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.


Expo Line FAQ

It’s beyond obvious that both expectations and anticipation for the Expo Line opening on April 28 are sky-high right now. The Source had its highest traffic day ever when the opening was announced last month.

Readers have been asking many questions about the line. I’ll do my best to answer the most common ones below.

First, I’d like to offer a little perspective. Opening a rail line to the public is not easy. It’s one thing to run empty test trains, it’s another to run real revenue service with paying customers.

The Expo Line was built to serve the public for many decades to come. As with Metro’s other rail lines, there will likely be tweaks made to the service over time. The Gold Line, for example, has shaved seven minutes off its run time between Pasadena and Union Station since its debut in 2003 and greatly increased the frequency of trains throughout the day.

The same will likely apply to the Expo Line. It’s great that the project is finally opening, but this is just a beginning. On to your questions:

Will there be free rides on opening weekend?

Yes, the public can ride the Expo Line for free on both April 28th and 29th; fares will still be charged on other Metro rail and bus lines. Passengers must begin paying fares on the Expo Line on Monday, April 30.

When will Expo Line timetables be published?

Timetables should be posted on the Metro website about two weeks prior to opening the line. Print timetables should be available about a week before Expo debuts.

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Transportation headlines, Monday, April 2

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.

All the details on the proposed Orange Line-Red Line link in NoHo (Curbed LA)

Check out the schematic of the proposed tunnel under Lankershim Boulevard that would connect the subway’s mezzanine level and the Orange Line street level platforms in North Hollywood. Metro is applying for a federal grant to pay for most of the cost; if it comes through, the project could be done by 2014.

California set to release $68.4-billion high-speed rail plan to appease critics (San Francisco Chronicle)

Nice possible scoop. The Chronicle reported over the weekend that the latest business plan by the California High-Speed Rail Authority will drop the price of the project from $98 billion to about $68 billion. How? Excerpt:

While the updated strategy still calls for construction to start in the Central Valley, it abandons plans to build only a 130-mile stretch from Chowchilla (Madera County) to Bakersfield. Instead, it extends the initial line north to Merced and south across the Tehachapi Mountains to Palmdale and the San Fernando Valley, probably Burbank, and calls for it to carry high-speed trains along the 300-mile stretch. It relies heavily on what officials have called a “blended approach” that uses existing commuter rail lines – including Caltrain – in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

That shift, authority board members said Saturday, is largely responsible for the cost savings because it eliminates the need to build separate tracks for high-speed rail through dense metropolitan areas.

We’ll see today if the Chronicle got it right. The Authority is holding a news conference this morning to explain the new business plan. I’ll post the news release and any other materials provided later today.

A good overview of the positive train control system that Metrolink is installing. The system uses GPS and digital communications to track trains to ensure they are on the proper track and abiding by signals. Metrolink officials say it could have prevented — or at least lessened the severity — of the crash in Chatsworth between a Metrolink train and freight train in 2008 that killed 25. Here’s a video that Metrolink made about PTC:

 

What's happening at other transit agencies?

The Boston Red Line speeds out of Park Street Station, much like it did 100 years ago. Photo by flickr user brentdanley.

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.

Boston Red Line’s 100th anniversary

Boston’s venerable Red Line subway is celebrating its 100th year in service in 2012 — and just think the Metro Blue Line is a mere 78 years away from that milestone! What else was happening in 1912 when the line opened, thus connecting the Harvard Square and Park Street Station? For one, the Red Sox auspiciously won the World Series, and somewhat inauspiciously that was the year the Titanic sank. All the while the subway — originally called the Cambridge Main Street Subway — has chugged along to the tune of over 200,000 daily riders. The Boston Globe has a very Art of Transit–worthy collection of historical photos of the line that is definitely worth a click.

In San Bernardino County, Omnitrans’ college student fares arrive at 1 million trips

Omnitrans’ Go Smart student fare program logged its one millionth rider during the one-year pilot program, reports the Riverside Press-Enterprise. That’s an exciting, but not necessarily surprising result. Students at participating colleges get “free” rides on Omnitrans just by swiping their student ID cards. Students actually contribute to funding the student fare program through an additional student fees. The P-E notes that the program has also been “funded by 14 local cities, San Bernardino County” and Omnitrans. A transit agency official told the P-E that the additional student ridership has helped boost overall ridership by nearly nine percent over the course of the year. The trial program will end on June 30 this year; we’ll try to find out what the prospects are for it being re-upped.

