Transportation headlines, Monday, November 4

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ART OF TRANSIT: An Expo Line train with a new paint job at the Exposition Park/USC station. 

Could NYC’s ‘wacko-nutso’ Janette Sadik-Khan be right for L.A.? (L.A. Times) 

Interesting opinion piece by Times staffer Robert Greene. Sadik-Khan is Mayor Bloomberg’s transportation commissioner who has compiled a long list of accomplishments by narrowing streets in the Big Apple, building miles of bike lanes (some protected even) and pushing for more public transit. That has also earned her enemies: the “wacko-nutso’ label comes from the New York Post’s gossip writer Cindy Adams.

As it happens, Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure in New York is about to end (his replacement will be elected tomorrow) and it’s questionable whether the next chief of Gotham will want to keep her around. As it also happens, the city of Los Angeles has a vacancy for general manager for its Department of Transportation. And there’s this: Sadik-Khan went to Occidental, while Mayor Garcetti has taught there.

Here’s a Source post from earlier this year on a talk Sadik-Khan gave while in town. And below is a TED Talks appearance by her:

If she leaves NYC, her timing is good: Looks like Chicago is also looking for a chief for its transportation department, Streetsblog reports.

Winnetka residents say lack of toilets along Orange Line a problem (Daily News) 

Some residents complain that an alley near the Pierce College stop has turned into an impromptu restroom. The Community College District says the problem belongs to Metro. Metro says the problem is on college-owned land and that Metro has only installed restrooms (as do most transit agencies) at major hubs, i.e. Union Station.

FigAt7th plans to open new stores next year (Brigham Yen) 

It’s about time; the quasi-underground mall has been getting a makeover for some time and it now appears that boarded up windows will become actual stores by mid-2014. I think there’s a Loteria in the works; they have tasty tacos, me thinks. The mall is across the street from the busy 7th/Metro Center that serves the Red Line, Purple Line, Blue Line and Expo Line.

Rail to Redlands project update shows increased costs (San Bernardino Sun) 

The San Bernardino Association of Governments wants to extend the San Bernardino Metrolink line east to Redlands, adding three additional stations. A previous cost estimate was $156 million; the revised one is that such a project would cost $200 million to $300 million. The hope is that a rail extension could also link up with a bus rapid transit project that would run from Redlands to downtown San Bernardino to Loma Linda.

 

 

Transportation headlines, Friday, November 1

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LAX shooting (Daily Breeze)

Media coverage of today’s shootings at Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport. It needs to be noted that law enforcement has not officially confirmed the details of this story and others.

When the Metro Orange Line was rail (KCET)

The L.A. City Council this week approved a resolution by Councilman Tom LaBonge urging the state Legislature to repeal the 1991 law that prohibited a rail line being built in the Orange Line’s corridor. Yes, the Legislature in all its, uh, wisdom approved a law outlawing rail from being built in what used to be a rail corridor, one reason the Orange Line today is a bus.

What does this mean for the Orange Line’s future? Not much, really. The Council passes all sorts of resolutions and who knows if the Legislature will bother to tackle this one, even as many Valley residents advocate for a rail line across the Sepulveda Pass and along Van Nuys Boulevard.

Which brings up another obstacle: funding. The aforementioned Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor and East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor projects are both set to receive Measure R funding and include rail as among the alternatives under study. There’s no money at this point for an Orange Line conversion, nor is there any plan under current consideration by Metro, nor is a rail conversion proposed in Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan.

Chart of the day: a sharp drop in infrastructure spending in the U.S. (Wonk Wire)

The chart resembles the trajectory of the roadrunner going over the cliff. Don’t fret, says the accompanying article: it’s inevitable we’ll have to fix it later, albeit at an insanely high price due to inflation and such. Whew!

Plan to add toll lanes to 405 in O.C. dismissed as ‘Lexus lanes,’ draw heat (L.A. Times)

Among several alternatives being studied to improve traffic on the 405 in Orange County: 14 miles of congestion pricing toll lanes. The Times manages to find city officials unhappy with that alternative, griping that it will dump traffic on city streets or be an unfair tax.

