Transportation headlines, Friday, September 25

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

ART OF TRANSIT: Panelists speak at the Social Media Week forum hosted by Metro earlier this week on the agency's use of social media and other rider issues. Click above to listen to the panel!

ART OF TRANSIT: Panelists speak at the Social Media Week forum hosted by Metro earlier this week on the agency’s use of social media and other rider issues. Click above to listen to the panel!

The Valley deserves to be part of L.A.’s transit revolution (L.A. Times) 

In this opinion piece, Matthew Fleischer says that it makes sense to upgrade the Orange Line to rail — as an increasing number of people say is necessary. But it would be expensive, he notes, and that it may make more sense to simply run express buses similar to the express subway trains in New York (and elsewhere).

Excerpt:

Buses, unlike trains, have the maneuverability to pass one another easily. To hop on at Chatsworth and take the bus all the way to North Hollywood means making 16 time-consuming stops. An express route could potentially save huge amounts of time for riders at the tail end of every route. An express bus from North Hollywood, for instance, could potentially skip right to Reseda, while another local bus leaving at the same time could service the stations it passed over. If the express bus catches a local bus in front of it, it can simply pass by and continue on its direct route — unlike a train.

Los Angeles is in the midst of a public transportation revolution. Rail projects like the Expo Line and the “subway to the sea” may one day reinvent the way Angelenos interact with their city. The San Fernando Valley absolutely deserves to be part of this revolution.

The Metro Board this summer approved a motion asking Metro staff to explore a number of improvements, including a potential rail conversion. Metro staff responded with this preliminary report outlining some short- and long-term fixes that should be studied further. Not on the list: express buses.

The short-term fixes, not surprisingly, largely involve trying to get more green lights for the Orange Line, which often finds itself having to stop at station platforms and most cross north-south cross streets. If you’re interested in this issue, see the staff report at the above link. Pretty interesting discussion and it will be intriguing to see if the issue of express buses is raised by others.

Sepulveda Pass and LAX transit (Let’s Go LA)

Intriguing post about a potential transit tunnel under the Sepulveda Pass and the many possible future transit and/or light rail lines that it may serve. A lot of what is shown on the map are project that aren’t in Metro’s long-range plan — meaning there’s no funding or planning in the works — but it’s still fun to contemplate. The blog post certainly hits the nail on the head by saying that a Sepulveda Pass transit tunnel would only get chance to get it right, meaning it really needs to be able to accommodate whatever the future holds, transit wise.

As many of you know, the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor is a project set to receive about $1 billion from Measure R. But it’s also a project not scheduled to be completed until the late 2030s and vastly more funding would be needed to build a tunnel, if that option is pursued. Metro has done some preliminary studies of possible concepts and is looking at a public-private partnership to fund the project, although nothing is for certain at this point.

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Thursday, September 25

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Global shift to mass transit could save more than $100 trillion and 1,700 megatons of CO2 (UC Davis)

Infographic_HighShift_ITS

Interesting new study from UC Davis that concludes that a massive expansion of mass transit could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by getting people to switch from driving alone to taking transit. As we’ve posted before, transit tends to burn fewer greenhouse gases because it’s more efficient than driving alone.

The report says bus rapid transit is likely the best way for the nation to greatly expand transit because buses are the dominant type of transit in the U.S. and BRT is generally far less expensive to build than new rail lines.

I think there’s certainly room for transit to grow in the U.S. and attract more riders. The key question is whether that would reduce car trips enough to make an impact on emissions. I’m not sure about that. The following item is also quasi-related.

Of course, greatly expanding transit, BRT or otherwise, requires funding. And this chart from a new report on transportation funding by Pew Charitable Trusts shows that spending on highways still outpaces spending on transit at every level of government in the U.S.

