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!)

Metro will hold public hearing on proposed FY14 budget on May 15

Click above to see larger.

Metro will hold a public hearing on a draft $4.891-billion budget fiscal year 2013-14 that begins July 1 at 1 p.m. May 15 in the Metro Board Room on the third floor of Metro headquarters at One Gateway Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. Metro HQ is adjacent to Union Station and is located on the north end of the station's Patsaouras Transit Plaza.

Above is a copy of Metro CEO Art Leahy's budget message.

The public can view copies of the balanced budget proposal at or request a copy by calling Charlene Aguayo in Metro Records Services at 213.922.2342. Metro directors will consider adopting the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2013 at the next Board Meeting on Thursday, May 23.

The news release from Metro on the budget is posted after the jump.

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 30

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.

Thanks to wifi in the criminal courts building jury room, here are some headlines while I wait…

Groundbreaking for bullet train faces new obstacles (L.A. Times)

The most significant issue here seems to be lack of a deal reached with BNSF, the freight railroad that controls some of the right-of-way to be shared with the high-speed rail project. Another issue: the scoring system used in evaluating bidders hoping to win the contract to construct the first 29 miles of track recommended a contractor whose price was lowest but also earned the lowest marks in the technical merit category.

Bill would open part of carpool lanes on 210, 134 to single-occupant cars (Daily News)

Single-occupant cars would be able to use the carpool lanes outside of peak periods under a one-year demonstration program. What'cha think, Source readers? Would you rather have this or a congestion pricing lane, the difference being the congestion pricing lane is managed to maintain speeds of 45 mph or up?

New bike lanes on Figueroa from Wilshire to Cesar Chavez (L.A. Streetsblog)

Bike lanes are being painted on a 1.1-mile stretch of Fig in downtown L.A., a stretch or road that resembles a mini-freeway. The lanes don't appear to be protected in any way from car traffic so it will be interesting to see how much (or how little) they are used and whether bike activists have anything to say about them.


Transportation headlines: Monday, April 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.

Transportation’s addiction to petroleum products isn’t going away, so says the above video by the group Face the Facts USA.

Obama to nominate Charlotte mayor to transportation post (New York Times) 

The President has tapped Charlotte Mayor Anthony R. Foxx to replace Ray LaHood as the next U.S. Transportation Secretary. The nomination comes after months of media gossip and uninformed speculation that was — shocker!! — basically 100 percent wrong. Foxx, 42, does not have a particular background in transportation but as mayor for nearly four years supported an extension of the Blue Line light rail project and a plan to bring streetcars back to Charlotte.

The next mayor of Los Angeles’ to-do list (The Planning Report) 

After reading this long list of suggestions from civic leaders/activists, my first suggestion for the next mayor: find some civic leaders/activists who can better articulate/write their vision for improving the City of Angels & Parking Lots. In short, here’s my suggestion: build stuff. Lots of stuff. Homes, parks, transportation projects, bike lanes, sidewalks — all the stuff that makes you wince with envy when visiting other cities. A lot of L.A. looks old and tired and needs a boost; those who fear traffic impacts may want to consider living in a region with millions less people, cars, jobs, businesses and other places to go.

Los Angeles State Historic Park to close for a year (Downtown News)

The park at the Cornfields may close next January in order to finally be built as originally envisioned — more landscaping, a pavilion, etc. If so, passengers on the Gold Line will have a front row seat to watch construction.

Subway car configurations: a matter of taste? (Human Transit) 

Transportation planner Jarrett Walker thinks agencies are asking the wrong question when they simply ask riders which seat layout they prefer. The more significant question, he says, is this: how much capacity do riders prefer on their trains? The issue, of course, is that fewer seats means more capacity.



Art of Transit: Denver gets a new light rail line

Photos by C. Martinez

RTD Denver celebrates the grand opening of the W Line, their newest light rail line. If you happen to be in Denver today or tomorrow, hop on a train and ride for free.