Here’s the slide presentation on the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project; one more community meeting this month

East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor scoping meeting PowerPoint by sourcemetro

There is one more community meeting this month for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 4-6 pm
Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center
6262 Van Nuys Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91401

Validated Parking available at City Hall Parking Lot (Sylvan/Sylmar Av Entrance)
Served by Metro Orange Line, Metro Rapid Line 761, Metro Local Lines 154, 156, 164, 233 and 237 and DASH Routes Panorama City/Van Nuys and Van Nuys/Studio City

Above is a PowerPoint presentation describing the project, which just finished its Alternatives Analysis study and is headed into its draft environmental study phase. Maps of the options under study — including bus rapid transit and light rail — are in the PowerPoint.

Here’s the Source post from January on the Alternatives Analysis.

Transportation headlines, Monday, March 25

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

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ART OF TRANSITClick above to see a larger version; black and white version after the jump. I was walking through Union Station last week with camera gear in tow and noticed some very nice late afternoon light on the old ticket room at the front of Union Station, used these days mostly for special events and filming. It will be interesting to see what is recommended for the gorgeous old room in the ongoing Union Station Master Plan process. We’ve had a couple of recent posts on the plan: a powerpoint on early findings by the architectural team in charge of the plan and a Metro staff report explaining that making Union Station work as a transit hub is the first priority of the plan. Both are very interesting. Thoughts on how you would like to see the old ticket room used? Comment please! Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Wilshire Boulevard, a Main Street that stands apart (L.A. Times) 

The last of architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne’s series on major streets in the region and how they are changing (or in some cases not) with the times.

As would be expected, Hawthorne writes quite a bit about the Westside Subway Extension of the Purple Line, which will run mostly under Wilshire all the way to Westwood. If anything, Hawthorne writes, the subway will “intensify Wilshire’s traditional role as L.A.’s boulevard of reinvention.”

He also makes two other very interesting points: the first is that one way that UCLA could bring the campus closer to the subway station at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards is to develop the land it owns that is currently parking lot 36. First excerpt:

Because UCLA isn’t subject to local zoning or height limits, it could build atop the subway stop a very tall tower holding classrooms, apartments and even a museum or auditorium.

“We have a temporary building there now, but we do see this as a key site for UCLA in the future,” Jeffrey Averill, UCLA’s campus architect, said in an email. So do other architects, who look at the chance to design a tower on Lot 36 as the commission of a lifetime.

An architecturally bold skyscraper on the site “would dramatically change the image of the university,” said Neil Denari, an architect and UCLA professor who has produced a preliminary study for a cluster of connected towers at Lot 36. “It could be a kind of instant conversion to urbanism” for a school that until now “has been a drive-in, drive-out world.”

The other big point that Hawthorne makes is that the subway will bring visitors to the doorstep of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Excerpt two:

When the Getty Center opened on a Brentwood hilltop in 1997, inside a luxe billion-dollar campus by the architect Richard Meier, LACMA seemed to be falling even further behind in the chase for attendance. The Getty was right next to the 405 Freeway, after all, near the epicenter of Westside wealth.

Fast-forward 16 years and the conventional wisdom has dramatically changed. As became clear during the two recent Carmageddon shutdowns of the 405, when the museum was forced to close, the Getty’s reliance on the freeway system has become a liability. LACMA, on the other hand, will enjoy a new centrality once the Purple Line reaches Wilshire and Fairfax 10 years from now. It will likely get another boost in attendance when the subway is extended west to Rodeo Drive by 2025 or so.

Give the article a read – it’s very thoughtful. I also think that it’s inevitable that the subway will spur investment and some development near the new stations. As the real estate values rise near the stations, hopefully more investment will spread down to other parts of Wilshire that could use a boost.

And while on the subject, which pencilhead in City Hall decided strip malls along Wilshire were a good idea? Really? REALLY?

New York City commuter cycling stays flat in ’12 (New York Times) 

After three years of significant gains, the number of cyclists counted at six survey locations during the traditional riding season was flat last year, according to the city’s annual count. As with other places, one of the key questions bouncing around in New York is how many cyclists are actually using the new bike infrastructure aggressively installed under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The mayor’s office says that thus far this year they are seeing more people riding and the traditional count didn’t include some places where new bike lanes were installed. It would be great to see a survey here across the region to see which bike infrastructure is being used and which isn’t — the idea being that perhaps the lanes not being used need to be modified to attract more riders. I’m talking to you, Venice Boulevard bike lanes!

At 40 years, San Francisco’s transit first policy still struggles for traction (San Francisco Streetsblog) 

Despite a plan adopted in March 1973 to give priority to transit, the bulk of San Francisco’s streets are still used to operate and store private vehicles, sometimes leaving little space for transit, pedestrians and cyclists, writes Streetsblog. Good post with some great photos and other visuals. Some interestingness: in San Francisco, about 45 percent of people drive to work and about 33 percent take transit — rates that stand apart from most other large American cities in which many more people drive and fewer people take transit.