HighwayvsTransit

Flat fare no longer fair? Agency studies distance-based fares (Salt Lake City Tribune)

Posting by popular demand. The Utah Transit Authority — which has long been charging a flat fare to ride its buses and trains (like most agencies, including Metro — says it has the technological ability to charge less for short rides and more for long rides. So it will study distance-base fares to see if they can be implemented without losing ridership or revenue.

Distance-based fares have been discussed frequently over the years on our comment board and there’s a segment of our readership who feel they should be implemented here. Among their arguments: Smaller fares for short rides would greatly encourage ridership for those who want to make short trips but don’t want to pay the full fare and may even help reduce traffic in congested parts of town. They also argue that it’s not fair that some Metro riders can ride long distances for the same flat fare and should pay their fair share.

As I’ve written in the past on the comment board, distance-based fares don’t really turn my turnstile, so to speak. I think getting everyone to tap in and tap out is a big hurdle (just getting people to tap in has been a challenge, as we know) and I’m not convinced fares for short trips would ever shrink that much given Metro’s financial challenges. I also think hitting long-distance riders with higher fares would hurt those who depend on Metro the most for their mobility — i.e. low-income workers and residents who must travel great distances from their neighborhoods to jobs. Finally, I don’t think any fare system is going to impact traffic given the convenience and affordability of privately-owned cars. Transit provides an alternative to traffic and perhaps helps it from growing worse. Transit doesn’t fix traffic. If it did, there would be more of it in L.A. and elsewhere.

Washington Metro CEO to step down (Washington Post) 

Richard Sarles took the job in the aftermath of a subway crash that killed nine people in 2009. The Washington Metro is the second-busiest subway system in the country behind New York and Sarles in 2013 put the agency on a path to rebuild and greatly expand the system if funding can be found. Officials were surprised by the announcement.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, September 24

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Cloverfield TPSS Lift 2

For those who like heavy construction (literally) here’s a pic from earlier this month of a substation being lifted into place for the Expo Line. The substations supply voltage to the overhead wires that, in turn, deliver power to the trains. The substations were manufactured in Virginia and traveled a week cross-country to the Westside. 

Are toll lanes elitist or progressive? (L.A. Times)

With Orange County officials still considering toll lanes for the 405 freeway, the Times’ editorial board publishes its very interesting internal discussion on whether to back congestion pricing lanes or not. The fascinating part: they can’t reach agreement while writers on both sides of the debate make some very good points. Kerry Cavanaugh has this to say:

Also, when we looked at Metro’s fare increase a few months ago, we urged the agency to consider more tolling. So who should be bearing the burden if not riders? To start, Metro should look at ways to shift some transit system costs onto drivers, which may sound unfair until you consider that they’re getting a heavily subsidized ride on publicly built and maintained roads. If added fees make it less appealing for people to drive, that’s a good thing; fewer cars on the road reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Metro should lobby for higher fuel taxes to fund mass transit, look at expanding tolling or congestion pricing to help pay for bus and rail rides, and charge for Metro parking lots.

One of the other points debated is whether it’s best to toll just some lanes — as Metro does on the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 (the HOV lanes to be exact) — or all the lanes. In some places such as Chicago and New York, everyone pays tolls to travel certain parts of the freeway. Does it raise money? Yes. Does it cut down on traffic? Hard to say, as traffic can be pretty hideous but possibly it would be more hideous without the tolls. The other part of the question: what if the tolls were dynamic and reflected supply-and-demand?

What the latest Census data says about L.A. city bicycle commuting (Streetsblog LA)

With an assist from Jeff Jacobberger, the latest American Community Survey numbers get crunched, leading to the conclusion that about 1.2 percent of commuters in the city of L.A. are biking to work, 3.6 percent are walking, 10.8 percent are riding transit, 67.1 percent are driving alone and 9.9 percent are carpooling.

As Jeff and Streetsblog point out, these are work trips only — so the numbers aren’t fulluy capturing the folks who ride their bikes to transit or those who may use their cars for work trips but are using their bikes to run errands and such.

