Transportation headlines, Monday, June 25

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.

Authority puts $1.75 million toward Metrolink station at Bob Hope Airport (Burbank Leader)

The agency that oversees the airport set aside funds for the station that would be located at Hollywood Way and San Fernando Road, which would be convenient for those traveling from the Antelope Valley and trying to reach the airport. The airport’s current Metrolink station is on the Ventura County Line.

Drivers on the 10 get ready to pay for carpool lane (Pasadena Star News)

An overview of the ExpressLanes project that is coming to the 10 freeway’s carpool lanes between downtown L.A. and the 605 freeway early next year. As the article states, many motorists in the San Gabriel Valley try to avoid the 10 because it is often congested but the two carpool lanes in each direction with much lower traffic volumes than the regular lanes may be enough to lure some motorists willing to pay the congestion pricing toll.

Santa Monica traffic, is it really that bad — part 1 (L.A. Streetsblog)

Intriguing post by Gary Kavanaugh suggesting that perhaps the traffic in the Republic of Santa Monica is exaggerated by those living there. As a former seven-year resident, I agree with Gary’s assessment that there are some hotspots that are pretty bad. The bigger problem, I think, is that Santa Monica is also surrounded by other traffic hotspots (example: all of Lincoln Boulevard) that make moving through the area an ordeal at times.

“Straphanger” book review (The Atlantic Cities and Primary Resources)

A new book by Taras Grescoe titled “Straphanger: Saving Our Cities from Ourselves and the Automobile” looks at transit around the world. Primary Resources has a positive review and the Atlantic Cities has an interview with Grescoe.


Signing off for now: a note from your humble transit blogger

Here I am at the Expo Line opening. Photo by Steve Bott via flickr.

After a year and a half of writing for The Source, I’m sad to say that I’ll be taking a leave. It’s exciting news though! Over the next year, I’ll be working in L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa’s office thanks to a fellowship through my urban planning program at UCLA and the David Bohnett Foundation.

Before I sign off, some thanks are due: Thanks to Metro and The Source editor Steve Hymon for giving me a chance to help explain how Metro works and to make the agency more accessible to the public. Hopefully, I was able to shed some light on the process of planning the suite of Measure R transit projects coming down the line.

And a big thanks to The Source readers. One of the most valuable parts of this gig for me was hearing what public transit in Southern California means to you, as well as your hopes and aspirations for what transit can and should be.

So, after 200-plus posts, what perspective did I gain writing for The Source?

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Study update on Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor; many concepts under review

Click above for a larger chart.

With Ramp Jam likely to trigger a downgrade in the already bad traffic in the Sepulveda Pass corridor, I thought this would be a good day to look ahead — specifically to the day when the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project is built to help better connect the San Fernando Valley to the Westside.

As many of you likely know, the project is one of the transit projects set to receive funding from the Measure R sales tax increase approved by county voters in 2008. At the time, the project was a concept yet to be defined. However, a systems study is underway by Metro planning staff to determine some concepts for the project. The study below (pdf here) lists the interim findings.

There are six over-arching concepts offered (shown on the chart above), including bus rapid transit, rail transit and managed and/or toll lanes that could be used by buses and/or rail. Among the concepts: building a tunnel that could be used by both private vehicles and transit. Interesting!

Perhaps most intriguing and heartening, I think, is that the study area is a big, big area — all the way from the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station in the northern San Fernando Valley to Los Angeles International Airport.

Funding will obviously be a challenge, as Measure R is scheduled to provide $1 billion for a project that could potentially cost a lot more than that. Even with the (usual) funding challenges, I’m pleased to see that everything is on the table — as it should be in such an important corridor.

Please give the report a read. There are maps for each of the overall concepts. This is still the earliest stage of project development that precedes the traditional alternatives analysis and environmental impact studies that will follow.

Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor study update

The Transit Tourist: Portland, Ore.

A Portland band plays a tune on the sidewalk as a MAX light rail train passes behind. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

The Transit Tourist takes a look at other transit systems across the globe from the first person perspective of a visitor. What can Metro learn from how these other systems treat the uninitiated – and often bumbling – tourist?

Last year, Fred Camino inaugurated The Transit Tourist series with an excellent post about his trip to London. To refresh, here are his thoughts on why the tourist perspective of another city’s transit system can be a valuable one for readers of The Source:

The tourist experience on transit is a unique but important one. Tourists generally have different needs than the daily commuter, but my feeling is that when a tourist’s needs are met a transit system is doing a good job at two things: providing an easy to use system that also serves many destinations. In other words, if a system works for an outsider, it’s probably going to work for local residents as well.

The next stop on our Transit Tourist adventures: Portland, Oregon! During my week-long visit to Portland, my primary agenda was to explore a city that is often held as a model of good public transportation and urban design.

I got very lucky on the weather front: six consecutive sunny days. That made touring the city on transit and foot even easier, though perhaps I didn’t quite get a representative experience of a city known for its seemingly perpetual drizzle and rain.

The good weather made Portland even more comfortable to explore on foot. Especially in downtown and its environs, the sidewalks tend to be very generous, the streets pretty narrow, and the blocks very short — all of which make the city feel more intimate and accessible. And those are all features that make it pleasant being out in public and taking transit…weather permitting.

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Transporation headlines, Friday, June 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.

