Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 17

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.

A tool to disrupt loud talkers on transit? (Atlantic Cities)

A Japanese invention records called the “SpeechJammer” records loud talkers and then plays their talking back to them a millisecond later, thereby disrupting their loud talking. Atlantic Cities says this could be a useful tool on the subway. I can see their point, but I’m not sure law enforcement officials will appreciate riders pointing these things at other passengers.

Ride review: the Orange Line Extension bike path (L.A. Streetsblog)

Editor Damien Newton gives the new four-mile bike path a B+. It’s smooth and safe, he writes, but the waits for green lights to cross signalized intersections can be excruciating. In fact, it took Damien 27 minutes to go four miles because of those waits — and he’s not a slow cyclist.

High-speed rail funds to speed improvements for local transit (KPCC)

Among items that will be paid for by high-speed rail funds are projects that improve access to Union Station in Los Angeles station — such as the Regional Connector and fly-through tracks to remedy the current set-up in which all trains have to enter and leave Union Station going the same way. Other upgrades will include some grade separations on Metrolink tracks throughout Southern California, including some on sections of track to be shared by the bullet train.

210 soundwall project completed (Pasadena Star News)

About two miles of soundwalls along the 210 freeway between Santa Anita Avenue and California Avenue in Arcadia and Monrovia were officially greeted by Metro and city officials on Monday. The project was paid for with Measure R sales tax funds. Some Arcadia residents say the soundwall needs to be extended further west, a project that the Metro Board of Directors may accelerate.

Transportation headlines, Monday, July 16

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.

Nice video on eating along the Expo Line from Willy Blackmore, the L.A. editor for Tasting Table.

Subway line meets an obstruction: Beverly Hills High School (New York Times)

The dispute between Metro, the city of Beverly Hills and the BHUSD gets front-page treatment in the print edition of the NYT although the story is simply a ‘he-said, she-said’ account. The reporter doesn’t make any attempt to verify what sources say. If you are interested in reading about the subway or the many associated reports, please spend some time at metro.net/westside.

In related subway internet news, here’s a Huffington Post opinion piece in which a junior-to-be at Beverly Hills High argues for dropping the lawsuits against Metro. And in this piece in the Beverly Hills Patch, a Beverly Hills elected official requires only 2,368 words to argue that he’s civil.

San Fernando Valley commuters flock to Expo Line (Daily News)

Reporter Dakota Smith rides the Expo Line and finds more than a few Valley commuters who are using the Red Line subway from NoHo or Universal City to connect with the Expo Line to travel west or south to jobs and other attractions. Metro doesn’t have any hard numbers to show how many Expo riders have trips originating in the Valley, but there is anecdotal evidence that a lot of people are transferring from the Red Line to the Expo Line at 7th/Metro Center.

Jim Newton: Villaraigosa’s tarnished transit triumph (L.A. Times)

Newton credits Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for pushing his America Fast Forward idea to Congress but faults the mayor because it falls short of the goals he set it — i.e. a Measure R extension is still needed to accelerate all of the Measure R transit projects. I understand his point that the AFF ultimately approved doesn’t quite match some of the rhetoric (which came from all quarters). But the big picture remains this: Here we are in July 2012 with a chance to accelerate the Measure R projects, none of which had any funding whatsoever before Measure R was approved in 2008.

Transportation headlines, Friday, July 13

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.

Happy 100th, Woody.

California bullet train gets its own folk song (Curbed L.A.)

Check out the accompanying video. Well edited with some great train footage. It’s also the kind of great p.r. that beats the tar out of most of what the pros have thus far produced.

Desperately seeking shelter (bus shelter, that is) in South L.A. (L.A. Streetsblog)

Great post and accompanying photographs by Sahra Sulaiman on the dearth of shade at many bus stops in South Los Angeles. Sahra also helps explain which stops get shelters and why they get them.

While we’re on the subjects of shelter and music, here’s an appropriate tune from another old-timey band. Happy 50th, Rolling Stones!