All that said, the number of those people biking to work appears to be up in L.A. in recent years, but many more men are willing to ride than women.

Very interesting post and it’s worth noting that a higher percentage of commuters take transit in the city of L.A. than across the entire county. That’s not a huge surprise, given that a lot of Metro’s existing service is within the boundaries of Los Angeles. That said, the numbers probably also reflect that the city has the kind of population density and geographical layout that best supports transit at this time.

Don’t count out L.A. as transit-friendly choice (Boston Globe)

This letter to the editor is about Boston’s purported transit advantage over Los Angeles when it come to bidding to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Not so fast, says the reader — having Olympic venues in Long Beach would work because of the Metro Blue Line, she says, and there are plans underway to make our region more walker, biker and river friendly.

Nice to see L.A. getting some love on the East Coast. Of the other cities interested in the 2024 Games, I do think Boston is the most formidable opponent, given their transit system, many existing sports facilities (thanks to all their colleges) and the fact they’ve never hosted an Olympics and the region isn’t as spread out as here. On the plus side for us, there remains a decent chance no one will be able to understand anything Boston reps say when arguing for the games :)

Finally, a big welcome back aboard, Kings fans! This one — from Monday night’s pre-season game — is about as pretty as it gets:

I couldn’t care less about the phone used to film the above video. But the scenery is great, not silly far from L.A. and sort of involves transportation. If nothing else, some nice eye candy to get you past Wednesday.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, September 23

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

North Hollywood/Zev Yaroslavsky Station? Stop the political madness! (L.A. Times) 

Op-ed writer Kerry Cavanaugh says renaming two Metro Rail stations after two current Metro Board Members is a sour idea that “smacks of self-congratulatory back-slapping among politicians.” She urges the two Board Members to be honored — Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky — to say ‘no thanks.’

The motions proposing the station renaming are by Metro Board Members Ara Najarian and Pam O’Connor. Read the motions by clicking here. A Board Committee supported changing the station names last week and the full Board will consider the motions at its Oct. 2 meeting.

Portland will still be cool but Anchorage may be the place to be (New York Times)

A variety of scientists take educated guesses about cities that will remain comfortable later this century. No one sounds too optimistic about East Coast cities or Southern California — way too hot, they say. The strip of land along the coast between San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest, however, may remain buffered with cooler temperatures because of the proximity to the ocean and little impact from rising sea waters because of already steep terrain. In other words, Sasquatch and Mendocino may be two big winners!

As we’ve noted before, reducing the number of car trips by walking, biking and taking transit is one way to reduce your carbon footprint — all better than driving alone in the average vehicle.

In other climate change news, I forgot to include coverage of the climate change marches this past week in yesterday’s headlines. Jon Stewart does a funny job catching up with the news and explaining displacement, although I have to offer the usual warning: there’s adult language and Congress is insulted. If those sort of things bother you, don’t click on the link!

And this: the number of wildfires in California is — not surprisingly — up this year, according to the L.A. Times. Fire officials blame the ongoing drought.

Kushner pulls the plug on L.A. Register effective immediately (LAObserved) 

The new newspaper covering Los Angeles croaks before reaching its six-month birthday. Too bad. More eyeballs on our region, the better. That said, the Register’s transpo coverage was mostly a low-grade mix of old news or news releases rehashed in short stories and/or columns and it never looked like the publisher got around to actually creating a plan for what the Register would cover and how it would be covered.

Your electric car isn’t making California air any cleaner (Grist) 

Government subsidies for purchase of electric cars is mostly going to wealthy zip codes in big metro areas, Grist reports — and not necessarily the zip codes where there is the most air pollution (i.e. in the San Joaquin Valley). Fair enough point, but the headline is a bit misleading — seems to me it’s still better to have an electric car on the road than one with a conventional gasoline-powered engine.