In other words, the Times wrote the story for the lowest common denominator. No advocates of the congestion pricing alternative are quoted nor is there an explanation of the theory of congestion pricing and what some say about whether or not it works.


Transportation headlines, Thursday, October 31

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ART OF TRANSIT: Nice throwback costume!

More transportation fixes in the works for Southern California (Daily News) 

Missed this one yesterday. The article reports on Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s video at the Mobility 21 conference and his statement that another transportation ballot measure for the county may be in the works. The key excerpt:

Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb said the mayor’s remarks at the Mobility conference were not an indication of support for an extension of Measure R, the voter-approved half-cent sales tax that’s currently paying for an array of rail, bus and highway projects.

[snip]

Robb said Garcetti was simply referencing recent actions taken by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who also sits on the MTA board. Antonovich has been talking to local communities about what projects they want to see built under another ballot initiative. Antonovich, along with County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky also authored a motion approved by the MTA board on Tuesday to allocate $500,000 to help the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments develop a “Mobility Matrix” that would identify some of the Valley’s transportation needs.

“Cutting traffic is a priority for Mayor Garcetti and he is currently exploring all options to ease congestion for Angelenos,” Robb said.

MTA Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy, who also attended the conference, struck a skeptical tone when addressing a possible extension. “We will evaluate whether we do a Measure J again,” Leahy told the Daily News. “I don’t know if we will. It’s possible that would happen in either 2014 or 2016.”

As we wrote the other day, nothing is currently on the table. But there certainly seems to be discussions on how projects could be accelerated or new projects funded.

Metro construction boom brings opportunities (Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ website) 

A look at the business opportunity summit held at the African-American Museum on Monday. As the article shows, there is clearly an appetite for jobs among those who live near the upcoming Crenshaw/LAX Line. Excerpt:

Opportunity is exactly what Erika Bennett is seeking. She is hoping her company, Total Transportation Services Inc., a trucking company that transports cement and dirt to construction sites, will become one of the sub-consultants for the large firm that was awarded the Crenshaw contract, Walsh Shea Corridor Constructors.

“This is a good meet and greet,” she said, as she walked up to the Walsh Shea table and introduced herself to the executives for the company.

Other attendees, such as Matsimela McMorris, were simply looking for a job. McMorris, who has been unemployed for more than a year, applied for a position as a custodian with Metro. But at the event, McMorris saw other possibilities, including becoming a bus operator.

“It is really good to be able to come here and meet people,” he said. “Online, you can’t really tell people your story.”

 

Mayor’s office: top transportation department executive to resign (L.A. Times) 

The city’s Department of Transportation will be getting a new general manager. LADOT runs a large bus system and, of course, manages the thousands of miles of roadway (including the traffic signals) in the city of L.A.

It’s time to treat bike share as mass transit (The Atlantic Cities) 

The blog post argues that bike share fees should be tax deductible in the same way that commuter fringe benefits are.

Expo Line Phase 2 reaches the halfway point (Culver City Observer) 

A look at the announcement earlier this month that the six-mile extension between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica is halfway done. Next up: more track work!

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, October 30

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A Metro local near the intersection of 7th & Hoover in Los Angeles. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: Metro local near the intersection of 7th & Hoover in Los Angeles. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

L.A. Mayor meets with President Obama, lobbies for federal funding (Daily Breeze) 

Two Metro Board Members — Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin — were in Washington D.C. earlier this week to push for federal support for a couple of big projects: connecting Metro Rail to LAX and revitalization of parts of the Los Angeles River. Garcetti and Bonin are pushing for a plan that would connect the Crenshaw/LAX and Green lines to a new airport Intermodal Transportation Facility, where passengers could transfer to a people mover to airport terminals.

A couple of related posts: In a video shown at the Mobility 21 conference yesterday, Garcetti mentioned the possibility of a new transportation ballot measure in L.A. County and said the airport connection was among his highest transit priorities. Also, here is a post from earlier this month that explains the many issues involved with the Airport Metro Connector project.

