Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 8: Distance-based road usage, green ports, social media outreach, transit use and city usage

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.

Photo by Diyanski via Flickr

Photo by Diyanski via Flickr

Advocates of distance-based road pricing look to Oregon (Road Pricing)

As vehicles become more fuel efficient, fuel tax revenues continue to shrink. That’s one of the reasons eyes are on Oregon, as it explores a distance-based road usage charging system for the state. The feds no doubt are watching, too. Here are the details.    

L.A. is a leader in green ports, Mayor says (Los Angeles Times)

The world looks to L.A. for ways to reduce pollution, Mayor Villaraigosa said at a ports conference this week. He cites a modernization of the Port of L.A. and the state’s tough emissions law. He also could add Metro’s efforts to improve mobility to and from the ports by work on the I-5 and I-710 south, as well as the Alameda East Corridor. The story doesn’t mention it, so we will.

Public agencies lag behind in social media outreach (Transportation Issues Daily)

Social media is changing the way organizations engage with the public. And public agencies are not up-to-speed on conveying messages via mobile media. Okay. We buy that. Any suggestions for what Metro could do? 

What public transit teaches us about how people use cities (The Atlantic: Cities)

Ridership is an identifyer of how and at what time people use — or don’t use — transit: whether movement is centralized, decentralized or has mutiple focal points. Three videos track travel patterns on public transit in San Francisco, Geneva and Zurich. Interesting to see Californians up and about before folks in two of the great European business centers. We can also see that at 1 and 2 a.m. it’s lights out in Zurich, while San Francisco is on the move. Wonder what L.A. would look like.

Metro to receive more than $390 million to improve public transit and air quality

Excellent news for L.A. County this evening. Metro will receive funds to support a variety of notable projects. Here’s the release:

This week Metro was awarded more than $390 million from the California Transportation Commission (CTC) and the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) to support construction of new rail, upgrade existing transit service, buy much needed rail cars, repair and improve buses and create jobs. The money comes from Proposition 1B, the 2006 voter-approved transportation bond, Proposition 1A, the voter-approved High-Speed Rail Bond, and the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The High-Speed Rail Bond program targets some funds at connectivity with future high-Speed rail service. Metro used its Measure R funds, approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008, to aid in leveraging state funding to Los Angeles County.

Projects benefiting from $390 million in state bond funds include $264 million for the Regional Connector project, which will improve connectivity county wide by linking Metro’s Blue, Expo and Gold lines via a 1.9-mile extension of light-rail tracks beneath downtown Los Angeles, and $61 million included in the current Life of Project for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, an 8.5-mile light-rail line that will connect the Metro Green Line with the Metro Exposition Line and provide a link to LAX. Another portion of the funding — $45.4 million — will aid in the purchase of 78 light-rail vehicles for system-wide service expansion and for use on future light-rail lines that will open during the next few years. The state also released $19.9 million for Metro’s Bus Rehabilitation Program to repair and improve up to 321 buses.

“These funds will help us continue to expand and upgrade the Metro system,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “They are slotted for bus and rail projects that will work together to buy us improved mobility and move us closer to our goal of creating a 21st Century transit network for our region.”

The projects were included in the Metro Long Range Transportation Plan and were chosen because they already are underway and the new round of funding will ensure they stay on schedule.

The Caltrans funding comes from Proposition 1B, the 2006 voter-approved transportation bond, which is providing $3.6 billion over a 10-year period to improve public transit in California. To date, Proposition 1B has provided more than $2 billion in funding to approximately 750 transit projects statewide, with 340 completed.


Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 7: What does Mickey Mouse have to do with streetcars? Improved bike parking at Dodger Stadium? Does Foxx know enough to be transpo secretary?

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.

Is Mickey Mouse driving up costs of Anaheim streetcar? (Voice of OC)

The costs look to be higher than expected for the Anaheim streetcar project. Is this worthy of attention here in L.A.? Only if we’re considering a downtown streetcar project for our own.

Improved bike parking at Dodger Stadium: No home run yet (StreetsBlog LA)

One bicyclist cruised the scene looking for improved bike access and services and offers a little coaching. Perhaps better — at least for the moment — to take the Dodger Stadium Express from Union Station. 