A cyclist’s plea to motorists (High Country News)

Good essay by Jonathan Thompson. Excerpt:

Cyclists must take some responsibility here. We need to abide by the rules of the road, not ride like idiots and ride defensively, as if we were invisible. The one time I got hit by a car, it was probably my fault as much as the driver’s. More caution on my end could have prevented the accident. Still, 40 percent of fatal bike/car collisions entail the car hitting the bike from behind. Those bikers, now dead, never saw it coming. They were powerless to save themselves. So, motorists, a plea: Pay attention, slow down and remember that, as annoying and gaudy as those lycra-clad bikers might be, they are dads, moms, daughters and sons. And that car you drive, no matter how much you adore it, is a deadly weapon. Treat it that way.

 

Atomic gaffes (New York Times) 

Review of my next transit read, “Command and Control” by Eric Schlosser on some of the accidents and perils involving America’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. I picked up a copy at the great Vromans (Metro Bus 180/181, 256, 687/686 to Colorado & Oak Knoll in Pasadena) over the weekend, largely because I read the first chapter standing in the aisle and it managed to scare the transit pass out of me, so to speak. Feel free to share a transit read recommendation in the comments or on our social media (links above).

I’ll hop right on it as soon as I finish up the excellent “The Lost Dogs” by Jim Gorant on the fate and rehabilitation of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs. Quasi-related: it’s accepted fact that the New York Jets are a historically repulsive enterprise (even worse than the Ravens, Browns and 49ers, IMHO) and the fact that they are paying Vick a lot of Benjamins to hold a clipboard makes them somehow even more unlikeable. Go Patriots, Bills and Dolphins!

Transportation headlines, Monday, September 22

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

ART OF TRANSIT: I believe someone on our comment board recently suggested renaming a Gold Line station the "King Taco Station." Almost certainly not going to happen people, but the train is very close to  the Maravilla Station. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: I believe someone on our comment board recently suggested renaming a Gold Line station the “King Taco Station.” Almost certainly not going to happen people, but the train is very close to the Maravilla Station. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Dear MTA: I love your trains…but (Los Angeles Register)

Columnist’s David Medzerian’s not-quite-love-letter to my employer begins:

Before I get into anything else, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I love your trains. I take them several times a week. I can’t remember the last time I drove into Los Angeles from Long Beach. The last two times I flew from LAX, I took the train to the airport (well, almost to the airport).

But, I’m starting to think that – how I can put this nicely? – you have no idea what you are doing.

David levels complaints about the fare increase that took effect last Monday, the subsequent shutting down of four Blue Line stations in downtown Long Beach for refurbishment work, confusing ticket machine screens and prompts and luggage-blocking turnstiles at Willowbrook Station.

Those who follow us on Twitter have certainly seen these complaints echoed by other riders. I’ll certainly send David’s column around.

Semi-related: the Register’s future may be in doubt at the same time there are some big questions hovering over other local papers, according to L.A. Weekly. Our unwavering view here: the most newspapers covering Los Angeles and the surrounding area, the better.

If so many people support mass transit, why do so few ride? (CityLab) 

About five percent of Americans use transit frequently to commute to work. But polls and transit ballot measures over the years have indicated that many more residents are willing to tax themselves to pay for more transit even if they don’t ride it. In this excerpt, Los Angeles County is used as an example of this conundrum:

One of the clearest examples of the disparity comes from Los Angeles County. In 1980, about 7.5 percent of commuters used transit. That year, voters approved a permanent half-cent sales tax increase to pay for transportation initiatives, including lots of transit upgrades, but by 1990, the share of transit commuters had declined to 6.5 percent. That year, voters again approved a half-cent increase by a two-to-one margin, with nearly all the money going to transit. But the transit commute share was still at 7 percent come 2008, when yet another transportation ballot, Measure R, was passed by two-thirds of the vote.

