New "Carmageddon II" public service announcement

As the latest tactic in Metro’s ongoing public outreach campaign for “Carmageddon II,” the agency has produced a new Public Service Announcement featuring Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that is now available for public use.

Available in English and Spanish, the video PSA asks for the public’s cooperation to stay off local roads and freeways to avoid congestion impacts during the second 10-mile I-405 freeway closure between the I-10 and U.S. 101 the weekend of Sept. 29-30, 2012. Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, August 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.

 

A tilt-shift view of Dodger Stadium and its mega-parking lots. Photo by Millerm217, via Flickr creative commons.

Gridlock has Dodger Stadium in a headlock (L.A. Times)

From his perch in the pressbox on Tuesday night, Times stylist/columnist Bill Plaschke rediscovers that traffic headed to big Dodger games is a bear. He writes that it’s unacceptable and proposes a solution: reducing the capacity at the stadium. The fewer the seats, the fewer the cars, so his argument goes.

A Dodger spokesman says the team is working with local transportation officials, including Metro, to improve the traffic situation. Not mentioned is that that Metro runs the Dodger Stadium Express only because state anti-air pollution money was secured by Metro to run the free bus service between the stadium and Union Station. The team doesn’t pay for it — they only help promote it.

Not discussed in the column is whether the stadium should remain in its current location. I’m not a Dodgers fan — sorry, grew up in Cincinnati in the 1970s — and I’ll once again repeat my strong opinion on this topic. The stadium is a relic of 1950s-era planning in which planning was done for cars as much as it was done for people. Yes, some other stadiums in recent years have reduced the number of seats to decrease unused inventory and increase demand. But the city and the Dodgers in the 21st century would likely be better served with a ballpark that is part of downtown proper’s many businesses and nearer the region’s growing and popular transit network.

Irvine Flyaway to cease operations (Los Angeles World Airports)

Due to bankruptcy of the bus company and very low ridership — an average of just 48 people a day during the 2011-12 fiscal year — the bus service between the Irvine Transit Center and LAX will likely stop running in mid-September. FlyAway service from Van Nuys, Union Station and Westwood IS NOT impacted by the decision.

Business leaders propose CEQA reform (California High-Speed Rail blog)

A Silicon Valley business group yesterday offered a list of reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act, the law that dictates how studies must be done of projects that could impact the environment. The group says that law is often abused with lawsuits over all sorts of things and, furthermore, many projects that comply with existing environmental regulations and that would be good for the environment — transit, clean energy, infill development — are often stopped by CEQA lawsuits. Excerpt:

3. Focus CEQA Litigation on Compliance with Environmental and Planning Laws

* CEQA lawsuits should focus on compliance with CEQA’s procedural and substantive requirements, including adequate notice, adequate disclosure, adequate mitigation of environmental effects not regulated by other environmental or planning law, adequate consideration of alternatives to avoid unmitigated significant adverse impacts.
* CEQA lawsuits should not be used to challenge adopted environmental standards, or to endlessly re-challenge approved plans by challenging projects that comply with plans.
* Environmental and other public advocacy efforts to enact environmental protection laws should not be affected by any CEQA reform, and refocusing CEQA on how compliance with standards and plans will reduce impacts can also inform advocacy efforts to revisit standards or plans.
* Finally, “real” environmental lawsuits – seeking to enforce true environmental objectives – can still be pursued against agencies that fail to make regulatory or permitting decisions in compliance with standards and plans. However, the current system of broad brush CEQA lawsuits that can be filed by any party for any purpose to challenge any or all environmental attributes of projects that comply with standards and plans are an outdated artifact of the “anything goes” environment of 1970, which now hinders both environmental improvement and economic recovery.

Safety First — but Fun a Close Second — for USC Trojan Home Games via Metro

Metro has just sent out a release on USC game day service. The release follows:

As the USC Trojans gear up for their first home game Sept. 1, Metro is preparing to carry thousands of new customers to assist the estimated 80,000 fans who crowd the games. The new Expo Line and Silver Line that stop just a short walk from L.A. Memorial Coliseum and USC, are the perfect transit to help Trojan fans avoid what can be massive parking and traffic issues before and after the games.

Metro is, of course, ramping up service and information distribution for the home games but of greatest importance is safety.

“It’s essential that Trojan fans have an easy and safe time making Metro part of their game and tail-gate party experience,” said Metro CEO and USC graduate Art Leahy. “But what we want most on game days is safety for our customers, for the students and for the fans who will be attending the games. We are doing everything we can to underscore that message.”  