What does Anthony Foxx know and what should he know? (National Journal Transportation Experts Blog)

As mayor of a major city, the Transportation Secretary nominee Anthony Foxx obviously knows something about transportation issues. But is it enough for this time in history when a wrong step could be critical to public momentum in favor of mass transit? What should Foxx be fighting for in the administration and in Congress? What can he learn from LaHood’s experience? What do you think Foxx ought to know and push? And, finally, will it do any good?

Bike Week Coming to L.A. May 13-19

Bike Week L.A. Cometh.  Cyclists ride Downtown L.A. during previous Bike Week L.A.

Bike Week L.A. Cometh. Cyclists ride downtown L.A. during previous Bike Week L.A.

Metro, in partnership with agencies and organizations throughout L.A. County, is sponsoring “Bike Week L.A.” this May 13-19.  There’s a ton of cycling-related activities to get you on your bike next week.  Here’s Metro’s news release.

Metro Promotes Bicycle Activities and Festivities during Official “Bike Week LA” May 13-19

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is sponsoring “Bike Week LA” activities from May 13-19 to encourage Angelinos to ride bicycles to work, school and other destinations throughout LA County to reduce traffic and air pollution. Bring a bicycle or bicycle helmet on Metro buses and trains for a free ride on Bike to Work Day, May 16.

Metro will be offering a chance to win several prizes, such as a commuter cycling package from REI valued at $750, to those who pledge to bike to work on Bike to Work Day, Thursday, May 16. Pledges may be made online at www.metro.net/bikeweek. Schools, workplaces, and advocacy groups will hold bicycle pit stops that day with free refreshments, giveaways, and bicycling information for bicycle commuters.

Metro has plans to help increase the number of bicycle trips in L.A. County, and has invested close to $200 million in bike facilities and programs. Besides direct investment in bicycle projects, the expanding network of Metro buses and rail service enables more cyclists to extend their trips by combining bicycling with public transit.

All Metro buses are equipped with front bike racks. Bikes may also be taken on Metro trains. On Bike to Work Day, Thursday, May 16, Metro will offer free rides to bicyclists on Metro buses and trains throughout Los Angeles County. Culver CityBus, Glendale Beeline, LADOT, Long Beach Transit, Montebello Bus Lines, Norwalk Transit, Pasadena ARTS, Santa Clarita Transit and Torrance Transit will also offer free transit rides to bicyclists who board with a bicycle or bicycle helmet. Big Blue Bus will offer free transit rides to bicyclists who board with a coupon and a bicycle or helmet. Metrolink will offer free transit rides to bicyclists who board with a bicycle.

Cyclists may bring their bicycles on Metro trains during all system hours.

On Bike to Work Day, Metro is co-sponsoring more than 60 bicycle pit stops across Los Angeles County with local organizations. Bicyclists are invited to stop by for refreshments and free giveaways at various times of the day. For locations and times, go to www.metro.net/bikeweek.

Metro is again hosting the annual Golden Pedal Awards to celebrate those who ride their bikes to work every day.  The public may nominate themselves, friends and colleagues for different cycling awards online at http://www.metro.net/bikes/bike-week/golden-pedal-awards-form/.

Free bike maps detailing more than 1,200 miles of bike paths, bikeways and bike lanes in Los Angeles County are available to plan bicycle trips. Maps may be downloaded online at www.metro.net/bikes/. Free copies are also available at any Metro Customer Center; call (213) 922-2811 to request a copy.

Schedule of Events

Saturday, May 11
C.I.C.L.E., the East Side Bike Club, Metro and the Dodgers will kick off Bike Week Los Angeles with the “Bikes, Baseball and Dodger Blue Ride,” a special bicycle ride between historic landmarks Union Station and Dodger Stadium at Chavez Ravine to watch the Dodgers battle the Miami Marlins. Meet-up is at 2 p.m. in front of Union Station (Alameda), departure at 2:30 p.m. For additional ride details, visit www.cicle.org.

