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.