Today is Dump the Pump Day — the perfect time to try public transit or share the ride

Metro and transit agencies across the country are celebrating Dump the Pump Day to encourage all of us to leave our cars at home and try out transit and ride sharing to save money, improve mobility and help our environment. Here’s the release from Metro:

This year to celebrate National Dump the Pump Day today, June 20, Metro is working hard to develop a 21st Century transit system so that the people of Los Angeles County can dump the pump with increasing ease.

“To save money on gas, reduce congestion and improve air quality, Los AngelesCounty residents are invited to try public transportation or carpool today,” said Metro Board Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. “And tomorrow we’re breaking ground on a new Metrolink station, linking our commuter rail service from the AntelopeValley to BobHopeAirport.”

With increasing options, it’s easier than ever to abandon our cars. During the past 20 years Metro opened nearly 88 miles of rail. It has three rail projects now in the works and scheduled to open over the next couple of years. Together those projects will add 26 more miles of rail. (Two additional rail projects will be under construction soon.) Last fall Metro opened the state-of-the-art El Monte Station, the largest bus station west of Chicago. Metro is buying more than 500 new buses and next week the Metro Board will consider purchasing its first zero-emission buses.

“Our goal is to build a transit system that can carry us into the next century,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “We want a region where Dump the Pump Day is no longer necessary to inspire people to try out transit because most people are riding transit. We’re building so that our children can easily live without a car. I think we’re well on our way to doing just that.”

The first National Dump the Pump Day was organized in June, 2006 after gas reached $3 a gallon — a price considered astonishingly high. Public transit systems and other organizations across the country participate in National Dump the Pump Day to encourage the public to try out public transit — if only for a day — to help our environment and our world.

Metro Research Quick Poll: Do you TAP on the bus? Plus, recent poll results!

Gate latching is upon us!

Whether you love it or you hate it, we’re curious if gate latching is expanding the reach of TAP cards to bus rides.  Answer this quick poll, and view the results to see how other readers and patrons are using TAP cards on the bus.

For results from our last poll, continue reading.

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One mile of new traffic lane added to the 405 project

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New traffic lane on I-405. Photo credit: Ned Racine

Metro, Caltrans and Kiewit have opened another one-mile section of new freeway lane on the I-405 between Santa Monica Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard, making good on a promise to continue opening parts of the freeway improvements project as soon as they’re ready for public use.

Just before the Memorial Day weekend, the project opened a 1.7-mile section of additional lane between the I-10 and Santa Monica Boulevard to help ease traffic flows for drivers navigating through the I-10/I-405 interchange. See this earlier Source post for details.

This latest lane opening now officially extends nearly three (3) miles – one-third of the overall 10-mile freeway widening project. The No. 1 lane closest to the freeway median will continue to operate as a general purpose lane until the contractor can later convert it to an HOV lane.

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, June 18

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

Regional Connector construction concerns (Downtown News) 

The editorial loves the project but has concerns about Metro’s request for construction permits that could potentially allow the agency to work around-the-clock. Metro, in turn, has said that it is seeking flexibility to help keep the project on schedule and on budget. My three cents: one reason the Connector project is so expensive ($1.36 billion) and work intensive is because Metro listened to downtown residents and workers and is building the project underground instead of mostly at street level.

Mayor Villaraigosa unveils new downtown L.A. park (L.A. Times) 

Goodbye parking lot, hello new 2/3-acre park along Spring Street. And more excellent news: the city of L.A. has purchased the plot of land along 1st Street between Spring and Broadway. It used to house a state office building, but has been empty and an eyesore since 1976. The mayor said it will become a park which makes sense given it’s adjacent to Grand Park. If the federal courthouse ever gets built and Related ever builds its Grand Avenue project, the Civic Center part of downtown may actually look like a…downtown. The Red/Purple Line already serves the area and the Regional Connector will have stations at both 2nd/Broadway and 2nd/Hope.

Can a Fairfax area trolley solve wall-to-wall congestion from the Grove? (CityWatch) 

The article suggests that it would be better to improve the pedestrian experience in the areas around the Grove so more people could walk there — perhaps from the future subway.

A train that flies (Global Rail News)

If they could clip a couple of Amtrak cars to a Southwest plane, I’d give it a try. It would solve my travel woes: I won’t take long-distance trains in the U.S. — pack mules are usually faster — and I don’t like to fly, because I don’t like waiting in lines and the concept of carry-on luggage makes my see red.

Transportation headlines, Monday, June 17

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

Some L.A. County bus drivers say pesticides are making them ill (L.A. Times)

At least 14 Metro bus operators are pursuing workers comp claims, according to their attorney, and three operators have lodged complaints with CAL/OSHA, alleging that a common pesticide used by Metro on buses is making them ill. CAL/OSHA declined comment to the Times because an inquiry is pending. Here’s an excerpt with Metro’s response:

Metro officials said ample precautions are taken when buses are treated to kill roaches and other insects attracted by crumbs from sandwiches, chips, candy and other food items that passengers often bring on board.