Monday, May 13
Bicycle initiatives will be highlighted during Bike Week LA.  During the Bike Week LA kickoff ceremony Monday, May 13 at Grand Park beginning at 10 a.m., Metro, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), Los Angeles Dodgers, the City of South Pasadena, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), and Cyclists Inciting Change through LIVE Exchange (C.I.C.L.E.) will announce specific initiatives that promote bicycling during Bike Week LA and year-round.

Tuesday, May 14
Metro also supports the annual interfaith Blessing of the Bicycles at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 14. For more information, visit www.goodsam.org.

Wednesday, May 15
C.I.C.L.E., LACBC, and other bicycle groups will host several guided bike rides on Wednesday, May 16 on bicycle lanes and bicycle routes around Los Angeles County, including Culver City, Pasadena, the San Fernando Valley, downtown Los Angeles, and South LA.

Thursday, May 16
Metro and other municipal transit providers will offer free rides to bicyclists on Metro buses and trains throughout Los Angeles County.

Friday, May 17 Through Sunday, May 19 – Bike Local Weekend
All weekend Metro’s Destination Discount partners will offer bicyclists discounts who mention “Bike Week” at over 60 retailers and other venues.

Bike Week LA is sponsored by Metro and other partners and sponsors, including Caltrans, C.I.C.L.E., City of Los Angeles, Good Samaritan Hospital, Grand Park LACBC, LADOT Bike Program, Metrolink, Clif Bar, REI, Better World Club, and RydeSafe.

Bike to Work Day bicycle pit stop hosts include the City of Burbank, City of Covina, City of Glendale, City of Pasadena, City of South Gate, City of Santa Clarita, City of Santa Monica, City of Torrance, City of West Hollywood, City of Whittier, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, California State University Long Beach, California State University Los Angeles, Compton Community College District, Glendale College Police Department, UCLA Transportation, Friends of Chandler Bikeway, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Bike San Gabriel Valley, Bike Walk Glendale, Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition, Stans Bike Shop, Chubby’s Cruisers, Orange 20 Bikes, R.A. Physical Therapy, National MS Society, Western Asset, Century City Transportation Management Organization. Paradise Consulting, Alta Planning + Design, Pasadena Towers, Equity Office, Ampco System Parking, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp, Equity Office, Fehr and Peers, Princess Cruises, IDS Real Estate Group, Bike to Wellness, Maguire Partners, Burbank Transportation Management Organization, The Aerospace Corporation, Raytheon, Howard Hughes Center, and Yahoo!.

Transportation headlines, Monday, May 6

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.

For Los Angeles, the end of the free subway ride (New York Times) 

The old gray lady catches up with gate-latching at Metro subway stations and offers this intro to the story:

There is a startling new sight at the subway station at Hollywood and Vine these days, set amid the handsome trappings of vintage film projectors and movie paraphernalia: five subway turnstiles.

Their appearance amounts to an acknowledgment of the failure of the rider honor system that Los Angeles embraced when it began constructing its subway system nearly 20 years ago. This might not exactly come as a news flash to anyone who has traveled the subways of New York or the Washington Metro, but a gateless subway entrance is not the most effective way to motivate riders to pay their carriage.

Los Angeles transit officials say that millions of dollars in annual revenues have been lost because of riders who calculated, reasonably enough, that they could ride the subway free with minimal danger of detection, no matter the occasional deputy sheriff demanding to see a fare card and a $250 fine for violators.

“A lot of people — if not the majority of people — are not paying their fare,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, a county supervisor and a member of the board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “There is no reason for them to pay. The odds of them getting a ticket are slim to none.”

The article goes on to say no one really knows what the fare evasion rate is. One Metro official says that latching of the gates, to begin this summer, will help Metro find out.

L.A. full of road to ruins for cars (L.A. Times) 

The Times offers a very cool map showing the grades for roads throughout the city — as graded by city officials. The gist of it: the city has tried to evenly distribute both good and bad roads across L.A., meaning there’s pothole-ridden despair in both wealthy and low-income areas alike. According to the map — be sure to zoom in for detail — Wilshire Boulevard east of Beverly Hills gets grades ranging from A to F.

Readers and Metro riders: is there any part of Wilshire Boulevard you believe qualifies for an ‘A?’