More than 100 Metro event guides will be deployed to hub locations on USC home game days to answer questions, assist students and direct passengers to correct trains and stations. They will be dressed in T-shirts and baseball caps in USC colors. They also will be handing out maps and travel information and walking the route with Metro customers between the two nearest Expo stations (Expo/Vermont and Expo Park/USC) and the Coliseum, as well as between the Silver Line Station at 37th Street/USC Station and the Coliseum. Signage will also be set up in Exposition Park on game days, directing fans to the nearest stations.

Students and other Trojan fans are cautioned to look both ways when crossing the tracks; to avoid walking or riding bikes while wearing earphones near the tracks and to obey electronic crossing signals and directions issued by Metro and L.A. County Sheriff’s personnel.

The Metro website metro.net/usctrojans now includes travel tips and directions for getting to the game easily, particularly on the Expo Line to the Coliseum and the Metro Silver Line. It includes a printable map. It also links to Metro Destination Discounts to restaurants and food purveyors that can pack picnics or provide snacks for tail-gate parties at exclusive discounts to Metro riders.

Expo trains will run every 6 minutes before and after game time. Additional trains will be added to the Expo Line, as well as to the Red, Purple and Gold lines to make transfer connections efficient system-wide. There also will be additional service on the Silver Line on game days.

Passengers traveling to the games should purchase $5 Metro Day Passes at the stations where they are starting out. Or if they are riding only the Expo Line to the game (with no transfers), they can purchase a one-way fare when boarding. When they arrive at either Expo/Vermont or Expo Park/USC Station before the game, they should purchase the return trip fare, to avoid having to stand in line after the game.

For more information on USC Trojan games go to USC Trojans website. For more information on the easiest ways to get there via Metro, go to the Metro website.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, August 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.

A bus fight between Seal Beach and Long Beach (KCET So Cal Connected)

Long Beach Transit has proposed ending all bus service between Long Beach and Seal Beach – unless Seal Beach wants to subsidize one of those lines. Why the cuts? Long Beach officials say ridership is poor and have also said that Seal Beach residents don’t want “people” from Long Beach in their city.

Divide and conquer on the 710 big dig (L.A. Streetsblog)

Editor Damien Newton suggests that some of the less popular alternatives offered by Metro as ways to improve traffic in the area around the 710 gap may be intended to show the public that a freeway tunnel is the best option. I honestly believe that the alternatives were an attempt to put everything on the table and not leave any stone unturned. Problem is, putting everything on the table is sure to mean putting some very unpopular — and perhaps unlikely — options out there.

The Panama Canal’s Miraflores Locks. Photo by Scott Ableman, via Flickr creative commons.

East Coast ports eye expansion as Panama Canal expands (New York Times)

Several ports on the East Coast think business will boom because of new locks being built on the Panama Canal, which will soon be able to accommodate much larger cargo ships. The theory is the ships could bypass ports on the West Coast in order to bring freight directly to East Coast markets. Not so quick, says some experts, who point out that it will still likely be quicker to bring cargo to the West Coast and then truck it or put it on trains for markets to the east. Also, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles can already handle the big boats.

 

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, August 20

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.

Azusa residents get a chance to air complaint about Gold Line parking structure (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

A planned parking garage along Alameda Avenue in Azusa for the Gold Line Foothill Extension is getting a chilly reception for some residents because it would be built in existing Veterans Freedom Park. The city plans to add to overall park space to compensate but at a recent meeting that idea, too, was not greeted with wine, roses and chocolate, so to speak.

City of L.A. bike parking map now online! (LADOT Bike Blog)

The city has more than 5,000 bike parking spaces and the map shows the location of racks throughout L.A. The map allows you to see which racks and near which businesses and to also report a problem with a rack. Nice.

Councilman LaBonge wants Olympics back in L.A. (KNBC)

L.A. Councilman Tom LaBonge has authored a motion asking the city to explore a future Olympics bid. Perhaps he read our recent post about L.A.’s transit readiness for such an event!

The latest segment of Mass Transit TV has footage of Dallas’ new Orange Line, new rail cars on the Chicago El and bus surveillance cameras and tunnel boring machines in Gotham.