So why do so many people support transit—not just with their voices but their wallets—when they have no intention of using it? The conclusion reached by Manville and Cummins largely echoes that of the Onion: people believe transit has collective benefits that don’t require their personal usage. Maybe voters think transit will reduce traffic congestion, or improve the environment, or help low-income residents, or translate into economic development. So long as someone else uses transit right now, everyone else will win in the end.

The potential problem with all this is what happens when residents tire of paying for transit they don’t use — perhaps because the perceived benefits failed to materialize? The answer: in some places, city bus riders could suffer as the money that does exist is funneled into suburban rail projects. Pretty interesting stuff.

BTW, the most recent Census Bureau American Community Survey numbers show that 6.9 percent of commuters in L.A. County commute to work by transit, down from 7.1 percent in the 2008-2012 average of the roundups. With population growth factored in, 6.9 percent today is more total people than seven percent in 1980 but here’s my question: what would it take to bump that number up? Could it ever get to 10 percent here?

On a related note, the Census Bureau’s news release on L.A. County led with this:

The Los Angeles metro area’s 2013 median household income ($58,869) decreased since 2010, the first full year after the last recession, when it was $60,409 in 2013 dollars, according to new statistics released today from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the nation’s most comprehensive data source on American households.

One Santa Fe and its 438 apartments in the Arts District (Downtown News)

Good look at the 438-apartment development in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District that will also include about 25 retail stores and restaurants and 525 parking spaces for residents — a fair amount of parking, I think, for a downtown development. All in all, I think this is a good development for downtown which should help local businesses prosper.

I also suspect it will increase the demand for building a subway platform in the adjacent maintenance yards for the Red and Purple Line — something Metro has discussed in the past. That would allow Arts District residents to take a fairly quick (albeit circuitous) ride to other downtown destinations and beyond. The new underground light rail station being built in Little Tokyo will also help connect residents to trains running to the San Gabriel Valley, East L.A., Santa Monica and Long Beach.

Reimagining Union Station (Washington Post)

Very thoughtful article on talk and preliminary plans for massive $7 billion expansion of Washington D.C.’s central train terminal — which in recent years (like our Union Station here in L.A.) has grown increasingly crowded.

The article thinks big and looks at the plans through the prism of urban revivals taking place across the United States. Excerpt:

With the era of exurban sprawl having run its course, people and jobs are moving back to more densely populated urban areas. That’s happening not just in Washington, but also in Boston, Austin, Seattle, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. The only way these cities can accommodate such growth, and realize the economic efficiency that it will generate, is to dramatically improve their public transportation infrastructure and increase the density of land use around key public transportation nodes.

I agree. And the best part — as the One Santa Fe development shows — is that there is actually plenty of room in many urban areas for growth. It will be very interesting in the coming years to see what happens with Union Station here, the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco, Penn Station in Gotham and Union Station in our nation’s capitol.

Titus seeks support to revive Amtrak in Las Vegas (Review-Journal)

With the latest plans to build a new rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas now pretty much dead (the Desert XPress high speed rail between Victorville and Vegas), Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) says reviving Amtrak service may be the way to go. Amtrak service between L.A. and Las Vegas and onward to Ogden, Utah, was discontinued in 1997.

I have zero interest in taking a train to Las Vegas — the unhappiest place on Earth, IMHO — but I’d take a train to St. George, Utah, if it could get me there in six to seven hours and there was a convenient shuttle bus to Springdale and Zion National Park.

Chinese city opens phone lane for texting pedestrians (Guardian) 

As far as I’m concerned this is just further proof that the apes will soon rule. And, yes, I thought “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” was the best movie I’ve seen thus far this year. My only criticism: it was a little too plausible.

Hmmm, I don't think he's made because of the lines for the iPhone6. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Cesar probably has even less patience for humans who walk around while staring into their phones and bumping into things. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Transportation headlines, Friday, September 19

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

ART OF TRANSIT: Four swans visiting Union Station last week. Check out Metro's promotion with the Music Center for tickets to "Swan Lake" by clicking on the photo.