L.A. Airspace – the Los Angeles Newspaper Group blog on aviation – also has a new article on the project, noting some of the challenges for Metro and LAX.

Does downtown L.A. need a streetcar? (L.A. Times) 

The Times’ editorial page says the streetcar project proposed in downtown Los Angeles could be an attractive addition to the area. But the editorial also says it is concerned about potential cost over-runs and calls the streetcar a “novelty” that is not as important as a subway line or freeway.

One question maybe a reader can answer: the city says that utility relocations could cost up to $165.8 million for the project. Huh? What exactly has to be moved to build a four-mile rail line that runs entirely at street level?

Amid debate, Turkey opens rail tunnel under Bospurus (New York Times)

A view of the Bospurus. Photo by  Aschevogel, via Flickr creative commons.

A view of the Bospurus. Photo by Aschevogel, via Flickr creative commons.

The 8.5-mile, $4-billion rail tunnel runs under the Bospurus, the waterway that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara — also the waterway considered as the divide between Europe and Asia. While the tunnel should speed commutes into Istanbul, some critics say it won’t be seismically sound and that the tunnel faces security threats. Officials say the tunnel was built to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake and that it will be the safest place to be during a temblor.

Reverse commutes now often a daily slog, too (NPR)

Suburban job growth coupled with an increasing number of people who want to live in the city proper has resulted in outbound commutes that can rival the ‘burbs-to-downtown commutes that have long been congested. In Chicago, for example, more people are choosing to live near rail lines that head to the ‘burbs, according to the Census Bureau and NPR. This phenomenon can certainly be seen in L.A. County: try the westbound Santa Monica Freeway any given morning!

Hey — the new Arcade Fire album is out today! Woot woot! In the meantime, here’s some of Arcade Fire plus Bruce Springsteen tackling a track from his “Nebraska” album. Sweet.

Transportation headlines, Monday, October 28

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ART OF TRANSIT: Great pic from our always-lively Instagram feed.

Traffic fears guide Bergamot development debate (Santa Monica Daily Press) 

Planning commissioners take a look at the proposed Hines development — 471 residences, 374,000 square feet of office space, 14,000 square feet of retail — and debate whether that mix is right. Some commissioners fear too little housing and too much office space will just exacerbate an existing problem: too many people commuting into Santa Monica to work because they can’t afford to live there.

The Expo Line will have a station right across the street so the good news is residents or workers will have access to transit. Perhaps the real debate here should be this: what are other cities and Santa Monica doing about putting more of everything near other future and existing Expo Line stations?

Tar pits’ microfossils stir big interest from Page Museum scientists (L.A. Times) 

The Harlan's Ground Sloth was one of the so-called megafauna that lived in L.A. during the Pleistocene. Scientists are still piecing together the smaller members of the ecosystem that thrived here more than 11,000 years ago. Drawing: Page Museum.

The Harlan’s Ground Sloth was one of the so-called megafauna that lived in L.A. during the Pleistocene. Scientists are still piecing together the smaller members of the ecosystem that thrived here more than 11,000 years ago. Drawing: Page Museum.

Very interesting. These small fossils help show the insect and other small critters and climate– i.e. lizards — during the Pleistocene Epoch ecosystem in the area around the Tar Pits. Although not mentioned, it is going to be very interesting to see what kind of fossils turn up during tunneling and excavation for the Purple Line Extension, which will have a station just west of the Tar Pits.

Urban surgery: how Wilshire Boulevard was extended into downtown L.A. (KCET)

Fascinating! Once upon a time — that time being the 1920s — Wilshire Boulevard only existed west of MacArthur Park. City officials then decided it really need to run into downtown and spent a lot of money (at least for those days) demolishing buildings between Figueroa and Grand in downtown proper and along the course of Orange Street between Fig and the park. And when money supplies went south, the city then built Wilshire across the park’s lake on a causeway. It took many years for lots along the street to fill, reports KCET, perhaps explaining why Wilshire feels so vigorous west of the park and so…kind of lacking in the area between the park and the 110 freeway overpass.