UCLA study of Japan’s bullet train raises questions about California project (L.A. Times)

The Times takes another swing at the pinata that is the bullet train. The study says the Japanese bullet train didn’t spur that much economic growth whereas the California High-Speed Rail Authority says 400,000 jobs will be created by the project here. The Authority stands by its numbers.

 

Photo: New York MTA.

Metro North railroad to test smartphone ticketing this summer (New York MTA)

The new system would allow riders to buy and display tickets on their smartphones. It’s a way for passengers to avoid ticket machines and fumbling with cash on the train when purchasing tickets from customers. Metro North runs commuter trains between Manhattan and New York’s northern suburbs.

 

Transportation headlines, Thursday, July 12

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 orRSS feed.

Internet sales tax could help solve transportation issues (Boston Globe)

Here’s a well thought out opinion piece from the Boston Globe suggesting that Massachusetts urge Congress to approve national legislation enabling internet sales tax collection and then earmark the revenue for infrastructure spending … including transportation. It’s a great idea and California should consider joining in since, like Massachusetts, we have an internet tax that applies only to online sellers with a connection to our state. As the piece says, “this creates a tax advantage for online and other out-of-state vendors and penalizes local businesses, especially retailers, who not only face price competition from online giants, but also have to charge their customers sales taxes.”

L.A. light-rail junction poses risk (Los Angeles Times)

Today’s L.A Times says, incorrectly and without substantiation, that ongoing work on the junction where the Blue and Expo lines meet is presenting a risk of train derailment. Metro is assuring riders that this is not the case, that there is no derailment issue and that trains are traveling at less than 10 mph through the juncture to ensure that travel is safe.  Metro is concerned about long-term maintenance issues, specifically excessive wear on its vehicles through the sharp curve. The track section in question has been modified to combat wear. Metro and the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees certain rail operations in the state, are closely monitoring the track and also checking rail cars for excessive wear. Neither Metro nor the CPUC would allow trains to operate in an unsafe manner.

New operator takes over Van Nuys FlyAway (San Fernando Valley Business Journal)

A new operator is running the FlyAway shuttle between Van Nuys and LAX. Bauer Transportation Inc. began service July 11 between Van Nuys and LAX. Bauer will operate 117 trips per day and provide an additional 30 trips during holidays and other peak travel times. Why should travelers care? Bauer says it plans to introduce new buses that run on a biodiesel fuel mix and have amenities such as free Wi-Fi, cable TV, power outlets and leatherette seating. No date for the new buses has been set.

On Transportation Column: July 11 back-from-vacation-catch-up edition

The Orange Line Extension in Chatsworth. Photo by Gary Leonard for Metro.

I decided to flee town for a week of vacation because I didn’t believe much would be happening in early July, especially with Independence Day falling on a Wednesday. And — surprise!! — I was only 110 percent wrong. Whoopsydoodle.

I knew in advance I would miss the Orange Line Extension’s debut, which was scheduled after I had already planned my vacation. That was strike one.

Second, after two-plus years of partisan bickering, Congress surprisingly (read: amazingly/unbelievably) got its act together enough to pass a two-year transportation spending bill including provisions of the America Fast Forward program advocated by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Metro Board of Directors. Strike two.

Third, the Federal Transit Administration finished its lengthy review of the Regional Connector’s final environmental study and issued a “record of decision,” the bureaucratic term that means not only are the commas in the right place, the project is now also eligible to receive federal dollars. Strike three.

Fourth, the State Legislature voted to sell enough bonds to allow for construction of the first segment of the state’s high-speed rail project, a vote that was — not surprisingly — squeaky close. That one was like falling down the dugout stairs after striking out.

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 11

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.

Are state and local mass transit projects really job creators? (L.A. Observed)

The post is mostly a transcript of a segment on KPCC featuring L.A. Observed business editor Mark Lacter, who asks and attempts to answer a good question: how many jobs do big infrastructure projects really generate? As Lacter puts it, the total number of jobs is often open to different interpretations and the number of people working on a project at any given time is usually a different (read: lesser) number than the estimates.

