Transportation headlines, Thursday, August 30

Sorry for the delay in posting. I hit the trifecta this morning with transit delays — and my phone ran out of juice, to boot. One of those days, people.

Beverly Hills school board prepares for federal suit (Beverly Hills Patch)

The BHUSD school board voted to increase the pay to a Washington D.C.-based law firm, saying they plan to file suit against the Federal Transit Administration in federal court. The district has already filed a suit against Metro in local courts, challenging the agency's environmental study of the Westside Subway Extension under state law. The school board has now spent more than $500,000 on legal fees in their attempt to change the subway's route so that it doesn't tunnel under parts of the Beverly Hills High School campus.

Lawsuit seeks to slow AEG's football stadium (Daily News)

A coalition of downtown groups and environmentalists announced they plan to file a suit against a state law intended to expedite the environmental studies for the proposed Farmers Field adjacent to Staples Center and L.A. Live. Whether the lawsuits produce more studies — and whether those studies tell us anything we don't already know — is another question.

World's longest bus debuts at 98 feet (Tecca)

The three-part bus can carry 256 people and is set to hit the streets of Dresden, Germany, this fall. Officials say it's as easy to drive as a regular bus and has sophisticated technology to help with turning.


Go Metro to USC Football this season


The first USC home game is this Saturday and Metro and USC are hoping lots of potential drivers abandon their cars and take the new Expo Line (via other Metro bus and rail) to this game and others. Not only is it the green way to travel, it will take the pressure off hunting for a parking space since Saturday's game is already sold out. Here's a release from this morning's press event at USC.

Steve Lopes, USC Senior Associate Athletic Director, and Metro CEO Art Leahy were joined today by members of the USC Song Girls and the Spirit of Troy band for a pep rally announcing enhanced service to University of Southern California home games this season. The first game — this Saturday, Sept. 1 at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum — is sold out, which means 92,000 fans could be searching for parking.

Unless they Go Metro. The morning pep rally at Pardee Plaza on the USC campus celebrated the first season of Expo Line service to Trojan home games. Metro's new Expo Line is the perfect vehicle for getting to the games since two stations — Expo/Vermont and Expo Park/USC — serve the university. And game day enhanced service, which includes “event guides” to answer questions, has been designed to make it easy for fans to avoid traffic and parking hassles while taking Expo to the games.

“We want potential new riders to know that Metro staff will be on hand to help riders successfully navigate the system on game days,” said Metro CEO and USC graduate Art Leahy. “And we're adding more trains to make sure travel is smooth. Whether riders are carrying a picnic basket or not, we know they'll see that this new way to the games is convenient and enjoyable. And you don't have to worry about driving home after a long day.”

Continue reading

Reminder: Regional Connector update meeting tonight in Little Tokyo

The final meeting in the latest round of community updates for the Regional Connector project is tonight in Little Tokyo. The details:

6:30 to 8:30 PM
Japanese American National Museum
369 E 1st St, Los Angeles

The meeting will also be streamed live. Here's the link.

The main topic of discussion is the ongoing design of the three underground stations for the Regional Connector in Little Tokyo (1st/Central), at 2nd/Broadway and 2nd/Hope.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, August 28

Good morning from lovely downtown Monrovia in the San Gabriel Valley, where my bike is locked to a streetlamp because of lack of — hint, hint — bike racks. In other news, the Metro library is taking a summer break so we're compiling a few headlines on our own.

CTA: aisle-facing seats are here to stay (Chicago Tribune)

New rail cars in Chicago feature seats along the walls facing inward. Although some riders have complained to the Trib — one griped that the arrangement would promote peeking at cleavage (seriously) — the Chicago Transit Authority says that the new seats will remain because the rail cars were designed to accommodate them.

Cancer surgeon commandeers kid's bike to reach hospital (Grist)

Stuck in traffic behind a giant truck accident, a Baton Rouge surgeon drove to a friend's house and borrowed his eight-year-old daughter's bike in order to reach a scheduled surgery on time. Check out the photos.

Long Beach hires BikeNation to run bike share program (L.A. Streetsblog)

The City Council voted unanimously to allow the firm to run its new program which will include 2,500 bikes for rent at over 250 kiosks throughout town. The first kiosks are scheduled to be installed in February. BikeNation is paying for it and it will be interesting to see how much interest the program generates; Long Beach has been extremely progressive when it comes to installing bike infrastructure.

Destroying precious land for gas (New York Times)

In this opinion piece, musician Sean Lennon — son of John and Yoko — decries a natural gas industry he believes is intent to run rampant in rural New York state in order to recover natural gas through the controversial hydraulic fracturing method. It's a strong piece although, of course, there are some benefits to natural gas — it burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels.


Transportation headlines, Monday, August 27

A little Monday morning stupidness for you, dear readers. Hat tip: Grist.

A view of the suburban ghost towns surrounding Charlotte (Streetsblog network)

Some interesting photos of abandoned suburban projects far from the city core. Cautionary tale or sign of things to come if the economy recovers?