They say that safety information is provided to operators, and no more than eight driver complaints have been officially lodged in the last five years. In a recent letter, the authority told Cal/OSHA that employee exposures are insignificant because of the controlled conditions and limited amounts of pesticide applied.

“Spraying buses is common to prevent insect infestations,” said Dave Sotero, a Metro spokesman. “These are standard industry practices, and the chemicals are used for a multitude of purposes.”

The pesticides in question are pyrethrins made of a natural substance from chrysanthemums or their synthetic equivalent known as pyrethroids.

 

The story goes on to note that transit agencies commonly spray pesticides but also says that two agencies — OCTA and Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica — usually use gels that can be applied directly to problem areas in buses and that both agencies rarely spray. 

The truth about Tejon Pass (California High-Speed Rail Blog) 

A guest post makes the case that the bullet train’s route between the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles should take the tracks over/under Tejon Pass instead of Tehachapi Pass because it would cheaper to build, be more profitable and shave 12 minutes off travel times. The post also argues that the California High-Speed Rail agency should have studied a different — and cheaper — route over Tejon Pass.

Not mentioned is this: a Tejon Pass alignment would mean the bullet train would not run through the Antelope Valley. And I’m guessing some Los Angeles County politicians would have something not super nice to say about that.

County may grab millions from South Bay road projects to pay for Crenshaw/LAX Line (Daily Breeze) 

In order to accomodate the growing cost of the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Metro staff are recommending moving about $95 million in funds from South Bay ramp and interchange projects and the Airport Metro Connector project to help pay for the light rail line’s two new stations, as well as increased contingency funds. South Bay officials want the road money to stay put. The article is a bit one-sided, as Metro officials declined comment.

The Board will be considering a contract to build the Crenshaw/LAX Line at its June meeting and it’s obvious they’ll have questions about the financing plan for the projects. It’s also worth noting the the vast majority of the Board voted to add the stations two weeks prior to Metro staff releasing its recommendation for a construction contract that helped detail the project’s entire cost (only Board Member Diane DuBois voted against). Two councilman in Los Angeles last week complained that some of the city’s Measure R funds would be used to help build the stations.

My three cents: before everyone has a total conniption, I hope everyone considers the big question here: in the coming decades, will spending the money on stations have/not have a greater impact than some of the other possible uses of the funds? That’s the heart of the debate here.

Electric bus charges in 15 seconds (Forbes) 

The technology, from the Swiss firm ABB, would allow buses to quickly charge and stay on schedule. It also means no overhead wires — the reason that many cities have shunned using electric-powered buses in the past. Electric buses can save on fuel costs (obviously) and are often quieter than buses powered by natural gas or diesel.

 

Transportation headlines, Friday, June 14

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. Reminder: the Library is switching over to a new format for its headlines on Monday. No need to act right now! We'll be changing this topper to help guide you straight to the library's new headlines page.

O.C. toll roads could keep fees through 2053 (L.A. Times)

The Foothill-Eastern toll roads have struggled to attract motorists willing to pay the tolls that, in turn, continue to pay for the construction of the new roads. A new bond sale means the tolls could remain in place until the early 2050s instead of being lifted sooner. Bottom line: it continues to be hard to pay for new roads with expected tolls.

Climate change could reduce snowfall in local So Cal mountains (L.A. Times)

A new UCLA study forecasts a 30- to 40 percent decline by mid-century due to global warming. There still may be more precipitation in the region — including more intense storms — that would pose a challenge for the region's stormwater system. Reminder: taking transit, even occasionally, is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Construction Authority Board opposes Measure R amendment (Foothill Extension Construction Authority)

The Board adopts a resolution against the amendment, which is part of a project accleration proposal by Metro staff that is scheduled to be considered by the Metro Board this month. The Construction Authority Board wants the amendment to include the full cost of extending the line to Claremont, which they see as a key step in getting the project funded. An 11.5-mile segment extending the line from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border is now under construction.

As the release mentions, not all Measure R transit projects are fully funded — i.e. the reason the subway isn't going all the way to the sea and the reason the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor is looking into a public-private partnership. It may also be worth mentioning that Measure R is investing more than $2 billion in extending both legs of the Gold Line deeper into the San Gabriel Valley.

 


In case you missed the signs: gates to be latched at Red/Purple Line at Union Station on Wednesday

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We’ll have a big post explaining the ins and outs of gate latching and TAP early next week. The gates will be latched at entrances to the Red/Purple Line in Union Station on June 19th and then at other subway stations over the rest of the summer — followed by some light rail stations in the fall.

For the time being, it was pretty hard for Red/Purple Line patrons on Wednesday to miss the news: there’s signage all over the Union Station platform and mezzanine, in addition to  temporary TAP event staff reminding people as they enter and exit the station.

In other TAP-related news, the new arrays of TAP validators adjacent to the platform for the Blue and Expo lines at 7th/Metro Center are now complete. The new validators make it easier for patrons to tap their TAP cards when traveling between the subway and Blue and Expo line trains.

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