Transportation headlines, Monday, April 14

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Mayor Garcetti’s State of the City: six ‘Great Streets’ announced (Streetsblog L.A.)

Good breakdown and overview of the plans for beautifying and making six streets throughout the city more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. The six streets: Gaffey (San Pedro), Reseda and Van Nuys (San Fernando Valley), Westwood (Westside), Figueroa (downtown and South L.A.) and Crenshaw (South L.A.). As Joe Linton notes, light rail is coming to Crenshaw, the Expo Line will stop at the southern end of Westwood and the East San Fernando Valley Transit Project is planned for Van Nuys. Figueroa, of course, parallels the Expo Line.

Climate efforts falling short, U.N. panel says (New York Times) 

Officials say we can’t afford to lose another decade talking and not taking action. The top of the story:

BERLIN — Delivering the latest stark news about climate change on Sunday, a United Nations panel warned that governments are not doing enough to avert profound risks in coming decades. But the experts found a silver lining: Not only is there still time to head off the worst, but the political will to do so seems to be rising around the world.

In a report unveiled here, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that decades of foot-dragging by political leaders had propelled humanity into a critical situation, with greenhouse emissions rising faster than ever. Though it remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, only an intensive push over the next 15 years to bring those emissions under control can achieve the goal, the committee found.

Downtown L.A. goes from gritty to glitzy (Wall Street Journal) 

The story’s emphasis is on luxury real estate and, to a lesser degree, the revival of some downtown neighborhoods. Interestingly, the words “transit,” “bus” or “train” do not appear in the article.

A bike path in the L.A. River bed (KCET)

The headline should come with a question mark at the end as the issue is being explored by a cyclist and real estate developer tired of lack of access to the river in downtown L.A.

Will Angels Flight ever roll again? (Downtown News) 

A dispute between the foundation that runs the short funicular and state regulators means it could be some time before a reopening. Trains are running but without passengers, says the foundation.

Transportation headlines, Friday, April 11

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Garcetti offers back to the basics in first State of the City speech (L.A. Times) 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the new carpool lane on the northbound 405 over the Sepulveda Pass would open next month (Metro said there’s no date set yet), reiterated a pledge to build a rail connection to LAX (the project is still in the study phase) and offered more details on the city’s Great Streets Initiative, saying Reseda Boulevard, Gaffey Street and Crenshaw Boulevard would be among those on the list. Of course, work just started earlier this year on the Crenshaw/LAX Line that will run both along and under parts of Crenshaw between Exposition Boulevard and 67th Street.

Some thoughts on near roadway pollution and L.A.’s future (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Interesting post based on a forum held this week about pollution from roads that spills over into neighborhoods and cities. Streetsblog’s Joe Linton:

As I was listening to all this, I felt like there was too much emphasis on dealing with our car-centric system as a given. Car-choked freeways are just part of the way god made our cities. We, health professionals, are just doing our best to adjust to the system we find ourselves stuck in. The discussion was all about how to keep people out of the way of pollution, but not to look at reducing or eliminating that pollution at its source. It’s as if health professionals looking at the tobacco problem just assumed that smoking happens everywhere, and then spent a lot of effort studying gas-masks for non-smokers. Taking on tobacco is a great public health success – because health professionals were able to ban tobacco from many places, and to stigmatize tobacco based on its threat to health.

(I also think that an overly narrow focus on near-roadway-air-pollution makes us miss other huge health risks associated with cars. Every year, driving kills 30,000+ people in the U.S.1.5 million worldwide. There are greenhouse gases, water pollution, noise pollution, obesity, and plenty more issues.)

I was glad to hear Occidental College’s Mark Vallianatos, commenting from the floor microphone, suggest an important alternative. Instead of moving people away from roads, let’s change our roads to be safe for people. If we have schools, playgrounds, housing, etc. adjacent to a road, then, for the sake of health, let’s design and regulate that road to limit vehicle emissions to safe levels. Let’s traffic-calm and road diet our arterials, downgrade our freeways, hopefully get rid of, at least, some of them.

 

Good post, tough issue.

Have U.S. light rail lines been worth the investment? (The Atlantic Cities)

The reporter, Yonah Freemark, says the overall answer is ‘yes.’ But he also offers sobering news about five light rail systems built in the 1980s in five different cities, four of which are on the West Coast — San Diego, Sacramento, San Jose, Portland and Buffalo.

