Transportation headlines, Monday, April 9

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 view of Southern California that sums it up: subdivisions, Lake Elsinore, mountains and sunset, as seen Saturday evening from Highway 74. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

No high-speed rail to Anaheim (L.A. Times)

The revised business plan for the bullet train project released one week ago glossed over this not-so-small point: high-speed rail tracks will not be built between Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim in order to save the $6 billion. The media didn’t catch this — I didn’t either. Excerpt:

It is unclear under the new proposal if or when bullet train service would be extended to Anaheim. The $68-billion project is supposed to be completed by 2028.

It was partly the elimination of service from downtown’s Union Station to Orange County that helped slash the project’s price tag by $30 billion, said Lance Simmens, a spokesman for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Until the recent revisions, the estimated cost of linking the Bay Area to Anaheim was nearly $100 billion.

The politically sensitive change had not been immediately evident Monday when the new plan was unveiled because the report did not explicitly state it. But a series of passages makes clear that the reduced budget would not cover costs of dedicated high speed tracks or electrical systems needed to operate bullet trains between Los Angeles and Anaheim. Other language in the plan suggests that an expanded future project or a second phase could reach Anaheim.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, impact this has on the new rail station proposed for Anaheim that comes with a $200-million price tag. It may also be a smart move. Bullet trains weren’t going to be that much faster in the L.A.-to-Anaheim corridor than regular trains and the tracks were going to dead-end at Anaheim with the bullet train route between L.A. and San Diego going through the Inland Empire to Riverside before turning south.

Sunday letters: changing our car culture (New York Times)

Fun and fascinating back-and-forth between Times readers on Americans’ driving habits and whether we should be driving less. Some favor a gas tax to help prompt more transit and discourage ‘let’s-drive-everywhere’ behavior. Others say cars are the only practical way to get around modern America.

What should I do with my old bike helmet? (Grist)

Advice columnist Umbra has several suggestions for using helmets whose noggin-protecting days may be over. Turn a helmet upside down and hang it from a beam and it makes a pretty nice flower pot, for example.

Transportation headlines, Friday, April 6

AEG proposed to fund an expansion of Pico Station to handle game-day football crowds. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

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.

How UCLA aced its traffic test (Zev’s Blog)

Each morning I take the Big Blue Bus #8 to class at UCLA. And judging by the robust patronage, I’m not surprised to hear that UCLA is succeeding at encouraging campus commuters to take alternatives to the car. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s blog delves into the important question: How did UCLA manage to increase its enrollment and building square footage over 20 years without increasing the number of car trips onto campus?

U.S. PIRG report: Young Americans dump cars for bikes, buses (D.C. Streetsblog)

Perhaps the decline in driving among American youth has something to do with UCLA’s success? A new report from the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) finds some intriguing/exciting trends in youth travel. Here’s a particularly juicy quote from the report: “From 2001 to 2009, the annual number of vehicle miles traveled by young people (16 to 34-year-olds) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita—a drop of 23 percent.” Meanwhile, transit use is up 100 percent over that same span for those with household incomes over $70,000. In the longer run, it’ll be good to keep an eye on how much the recession affected some of those travel trends, or if we’re seeing a more fundamental shift.

First look at Farmer’s Field traffic EIR: The good, the bad and the ugly (L.A. Streetsblog)

Now that the Farmer’s Field EIR is out and we’ve all had a little time to digest it, Streetsblog’s Damien Newton lays out what he considers to be promising and troubling about the proposal. While he’s heartened to see AEG willing to contribute some serious money to expand the Blue and Expo Line station at Pico, he’s concerned about the 101 Freeway expansion proposal — namely that it will just encourage more driving. For more analysis of AEG transportation plans, give a listen to Warren Olney’s discussion of it on the KCRW program “Which Way L.A.?”

What's happening at other transit agencies?

The University-Link light rail runnel will speed up trips for Seattleites along this busy corridor. Photo by flickr user Oran Viriyincy.

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.

Seattle, Wash., tunnel-boring machine breaks through in Capitol Hill

The $1.9-billion project to connect the University of Washington to downtown Seattle via light rail subway hit a milestone. The second of two tunnel-boring machines has arrived at the future Capitol Hill station. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was on hand to capture the scene as the football-field-length boring machine broke through. The P-I adds: “The U-Link project, set to open in 2016, is about halfway completed and on schedule, Sound Transit reports.” As someone who lived in Seattle, I can attest to value the rail link will bring, as it will make what’s currently a 30-minute transit trip into more like a ten-minute trip.

