Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 24

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.

Union Station and downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro.

A win-win scenario for Farmers Field (Los Angeles Times)

In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, UCLA urban planning professor Donald Shoup writes that AEG should bundle their event tickets for Farmers Field with free Metro day passes (and, in fact, AEG has proposed to sell transit tickets with game tickets as part of their draft environmental study). In support of his proposal, Shoup cites the experience of Seattle’s 72,000-seat Husky Stadium where the team contracts with Seattle Metro to allow tickets to serve as transit passes on game days. Public transit ridership among fans jumped from four percent the year before the program began in 1987 to 20 percent in 2008.

New York City finalizing maps of bike share stations (Transportation Nation)

Bike share in New York is inching closer to becoming a reality as the city finalizes its bike station locations. Large bike docks are planned for important transit stops including the Port Authority, Penn Station, Columbus Circle and Astor Place. The placement of bikes at subway stations and major bus stops should help New York address its first mile/last mile problem, or how commuters travel between the subway or bus to their nearby destination. Continue reading

The art of transit

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Here’s a particularly powerful photo of President Obama sitting on the bus in which civil rights activist Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat. It’s hard to imagine President Obama would be where he is today without the courage and determination of Parks and the thousands of men and women like her who fought against racial injustice.

To submit a photo for the Art of Transit, post it to Metro’s Flickr group, email it to sourcemetro@gmail.com or Tweet it to @metrolosangeles with an #artoftransit hashtag. Many of the photos we’ve featured can be seen in these galleries on Flickr.

Transportation headlines, Monday, April 23

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.

Clear the tracks, Beverly Hills (L.A. Times)

A long editorial takes the stance that Metro staff were correct in recommending a Century City station at the intersection of Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars for the Westside Subway Extension, even if it means tunneling under parts of the Beverly Hills High School campus. The paper opines that Beverly Hills’ objections have “little merit” and that both the subway and this particular station are smart moves from a planning perspective and that delays brought by legal actions would be a slap in the face of the nearly 68 percent of L.A. County voters who in 2008 supported the Measure R half-cent sales tax hike to help fund the subway project.

Beverly Hills Council requests public hearing on subway project (Beverly Hills Patch)

At a special session on Sunday evening, the Council voted unanimously to request a special hearing on the Westside Subway Extension project under a little-used provision of the Public Utility Code. The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled to consider the subway’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report at their meeting on Thursday and will discuss the request at that time.

Breakdowns and delays vex Blue Line riders (L.A. Times)

The article looks at the problems on the Blue Line this year — twice as many trips in January and February were delayed or cancelled in 2012 than in the first two months of 2011. The delays are put in the bigger issue of deferred maintenance and what Metro and other agencies are doing about it (short answers: investing a lot of money trying to catch up). If you missed it, here’s a post on a Metro staff report on issues impacting the Blue Line and here’s an earlier Source post looking at the Metro employees who are charged with overhauling Blue Line rail cars to keep them rolling.

Italy launches private high-speed rail train (AFP)

The private train between Rome and Naples is part-owned by Ferrari — seriously — and boasts a dark red color. Nice!

The view from near Glacier Point in Yosemite -- from left that's Half Dome and Vernal and Nevada falls. Photo by Steve Hymon, via Flickr.

Yosemite high country roads begin to reopen (Yosemite N.P. website)

Road openings each spring are usually a reflection of how much snowpack there was the previous winter — the snowpack was 43 percent of normal in Yosemite as of April 1. That’s the reason that Glacier Point Road opened on Friday with plows making big-time progress on Tioga Pass Road, which allows access to the park from Lee Vining in the Eastern Sierra. Glacier Point Road opened May 27 in 2011 and Tioga Road on June 18. Reminder: Yosemite is served by park shuttles, the regional YARTs bus (which includes stops in Mammoth Lakes), Greyhound and Amtrak buses that connect with the San Joaquin train. More info here.

Transportation headlines, Friday, April 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.

Beverly Hills City Council action may delay Metro vote on subway study (Beverly Hills Patch)

Metro officials received a letter late Thursday from the Beverly Hills City Attorney informing Metro that the Beverly Hills City Council will hold a special meeting on Sunday night. The meeting’s purpose is to vote on whether to request a special hearing from Metro on the location of the Westside Subway Extension in Beverly Hills.

The Beverly Hills City Attorney says that such hearings can be requested under the state Public Utilities Code and that such a hearing — if requested — would preclude the Metro Board of Directors from voting next Thursday on whether to approve the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report for the subway project. The FEIS/R must be approved by both the Metro Board and the Federal Transit Administration before final design and construction of the subway project can begin.

The city of Beverly Hills opposes the Metro staff recommendation for a subway alignment that would tunnel under parts of the Beverly Hills High School campus in order to reach a Century City station at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars.