The bottom line: none of the systems increased transit use in their regions, although they have shifted more people from buses to trains. In addition, only San Jose saw a slight growth in its central city population. What to make of this?

Even this relatively positive outcome doesn’t compensate for the fact that regions that invested in light rail in the 1980s largely failed to increase the share of workers commuting by transit, or to increase the vitality of their center cities with respect to the surrounding regions. Does this mean we should cease investment in new light rail lines? Certainly not; in many cases, rail has provided the essential boost to reinvigorate communities, and in some cases it has also resulted in higher ridership than before: just look at Rosslyn-Ballston in the D.C. region or Kendall Square in the Boston region.

But spending on new lines is not enough. Increases in transit use are only possible when the low costs of driving and parking are addressed, and when government and private partners work together to develop more densely near transit stations. None of the cities that built new light rail lines in the 1980s understood this reality sufficiently. Each region also built free highways during the period (I-990 in Buffalo, I-205 in Portland, US 50 in Sacramento, CA 54 in San Diego, and CA 237 in San Jose), and each continued to sprawl (including Portland, despite its urban growth boundary). These conflicting policies had as much to do with light rail’s mediocre outcomes as the trains themselves — if not more.

Paid parking fees coming to Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink lots (Daily Bulletin) 

The city wants to impose a $4.50 daily fee or monthly charge of $25 to $30 to off-set maintenance costs for the two lots. The San Bernardino Association of Governments isn’t thrilled — it worries that the move may drive people away from transit — but approved the city’s request. Others are concerned that riders will instead drive to nearby Upland and park in the free lots there.

 

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 9

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Game changing mixed use project planned for El Pueblo (Curbed LA)

A new residential and commercial development is planned on two surface parking lots near Olvera Street and Union Station. Good news: parking lots that sit empty much of the day aren’t helping the economy or streetscape of this part of downtown L.A.

Cuomo aide urges MTA to review ads on transit (New York Daily News) 

Why the review? The provocative ads are for breast augmentation surgery. And the governor of New York isn’t convinced they’re appropriate with tens of thousands of children riding transit each day. Fun tabloid story.

Downtown S.F. traffic may seem worse, but actually getting better (San Francisco Chronicle) 

The numbers seem to indicate that the number of cars entering the city is down while more people are walking, riding bikes and taking transit. Still, traffic is no picnic, especially with some big construction projects around town.

Police probe Smart Car tipping in San Francisco (Associated Press) 

Four got tipped Monday morning in the city. Police are investigating.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 8

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Art of Transit: two different types of two-wheelers at the top of Stunt Road in the Santa Monica Mountains. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Art of Transit: two different types of two-wheelers at the top of Stunt Road in the Santa Monica Mountains. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Metro to repair cracks in Gold Line freeway overpass (L.A. Times) 

The agency found some cracks — which it calls cosmetic — in the supports for the bridge over the 101 just south of Union Station. Trains are being slowed to eight miles per hour (from the usual 15 mph) until repairs are made, which Metro says will happen very soon.

After troubling audit is leaked, Washington Metro defends reforms (WNYC) 

The FTA audit found “[Washington] Metro approved millions in no-bid contracts, broke federal contracting rules, played favorites with vendors, and overbilled the FTA for reimbursements after completing rebuilding projects.” The agency accepted the findings and executives said they have been working to reform the grant program for several years.

Afraid it was missing the boat, Arlington tries the bus (Texas Tribune) 

The famously transit averse city has started a commuter bus pilot program in hopes of providing mobility to the car weary and those who don’t have access to their own vehicles. Critics say transit would be a waste of money in a sprawling, low-density Dallas ‘burb and that most people don’t have any idea how expensive it is to run a transit system. Sounds like something Hank Hill would say.

Urban Instagram photographers you should follow (The Guardian) 

Cool stuff from around the world for shutterbug and city enthusiasts. Here’s one from S.F.:

 

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, April 7

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ART OF TRANSIT: Looking north to the San Gabriel Mountains from the bridge that will carry the Gold Line Foothill Extension over Foothill Boulevard in Azusa. Awesome photo by Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

ART OF TRANSIT: Looking north to the San Gabriel Mountains from the bridge that will carry the Gold Line Foothill Extension over Foothill Boulevard in Azusa. Awesome photo by Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

Move LA’s Measure R 2 proposal, including their rail fantasy map (Streetsblog L.A.) 