Transportation headlines, Friday, October 25

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ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro light rail car gets a tuneup. From our Instagram feed.

Garcetti to lobby for people mover other transit improvements at LAX (Patch) 

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told listeners on KNX yesterday that he will be meeting with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Monday about his transportation plans, including a people mover at LAX. The mayor didn’t get into a lot of specifics about the plan, but Metro and Los Angeles World Airports have been studying the issue of the best way to connect Metro Rail to LAX with a people mover among the alternatives. Please see this recent post for more about the issue.

Whittier Council hires lobbyist for light rail extension (Whittier Daily News) 

The Council in Whittier votes 5 to 0 to spend $90,000 on a lobbyist to push for Metro to build the Eastside Gold Line extension down Whittier Boulevard. Among the light rail alternatives under study for the project are two: a line to South El Monte along the 60 freeway or a line that would instead run down Whittier Boulevard. The draft environmental study for the project is in the works and is expected to be released in 2014.

Gold Line officials look to ballot measure to fund Azusa to Montclair project (San Bernardino Sun) 

The CEO of the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, an independent agency planning and building the project, says that he thinks another Metro ballot measure is in the works that could fund phase 2B of the project from Azusa to Montclair. There has been some talk at the Metro Board level — but very preliminary. In June, the Board talked about strategies for accelerating projects, including the potential for a future ballot measure.

If there is one, here’s the big question: will it just fund existing Measure R projects as they are currently defined or would it be rejiggered in such a way to add or expand projects in order to gain political support? Several of the original Measure R projects are not fully funded and there are other projects in which just segments will be built — i.e. the reason that the Purple Line Extension doesn’t go west of the VA Hospital and the Crenshaw/LAX Line won’t go north of Exposition Boulevard, for example. Stay tuned.

Ranking neighborhoods by their potential for affordable, transit-friendly housing (Curbed LA) 

A new study by UCLA and the Los Angeles Business Council finds a wide variety of transit-accessible neighborhoods could support mixed-use, mixed-income workforce housing. The first three on the list are along the Blue Line — no surprise, given the lack of TOD investment along Metro’s longest and most popular light rail route.

Bikes get permanent spot on BART trains (San Francisco Chronicle) 

Sort of. After a trial period, “The two-wheelers will still be prohibited from the first train car at all times, the first three cars during the most crowded hours of the morning and evening commutes, and from cars that are already crowded,” reports the Chronicle. Bikes have been permitted on all Metro trains in L.A. County at all times since spring 2011.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, October 23

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ART OF TRANSIT: The view of Sees Candy from the Expo Line’s La Cienega station. Best smelling station on the line. From our Instagram feed.

Why AT&T is talking about texting and driving (New Yorker)

An excellent analysis of why the four largest mobile phone carriers are behind this safety campaign — and why they co-released a Werner Herzog documentary (above) on the subject of cell phone use while driving.

Excerpt:

Texting—or e-mailing, tweeting, or Web surfing—while driving causes thousands of accidents a year, though it is hard to determine a precise number. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration put the number of accidents caused by what it calls “distracted driving”—which includes talking on the phone, fiddling with the radio, putting on makeup, etc.—at three hundred and eighty-seven thousand in 2011, the most recent year for which these statistics have been compiled. Some percentage of this distraction is caused by texting; a recent study by the University of Washington that captured images at intersections found that half of distracted drivers were seen sending texts or otherwise typing on their phones.

Texting while driving is not only manifestly dangerous; in forty-one states, it is also illegal. But it is difficult to monitor, police, and punish. In study after study, an overwhelming majority of people say that they know it is irresponsible and dangerous, yet do it anyway. According to figures from a 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, thirty-one per cent of adults have admitted to texting and driving. (Other surveys have put that figure higher, and because of the stigma attached to it these self-reported numbers are probably low.)