Can L.A. afford an indefinite tax on transit? (L.A. Times)

The Times’ editorial board takes a wait-and-see approach to the Measure R extension proposal, saying it could finally create a worthy transit network. On the other hand, the Times’ frets that an indefinite extension of the half-cent sales tax would provide Metro an open checkbook with too little accountability.

An amazing Metro adventure in Los Angeles (Follow My Bliss)

On Father’s Day, a couple boards the Blue Line in Long Beach and travels north, determined to see where the Metro system make take them. A link to part two of their adventure is at the bottom of the post, which supplies a good first-timers view of the system.

Lawsuits threaten light rail in Los Angeles (NPR)

A segment on the lawsuits by Beverly Hills against the Westside Subway Extension — which NPR inaccurately labels as light rail in the headline. It’s a heavy rail subway. The segment could have been a lot more detailed, IMO.

June Mountain won’t open in 2012-13 (Pete Thomas Outdoors)

The remote ski resort in the Eastern Sierra — it’s 25 miles north of Mammoth Lakes — won’t open next winter due to lack of visitors. Once upon a time it was a road trip destination for skiers but times have changed and apparently there’s not enough skiers to go around anymore, even in the nation’s most populous state.

What's happening at other transit agencies?

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.


The Center for Neighborhood Technology put together this handy infographic showing Chicago transit riders what their fares are funding.


Where do your Chicago transit fares go? The Center for Neighborhood Technology shows you

This infographic from CNT clearly and concisely captures what Chicago transit riders support with their fares; it also shows what is true of virtually every large transit agency in the developed world: Labor is by far the largest single cost of transit operations. Why? Because large transit agencies have to employ thousands of skilled and hardworking bus and train operators — not to mention mechanics and other support staff.

S.F. Market Street car ban urged by city agencies

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that city agencies are supporting the implementation of a plan called Better Market Street, a key component of which is eliminating cars from a two-plus mile stretch of the city’s commercial spine. What makes the idea feasible in this corridor is the abundance of transit: BART and Muni Metro run underground; streetcars and a slew of buses travel at street level. The key benefit of eliminating private autos, according to the executive director of the Central Market Community Benefit District, is that it would significantly improve both pedestrian safety and transit performance. The next step is for the various agencies involved to hold public workshops next month.

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 21

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 impressions of the Expo Line (L.A. Streetsblog)

Editor Damien Newton takes his son for his first ride on Metro Rail to the Expo Line’s Culver City station and everyone comes home happy. Damien writes that the Culver City opening had the right feel and that many other passengers seemed to enjoy the newly expanded system.

The above photo shows the view from the end of the Culver City platform looking toward Venice Boulevard and, beyond, the alignment for phase 2 of the Expo Line. The trail will cross Venice Blvd. on a bridge.

Boston airport offers free transit rides (USA Today)

A parking crunch at Logan Airport is the reason officials are spending $300,000 to provide free bus and subway rides to downtown Boston.

Ramp Jam misery begins Friday (L.A. Times)

Work begins on the first two 405-Wilshire ramps on Friday night and everyone pretty much agrees traffic in the area is going to go from bad to worse.

Goodbye to parking meters? (Daily News)

The editorial backs Councilman Joe Buscaino’s proposal to get rid of some city of L.A. parking meters in San Pedro in order to help local businesses and promote tourism. The Daily News editorial board also hints that free parking should be provided elsewhere.


First impressions of Metro's newest train stations: Culver City and Farmdale

Travelers peruse display tables and grab free Expo Line tickets at Culver City Station on the day of its opening. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

It’s official now folks: The Expo Line stations at Farmdale and Culver City are open for business. I took a couple hours today to visit both stations and explore the area around them. Here’s my take on each, with an emphasis on the transit connections, station facilities and other notables.

Culver City Station

  • Around the station on foot

At the moment, there isn’t much in the immediate vicinity of the station, although that stands to change as Culver City moves forward with plans to develop some of the vacant land around the station into transit-oriented housing, retail and commercial space.

That said, there’s a lot within a 5 to 10 minute walk. To the west, you can reach just about all of downtown Culver City, with its great bars and restaurants, movie theaters and shopping. To the east down Venice Boulevard, there’s the Helms Bakery District — where this post is being typed up — with even more restaurants and an assortment of trendy home furnishing and decor shops.

All told, I really think this is the ideal spot for this station in the long run. As more development goes in around the station, it will provide the ideal connection between the two aforementioned areas, making a continuous stretch of enjoyable outdoor places centered around the Culver City Station.

In the meantime, the current station parking lot strikes me as a great opportunity to host, say, a food truck festival on a weekend day when the lot isn’t too full. In fact, a full time coffee vendor or news stand on site would be a great addition, in this humble blogger’s opinion.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, June 20

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.

Expo Line’s Culver City station set to debut (L.A. Times)

Check out the great panorama view from the elevated station platform. Culver City and Farmdale stations open at noon today.

Expo Line’s halting start (L.A. Times)

In an opinion piece, Molly Selvin writes she supported the project but would like to see a better effort by Metro to communicate service alerts and schedule changes to riders.

Metro Board to vote on extension of Measure R (Daily News)

An overview of the proposal by Metro staff to ask Los Angeles County voters to extend Measure R past its 2039 expiration date to accelerate the construction of transit and road projects.