualizations of where the greatest decreases in driving have occurred; head over there for the fun maps.

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, May 3

Caltrans I-5 project

Caltrans to add truck lanes to I-5 for Santa Clarita commute (Glendale News-Press)

Good news for those who dread their daily truck-filled commute on the I-5 between L.A. and Santa Clarita. New truck lanes on both the southbound and northbound I-5 will separate heavy big-rig traffic from passenger vehicles and create a quicker, safer ride for commuters. It’s a Caltrans project slated for completion in 2014.

Do honor systems on mass transit work better in smaller cities? (The Atlantic: Cities)

As Metro moves forward on a plan to lock subway gates, “The Atlantic: Cities” ponders the notion that perhaps commuters in smaller cities are more honest about paying that folks in mega-cities. What do you think?

Good news for the Westside: New bike lanes appear on Sepulveda Boulevard (StreetsBlog LA)

And the lanes on Sepulveda will provide a safe connection to the Expo Line for people living south or southwest of the station.

No strangers on the train (Santa Monica Daily Press)

Music, theater and a whole new world of L.A. culture opened up for this writer last weekend, as Expo made it’s debut.