BART bike pilot underway (BART)

The rail agency in the Bay Area is allowing bikes on trains all day on Fridays, including during peak hours. Metro last year decided to allow bikes on trains at all times. Here’s a good video by the agency:

Arctic sea ice shrinks to new low in satellite era (NASA)

The extent of the sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has shrunk to its lowest levels in the three decades since satellite observations begun. It was not an unusually warm summer in the Arctic, but it’s part of an ongoing trend that indicates the Arctic’s sea ice is “fundamentally changing,” according to government scientists.

Credit: NASA.

Taxpayers are gouged on transit costs (Bloomberg)

In this opinion piece that could use a lot more facts, the writer asserts that transit costs in the United States are generally more expensive than their European counterparts because of out-of-date procurement standards, a tendency to invest too much in pretty architecture and famous architects and courts that tend to side with contractors in disputes with government agencies. An enterprising local reporter — there are still some out there, right? — could borrow this idea and compare costs of California projects to some overseas or even elsewhere in America. It would take some footwork, but would be good knowledge to have.

Transportation headlines, Friday, August 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.

Metro staff chooses final 710 routes for environmental study (Pasadena Star News)

Seven of 12 alternatives under consideration have been dropped from a study about improving traffic in the area around the gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. Among the options shelved are a road widening through the San Rafael neighborhood in Pasadena and a freeway tunnel under it as well as any kind of surface freeway. Metro still plans to study a freeway tunnel directly between the 710 in Alhambra and the 210 in Pasadena, although some residents in the city say they plan to fight it. Here’s the news release from Metro.

Giving reins to states over drilling (New York Times)

This news analysis piece looks at Mitt Romney’s plan to give states more control over oil and gas drilling on federal lands in order to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil. The Times sees it as a potentially tough sell in Congress because it’s a radical shift from the way that federal property has been managed since the days of Theodore Roosevelt, who put a strong slant on conservation. About 45 percent of California is federal property, including national forests, national parks, military bases and Bureau of Land Management properties.

For those curious:

•The U.S. consumed 18,835,000 barrels of petroleum per day in 2011, of which 8,736,000 was motor gasoline, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

•Forty-five percent of the petroleum products consumed by the U.S. were imported in 2011 — the lowest level since 1995 — and 60 percent of the nation’s crude oil processed in the nation’s refineries was imported.

•About 71 percent of U.S. oil consumption goes toward transportation.

•In 2010 and 2011, the U.S. consumed about 22 percent of total world petroleum; the U.S. leads the world in oil consumption. U.S. consumption of gasoline peaked in 2007 when 3,389,269,000 barrels were consumed.

•The burning of gasoline and other products made from fossil fuels is widely viewed as a primary reason for the buildup of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere that many scientists believe is the reason for global warming. Taking transit, by the way, is seen as a good way to reduce your carbon footprint, as the chart below from the Federal Transit Administration shows.

With Regional Connector stations, a less is more design (Downtown News)

Metro is trying to standardize the look of stations with the Regional Connector project, aiming to reduce the vast number of materials and design elements that may show up in one rail station but no others. Here’s yesterday’s post with drawings of the three stations for the Connector.



Transportation headlines, Thursday, August 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.

Here’s one way to pack a few more bikes onto train cars…

Yaroslavsky says he won’t run for mayor (Zev’s Blog)

County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky announced this morning that he will not run for mayor of Los Angeles in 2013, choosing instead to focus on his final 27 months representing the county’s third district. Of course, Yaroslavsky has a long history of dealing with transportation issues as a Metro Board Member whereas the four leading candidates for mayor — Councilman Eric Garcetti, Controller Wendy Greuel, Councilwoman Jan Perry and Kevin James — have never served on the Metro Board. For those keeping score at home, Greuel is the first to seek Yaroslavsky’s endorsement by quickly issuing a statement this morning praising his service.

33 Democrats come out against CEQA reform (California High-Speed Rail blog)

A proposal by a Silicon Valley business group to reform the state law governing environmental studies in the state was poorly received by 33 Democrats in the Legislature, who ask Assembly Speaker John Perez in a letter to resist any attempts to change the law. What’s going on here? Likely two things: no one wants to anger environmental organizations that use CEQA to tie up projects that are controversial and there’s a cottage industry of people who make a living off environmental studies that drag on forever.

A bike lane in Gotham. Photo by Spencer Thomas, via Flickr creative commons.


Now, six years after the Bloomberg administration began its controversial campaign to edit the city’s streetscape, adding 255 miles of bicycle lanes onto streets previously dedicated to automobiles, a hard-fought acceptance for the lanes may finally be at hand.

When asked simply whether the bike lanes were a good idea or a bad idea, 66 percent of New Yorkers said they were a good idea, according to a new poll by The New York Times. A majority in all boroughs said they thought the lanes were a good idea, with support highest in Manhattan.

Twenty-seven percent of residents called the lanes a bad idea, and 7 percent had no opinion or did not answer.

Interestingly, some people who say they support the lanes also say that they rarely, if ever, use them. And the city’s planned bike-sharing network doesn’t seem to be drawing much interest from anyone.

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.