Bus-Rapid Transit advocates launch online BRT database

Two organizations, EMBARQ and BRT Across Latitudes and Cultures, have collaborated to produce an exciting online BRT database available at brtdata.org. The resource includes detailed information and specifications on over one hundred BRT systems in 36 countries, including Los Angeles County Metro’s Orange Line — but, curiously, not the Silver Line or any other Metro Rapid lines. EMBARQ Director of Research and Practice Dario Hidalgo describes “the website’s aim as providing “reliable and up-to-date data to help researchers, transit agencies, city officials, and NGOs understand and make better decisions to improve BRT and bus corridors in their cities.” Check it out!

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Officials tout fourth CicLAVia in L.A. on April 15

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a contingent of other local public officials, event organizers and cyclists this morning touted the fourth CicLAvia that will soon hit city streets on Sunday, April 15.

The 10-mile route through L.A. streets will be car-free for walking, biking and playing.

“We saw during ‘Carmaheaven’ when we encouraged everybody to get out of their car, a day without a car in Los Angeles – what a beautiful thing,” Villaraigosa said. “Ciclavia represents a sea-change in our city. When we erase the boundaries between sidewalks and streets, and we just get out of our cars for even a few minutes or a few hours, amazing things happen.”

Here’s a few highlights from the press event:

  • Bike Nation, a L.A. area bike sharing company, will provide 100 free rental bikes to the first Angelenos who sign up online through the CicLAvia web site.
  • A new Spanish language Public Service Announcement is now available to advocate safety for Los Angeles’ large Spanish-speaking community.  Check the PSA out here.
  • The message for all Angelinos every day: drive safely, be courteous, follow the rules and share the road.

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 5

A rendering of the proposed Farmers Field. Source: AEG.

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.

AEG unveils traffic plan for downtown football stadium (Daily News)

Among the mitigrations proposed: doubling the size of the platforms at the Pico Station that serves the Blue and Expo light rail lines, giving patrons the chance to buy transit tickets when purchasing game tickets online, widening and/or restriping streets and widening a mile-long stretch of the Hollywood Freeway, using a smartphone app to guide motorists to parking and running shuttles between downtown parking lots and the stadium.

AEG identified 50,000 parking spaces within a 20-minute walk of the stadium — a fact that, I think, says something about downtown L.A. and the ridiculous amount of space dedicated to parking. The developer also plans to build two parking garages to add 1,000 more spaces.

Beverly Hills may pursue legal action on the subway (Beverly Hills Patch)

Beverly Hills Mayor William Brien explains why the City Council has directed city staff to hire legal counsel to help the city fight any efforts by Metro to tunnel under parts of Beverly Hills High School for the Westside Subway Extension project. Metro staff have proposed an alignment that travels under the school campus as part of the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report. The Metro Board of Directors are scheduled to consider that route as part of their certification of the FEIS/R at their April 26 meeting.

Biting the bullet train cost (Long Beach Press Telegram)

This editorial takes a skeptical view of the new business plan released this week by the California High-Speed Rail Authority that trimmed costs of the project from $98 billion to $68 billion. The Telegram’s view: if $30 billion in savings could be found, perhaps there’s more left to chop. The editorial says that Californians are all for innovation but want to see a return for their investment and build something they’ll actually use.

Post 9/11 Security Upgrade To NYC Transit Lags (Transportation Nation)

A new report by the New York State comptroller says the first phase of the New York MTA’s security upgrade — in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — will not be be completed for another two years. The report notes that the M.T.A. has already installed 3,000 cameras at transit hubs and in bridges and tunnels but still needs to find personnel to monitor videos and photos and share information with the police and fire departments. The upgrade was supposed to be completed in 2008 but that date has now been pushed back to 2014. The final budget is expected to be $882 million dollars–nearly $300 million over the originally estimate.

 

The art of transit

photo by Matt Johnson, via Flickr creative commons

With the Los Angeles area on the verge of opening a new light rail line — the Expo Line — here’s a photo of another recent addition to the Western U.S. expanding rail system. Take a guess where it was taken — the answer is after the jump.

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.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 4

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.

