Transportation headlines, Wednesday, 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.

Of broomsticks and bikes (ZevWeb) 

As part of the county’s approval of the expansion of the Universal Studios theme park and back lot, NBCUniversal has agreed to spend $13.5 million to extend the Los Angeles River bike path from Studio City to Griffith Park. With some future linkages in downtown L.A., it could be possible to take the bike path one day from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach.

Goodbye Blockbuster, Hello subway stop (Buzzfeed)

The last hours of the Blockbuster at Wilshire and La Brea are chronicled; the store closed Sunday to make way for construction of the Purple Line Extension station there. Copies of “24” were going for 99 cents and the reporter counted 27 copies of “Greenberg,” the ultra-terrible Ben Stiller flick.

Central subway tunnel machines expected to arrive in S.F. this week (San Francisco Examiner)

The massive boring machines will be used to dig the north-south Central Subway project, which will extend light rail into the congested North Beach area. Digging is expected to begin in June. Meanwhile, the low bidder to build three stations for the project came in at $840 million, higher than Muni’s projections. Tunnel boring machines will also be used to dig tunnels for three Metro projects: the Regional Connector, the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the aforementioned Purple Line Extension.

Why aren’t young Americans driving anymore? (Washington Post)

The headline is a little misleading, given the Post cites data showing that between 2001 and 2009, driving by motorists age 16 to 34 declined by 23 percent; 2009 was four years ago, right? That said, the post cites stats showing that driving by all Americans has dropped by more than eight percent since 2005, which is the biggest decline in recent times.

What’s going on? For one, the baby boomers are driving less as they get older, which makes sense — many are presumably retired or hopefully doing something more fun than getting up early each day and putting on uncomfortable clothes (i.e. anything that’s not shorts, t-shirt and sandals) in order to sit in a tiny cubicle in some anonymous big building and answer/send needless email all day while fighting off the urge to drop into a permanent slumber.

As for the younger folk, here are the list of reasons the Post says they’re not pushing pedal to metal with the zeal of, say, my semi-fossilized generation: the recent recession, it’s harder to get a license, the cost of driving has gone up (gas, insurance, the car itself), more young people live near transit and are willing to use it and technology such as Facebook may have replaced some commute trips (yes, girls online have somehow become more interesting than girls in person; triple yikes!). In tech’s defense, some apps may make it easier to commute or give the kiddies something to do while on transit that’s more fun than sitting in rush hour traffic.

On that note, if anyone knows how to get three stars on this level, please leave a comment.

Finally, here’s a mighty interesting paper written by a team of researchers at UCLA that informed the federal research in turn used by the Washington Post.

Bullet train: the insanity escalates (San Diego Union-Tribune)

This harsh editorial takes the California High-Speed Rail Authority to task for changing the bidding rules for construction of the first 29-mile section of track between Madera and Fresno. In particular, the UT says that bidding rules shouldn’t have been altered without public notification in order to rank low cost ahead of technical merit. The low bidder for the project also ranked last in technical merit. The editorial was based on this article that appeared in the L.A. Times last week.


Transportation headlines, Tuesday, 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.

Los Angeles mayoral candidates talk transportation at last night’s debate (NBC4)

Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel were asked about public transportation and accelerating Measure R projects at last night’s debate at USC.

In this first video excerpt, the candidates were asked what they would do to increase use of public transportation while working with Metro (sorry about the commercials):

In this second excerpt, the candidates were asked if they would support sacrificing traffic lanes and street parking for dedicated bus lanes:

The questions were good but I’m not sure asking the candidates to squeeze what could be a much longer conversation about transit and transportation into just a couple of minutes is very fair to the audience.

Video interviews: the mayoral candidates (L.A. Times) 

The opinion section of the Times posts 30-minute interviews with both Garcetti and Greuel, including questions about pedestrian safety and transit. The interviews are also posted in segments so viewers can watch the parts that most interest them.

