Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 28

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.

Out for a spin: New York City’s bike sharing program begins (New York Times)

A bike sharing station on (I think) Eighth Avenue in Manhattan in my old 'hood. Photo by ccho, via Flickr creative commons.

A bike sharing station on (I think) Eighth Avenue in Manhattan in my old ‘hood. Photo by ccho, via Flickr creative commons.

Monday was Day One after a lot of talk, arguing and delays getting the program on two wheels. Take it away, NYT:

By midafternoon, the passing flickers of blue were already ubiquitous — negotiating light taxi traffic in the West Village, hurtling through the protected lanes of Midtown, drifting toward the Brooklyn waterfront.

For the first time, under cooperatively clear skies, New Yorkers sat astride the city’s first new wide-scale public transportation in more than 75 years: a fleet of 6,000 bicycles, part of a system known as Citi Bike, scattered across more than 300 stations in Manhattan below 59th Street and parts of Brooklyn.

Here’s an article that the Times ran the day before the program launched, speculating on whether the gamble by Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be worth it. Of course, bike sharing is coming to Los Angeles with one of the stations at Union Station. What’cha think, Source readers? Will it work here? Will it work in New York?

In L.A., polishing up the pedways (L.A. Times) 

This editorial calls for cleaning up the elevated pedways in downtown L.A. that were built with the intention of keeping pedestrians off city streets where they may annoy/mix/get-in-the-way of auto traffic. Graffiti has become a problem on the pedways and security cameras may be one way to help solve the problem.

Lines in the sand (New Yorker) 

Climate change specialist Elizabeth Kolbert comments on President Obama’s upcoming decision whether to allow the Keystone Pipeline to be built to carry oil from Canada’s tar sands fields to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an enormously controversial issue, pitting those who believe that oil is a better source for oil for the U.S. against those who believe the pipeline would only further our dependence on the fossil fuels that are also fueling climate change.

Kolbert and the New Yorker come out against; Mauna Loa is where the readings were taken showing that carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere have reached levels that are believed to be a high for the past three million years. Excerpt:

Were we to burn through all known fossil-fuel reserves, the results would be unimaginably bleak: major cities would be flooded out, a large portion of the world’s arable land would be transformed into deserts, and the oceans would be turned into liquid dead zones. If we take the future at all seriously, which is to say as a time period that someone is going to have to live in, then we need to leave a big percentage of the planet’s coal and oil and natural gas in the ground. These basic facts have been established for decades, and every President since George Bush senior has vowed to do something to avert catastrophe. The numbers from Mauna Loa show that they have failed.

In rejecting Keystone, President Obama would not solve the underlying problem, which, as pipeline proponents correctly point out, is consumption. Nor would he halt exploitation of the tar sands. But he would put a brake on the process. After all, if getting tar-sands oil to China were easy, the Canadians wouldn’t be applying so much pressure on the White House. Once Keystone is built, there will be no putting the tar back in the sands. The pipeline isn’t inevitable, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s just another step on the march to disaster.

I include these articles in our headlines because while they may not be directly related to transit, there is a growing body of work that shows that taking transit is often an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. To the best of my knowledge, there are no transit agencies that really promote this — at least directly. If I was the king, they would.

 

Ridley-Thomas tells crowds gathered at Leimert Park: ‘There’s a train a comin’

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Photos by Anna Chen/Metro

Lots of celebration this morning at Leimert Park, which the Metro Board voted yesterday to fully fund as a station on the Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line. L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Mel Wilson, all Metro Board members, joined other local dignitaries and residents of South Los Angeles to mark the occasion as singers chanted, “There’s a train a comin’. “

“It takes a village to get a train to stop in Leimert Park. We did it together and we ought to be proud of that,” Ridley-Thomas said to the gathered crowd of about 200. “And I’m delighted that the board has approved funding to make this historic community a train stop.”

As we posted yesterday the Metro Board approved a motion, co-sponsored by Ridley-Thomas, to commit $80 million for the station, which will be built in what is considered a historic enclave of black business and culture. The Board’s decision came a day after the L.A. City Council committed $40 million of the city’s share of Measure R local return funds to Leimert Park.

“This is a celebration of you,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “Of a community that is vibrant, that has always been important to this town. As I ride into the sunset for a bit, I wanted to make sure we did this right … and I think we have.”

Meet Me @Metro IV: Bringing it Home to Watts

941347_10151668494318900_566840833_nThe fourth annual Meet Me @Metro, an event that combines public transit with theater, will be heading back to the Metro Blue Line on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26. Join the Watts Village Theater Company for theatrical presentations of original poetry exploring the subjective theme of “home” with musical accompaniment.

“Scattered Joy” will be performed adjacent to 103rd Street Station and “Under the 105” will be performed, appropriately, under the 105 freeway, adjacent to Willowbrook Station.

Both shows will take place simultaneously at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., allowing audiences to see both performance pieces. The shows will range in length from 25 to 30 minutes, and there will be a 30-minute window afterward to allow for travel between venues. Guests can hop on the Blue Line or walk between stations. Program organizers will have guides near exits to Metro stations directing people to the performance locations. Audio description and interpretation will be provided for the Sunday performances.

Tickets are $25 for the performances on Saturday and pay-what-you-will on Sunday. Children of all ages are welcome to attend. To find more routes and connections to the event, use Trip Planner.


Metro Board adopts budget for 2013-14 fiscal year

Here's the news release from Metro — the big news is no fare increases and added service on the Orange Line, Expo Line and Gold Line:

The Metro Board of Directors today adopted a balanced $5.075 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2013-14 that begins on July 1, 2013.