A look at the activist group’s “strawman proposal” for a half-cent sales tax increase they would like to see on the Nov. 2016 ballot; please note that Metro hasn’t decided to pursue such a tax yet although is surveying cities about their own desired projects. In any case, Move LA wants to see a 45-year sales tax increase with 30 percent of the funds dedicated to new rail and bus rapid transit projects — which they say would raise $27 billion over the life of the tax.

As Streetsblog notes, Move LA says their proposal is intended only to spur discussion and they include some projects for potential funding. Some are projects receiving seed money from the present Measure R (Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor, South Bay Green Line Extension) while others are new such as converting the Orange Line to a rail line, extending the Green Line to a junction with Metrolink in Norwalk, extending the Gold Line to San Bernardino County, extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line to Wilshire Boulevard, extending the Purple Line to Santa Monica from its future terminus at the West LA VA Hospital and extending the Eastside Gold Line Extension to both South El Monte and Whittier instead of just one of those.

If such a tax goes forward it will certainly be interesting to see how much is allocated to paying for new transit projects and which projects. As Move LA’s list shows, there are certainly some worthy candidates out there that would travel through many different parts of the county. And there are certainly parts of the transit network with holes in it. Stay tuned!

The real reason that mass transit fares are rising across the U.S. (The Atlantic Cities) 

Writer Eric Jaffe points out that several large agencies in the U.S. are currently pursuing fare increases (including Metro). And that’s not surprising: using data from a new federal report, Jaffe says that most agencies have seen the cost of providing bus and rail service rise substantially since 2000 while allowing fares to lag behind — often for good reasons (affordability, mobility, etc.). A lot of the cost appears not to come from employee salaries but rather the cost of employee benefits, which I’m guessing really means health care. It’s a national problem, Jaffe writes, and there doesn’t appear to be a neat solution on the near horizon outside of fare increases.

Dan Walters: bullet train faces withering set of issues (Sacramento Bee)

The political columnist concludes his column by asking whether construction should even begin on a project this year that may never have the funds to complete a link between L.A. and San Francisco or even the San Joaquin Valley. He also neatly lays out some of the current issues on the table, many involving legal challenges as to whether the project fulfills requirements in a 2008 bill that allowed the bond measure to go to state voters. Obviously this bears watching with one interesting but little publicized side issue: if the bullet train project hits more obstacles what happens to the part of the state bonds to help local projects connect with the bullet train? Both L.A. and San Francisco are using some of that money to fund local projects (the Regional Connector, to be specific).

What the Internet thinks of the world’s subways (Mashable) 

Fun pros and cons of 10 big subway systems around the globe (Los Angeles’ is not included) as gleamed from online reviews. Warning: the language used is not always delicate.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 3

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South L.A. needs trees (L.A. Times) 

The editorial despairs the loss of about 135 trees along Crenshaw Boulevard to accommodate construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Line but also says the train is an important project. A city of Los Angeles streetscape plan to follow construction is vital, says the editorial.

Westside subway survives legal challenge from Beverly Hills (L.A. Times) 

Coverage of yesterday’s Superior Court ruling in favor of Metro in a pair of state lawsuits brought by the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District against the Purple Line Extension. Reporter Laura Nelson this morning tweeted an update: the Beverly Hills City Attorney said a decision whether to appeal is still to come. Here’s our post with the ruling, links to the complaints and background on the issue.

UPDATE: LAT reporter Laura Nelson on Boston radio and on KPCC. And CurbedLA on the news.

Beverly Hills City Council approves two permits for Metro (Beverly Hills Weekly)

Outside of court, life goes on and the City Council on Tuesday approved two permits for Metro to conduct utility relocation work near the future Wilshire/La Cienega station. The city and Metro continue to work on a master agreement that will govern when and how construction is done in the city, according to the Weekly.

Watch the Wilshire bus lane stretching westward to Highland (Curbed LA)

And, speaking of Wilshire Boulevard, city of Los Angeles workers are making progress on the construction of the peak hour bus lane that will operate on parts of Wilshire between the Santa Monica-Los Angeles border and just west of downtown. Rebuilt lanes should hopefully make for a smoother ride for the 20 and 720 buses instead of the sometimes kidney-rattling journey of present.