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Transportation headlines, Friday, March 22: New CicLAvia route, bullet train to Bakersfield, car commuters and weight gain

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

CivLAvia map for April 21 celebration.

CivLAvia map for April 21 celebration.

CicLAvia updates map for April 21 … no Figueroa, but MacArthur Park is back (StreetsBlog LA)

No rush but sometime before April 21, make sure you check out the new CicLAvia route, which is heading straight down Main Street, with a right onto 7th. (Take the Metro Red,  Purple or Gold Line to Union Station.) And even if you don’t ride, join the celebration of L.A.’s beautiful and diverse neighborhoods.

Can the bullet train provide a needed boost for second-tier cities? (The Atlantic: Cities)

Everyone has an opinion on high speed rail in California. Generally it’s about money, or lack of, but the plan to start building in the Central Valley also has proved irksome to city dwellers who think — rightly or wrongly — that cities are the economic centers and really ought to get the train before the outlanders do. But are cities the best place to start?  Here’s an argument for a second-tier city starting line. What do you think?   

San Francisco set to push transit benefits for commuters (San Francisco Examiner)  

This has been on the books for several years but it looks like there’s new interest in enforcing it. Under San Francisco’s Commuter Benefits Ordinance, all businesses with 20 or more workers nationwide must offer one of three transit benefits: The pretax deduction, up to $245 per month, for transit or vanpool expenses; transit subsidies valued at $74, the cost of a monthly Muni pass, or a vanpool from a worker’s home to the place of business. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees are exempt. No such law here but Metro has a variety of voluntary employer-sponsored transit passes and programs that make commuting easier and save employers and employees money. Worth checking out.   

Study says car commuters put on more weight than active commuters (Streetsblog DC)

Thought for the weekend: Going to the gym may not be enough to keep pounds off if we drive to work, says a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study specifically measured commuters who bike or walk to work or to transit and that, of course, is a real calorie spender. But even for those of us who walk a block or so from our cars to public transit, it’s calories spent and muscles moved. Another kind of mobility that adds up to better health for us … and for our air quality.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 21: bike rental ban in Yosemite?, Leimert Park station, when parking deals go sour

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Fate of Crenshaw/LAX Line's Leimert Park station still a mystery (Curbed LA)

The awarding of a construction contract for the light rail project has been delayed and is now scheduled for the May meeting of the Metro Board of Directors. Metro staff told the Board's Planning Committee on Wednesday that best and final offers for the contract were received last week. The Leimert Park station will only be built if a contractor can fit it into the project's budget of $1.75 billion or so.

Trends in urban planning in 2012-13 (Planetizen)

Using streetcars to spur development and helping cyclists get around were two of the most frequent topics tackled on the blog in the past year.

Yosemite National Park considers banning bike rentals (San Jose Mercury News)

As part of a plan to protect the Merced River, the park is recommending getting rid of bike rentals, horse rentals, raft rentals, an ice-skating rink, swimming pools and an arts center. No, private cars are not being banned. The plan is the result of a long, convuluted process to satisfy the courts and environmental law. Seems to me it's basically a plan designed to fail; even some environmentalists who sued the park are disappointed.

I don't recall anyone ever visiting the car-congested Yosemite Valley and suggesting bike rentals are impacting anything. Sigh.

When public-private partnerships are a bad idea (Governing)

Interesting post looks at a pair of deals made by Chicago and Cincinnati, respectively, to allow private firms to run city parking lots and garages in exchange for big upfront payments. Governing suggests that cities starved for cash often ink deals that aren't good for anyone over the long-term.

 

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 19; art of transit, downtown streetcar seeks federal $s, pols take aim at Vegas bullet train

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

ART OF TRANSIT: Guess where this photo was taken! Answer after the jump. Photo by JACKIE.LCK, via Flickr creative commons.

ART OF TRANSIT: Guess where this photo was taken! Answer after the jump. Photo by JACKIE.LCK, via Flickr creative commons.

Obama seeks to use gas and oil money to develop alternative fuel cars (New York Times) 

President Obama wants to use royalties from oil and gas drilling on offshore oil fields to help fund research into vehicles powered by clean fuels. But political resistance is expected from some House Republicans who have been critical of spending on non-traditional technologies when it comes to vehicles.

Separately, the National Academy of Sciences released a report on Monday saying that an 80 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in the U.S. is possible by 2050 but it’s going to take a lot more than simply upping fuel economy standards, which President Obama already did. Specifically, the Academy recommended more rebates for those who buy clean vehicles and greater gas taxes on those who buy inefficient vehicles.

BART tries letting bikes on board trains during peak hours (KALW radio)

There are still some restrictions in place, but the agency that runs heavy rail trains in the Bay Area wants to try to accomodate some cyclists who either have been wanting to use the train to help with their commute or, in some cases, have been ignoring the ban. As readers here likely know, Metro lifted its peak hour ban on bikes in 2011.