Metro officials say they will respond if a request for a hearing is received from the city of Beverly Hills and Metro will comply with the law.

Still L.A.’s transportation mayor (L.A. Times)

The editorial praises Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for staying focused on transportation during his time in office. But the editorial doesn’t — at least not at this early stage — praise the Mayor’s plan to ask voters to extend the Measure R sales tax increase to accelerate the building of transit projects. The big question, asks the newspaper, is whether such a plan would create too much debt.

Red car trolley begins testing at Disney’s California Adventure (Disney Parks blog)

Check out the pics in the post — the trolley, fashioned after the old Pacific Electric cars looks pretty authentic. It is set to open June 15.

San Francisco MTA releases post earthquake photos (SFMTA Photo Archives)

Interesting set of 43 photos detailing some of the damage the massive 1906 earthquake inflicted on streetcar facilities around San Francisco.

 

 

What's happening at other transit agencies?

Nostalgic New Yorkers enjoy a special ride on a

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.

Ride to ballgame on vintage train transports fans to another era

The New York subway trains above enjoyed their heyday from the 1920s to the 1960s, but they’re always a popular attraction when New York City Transit rolls them out on special runs. The New York Times recounts a recent run to Yankee Stadium by a four-car “Lo-V” train — short for “low voltage” — that attracted transit riders hoping to recapture an experience that one might have had decades ago en route to see Ruth, Gerhig and Mantle. While it’s nice to connect with history, I’ve got to imagine that on a day-to-day basis, most New Yorkers would pick a modern train’s convenience (read: air conditioning), especially in the dog days of August.

Alameda–Contra Costa Transit begins fueling buses with hydrogen made from solar electricity and water

The nexus of public transit and energy is a huge one. Transit agency energy bills run in the millions annually, and transit vehicles can play an important role in improving air quality — assuming, that is, that the buses and trains run on clean energy sources, as L.A. County Metro’s entire fleet now does. The East Bay’s Alameda–Contra Costa Transit is going for a double-whammy: developing a system that allows the agency to use a clean fuel (hydrogen) generated from a clean system (solar power). Marketwatch (via PR Newswire) has the details on the agency’s new hydrogen-generating system, which will fuel AC Transit’s “twelve 40-foot hybrid-electric, zero-emission fuel cell buses.” The hydrogen generator and dispenser allows AC Transit to refuel its fuel cell buses just as quickly as it would a diesel bus — important for keeping buses on the road and serving customers. And thanks to a grant from the California Air Resources Board, one of these hydrogen fueling stations will be made available to the general public.

Continue reading

Metro Orange Line Extension testing to begin Monday, April 23

In preparation for the grand opening of the Metro Orange Line Extension this June, Metro is preparing to start systems testing beginning Monday, April 23, for approximately three weeks.

During this testing period, buses will intermittently run along the busway for testing purposes only. The testing will take place from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Metro’s right-of-way east of Canoga Avenue between Vanowen Street and the Chatsworth Station.

The public is advised to be safe around buses:

  • Obey ALL warning signs and traffic signals when crossing the busway intersections.
  • Be alert at all times when near the busway.
  • Watch for buses from both directions.
  • NEVER walk, run, ride bicycles, or drive on the busway.
  • Remember to push the pedestrian crossing button to activate the “Walk” signal.
  • Use the crosswalks. Never jaywalk across the busway or use the busway as a shortcut.
  • Always look both ways before crossing the street.

Overall construction work will continue during the testing period. The construction work hours are approximately 6:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, weather permitting.

 

 

 

Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 19; the Mayor proposes Measure R extension to accelerate construction of transit projects

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.

Villaraigosa’s legacy focuses on transportation plan (L.A. Times)

L.A. Mayor Antonio focuses on transportation in State of the City speech (Daily News)

In his State of the City speech on Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair proposed a ballot measure that would ask Los Angeles County voters to indefinitely extend the Measure R half-cent sales tax that they approved in 2008 in order to build the 12 Measure R transit projects in the next decade. The original Measure R was for 30 years and expires July 1, 2039.

Stories in the Times and Daily News both ponder whether voters would be in the mood to vote for an extension and the Times, in particular, pokes around the issue of whether Metro could afford the debt that would be created by borrowing against future sales tax revenues — agency officials say they can. The counter-argument, of course, is that building projects now instead of in the 2030s would result in a considerable cost savings, not to mention the added benefit in mobility for the region.

Of the 12 Measure R transit projects, the following are scheduled to be done in the late 2020s or the mid-2030s: Westside Subway Extension to Century City and Westwood, Metro Connector to LAX, West Santa Ana Branch Corridor project, the Green Line Extension to the South Bay, the Eastside Gold Line Extension to Whittier or South El Monte and the Sepulveda Pass transit corridor project.