Metrolink, Metro propose more express trains for busy San Bernardino County line (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) 

Studies are underway to add more express trains — although it would require double-tracking some parts of the alignment. The project is still unfunded. There is currently one express train in each direction between San Bernardino and L.A. with a 65-minute run time compared to the usual one hour, 50 minute run time. The downtowns of the two cities are about 60 miles apart, btw.

Is effective transit possible in a transit-hostile city (Transport Politic)

The city is Nashville, where a big and nasty dispute has erupted over a 7.1-mile bus rapid transit project. Among the fears: the loss of regular traffic lanes. No word yet on where Reyna James, ex-hubby Mayor Teddy and Juliet Barnes stand on the matter.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 2

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A tunnel under the Sepulveda Pass? It might be yours for 25 cents a day (L.A. Times) 

Kerry Cavanaugh looks at the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project through the prism of a possible transportation sales tax increase that Metro is exploring for 2016. Measure R dedicates about a billion dollars for the project, but some of the early options for the project — including both a road/toll tunnel and rail tunnel — would require a public-private partnership, cost billions more and probably require some public money. Excerpt:

Yet the possibility of easing the most congested corridor in the nation is so tantalizing that Los Angeles voters might just be willing to tax themselves again to build it, right? That’s what transportation advocacy group Move LA is certainly hoping. Last week during a conference focused on developing a new half-cent sales tax increase proposal, Move LA organizers made the Sepulveda Pass tunnel a key focus of the discussion.

Move LA is pitching the sales tax measure for the November 2016 ballot, with a eye toward raising $90 billion over 45 years. The group estimates that it would cost the average county resident about 25 to 30 cents a day. This would be on on top of the existing Measure R half-cent tax increase for transportation.

After the loss of Measure J (a 30-year extension of the Measure R tax, which voters narrowly rejected) in 2012, Move LA and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are approaching the ballot measure cautiously. They’re trying to build more county-wide consensus on needed transportation projects, with the incoming Metro board president, Mayor Eric Garcetti, promising a more “humble Los Angeles city” as he courts the San Gabriel Valley and South Bay cities that rejected Measure J.

As Kerry writes, the prospect of a good transit project across the Sepulveda Pass has always seemed to be a “distant dream.” So true. If there is a ballot measure in a couple of years, it will be very interesting to see what, if any, role this project plays in it. On a related note, here’s a study from 2012 that shows some of the different concepts initially explored for the Sepulveda Pass project.

L.A. could clash with L.A. County on transit tax measures (L.A. Times) 

Reporters Laura Nelson and David Zahniser ask a good question: if the city of Los Angeles pursues a sales tax increase this November to pay for street repair, how will city voters respond if Metro (a county agency) pursues the aforementioned ballot measure in 2016? It’s especially tricky considering the city of of L.A. is, of course, by far the largest city in the county and no county measure would likely pass without major support from city voters. The few people willing to talk on the record say that pursuing sales tax increases in both 2014 and ’16 is a poor idea but elected officials from the city of L.A. declined comment.

Koreatown to become next luxury market (GlobeSt.com)

The real estate site’s article is bullish on the prospects for K-town, saying there will be more multi-family housing and one of the big attractions for the area is its quick transit connections to downtown L.A. and Hollywood. The words “cosmopolitan” and “luxury” are tossed around in the article; the word “affordable” does not make an appearance.

L.A.’s interchanges are beautiful — if you’re not stuck in traffic (Southland-Gizmodo)

Nice photo spread on some of our bowl-of-spaghetti freeway interchanges, with a couple of sweet aerial shots of the four-level 110-10 junction in downtown.

Study ranks metro areas by sprawl (Governing) 

If there’s anything new here, it’s the assertion that more compact and connected metro areas offer more economic mobility. Makes sense. Not entirely sure why it required a study. About to send your child to graduate school? My three cents: perhaps a plant identification guide, map of the Pacific Crest Trail and a good lightweight backpack would be a better investment — if, that is, enlightenment is the goal.

America’s zippy new trains still lag behind those in Europe (Wired) 

A short and depressing reminder that train travel in the United States — the same country known for its big, wide open spaces — will mostly remain a 79 mile per hour or under affair with a few exceptions.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 32

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Some awesomeness from the Toronto Transit Commission from last April 1.