Time for Big Green to go fossil free (The Nation) 

The nation’s big environmental groups often say they are leading the battle against climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels. But Naomi Klein found that many of the groups have been slow to divest their finances and endowments from Big Oil, meaning they are making money off the very groups they are allegedly fighting. Most troubling, some of the groups were somewhat evasive with their answers. Read this one, folks. A lot of these groups, I believe, do some very valuable work on behalf of the environment — but their investments, I also believe, threaten to undermine the message.

Transportation headlines, Friday, May 3: Is California bike friendly? When death rode the rails, Boston transit seeks security, HSR defends bidding process

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.

Photo by Cyclotourist via Flickr

Photo by Cyclotourist via Flickr

Are we bike friendly? This ranking says, ‘Not so much’ (League of American Bicyclists)

Bike Month is here with Bike Week L.A. coming up fast, May 13-19, and Bike to Work Day May 16. That’s the day bicyclists ride free on Metro. With all that going on locally it seems a little weird that the League of American Bicyclists has released its annual ranking of bike-friendly states and that California is ranked number 19. Washington tops the list, of course. But at least locally, it seems like we’re making terrific efforts to encourage bike riding and to help keep bicyclists safe. Anyway, check out the list and see if you’re not inspired with the progress our nation is making re-embracing a form of transit that has absolutely no down side.

Boston Transit takes steps to boost safety and security (Boston Globe)

MBTA is taking steps to beef up its security systems. They’re not the only ones. Transit agencies across the country are on heightened alert but it’s vitally important that L.A. riders keep an eye out for suspicious activity and report it by calling (888) 950-SAFE (7233).

HSR defends bidding criteria (Los Angeles Times)

The California High-Speed Rail authority defends its bidding criteria against critics who say recent changes could jeopardize project quality.

When death rode the American rails (The Atlantic: Cities)

Who knew? In certain parts of the country, including the Los Angeles area, dedicated funeral cars were added to the streetcar systems. The only one that survives relatively intact is the Descanso (Spanish for “rest”), currently on display at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California.

Colorado Boulevard in Arcadia closed for three more weeks (Pasadena Star-News)

So that bridge work can continue on the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Avoid the area, as they say.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, May 2: Cell phone snatching, Measure R accomplishments, who’s riding Expo, plus adopt-a-stop for transit

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.

Invasion of the cell phone snatchers (New York Times)

The New York Times has an interesting story about the rise of cell phone thefts in New York. L.A. has the same problem, as Metro riders have been warned. Cell phones are easy and profitable to resell, so they make an inviting target for thieves. In New York, theft of iPhones and iPads last year accounted for 14 percent of all crimes, according to the Times. The piece brings up the issue of the need for creation of more effective technology to prevent these crimes, including tracking devices for lost or stolen phones and/or programs that can make the devices inoperable if stolen. In the meantime, Metro and the L.A. County Sheriffs are advising everyone to keep phones and iPads stashed away — particularly when entering and exiting trains and buses.

Why is a small street repair project like Expo Phase 2? (Agoura Acorn)

Everyone talks about the mega projects connected with Measure R but the importance of Measure R to our daily lives should be measured not just in new rail lines and highway widenings but in the small bits of repair and redesign that keep our region moving and prevent us from screaming. Out in pretty Agoura Hills, Measure R is funding a Canwood street improvement project, a new roundabout at Kanan and Agoura roads and a widening of Agoura Road. It’s an investment that makes life better for the people who need it, just like trains and buses do.

Chinese bus maker will manufacture in Lancaster (L.A. Daily News)

Out of this deal, Long Beach Transit will get 10 all-electric buses and the people of Lancaster could get “hundreds” of jobs.

Can adopt-a-highway be a model for adopt-a-stop for public transit? (Transit Cooperative Research Program)

A new report by the Transportation Research Board suggests that adopt-a-stop programs, in which volunteers agree to pick up litter at transit stations and assist in other maintenance tasks, can be a valuable resource for public transportation agencies. Like adopt-a-highway programs, such programs can keep transit areas tidy but they also — and significantly — can create a sense of ownership within the community and improve safety and security for passengers. Not a bad idea.

One year later, who is riding the Expo Line? (USC Annenberg Neon Tommy)

A bunch of people. (Hooray!)