Letters: give the 110 toll lanes more time (L.A. Times) 

Readers opine on the recent story in the Times about the ExpressLanes project on the 110 freeway. Among the letters is one from a USC professor urging residents to give the ExpressLanes more time to change driver behavior (i.e. not use the 110 at its busiest times) and another reader urging Metro to adjust the tolls so that more motorists in the general lanes will want to use the ExpressLanes.

This date in history: April 22, 1964 (Primary Resources) 

It was 40 years ago that a plan was released explaining how the proposed Beverly Hills Freeway would be a tunnel while traveling under Beverly Hills with no exits or entrances, by the way. For those keeping score at home, the freeway lost. Check out the report in the post — fascinating read on the east-west freeway that never came to be.

New timelapse video shows Sepulveda Bridge rising for Expo Line’s second phase

This is the bridge that will take the Expo Line up and over Sepulveda Boulevard on its six-mile journey between Culver City and Santa Monica. Just west of Sepulveda, the train will then pass beneath the 405 freeway and then employ another bridge to cross Pico Boulevard.

Below is the latest newsletter from the Expo Line Construction Authority, the agency building the line that Metro will eventually operate. The project is funded by Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008.

Expo Line Phase 2 newsletter spring 2013


These speakers can teach kids how to prepare for future jobs at Metro

school booksMen and women of the Metro Speakers Bureau are available this spring to talk with children and young people at school career days about careers at Metro.

Metro employs more than 9,000 full-time staff, including computer engineers, web designers, urban planners, speech writers, artists, bus and train operators, mechanics and maintenance people, clerks, bus and rail transportation and maintenance supervisors and security guards. Topics could include training necessary to become bus and train operators, mechanics and maintenance experts, transit planners, security personnel and even artists and marketing and media relations professionals.

If you have questions or would like to request a speaker for your school, email: metrospeaks@metro.net. Speakers are available on a first come, first served basis.

Transportation headlines, Monday, April 22: Beautiful repurposed train stations, CicLAvia bigger and better than ever, why transit investment makes good business sense, car-less in L.A. intineraries

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.

Musee d'Orsay. Photo by Laurent/Flickr

Musee d’Orsay. Photo by Laurent/Flickr

Ten incredible repurposed train stations (Flavorwire)

From the famed Musee d’Orsay (museum) in Paris to the Julio Prestes Train Station (concert hall) in Sao Paulo, Brazil train stations are being repositioned in creative and exciting ways. A few of the results are shown in this beautiful photo essay.

Mass transit comes full cycle (L.A. Times)

Yesterday’s CicLAvia was the first with a 15-mile route that cleared streets from downtown all the way to the beach. It seemed to have proved itself compelling. Organizers estimated that the crowd swelled to 150,00 this time … the largest ever. Next up: June 23 CicLAvia on Wilshire Boulevard, from downtown to Fairfax Avenue.

America needs clean transportation, not just clean cars (Natural Resources Defense Council Switchboard blog)

Here’s a piece applauding the U.S. move to high-mileage cars and those that will run on clean fuels, but also reminding us that public transit has its economic charms, despite what often can be the high cost of construction. The investment is worth it, the writer argues. Using L.A. as an example, it estimates that congestion relief provided by public transportation ranges between $1.2 billion and $4.1 billion per year.

Itineraries for discovering L.A. without a car (LAist) 

The L.A. Tourism & Convention Board’s new car-free campaign showcases expanded transit, the city’s new bikeways, improved walkability and events like CicLAvia. It also includes a series of itineraries for discovering the city’s diverse neighborhoods on foot, bike and public transit. Check it out.

Metro to add rail service for weekend mega events April 20-21

Here’s news release:

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) plans to add train capacity on several Metro Rail lines in anticipation of major Los Angeles area events scheduled the weekend of April 20-21, including Festival of Books, CicLAvia – To The Sea, Long Beach Grand Prix and Staples Center sporting events.

Metro Rail offers convenient access to many of these activities, and remains the best option for beating parking hassles and traffic congestion for these simultaneous weekend mega events, which individually draw many tens of thousands of participants.