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Transportation headlines, Friday, March 30

A Pacific Electric Red Car passes over Motor Avenue. Photo by Alan Weeks courtesy of the Metro Transportation Library.

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.

Rail returns to the Westside: The Expo Line’s historical precursors (KCET)

With modern light rail a month from opening along Exposition Boulevard, KCET’s Nathan Masters takes a trip back through time to review all the past iterations of rail service along this corridor. It all started in 1875 with steam trains plying between downtown L.A. and the infant city of Santa Monica. It’s a great read — replete with historic photos like the one above — if you want to get a sense of how Los Angeles is rediscovering its transit roots and to get excited about the latest iteration. When you’re done boning up on Expo history, you can stake out some good places to eat and other places worth visiting along the Expo Line thanks to Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website.

Expo takes trees, gives back double (Santa Monica Daily Press)

Looking ahead to Expo Phase 2: A little over a hundred trees in Santa Monica will have to be relocated or permanently removed to make way for the line. But worry not shade-lovers, the Exposition Authority will replace all those trees and even add additional trees to create a buffer along the line.

Editorial: Don’t let the South Figueroa Corridor Project get lost in the CRA shuffle (L.A. Streetsblog)

With the dissolution of redevelopment agencies statewide, a lot of great projects were left in the lurch. Streetsblog calls on local policy-makers to make sure that the South Figueroa Corridor isn’t kicked to the curb. That’s the project that would transform Figueroa Boulevard between USC and LA Live from an auto thoroughfare into a complete street with wider sidewalks, more trees and dedicated space to bicycles and transit. To this blogger it seems like a key project for better tying the LA Live campus into the South Park neighborhood and increasing the safety and comfort of those not traveling by car.

Google Maps now includes real-time traffic data (Mashable)

Remember how Google Maps driving directions used to have info on how long your trip might take if you hit traffic? But then Google pulled the feature to tweak it? Well it’s now back, and instead of providing a worst-case-scenario estimate based on historic trends, the prediction it now gives is based on real-time traffic conditions. This should be a welcome feature for those who want to know if, say, taking the Metro Red Line or driving the 101 Freeway into downtown is faster — the answer to that question can vary dramatically depending on the time of day. The next feature I’d like to see from Google is one that does a cost comparison between driving, taking transit, biking and walking for a given trip.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 29

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.

 

First Pacific Electric streetcar arrives in Van Nuys, Dec. 16, 1911 /Los Angeles Public Library

Recalling Pacific Electric’s leading role in the Valley (Daily News)

Here’s an interesting story and a bunch of cool photos looking back to the days when streetcars crisscrossed the Valley. Note that some of the photos are of rail running on what is now the popular — and soon expanding to Chatsworth — Orange Line. It’s from a book about Pacific Electric Red Cars by David Coscia, “Pacific Electric and the Growth of the San Fernando Valley.” Looks like fun.

Battling L.A. traffic … and winning. Here’s how: (UCLA Newsroom)

UCLA traffic is the lightest it’s been since the university began measuring, more than 20 years ago. Currently 52.9 percent of employees drive to work alone, compared with nearly 72 percent of Los Angeles County drivers. Only 25 percent of students drive alone. To help achieve this, UCLA offers incentives, including a 50 percent subsidy for transit passes, discounted parking for carpoolers and a partially subsidized vanpool. UCLA is dangerously close to achieving its goal of 50 percent ride sharing, which is part of the campus Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Metro sponsors a partially subsidized vanpool program. Can we interest you?

$7 billion public-private plan in Chicago aims to fix transit, schools and parks (New York Times)

Chicago is embarking on a $7 billion plan to transform the city’s infrastructure. It includes $1 billion for the Chicago Transit Authority to renovate more than 100 stations and eliminate “slow zones” that cost riders an estimated 11,000 hours of delays every day. Funding will come from the newly created Chicago infrastructure Trust, an initiative announced this month by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former President Bill Clinton — a long-time supporter of energy efficiency. The fund, a nonprofit corporation, pools outside investment and applies it to a wide range of possible projects. The city estimates the initiatives will create 30,000 jobs over the next three years, helping to put the city that works back to work. Similarly, Metro’s 30/10 Plan to accelerate construction of Measure R projects could generate tens of thousands of jobs. Could transit projects be the engine that help restart the economy?