Transportation headlines, Friday, August 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 Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

East L.A. sounds off at 710 meeting (EGPNews.com)

The proposed project that could widen the southern end of the 710 to handle more freight traffic from the ports didn’t get a great reception at a recent community meeting. Commerce residents and business owners feared losing properties and others said that widening the freeway would worsen air quality instead of improving it by helping traffic move better. The 710 south battle, in my view, is going to come down to this simple question: is the status quo acceptable?

XPressWest train likely to fail (Reason Foundation)

The Libertarian thinktank has kicked the steel wheels of the proposed bullet train between Victorville and Las Vegas and responds — surprise! — negatively. The big problem is that the project is seeking a $5.5-billion federal loan that the Reason Foundation believes is a risky proposition because of questionable ridership. In other words, how many people are willing to drive to Victorville and then board a train for the rest of the journey?

What’s the fastest way to travel along Wilshire Boulevard? (L.A. Streetsblog)

Four competitors decided to have a race on a section of Wilshire between roughly Bundy Drive and Beverly Glen. There was a cyclist, a guy driving his truck, a pedestrian and a passenger on the Metro Rapid bus. To see who won the gold, read the post — although I guessed the order of finish before I read it.

EZ passes moving to a new home on TAP

Here’s a new Metro release on the move of EZ passes from paper onto TAP. The migration begins Sept. 1 but senior/disabled patrons have until Nov. 1 to apply for and receive their new ID cards. Application forms can be downloaded from the web but also are available at Metro Customer Centers and pass outlets all over the region.

The EZ transit pass — the monthly pass good for travel on 25 different public transit carriers throughout Los Angeles County — will begin the transition from paper to TAP cards Sept. 1, making it easier for customers to travel without transfers, renew their passes each month and replace their cards, should they be lost of stolen. The EZ transit pass is one of the last paper passes to transition to smart card technology.

The EZ transit pass will be electronically loaded onto the familiar blue TAP card for regular riders or the orange Reduced TAP ID card for senior and/or disabled riders.  A stamp with the month, year and zone designation will be affixed to the front of each card so that the card can be visually inspected on non-TAP systems.

To help customers with the transition, the new reusable TAP cards will be free for a limited time with the purchase of an EZ transit pass.

The move from EZ transit pass paper passes to TAP will continue until Nov. 1 for senior and disabled patrons to give them extra time to apply for and receive their new reduced-fare TAP ID cards. Applications can be downloaded from the web at metro.net/riding/fares/senior.  They also are available at all Metro Customer Centers and pass sales outlets.

The new EZ transit passes on TAP will make it easier to renew the passes each month. When an EZ transit pass expires, another pass can be loaded onto the card at a pass sales outlet, or at the official TAP website: taptogo.net. There will be no need to purchase a new TAP card each month because the card can be used again and again for up to three years.  Customers can protect their cards and their pass or stored value balance from loss by requesting balance protection by calling 1.866.TAPTOGO (1.866.827.8646).  The card and balance can be replaced for just $5.

EZ transit pass fares are $84 per month, or $35 for senior/disabled patrons. Although there is no extra charge for transfers between participating carriers, in some cases there are zone charges, which will be addressed as they are now, either by paying for a monthly pass with zones, or by paying the zone fare when boarding, either in cash or with stored value loaded onto the TAP card. (Bus operators will notify patrons, should zone charges pertain.)

EZ transit passes are sold at Metro Customer Centers and nearly 600 participating vendors  region-wide, including Nix Check Cashing, Continental Currency Services and selected Ralph’s markets. Search EZ transit pass outlets on taptogo.net to find a convenient location near you.

 

UPDATE: Here are the answers to three questions readers have been asking –

1. The EZ Pass sticker needed for your TAP card will be mailed to those who buy the pass online.

2. Because the EZ Pass needs a sticker, they are not available at Metro ticket machines.

3. The EZ Pass can be loaded onto an existing TAP card. You don’t need to buy a new card to get the pass.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, August 16

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.

L.A.’s first freeways (KCET So Cal Connected)

A nice look at the earliest freeways in the Los Angeles area and the thinking that went into the planning and building of them. A four-mile section of Ramona Boulevard and a 1.5-mile segment of freeway over the Cahuenga Pass were the preludes to the 6.8-mile Arroyo Seco Parkway opening in 1940. It’s still in use today as the Pasadena Freeway, although it looks nowhere near as good as does in some of the many fine photos on this post. A recent attempt to spruce things up doesn’t really work — today the road is lined by a lot of chain-link fencing, suffers too much graffiti and has a lot of trash along its edges.