Why raise Metro fares when giving away free parking? (LA Streetsblog) 

Joe Linton argues that according to his back-of-the-napkin calculations Metro is squandering $3.5 million in a year in potential revenues if it charged $3 for parking at its lots. As he notes, most parking at Metro lots is currently free. Of course, $3.5 million doesn’t cover the projected budget shortfalls that Metro is projecting and using to justify the fare increases (the shortfalls begin at $36 million in FY 2016 and then rise).

Still, revenue is revenue. There are certainly Metro lots where parking is tight and I think one key public policy question is whether free parking is an incentive to get people out of their cars and onto transit. That said, another important piece of context: most lots were built and opened at a time when gas was far cheaper than now. Thoughts, readers?

Cobalts were seen as lemons from the start (New York Times) 

The evidence grows that General Motors knew there were serious — and potentially deadly — problems with the Cobalt as far back as 2005 when consumers were demanding their money back. The company has already linked an ignition issue with 13 deaths. The chief of General Motors will tell Congress today that she doesn’t know why the carmaker didn’t publicly announce the safety defect with the cars until recently. The answer is pretty obvious: there must have been an internal culture at G.M. in which telling the truth and delivering bad news to customers was seen as less important than covering one’s own backside. There’s nothing on the GM home page, btw, except for some boasting of the craftmanship of the Escalade SUV. The two-wheel drive version of that SUV gets 17 mpg in case you’re interested.

Panel’s warning on climate risk: worst is yet to come (New York Times) 

The latest report from the U.N. is perhaps its bleakest yet. Excerpt:

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.

The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth, the report found.

Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting, allowing it to decay into greenhouse gases that will cause further warming, the scientists said. And the worst is yet to come, the scientists said in the second of three reports that are expected to carry considerable weight next year as nations try to agree on a new global climate treaty.

The report focuses in particular on resource shortages — especially food and water — that may accompany climate change. Such shortages, says the UN, will likely exacerbate political instability in places where millions could go hungry or thirsty.

Although transit is certainly not a panacea for climate change, studies have found that transit is a more efficient way of moving people around when it comes to using electricity and fossil fuels — especially when compared to driving alone.

Transportation headlines, Monday, March 31

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Happy REAL opening day, baseball fans and Metro Riders. Above, the first game at Ebbetts Field.

Happy REAL opening day, baseball fans and Metro Riders. Above, the first game at Ebbets Field.

Transit riders assail proposed Metro fare hike at public meeting (L.A. Times)

Coverage of the four-hour hearing on Saturday over the proposed fare increase. As the story notes, most of the comments received were along the lines that the increases were too much. There was no support for the second option, which involves creating different fares for off-peak and peak hours. There was limited support for the first option, although some people said that transfers should be included for two hours, not 90 minutes as Metro proposes. Without an increase, Metro officials said they would have to cut one million hours of bus service and lay off 1,000 employees, according to the Times.

Transportation advocates back half-cent sales tax (L.A. Times)

Coverage of the Move L.A. conference on Friday in which the pro-transit group discussed a possible half-cent sales tax increase for the 2016 ballot that help fund more transportation projects in L.A. County. Excerpt:

Metro has not yet decided to put a measure on the ballot. But with as much as $27 billion in added tax money to spend on rail projects, advocates said, the agency could build a light-rail link to Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport, convert the San Fernando Valley Orange Line busway to rail and extend the Green Line near LAX to sweep through South Bay cities and connect with the Blue Line in Long Beach.

“What we’re doing here is trying to figure out what wins,” Move L.A. Executive Director Denny Zane said.

[snip]

Guaranteeing projects across the county may be a political necessity, but it doesn’t always serve passengers the best, said Lisa Schweitzer, a USC professor who studies transit funding. She said transit-using communities with the potential for highest ridership, a common measure of success, tend to be clustered in the core of the county.

[snip]

“In order to get those areas interested in transit, you have to gold-plate it and sugarcoat it” with high-profile projects such as the Westside subway extension, which appeal to residents who typically drive their own cars, Schweitzer said. “But you can’t win without them.”

Two things worthy of your consideration here: 1) the current Measure R put about $13.8 billion toward a dozen transit projects over its 30-year lifespan, and; 2) some of those projects — such as the Airport Metro Connector and the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor — may need more funds to get built.