ART OF TRANSIT: Four swans visiting Union Station last week. Check out Metro’s promotion with the Music Center for tickets to “Swan Lake” by clicking on the photo. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Metro removes “Red Band Society” ad over offensive language (The Wrap)

Metro staff announced they were pulling the ad on Wednesday after receiving numerous complaints about the way that Octavia Spencer’s character was described in the ad.

Metro officials said that the contractor who sells ad space on buses didn’t properly vet the ad with Metro before it went up. Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti apologized for the ad at a Board committee meeting yesterday and Board Members said there’s a need to better oversee which ads end up on Metro buses. Also, coverage in the L.A. Times.

Who’s on board? (TransitCenter)

Perhaps the most interesting finding of this new survey is:

Americans under 30 are 2.3 times more likely to ride public transit than Americans age 30-60, and 7.2 times more likely than Americans over 60. Even after controlling for other factors, older people are less likely to ride transit than younger people.

That certainly jibes with trends in recent years that have received a lot of media attention — with millennials less interested in driving than their parents and more interested in living in cities. The question: what will transit agencies do about it? The findings certainly suggest, at the least, that transit agencies need to have their act together on social media and that other little thing — offer service that complements the lifestyle of those 30 and under.

How’s Metro doing on that front, people? Comment please.

At continent’s edge, an epic rail ride concludes (Grist)

The concluding post by Heather Smith on her recent cross-country ride on Amtrak. These two graphs are great and relate to the previous item in today’s headlines:

Stories like this, about rehabilitated towns, fascinate me: I spent my teens and early twenties feeling like a member of a subculture of a subculture of subculture, all because I loved walkable cities and hated driving. Where was the place for surly punks who wore all black and read Jane Jacobs? Where was the place, come to think of it, for anyone who read Jane Jacobs?

It’s a surreal feeling to realize how my teenage ideas aren’t that out-there any more, and that a lot of cities in America are places where I’d be happy living. I know from experience that this could all disappear, like the road bike fad of the ’70s, but I hope that it lasts.

Why do planners love charging for parking and not congestion? (Urban theory and practice)

Lisa Schweitzer of USC asks a provocative question and offers an answer: charging for parking is relatively easy and contributes to depleted municipal coffers whereas congestion pricing is a much more difficult sell politically. The discussion continues in the comments.

The post reminded me of something UCLA Brian Taylor said during the Zocalo Public Square forum earlier this year on the SR-710 Study and a possible freeway tunnel for the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena. Brian’s point: congestion in our region could be fixed today if there was congestion pricing that tolled the freeways to discourage everyone from trying to drive somewhere during peak hours. He’s probably right, as is Lisa: that’s like ask our local pols to climb Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen or Sherpas.

Fun video posted last month:

 

 

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Sept. 18: Valley-Westside Express Bus begins Dec. 15

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Metro is running a nice promotion with the Music Center -- if you Go Metro with a TAP card, you can save 20 percent on The Australian Ballet's performance of Swan Lake at the Music Center Oct. 9 to 12. As part of the promotion, four members of the XX performed at Union Station last week. The above photo was taken in the East Portal with an assistance from some great light filtered through the glass ceiling. I'll post some more pics soon.  Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Metro is partnering with the Music Center — if you Go Metro with a TAP card, you can save 20 percent on The Australian Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake at the Music Center in October (click on the photo above for more details). As part of the promotion, the Music Center recruited four local ballerinas — Michelle Lemburg, Bella Hoy, Jolie Moray and Katie Brady —  to perform parts of Swan Lake last week at Union Station. The above photo was taken in the East Portal with a big assistance from some great light filtered through the glass ceiling. I’ll post some more pics soon.
Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Valley-Westside express bus is a go (Zev Web)

Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky’s website has some very good news for bus riders. Excerpt:

Taking advantage of those brand-new 405 carpool lanes, Metro later this year will launch an express bus through the Sepulveda Pass, offering transit riders on both sides of the hill a speedier way through one of L.A.’s gnarliest commuting challenges.