[snip]

I asked Marissa Shorenstein why A.T. & T. had decided to create an initiative that, at least indirectly, highlights the position of wireless companies in the problem. Had A.T. & T. been compelled by outside forces to address the issue? “There was no pressure on the company,” she said. “Wireless technology is relatively new, and we had noticed over several years that texting had become increasingly abused in terms of driving. We felt strongly that it was our responsibility as an industry leader to insure that our devices are being used safely and properly.” Shorenstein makes an important distinction: texting while driving is not a natural result of constant connectedness but a misuse of cell phones.

If you want to play with your cell phone while commuting, take the bus or train, people.

Commentary: Take a trip on Amtrak’s San Joaquin train (KVPR)

Zocalo Public Square writer Joe Mathews takes his son on a train trip from L.A. to Sacramento that involves an Amtrak bus ride from L.A. to Bakersfield, an actual train from Bakersfield to Stockton and then another Amtrak bus to Sacramento. Several delays, courtesy of the freight railroads that own the train tracks, are part of the deal. And the buses prove to be more ‘on-time’ than the train.

Excerpt:

“That was fun, Daddy,” Ben said.

Fun, yes, but also frustrating.  Why are we still relying on single tracks owned by freight lines to move passengers on trains through the Central Valley? I’ve dumped on high-speed rail for years—for outlandish ridership projections, for its failure to attract private investment, for not starting with a connection between L.A. and San Diego—and even the idea’s backers are worried it will cost too much. But high-speed rail does provide solutions to the gaps Ben and I encountered firsthand. It would provide a proper route for rail passengers through the Tehachapis. It would provide a dedicated track for passenger rail in the Central Valley. And it would connect the state in ways that we have otherwise failed to do.

However you feel about high-speed rail (and I’m still skeptical), California is undeniably a state in need of more rail capacity. On the flight back to Burbank from Sacramento the following evening, Ben began lobbying for a second train trip, this time with his 2-year-old brother. That increased capacity can’t come soon enough.

And once again, we have someone raising the question that the big media are not: is there a way to better connect So Cal to Nor Cal by rail that improves service and is also more politically and financially viable than the current plan?

Remaking the San Fernando Valley: pedestrian-friendly and community-oriented projects underway (Daily News) 

No real specifics are mentioned in the story, but city officials and neighborhood activists want each Valley neighborhood to be anchored by a “center” — i.e. places where people can walk and shop and such. Another article looks at new zoning proposals for the Warner Center area that would allow more residential and commercial properties to be built in some areas.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, October 22

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vessel

ART OF TRANSIT: I spotted this photo, taken in Hong Kong earlier this year, on Flickr and really like the composition, mood and muted colors. It was taken with a Nikon D600. By chance, any Source readers using that camera? Like it or not? Email me with your thoughts. When I finally get around to breaking my D5100, I’m thinking about stepping up to full-frame (on my dime, not yours btw).

City Hall staff kept quiet on streetcar red flags (L.A. Times)

The article suggests that staffers kept mum on the uncertain price tag for the project and used a lower estimate of $125 million when asking downtown property owners to foot part of the bill. The latest cost estimate won’t be available until early next year; a City Hall report recently suggested the true price could be north of $300 million. Proponents of the project worry it could cost the streetcar the federal Small Starts grant it needs to be built. Or, and perhaps worse, an elevated cost could force the project to compete instead for New Starts money for bigger projects. That could spell trouble as the Regional Connector and Purple Line Extension are already due to get New Starts money.

BART, unions end strike with tentative agreement (San Francisco Chronicle) 

The announcement came last night and trains are running this morning, with full service expected to resume later today. “The union offer proposed to allow for work-rule changes regarding technology but to retain rules on safety,” according to the Chronicle. There’s also this:

The union proposal came the day after a train being used by BART managers struck and killed two workers inspecting tracks between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations. Before the strike, BART officials acknowledged they were training managers to possibly operate trains during a work stoppage. Union officials had said that practice is unsafe and filed suit in Alameda County Superior Court to stop it.