My point: a second sales tax, if Metro pursues it, is not a free pass to build every project on everybody’s wish list!!! :)

Tree removal along Crenshaw Boulevard has residents stumped (L.A. Times) 

Crenshaw Boulevard is expected to lose about 175 trees to accommodate construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Line, leaving some residents unhappy in the wake of the 71 that were taken down to accommodate moving the Endeavour between LAX and the California Science Center in 2012. Metro has said it will plant two trees for every tree lost, although there is skepticism that new trees will truly replace the mature pines that are in Crenshaw Boulevard’s median, particularly in Park Mesa Heights.

The Endeavour moving north through Park Mesa Heights in 2012. The light rail line will run along the median at right, where the trees are located. Photo by Steve Hymon.

The Endeavour moving north through Park Mesa Heights in 2012. The light rail line will run along the median at right, where the trees are located. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Westside Subway neighbors worried about night-time construction noise (L.A. Times) 

Metro is proposing some night-work work. But important to remember: the work is NOT for the duration of the first phase of the Purple Line Extension, as the sub-headline suggests. Excerpt:

Subway construction won’t be accomplished without din, dust, vibration and street closures, Metro officials say, but 24-hour work will last for only a few weeks, said Dennis Mori, executive officer of project management. After an initial period of digging and pile installation, he said, tunneling itself will be less disruptive. Of course, there will be the nighttime rumble of trucks hauling away 1.1 million cubic yards of dirt.

“While we take community concerns very seriously, there is simply no such thing as ‘immaculate construction,’” Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said. “Some community groups appear to be sending a mixed message: ‘Yes, we support the subway, but don’t touch anything, and don’t inconvenience us in any way.’”

San Antonio police chief tells Lyft to quit operations (Government Technology) 

The city’s police chief says the problem is that Lyft’s drivers are not permitted as a taxi or limo drivers per municipal laws. Lyft says its drivers have insurance and go through background checks.

10 reasons why Beverly Hills homeowners are opposing bike lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard (Curbed LA)

A review of the controversy over widening Santa Monica Boulevard to accommodate bike lanes. The widening would cause some grass to be removed on the north side of the street. The post includes city diagrams to see what is being proposed. Lots of debate in the comments.

Watch a fun video explaining why the Riverside-Figueroa bridge should become a park (Curbed LA)

The old bridge is being replaced. The city of L.A. intends to tear it down while some activists say the old bridge should host a park. My three cents: the most important project in that area needs to be getting the L.A. River bike path into downtown L.A.

 

Transportation headlines, Friday, March 28

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Bullet train won’t meet targeted travel time, lawmakers told (L.A. Times) 

The High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group told legislators in Sacramento that it’s very unlikely a bullet train will be able to provide regular service between Los Angeles and San Francisco in two hours, 40 minutes — as voters were promised in 2008 before approving the sale of $10 billion in bonds to pay for the project. I count this one as the non-shocker of the day as those kind of travel times never sounded terribly plausible at any kind of realistic price-tag. Whether the Peer Review Group’s statements impact the project remains to be seen.

Apple’s new texting idea means never having to look up from your phone again (The Atlantic Cities) 

The lede says it all:

Apple has filed a patent for “transparent texting” technology, which would be a handy new mobile service that will replace a text message’s white background with a live feed of the things literally happening right in front of your face.

The technology is designed to be used to protect texting pedestrians, allowing them to walk and text without bumping into things like lampposts or moving cars. In describing the need for such game-changing technology, the patent describes the “rather unique predicament” of the text message-ers:

“A user who is walking while participating in a text messaging session may inadvertently collide with or stumble over objects in his path because his attention was focused on his device’s display instead of the path that he was traversing. Even if a user remains stationary while participating in a text messaging session, that user may expose himself to some amount of danger or potential embarrassment if he is so engaged in his device’s display that he becomes oblivious to changes in his surrounding environment.”

 

Sounds awful.

Washington Metro Board approves fare increases (Washington Post) 

A typical rail fare will be $2.90 while on the bus side the fare was set at $1.75, with the surcharge eliminated for those who use cash. Transfers from bus to bus are free for two hours for riders who use electronic fare cards similar to Metro’s TAP cards.

Reminder: public hearing is tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. for Metro’s fare change proposal. More info here

.