The focus of this weekend’s events will be on the Metro Expo Line, which serves Festival of Books at USC and CicLAvia – To the Sea.  On both Saturday and Sunday, Expo trains will operate every 6 minutes rather than the normal 12-15 minute weekend schedule.  Metro will also staff key Metro Rail stations with personnel to help manage passenger flows on and off trains, including passengers with bicycles.

Additional passenger capacity will be provided on the Metro Gold, Red, Purple and Blue Lines at various times to assist passengers traveling to and from this weekend’s other events, including Long Beach Grand Prix and Downtown L.A. sports venues. Metro also will add Metro Silver Line standby buses at El Monte Station and Artesia Station terminals to transport additional passengers as required.

On Saturday, April 20, and Sunday, April 21 the Festival of Books at USC is expected to generate a large number of attendees, many of whom will be traveling there directly by Metro Rail for the first time in the book festival’s 18-year history.  The Expo Line has two stations immediately adjacent to the event area at USC: Jefferson/USC and Expo Park/USC Station.  On Sunday, April 21, the CicLAvia — To the Sea route will travel between Downtown L.A. to Venice Beach primarily via Venice  Boulevard. The Metro Red/Purple Line parallels the route as it travels near Union Station, Civic Center, Pershing Square, 7th/Metro, and Westlake/ MacArthur Park. The route then travels south and west via Venice Boulevard, passing the Culver City Metro Expo Line Station at Venice and Robertson.  As this station is approximately halfway between Downtown Los Angeles and Venice, event attendees are anticipated to use the station when traveling via Metro Rail to and from the official CicLAvia route. CicLAvia attendees should anticipate some delays in accessing trains at this station, and be prepared to wait for the next train or subsequent train in order to board safely.

Bicycles are welcome on Metro Rail, but CicLAvia cyclists should follow a few important safety rules. Always walk with your bike in the station and on trains. If the train is crowded, wait for the next train. Please allow other passengers to exit and enter the train before boarding. Always stand with your bike in the designated open area while onboard. Always keep doors and aisles clear and give priority to wheelchair passengers. Bicyclists under 14-years-old must be accompanied by an adult. Fuel-powered, 3-wheeled, tandem, recumbent and over 6-foot long bicycles, as well as all mopeds and trailers, are not allowed.

In order to make the most out of their transit-riding experience, Metro patrons are encouraged to purchase a Day Pass on their TAP cards.  The Day Pass will enable patrons to board trains all day long without having to get in line to purchase multiple one-way fares.

For more information on the Los Angeles Times Festival of books, visit http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/.  For more information on CicLAvia — To the Sea or to view a route map, visit www.ciclavia.org/events.  Please note, limited edition CicLAvia TAP cards pre-loaded with a day pass will be available at Hub sites along the route for a donation of $20 or more.  To plan your trip via Metro, go to www.metro.net.

Construction on the Ventura Fwy in Burbank will begin Monday

A small section of the Ventura Freeway (SR-134) near Bob Hope Drive in Burbank is about to get a minor facelift as a sound wall constructed. The construction may mean traffic delays. Here’s the release just issued by Metro.

Motorists can expect inconvenience and possible delays in the Burbank area as Metro’s project contractor improves, widens and builds a sound wall at the overcrossing of State Route 134 at Bob Hope Drive.

During construction, portions of Bob Hope Drive will be closed where it crosses below the freeway between Warner Boulevard and Riverside Drive. Work includes installation of temporary support structures that will reduce clearance at the overpass.

A signed detour will be provided to direct traffic around the closure.  In addition, eastbound State Route 134 motorists exiting Bob Hope Drive and wishing to access destinations north of State Route 134 will be detoured via Riverside Drive and Buena Vista Street.

Work begins at 7 a.m. Monday, April 22, 2013 and is expected to be completed November 5, 2013.

For more information, call the Metro Capital Projects hotline at (213) 922-6913 or the Project Contractor at (805) 331-0819.