How electric vehicles are hitting the race track (Popular Science) 

A good read about efforts to make electric engines competitive with gasoline powered cars. Getting the torque and acceleration needed is one challenge. Reducing weight from batteries is another. My question: how do you replace the noise of the engines if everyone is running electric?:

Which reminds me to inform you that “Rush” is thus far is my favorite film of the year, although “Captain Phillips,” “Gravity” and “In a World” were also quite good.

Transportation headlines, Monday, October 21

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ART OF TRANSIT: Passengers exiting the Expo Line from our Instagram feed.

Campaign to map earthquake faults has slowed to a crawl (L.A. Times) 

After the Sylmar quake in 1971, 534 faults in the state were mapped. Since 1991, only 21 have been drawn because of budget cuts and none since 2004. Key paragraph:

Many earthquake faults have already been extensively researched by scientists at places such as USC, Caltech and the University of California. When creating a map, the state reviews all this outside research and draws a roughly quarter-mile zone around the fault. Under the state’s Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning act, developers in that zone must prove their structure does not sit on top of the active faults.

The article doesn’t really get into the thorny and difficult issue of why mapping wasn’t funded or pursued more vigorously. But I don’t recall hearing developers and some of their political supporters calling for more scrutiny of new buildings and where they are located.

As for Metro, the story is relevant because when faced with older maps, the agency made an effort to map the Santa Monica Fault and the West Beverly Hills Lineament in the Century City area when planning for the Purple Line Extension subway.

405 freeway work delayed by faulty retaining walls (Daily News) 

A look back at one major reason the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvement Project is running behind schedule. That said, key parts of the project have been opening as they are completed, including a three-mile stretch of the new northbound car lane from the 10 freeway to just north of Wilshire Boulevard. If the current schedule holds, the Mulholland, Skirball and Sunset bridges and all the Wilshire and Sunset ramps will open. While the entire project won’t be complete until 2014 — 15 months behind schedule — many elements of the project have not suffered those kind of delays.

The Leimert station, while welcome, brings uncertainty to the World Stage (L.A. Streetsblog) 

Following news last spring that the Leimert Park station for the Crenshaw/LAX Line would be funded and built, the World Stage — the performance and education center — learned its lease may be at risk (not from Metro). This good article by Sahra Sulaiman provides some history and context for the World Stage and some of the issues in Leimert Park and nearby Crenshaw Boulevard. Here’s a nice video about the place from 2011:

N.Y. MTA launches ‘pop up’ pilot stores in the subway (METRO)

The agency that runs the New York subway system will lease small spaces that are temporarily vacant in some stations on a month-to-month basis to small entrepreneurs. Great idea.

Transportation headlines, Friday, October 18

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ART OF TRANSIT: A Red/Purple Line subway car in Metro’s maintenance shop. From our Instagram feed.

BART workers go on strike (San Francisco Chronicle) 

After a long negotiation on Thursday, talks broke down and workers walked out at 12:01 a.m. today, leaving tens of thousands of Bay Area workers to find other ways to reach work. While unions representing workers agreed to contribute four percent of their pay toward their pensions and contribute more to their health insurance costs, BART and workers couldn’t agree on a schedule or percentage for pay increases.

Perhaps most interesting, they also couldn’t agree on changes to work rules that BART officials said hindered their ability to run the rail system efficiently and unions said protected their rights. In particular, BART wants station managers to file reports by email, deliver pay stubs electronically and more flexibility to add or reduce service and worker hours. Unions objected to those.

BART connects San Francisco to cities south along the San Francisco Peninsula and to the many communities in the East Bay, including (most prominently) Oakland. Some charter buses are ferrying commuters, but others are out of luck or are driving. Traffic is bad and it doesn’t sound like a deal between BART and its workers is close.

Metro locks in more revenue (ZevWeb) 

Good article on the impact of gate latching on the Red/Purple Lines. The upshot: revenues from fares on the subway increased in September by 40 percent over last May before the gates were latched. If that pattern holds — key word ‘if’ — Metro could see a gain of $6 million in revenues annually from the subway. Of course, revenues are not the same as profit.