 

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner in San Diego. Photo by Justin Brown, via Flickr creative commons.

Romney says he would eliminate Amtrak funding (CNNMoney)

Excerpt:

There are three major areas I have focused on for reduction in spending. These are in many cases reductions which become larger and larger over time. So first there are programs I would eliminate. Obamacare being one of them but also various subsidy programs — the Amtrak subsidy, the PBS subsidy, the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to strand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.

A related post on The Hill says that zeroing out Amtrak in the budget would be difficult to do, given the popularity of its Northeast Corridor routes between Washington and New York. If Amtrak shut down those routes, commuters would fly instead, which could create bottlenecks across the country as major airports are overwhelmed trying to handle commuter flights. The federal government provided about $1.5 billion to Amtrak in fiscal year 2011; the total federal budget that year was about $3.63 trillion.

Why should we stop talking about ‘bus stigma’ (The Atlantic Cities)

Transit planner and writer Jarrett Walker takes exception to those who suggest that many people avoid the bus because of the stigma attached to it — as is the bus is only for the poor or minorities. In his view, the problem with buses is that they too often don’t offer the fast and frequent service that people want. Good bus service, he believes, attracts a good number of riders across all spectrums. Excerpt:

Mass transit, even the indispensable bus, will continue on that path to greater relevance to the degree that citizens care about it and demand that it be funded. Right now, many people who don’t use transit are making a rational choice, based on its current usefulness and their alternatives; no stigma is needed to explain that behavior. As transit improves, and especially as other options become more expensive, decisions will continue to change, person by person, family by family, and ridership will grow as a result. At some point in that process, journalists will stop talking about a stigma. But the solution to the “stigma” or “class” problem, all along, was to refuse to define it that way.

 

Program dissects new federal transportation bill

 

Metro hosted a session this morning titled “Everything You Wanted to Know About the New Federal Surface Transportation Bill.” I'll try to distill the nearly three-hour session to a few nuggets for everyday people not versed in the, uh, fascinating universe of transportation funding. *

•At the top of the session, Metro Board Member Richard Katz said “we can't fix L.A. one project at a time…you'll never catch up.” He said that's one reason that Metro is pursuing the extension of Measure R — to build a network of transit and road projects.

•The expanded TIFIA loan program in the new bill is the largest infrastructure loan program in U.S. history, said David Kim, the Associate Administrator for Policy and Governmental Affairs for the Federal Highway Administration. He ticked off the long list of reforms to the program, which will allow Metro to pursue a loan for multiple projects — and for the loan to cover more of a project's cost (up to 49 percent from 33 percent).

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, August 15

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.

L.A. Council aims at changing parking requirements (L.A. Times)

The City Council voted yesterday to create special parking districts in which current parking requirements could be relaxed or increased depending on the circumstance. That means that potentially developers could get a break on building parking for some new residents and that new businesses in some cases may not have to produce as much parking as they have in the past. This is seen as an incentive that could help lure new businesses and redevelopment — particularly to areas near transit — and help ignite economic development in others. Los Angeles' strict parking requirements are widely seen as a major reason that so much of the city is covered by parking lots, especially on commercial corridors. Here's the ordinance.

For Universal City, a bridge not far enough (L.A. Streetsblog)

Some Valley residents aren't pleased that Metro is ramping up to spend $19 million to build a pedestrian bridge over Lankershim Boulevard at Universal City to connect the subway station to Universal City proper. Skeptics say the bridge — something promised years ago — isn't necessary and would rather see the money plowed into other transportation improvements.

Pasadena Council resolves to oppose three 710 alternatives (Pasadena Star News)

The Council on Monday night voted to formally oppose three alternatives under study by Metro to improve traffic in the area near the 710 gap: a tunnel between the 710 freeway in Alhambra and the 134 freeway that would go under the San Rafael Hills, a widening of Avenue 64 to accommodate more north-south traffic and another alternative that would potentially widen parts of Huntington Drive, Fair Oaks Avenue and Pasadena Avenue.

The three alternatives are part of a package of 12 alternatives that Metro is studying as part of a potential project. The agency will carry some of those alternatives forward into a draft environmental document. The idea of the current study is to evaluate everything that might improve traffic times in the area AND seek public input on those ideas.

In the northeast, travelers turn to Amtrak (New York Times)

In the late 1990s, about 33 percent of travelers between New York and Washington went by Amtrak. Today that number is 75 percent, an increase attributed to faster trains, airline delays and increased airport security.