On December 15, Line 788 will begin offering express nonstop service from UCLA in Westwood to the Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley. It then will continue north on Van Nuys Boulevard, stopping at major intersections on its way to Panorama City. Because it will connect to the Orange Line rapid transit busway, the line will give people in places like North Hollywood, Woodland Hills and Chatsworth a faster path to the Westside.

Metro officials say the new bus could save riders up to 20 minutes from existing 761 Rapid Bus service. The article on ZevWeb has many more details.

In addition, Yaroslavsky submitted this motion today to the Board’s Executive Management Committee that would give the 788 the brand name Valley-Westside Express:

IMG_5852

Will a new law make drivers bicycle-friendly (Which Way LA?)

The KCRW program tackles California’s new three-foot passing law that requires motorists to give a three-foot buffer when passing bikes. Guests include Joe Linton of Streetsblog LA, an LAPD officer and Los Angeles County Bike Coalition’s Joshua Cohen. Good to see the topic and law getting attention it deserves on the airwaves — and a good listen for those riding transit who have a smartphone and can get a good cell signal.

Electric vehicles are cleaner, but still not a magic bullet (New York Times)

A new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists says that electric vehicles are responsible for less greenhouse gas emissions than hybrid-powered cars in 60 percent of the country — i.e. the parts of the U.S. that don’t rely on coal-burning power plants to create electricity. “An electric vehicle in New York achieves the equivalent of 112 m.p.g., according to the scientist group’s data, while in California the number is 95 m.p.g,” according to the article.

Where does power come from in California? Almost 19 percent is from renewables and another nearly eight percent from large hydroelectric (which, of course, has its own environmental issues related to changing the ecosystems of rivers). The more renewables used, the cleaner electric cars will get — and the cleaner that transit powered by electricity (including all of the Metro Rail lines) will be.

Check out this chart from the state:

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 8.54.40 AM

As we’ve noted before, studies have found that taking transit usually results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions per rider because transit uses electricity more efficiently than most gasoline-only powered vehicles with one or two passengers in them.

Agency again seeks to refinance struggling toll road (L.A. Times)

The restructuring of the debt used to build the road means that motorists may have to pay tolls until 2050 — eight years longer than expected — in order to pay off the debt. The 73 is intended in part as an alternative to the 405 and to serve coastal communities but usage has generally been lower than originally projected.

Thousands diverted onto 110 ExpressLanes then fined by toll operator (L.A. Times)

A police shootout closed a stretch of the regular lanes on the 110 for more than 9.5 hours and motorists — many without transponders — were diverted to the ExpressLanes. They did receive fines, but those are (obviously) being refunded by Metro due to the extraordinary circumstances.

Gordo, the dog hit by van during police chase, may lose a leg (L.A. Times)

The dog shouldn’t have been wandering in the street (obviously). Nonetheless, hard to overlook even more carnage from the pursuits that seem to plague this region more than most — see this New Yorker story about that (full article is behind a pay wall). I suppose you could argue that local TV stations are doing a public service showing how scary these chases are. Just like you could argue the local TV stations are just pursuing ratings while glorifying/promoting/encouraging something that comes at the expense of public health and avoiding the expense and difficulty of reporting real news.

Sort of quasi-related but not really: my current transit read is “The Lost Dogs” about the fate of the pit bulls used as part of NFL player Michael Vick’s dog fighting operations. A really great piece of journalism and an interesting read — and very helpful as my partner and I rescued a pit bull earlier this year.

Rant related to previous quasi-related commentary: with the NFL sort of in the news these days — and not for the Bengals pleasantly surprising 2-0 start — it’s fair to wonder out loud why Commissioner Roger Goodell decided Vick is allowed to play in the league considering some of the things he and his underlings did to dogs.