Excerpt:

Fare evaders are now unable to freely enter the system and, for the most part, have moved on to other modes of travel, Sutton said, giving paying customers a better ride by improving their security and safety—and by opening up a little more elbow room.

Even with the gates latched, some committed scofflaws will always find ways to game the system, Sutton said. About 19,000 people entered the subway without paying in September, using a variety of tricks or blatantly jumping the gates. Metro is in the process of tweaking the new system to make fare evasion more difficult, and the Sheriff’s Department is issuing citations to catch those who squeeze through.

Nonetheless,  in most places the system is working well. During one morning rush hour this week, transit patrons streamed through the gates at the North Hollywood station, tapping in succession as they rushed to catch the next train. At ticket vending machines, fare purchases were made swiftly, with no long lines forming.

Overall, I think this is a positive for the agency. Metro is hardly alone among agencies battling fare evasion; it’s good to see progress here is being made.

Suggestions for Metro: TVM software updates (Steven White: The Accidental Urbanist) 

Steven follows up on his post earlier this month about Metro’s ongoing efforts to make instructions easier to understand on ticket vending machines. This time around, Steven shows some ideas that he thinks would make instructions explicitly clear — and finally terminate the confusion over which (if any) buttons patrons are supposed to press.

He also has a few other ideas on how to make information clear to everyone:

Also, on the printed banner for the top of the machine, Metro could clarify the text and fare explanations. The design they’re currently working on says “Stored Value: Metro 1-Ride, $1.50″ which is a strange way of saying “the fare is $1.50 every time you board.” It would be much clearer to write

METRO FARES
Standard: $1.50 per boarding (no transfers included).
Reduced Fare (Seniors, Disabled & Medicare): Peak Hours $0.55 per boarding, Off-Peak Hours $0.25 per boarding
Valid passes also accepted.

STORED VALUE
Available in amounts $1.50 and higher

METRO PASSES
1-Day Pass: $5
7-Day Pass: $20
30-Day Pass: $75

With these clarifications of both text and design, I think the new TVM updates will make a huge positive difference. Buying a pass is often the most confusing step for Metro riders, and this will help ease that process greatly. Of course, feel free to leave additional comments or suggestions below.

Kudos for Steven to take the time to mull over this stuff. It may not be the most fascinating thing in the world, but ticket machines are the first point of contact for thousands of people new to the Metro system. And that first contact should be as good as possible; not a War of the Worlds type scenario.

Streetsblog LA’s Damien Newton: Everyone on the road breaks the law (L.A. Times)

Damien ventures into the belly of the beast — i.e. the Times newsroom — for a video interview with editorial writer and avowed motorist Carla Hall over biking in L.A. Damien is both predictably articulate and well dressed as Carla asks him questions about the cyclist/motorist conflicts. From the accompanying article:

He doesn’t care if you’re on a bike; he cares that you stop thinking of bicyclists as an odd nuisance — and stop framing the debate as “drivers vs. bicyclists”:

“The subtext is ‘We need to get along with these weirdos, because they’re out there.’ ”

It helps his message that he’s not particularly weird himself. He’s 36, married to an engineer and a father of two small children. He cheers the new state law requiring drivers to stay three feet away from bicyclists, but he’s not going to be the purist with a yardstick attached to his bike to make sure motorists are observing the law.

My three cents: sure, there are cyclists who break the law or do stupid things. But….please. Motorists literally get away with murder or almost murder every single day in this region. Cars running red lights, not stopping for crosswalks, tailgating, speeding, weaving, driving drunk — these are all things that are commonplace because enforcement is light or non-existent. Meanwhile, over the past century, the L.A. region was paved nearly from head-to-toe often with only regard to the car and not the pedestrian or the cyclist. And thus my response when I hear someone in a car complain that a cyclist or walker is slowing them down: BOO HOO!

TODAY’S TIMEWASTER: 

The L.A. Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals play at the L.A. Coliseum in 1959. There’s about an hour of footage starting with the beginning of the game.