 

The Lincoln Tunnel: How many Angelenos would drive everywhere if the 405 had a $12 toll? -- although it certainly doesn't stop a lot of New Yorkers from driving. (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

SoCal group votes on foot-friendly transit plan (San Jose Mercury News)

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is expected to adopt a 25-year transportation plan later this week. The plan — an assemblage of locally-funded plans — is significant because it shows the emphasis being places on mass transit, transit-oriented development, cycling and pedestrian improvements across the six-county area.

After 100 years, Muni has gotten slower (New York Times)

On many bus and rail lines in San Francisco, travel times in 2012 aren’t much different than in 1912. In those days, streetcars had little competition — unlike today, in which buses and street-running rail lines have to jockey for space with cars. The Muni system has a program underway to speed some lines by adding bus lanes, reducing the number of bus stops and better synching traffic signals to keep buses and trains moving.

 

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Expo test trains on track to Culver City Station

Expo test train, pushed by high-rail truck, performs clearance testing on westbound track near Hayden Boulevard. Photo submitted from Hello Expo Facebook page by Friend of Expo.
Expo test train, pushed by high-rail truck, performs clearance testing on westbound track near Hayden Boulevard. Photo submitted from Hello Expo Facebook page by Friend of Expo.

Although not visible in the photo, there’s a high-rail truck pushing an Expo test train west of La Cienega at the Hayden Boulevard interlocking. It’s the very beginning of clearance testing on that stretch of track. A nice reminder to get ready for Expo Line opening on Saturday, April 28.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 3

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 single day on the Moscow subway … in 2 minutes (The Atlantic Cities)

And we complain about crowding? Russian cinematographer Sasha Aleksandrov captures a day on the Moscow subway … to the music of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Norwegian (not Russian) composer Edvard Grieg.

Gov. Brown looks to global warming fees to pay for high-speed rail (Silicon Valley Mercury News)

As reported yesterday on The Source, the price tag for the new high-speed rail plan has been pared back from $98 billion to a mere $68 billion. But what to do about the $55 billion or so for which no source has been identified? Bullet train backers are suggesting the shortfall could be patched with money from California’s new cap-and-trade program — a pollution auction established by the state’s landmark global warming law.

The program would force polluters to buy credits in electronic auctions to offset greenhouse gas emissions, with the revenue going to programs that reduce greenhouse gasses. Under that definition, high-speed rail could certainly be a candidate for some of the money — a guesstimated $2 billion to $14 billion a year — but it remains unclear whether it would get it, how much it would get and if any of that money actually will show up. A massive showdown between the state and business leaders on the legality of cap-and-trade is expected and it will not be a quiet one, since billions of dollars are at stake.

How did downtown transform itself to a great place to live? (KCET)

To say downtown L.A. has been transformed from a dark and (in some areas) scary sci-fi set to a bright and sometimes beautiful city center is an understatement. An obvious reason for this is the arrival of new apartments and condos. During an almost 30-year period beginning in 1970, downtown Los Angeles gained a grand total of 4,300 units of housing. Then between 1999 and 2008 downtown gained at least 7,300 housing units just from long-term vacant buildings. What accounts for that tremendous uptick? Many factors, of course, including a growing transit system to attract new residents to downtown. But at least in the policy realm, arguably no reasons are as significant as a single ordinance passed by the L.A. City Council in 1999.

California gas prices soar as consumption falls (Sacramento Bee)

Gasoline prices soared by an average of 23 percent statewide last year, and in-state consumption of gas declined nearly 2 percent, according to 2011 statistics released Friday by the California Board of Equalization. We knew that and we don’t like it. But what’s to be done about it?

Metro offers workshops for artists Tuesday and Thursday

Metro is offering two informational workshops for artists interested in upcoming art opportunities throughout our fast-growing transit system, including Phase 2 of the Expo Line from Culver City to Santa Monica.

April 3, 2012
6:00 – 7:30 pm
Santa Monica Main Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Multipurpose Room—2nd Floor

Paid parking is available in the underground parking garage; enter from 7th Street. Visitors should enter the library and use the interior stairs or elevator to get to the Multipurpose Room.

April 5, 2012
6:00 – 7:30 pm
Palms-Rancho Park Library
2920 Overland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Free parking is available in the library lot.

Each workshop will cover the same material. Interested artists should plan to attend just one workshop.

For information about the Metro Art program, visit metro.net/art.