The spending plan keeps fares at current levels, however, Metro CEO Art Leahy has urged Metro directors to begin discussing fare restructuring for future years. He notes Metro fares are among the lowest of any major transit agency in the world, and Metro riders only pay 26 percent of what it costs to operate their buses and trains.

In FY 14 more service will be added midday to relieve overcrowding on the Metro Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley. Additional late night service will be added on the Expo and Metro Gold Lines, and there also will be more weekend service on all Metro Rail lines.

Hundreds of new buses and rail cars are on order, and construction is underway for a new state-of-the-art bus maintenance facility in downtown Los Angeles. Augmenting these efforts, Metro will spend $261 million in the next fiscal year on deferred maintenance for bus and rail vehicles and facilities and another $37 million on capital improvements for safety and security including $20 million for gates and other safety enhancements on the Metro Blue Line.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 22

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.

Eric Garcetti’s moment (California Planning & Development Report) 

A short and interesting post from William Fulton, publisher of the report, longtime urban planner and former Ventura mayor. Excerpt:

What Garcetti has to do is seize the moment. The city is changing. The transit is getting built. A lot of people are already bought into the idea of “elegant density”. Even as he straddles, Garcetti can bring his constituents along by pushing the idea that new development in L.A. must revolve around the rail transit stations – responding to emerging market demand, improving those neighborhoods, and protecting existing single-family neighborhoods all at the same time.

Eric, it’s your moment. Jump on the train and get moving this morning.

The forgotten urban problem we should be trying to fix (The Atlantic Cities)

And that problem would be urban freight and, in particular, trucks delivering goods to businesses around towns or heading out of town from shipping centers.

Google Maps wants you to see all your transit options (Human Transit) 

An update tries to offer transit options that gets users where they’re going more quickly.

Seeking clarity on terrible tornadoes in a changing climate (New York Times Dot Earth blog) 

Because we discuss climate change and greenhouse gases often in this space — transit is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint — here is an interesting blog post pointing out the lack of science connecting deadly twisters to climate change. Here’s a recent chart from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

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Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti to join Metro Board of Directors on July 1

Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti on the Red Line on Monday. Photo: Eric Garcetti for Mayor.

Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti on the Red Line on Monday. Photo: Eric Garcetti for Mayor.

As you have probably heard by now, Los Angeles Councilman Eric Garcetti has won the mayoral election in Los Angeles and, as a result, on July 1 will be trading the Los Angeles Council Chambers for the Metro Board Room.

Mayor-Elect Garcetti will take the oath of office on July 1 and, at that time, also be awarded an automatic seat on the Metro Board, the 13-member body that oversees Metro  and has the final say on many of the large decisions made by the agency.

To put it another way, the Metro Board which projects to build and where to build them and also approves the agency’s budget each year. The proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-14 is $4.891 billion.

As mayor, Garcetti will also have the opportunity to appoint three others to the Metro Board. One of those three is usually a member of the Los Angeles City Council. The mayor plus the three appointees makes for a considerable voting bloc given that seven votes are usually needed to approve items before the Board. 

Each of the Los Angeles County Supervisors also has a seat on the Board, with four other seats coming from cities in different parts of the county. Here is the current roster of Board Members. The current city of L.A. representatives on the Board are Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilman Jose Huizar, former-Assemblyman Richard Katz and Mel Wilson.

RELATED: A list of the many big decisions confronting the next mayor of Los Angeles as a member of the Metro Board.


Transportation headlines, Tuesday/Election Day, May 21

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.

Happy Election Day to those voting today for mayor and other candidates/issues in the city of Los Angeles. To add a point to the first headline of the day, if you’re eligible to vote and fail to fulfill your civic duties, then you don’t get to gripe later about the many crucial decisions the next mayor will make about transportation in our area. Here’s the list of those issues!

If you don’t vote, you’re the problem (L.A. Streetsblog)

Take it away, Ted Rogers!:

If every eligible bike rider were to get up and vote today — and vote their self-interests as cyclists — they would be the single most dominant and powerful voice in L.A. politics.

More than the unions, more than any political party or interest group.

A force strong enough to ensure the election of a bike friendly candidate in every race, from mayor through city council, city attorney and controller.

And that’s just bicyclists.

Add to that a few hundred thousand daily transit users. As well as pedestrians — which includes all of us at one time or another.

Great post. The Source bows before Ted Rogers!

A decade later, Blossom Plaza breaks ground (Downtown News)

Ten years and a Great Recession later, a new building will finally rise next to the Chinatown Gold Line station. It will have 240 residential units, 20,000-square-feet of retail and restaurant space and a walkway connecting the station to Broadway. The Source is always pleased to hear about new housing near transit — and hope such trends continue to spread north to other Gold Line stations where no development has occurred. I’m talking to you Heritage Square and Highland Park stations!

Metro uses social media in the planning process (The Transit Wire)

An interview with Metro’s Jody Litvak about the use of Facebook to collect official comments on the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project. As far as Metro knows, it was the first time that social media was actually used for official comments. The idea is to make it as convenient as possible for more people to comment on impending projects.

Density: Census numbers betray an L.A. cliche (KCET)

D.J. Waldie does a nice job explaining the issue of density and how L.A. compares to other American cities, most notably New York. The gist of it: while New York has much higher concentrions of density in Manhattan, L.A. has an overall higher level of density over a larger area. It’s a salient point and a good argument for investing in transit here, but I also fret that people use this stat to wrongly suggest that L.A. is becoming Manhattanized. As a former Manhattan and Brooklyn resident, I don’t recall ever seeing one part of either borough that reminds me of Los Angeles. Or vice versa.