It remains to be seen whether the Metro Board of Directors will pursue a Measure R extension. If so, the Board will also need the Legislature to approve and the Governor to sign a state bill — AB 1446 — that would allow the Board to put a ballot measure to voters as soon as this November’s ballot, which should inspire high turnout because of the presidential election.

Here is a post on a Metro staff report looking at funding scenarios for a Measure R extension — as staff proposes it’s a straight-up acceleration of transit projects, not an expansion of budgets for the project. The original Measure R expenditure plan is here. The Mayor’s prepared remarks are posted after the jump.

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 18; Villaraigosa to propose extending Measure R

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.

Mayor proposes extension of Measure R sales tax (L.A. Times)

Mayor to urge Measure R extension (Daily News)

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa will propose asking L.A. County voters to extend the Measure R sales tax to accelerate the construction of transit projects in his State of the City speech this afternoon. The original Measure R half-cent sales tax was approved by county voters in 2008, went into effect in mid-2009 and expires in mid-2039.

The idea is to borrow against future Measure R revenues in order to build the transit projects in the next decade and create more jobs. It is important to note that the Metro Board of Directors has yet to discuss whether to put an extension to voters, nor has the Board made a decision to do so. Some Measure R projects are already scheduled to be built in the next decade while others — such as the Metro Connector to LAX, the second and third phase of the Westside Subway Extension (to Century City and Westwood, respectively) and the Sepulveda Pass transit project — have much longer timelines.

Metro staff will be discussing funding scenarios for project acceleration — including a Measure R extension — with Board committees this week. Here’s the presentation that they will give. And here is the original Measure R expenditure plan with all the project timelines.

Passage of a state bill will also be required in order to get an extension onto the ballot in November. Here’s a recent post about the bill, AB 1446 by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), clearing its first committee in the state Assembly earlier this month.

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 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.

Beijing subway — while Congress bickers, China builds to meet its transportation needs (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

Keeping L.A.’s 30/10 plan on track (Los Angeles Times)

In an op ed in the Los Angeles Times, USC professor Lisa Schweitzer considers the future of the 30/10 Initiative now that Congress has kicked tough decisions about federal transportation spending down the road another 90 days. Schweitzer’s piece explores three funding options that do not depend on Washington:

1) chopping 30/10 up, prioritizing its most critical projects like the subway extension and the regional connnector and pitching the projects to the AAA-rated California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank,

2) looking to the European Investment Bank which has as its mission fostering infrastructure projects that support EU goals, among them slowing global warming (as transit projects do), and

3) seeking loans from the private global capital markets. Measure R which produced a half-cent transportation sales tax is viewed as the sort of low risk revenue stream the capital markets require.

Continue reading

Free rides on new Expo light-rail line during opening weekend celebration, April 28-29

As part of the celebration, Metro will offer free rides on Expo the weekend it opens, Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29. Just a reminder that Expo is the only Metro rail line that will be free.

Here’s the release, just issued. Note that it includes limited hours for opening weekend, and that two stations — Farmdale and Culver City — will not open until this summer and, therefore, that trains will not be stopping there to pick up or drop off passengers.

      To kick off the opening of the new Metro Expo light-rail line, Metro will offer free rides on the Expo Line during opening weekend Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29.

      The free rides will be limited to only the new Expo Line that will operate on a limited schedule during the opening weekend from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, April 28/29. Patrons using other Metro operated trains (Red/Purple, Gold, Green & Blue lines) and Metro buses will pay regular fares.

      The opening of the new Metro Expo Line expands the Metro Rail system to nearly 90 miles. Stations opening April 28 include two existing stations served by the Metro Blue Line (7th Street Metro Center Station and Pico Station) as well as new stations that will include 23rd Street, Jefferson/USC, Expo Park/USC, Expo/Vermont, Expo/Western, Expo/Crenshaw, Expo/La Brea and La Ciengea/Jefferson stations.

      Due to on-going construction activities, both the Farmdale Station adjacent to Dorsey High School and the Culver City Station will not open until this summer. Metro Expo trains will stop at the Farmdale station but patrons will not be allowed on or off at that location. Trains will travel as far as the La Cienega/Jefferson Station only.

      In addition to the free ride on the Metro Expo Line, several community events are planned for Saturday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those community events will be held at the 7th Street Metro Center Station in downtownLos Angeles, Expo Park/USC Station, Expo/Crenshaw Station and the La Cienega/Jefferson Station. No community events are planned for Sunday, April 29.

      Fares for the new Metro Expo Line following the free weekend rides will be the same as all Metro-operated bus and trains costing just $1.50 one-way (cash) or patrons can purchase a Metro Day Pass for $5. Regular Metro monthly passes also are available for $75 good for unlimited travel on all Metro buses and trains. For more information visit metro.net/expo.