What high-speed rail means for So Cal in the next decade (L.A. Streetsblog)

Damien Newton rightly points out that the Legislature’s approval of bond money for the project also includes dollars for local projects in the Bay Area and Southern California that help tie the bullet train tracks into local transit systems. In our area, that could mean money for some double tracking of Metrolink lines and station upgrades for Palmdale and Anaheim.

Is California’s high-speed rail project on track or off the rails (L.A. Times)

Columnist Patt Morrison doesn’t really answer the question in this opinion piece, but tries to draw parallels to other big, ambitious projects that cost a lot of money and may also have done some good. And she includes this good kicker, which I think neatly summarizes the moral quandary facing the state over the project:

High-speed rail could wind up as a techno-evolutionary dead end, or it could be a model for the nation, one for which future Californians will bless us.

That’s why government undertakes big, important, useful things: because no one else can, or will.

As for high-speed rail, in a way, there’s no wrong vote on it, and no right vote, either, except through the rear-view mirror of history, when people either will be lionized or reviled for their decisions. And there are perfectly sound reasons for legislators to vote either way. But none of those reasons should be a timidity of ambition or narrowness of vision.

 

 

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 10

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.

I’m back from vacation and catching up on the past week’s news between the Orange Line opening, the passage of part of the America Fast Forward program by Congress, the Legislature’s vote to begin funding high-speed rail and the record-of-decision by the FTA on the Regional Connector’s environmental studies. Here are a few stories in today’s headlines and I’ll play catch-up on some of the other news that involves Metro.

LAX makes plans for arrival of space shuttle (Daily Breeze)

The Endeavour is scheduled to arrive in late September and then make its way through city streets to its new home at the California Science Center in mid-October. The Science Center, of course, is adjacent to the new Expo Line. Also, CicLAvia moved its fall date to Oct. 7 to clear the way for the space shuttle move the next weekend, reports Curbed LA.

L.A. — transit’s promised land (L.A. Times)

In this op-ed piece, transit activist Taras Grescoe argues that Metro and Los Angeles’ reputation is at an all-time high among transit scholars because of the recent opening of new projects and those that are in the pipeline. Excerpt:

The key, in a city with L.A.’s mix of ethnicity, languages and economic classes, is not to get caught up in turf wars. In city after city, I’ve seen how transit too often gets mired in ideology, when the discussion really needs to be about mobility — what works. A metropolis of Los Angeles’ standing deserves as much rail transit as it can get.

Agree?

Inside Beverly Hills — subway update (Inside Beverly Hills)

Beverly Hills newspaper columnist Rudy Cole interviews Beverly Hills Unified School Board Member Lewis Hall on the dispute over the Westside Subway Extension. Hall talks a lot about the studies done by Metro and intimates that the agency didn’t do much actual study of the soils in the area. If you would like to read Metro’s reports for yourself, here is the link to the many reports and Metro’s responses to the work done by Beverly Hills.

Video: President signs the Surface Transportation Bill

Screen shot of President Barack Obama signing Surface Transportation Bill that includes 'America Fast Forward' credit: www.whitehouse.gov/live

Screen shot of President Barack Obama signing Surface Transportation Bill that includes ‘America Fast Forward’ credit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

The Surface Transportation Bill was signed into law at 5:32 EST. In case you missed it, here is a replay in the ‘photos & video’ menu of the White House website.

About America Fast Forward embedded in transportation bill: previous post 

Watch live on C-SPAN: President set to sign the Surface Transportation Bill

UPDATE (2:04 p.m.): The signing will be streamed live at http://www.whitehouse.gov/live
President Obama is scheduled to sign the Surface Transportation Bill at 4:55 p.m. EST (1:55 p.m. PST). The long-awaited transportation bill includes America Fast Forward, which would make it possible for localities — including Los Angeles — to accelerate their transportation projects. Congress voted (House: 373-52, Senate: 74-19) to approve the bill last Friday, June 29. Watch it live on C:SPAN and whitehouse.gov/live, beginning at 1:55 PST