 

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, March 28

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.

Bike Lane, Lower Broadway, New York (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

10 best American cities for cycling (PHOTOS) (Huffington Post)

The Huffington Post has come out with its list of the best biking cities and local, deserving favorites Long Beach and Santa Monica do not make the list — although the list focuses on far larger cities. Austin, Boston and Chicago got first, second and third place.

California high-speed rail: building a faster train faster (KPCC)

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is expected to release a final business plan this week that officials say will get bullet trains in Southern California and in the Bay area running a lot sooner than originally planned. The proposed “blended approach” that has been talked about in recent months would build the middle of the system first and connect it to commuter rail systems in both the Bay Area and Southern California. It remains to be seen exactly when actual bullet trains would roll into our area. In the meantime, Metro and Metrolink are trying to secure some high-speed rail funds to speed up and allow for more Metrolink trains to the Antelope Valley and a connection with high-speed rail.

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 27

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.

Times Square IRT Station (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

Rio + 20: what if transportation is an afterthought? (Next American City)

With the Rio 2012 Earth Summit approaching, sustainability experts are poring over a 19-page document that outlines ideas for the world’s commitment to sustainability. The document dedicates a good deal of space to the green economy and to the importance of local governance in creating sustainable communities. What it doesn’t do however, is talk much about transportation. This oversight has some in the sustainable transportation community expressing grave concern. Excerpt:

“The importance of sustainable public transportation in cities cannot be overstated. It is the backbone of any sustainable city. Without it, all of our cities are doomed to inefficiency, and to fail at their other goals of livability, economic prosperity and social justice. We need transportation to get to jobs, to schools, to access any number of opportunities within our cities.”

 

Leaving his footprints on the city (New York Times)

In a feat that would do Alfred Kazin, author of “A Walker in the City” proud, a former civil engineer, has set out to walk every street in every borough of New York City.  Thanks to a lot of couch surfing at the home of friends around the city, Matt Green, age 31, is spending only around $15 a day to make his estimated 8,000-mile trek. Green, who previously spent five months walking from Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, to Rockaway Beach, Oregon, began December 31 on what he expects to be an over two year full-time undertaking. The article contains a nice video clip of Green doing “a really normal thing for a really long period of time.”

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How do they do that? Transmit stories to Transit TV monitors

How do they do that? is a series for The Source that explores the technology that helps keep Metro running and passengers and other commuters moving. Some of it applies directly to the trains, buses and freeways and some of it runs in the background — invisible to nearly everyone but essential to mobility in our region.

Metro earns more than $100,000 from the contractor that provides Transit TV each year, helping to subsidize customer-paid fares that cover only 28 percent of the cost of the ride. While this is not a lot of money in terms of the cost of running a huge transit agency like Metro, it’s enough to make it worthwhile and there is no cost to Metro for providing Transit TV.

How do the monitors aboard Metro’s bus fleet receive the programs that change daily? By a specialized digital system created to collect the news, weather and feature programming and transmit it to the buses via Wi-Fi.

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Transportation headlines, Monday, March 26

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.

Opinion: Expo Line to fill a gap (L.A. Times)

Editorial staffer Dan Turner gives his early review of the Expo Line based on Friday’s media ride. The gist of it: fast in some places, slow in others, doesn’t quite reach the ‘true’ Westside yet but will probably be very useful for those seeking to avoid the Santa Monica Freeway, one of the busiest roads in the nation.

 City of Los Angeles’ signal sync program nears completion (Daily News)

The three-decade effort is almost done, say city transportation officials who have been piece-mealing the system together project-by-project. No, it won’t solve traffic and a little skepticism in this article would have been appropriate. But officials hope it will help take the edge off and reduce pollution caused by vehicles stopping and started more than they should.

A chart used by Sen. Bingaman showing that gas prices tend to fluctuate similarly across six European nations and the U.S.

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