Las Vegas high-speed rail project beset by political mine fields (Las Vegas Sun)

The Victorville-to-Las Vegas bullet train, now called XpressWest, is hoping to get a $5-billion-plus federal loan to fund building the project. Not so fast. Two key Republicans in Congress — Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Jeff Sessions — are now urging U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to reject the loan application, saying the loan is too risky. The XPressWest project needs the federal loan to get more private investors. In related news, Ryan’s proposed federal budget for the 2014 fiscal year would end all spending on high-speed rail projects, which would be very problematic for California’s fledgling project that aims to eventually connect San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Streetcar supporters return from Washington after rallying for funds (blogdowntown)

Los Angeles Councilman and Metro Board Member Jose Huizar traveled to the nation’s capital last week to meet with members of Congress and other federal transportation officials in an effort to secure federal funds to build the downtown Los Angeles streetcar project. The city of L.A. will be applying for a federal Small Starts grant to help pay for half of the $125-million project. This will be an interesting process, as many other cities have asked for similar grants for their own streetcar projects and Metro, of course, is pursuing a federal New Starts grant to help pay for the Regional Connector and Westside Subway Extension, two projects that extend the reach of transit in downtown Los Angeles. The key question is in a time of federal belt tightening — thank you, sequester — how much federal funds can the region expect? For what it’s worth, I hope everything here gets funded. The more layers of transit, the better.

City of L.A. to create transit plans for stations along Expo Line and Crenshaw Line (Curbed L.A.) 

The city of Los Angeles Planning Department continues its early efforts to create new zoning plans for areas around stations, the idea being to create opportunities for transit-oriented development and a better world for pedestrians. Point of emphasis: Metro has no say in the zoning plans — that’s the city’s purview. City website here

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Transportation headlines, Monday, March 18; With Expo Line coming soon, plan to transform Bergamot Station area takes step forward

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Council moves Bergamot area plan forward (Santa Monica Patch)

Great news, me thinks. The plan will guide development on 140 acres around the future Expo Line station at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, with the Council voting last week to begin the formal environmental review process. As one city official puts it, the plan will help create a “city within a city” with new apartments, public plazas, 10 new streets and 15 new bike and pedestrian corridors. Critics fear traffic and the cars that will come from new residents but let’s face it — Santa Monica needs the housing to go with its many jobs and the area is being designed in such a way it should cut down on car trips by new and existing residents alike.

Here’s a slide from a city of Santa Monica power point released last year on the goals of the Bergamot area plan (on the map, left is north, top is east, etc.):

Designing the Districts PPT

One-way car flow on Colorado is better for traffic (Santa Monica Patch) 

Speaking of Santa Monica, city studies found that making Colorado a one-way street between Ocean Avenue and Fourth Street would not make traffic any worse. The Expo Line’s final Santa Monica station will be at Fourth and Colorado and the city is converting the street between the station and the Santa Monica Pier into an esplanade that will greatly curtail car traffic — and widen sidewalks to 55 feet on one side of the street. Gasp! Good news: so far the Earth has not ended because of such talk.

The bigger point about this item and the one above: the city of Santa Monica seems intent not just on having a new rail line, but using it to transform some public spaces badly in need of a change in direction.

Glendale infrastructure upgrades to benefit bike riders (Glendale News-Press)

City officials say they will increase the number of in-street traffic signal sensors that can detect cyclists in addition to vehicles. The city also says it’s planning miles of new bike lanes and a bike sharing program. You know what would be great? If officials from Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank and Los Angeles County got together and figured out some good bike routes between those cities. By “good” I mean “good” — not passable, not piecemeal, not bike lanes that are poorly maintained, unsafe or used for parking.

One other media note: who really knows what will happen with the proposed football stadium at L.A. Live — I don’t get any clear sense from the abundant media coverage of AEG’s announcement last week that it is no longer for sale. On the plus side, a football stadium would be near the Blue and Expo lines’ Pico station — which would get an additional platform under the stadium proposal. As for my personal opinion, I have no beef with a football stadium but I’d be more excited to hear about a baseball stadium in downtown proper — something that seems to work in many other cities around the world.

Transportation headlines, Friday, March 15; Bundy bike lanes opposed in Brentwood, transit use isn’t up everywhere

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

ART OF TRANSIT: Today's photo celebrates extremely rural transportation options. This is Benton Crossing Road looking east toward the White Mountains in Mono County, Calif. Photo by Steve Hymon

ART OF TRANSIT: Today’s photo celebrates extremely rural transportation options. This is Benton Crossing Road looking east toward the White Mountains in Mono County, Calif. Photo by Steve Hymon

On L.A.’s crowded streets, it’s a smoother kind of slow (L.A. Times)

Nice story by one of my former podmates — Gale Holland — on the city of Los Angeles’ 30-year effort to get all 4,000-plus traffic signals on the same synchronization system. City traffic engineers say speeds and travel times on some key corridors are down, but Gale didn’t have a hard time finding some motorists who aren’t seeing the improvement. My three cents: there’s still room for improvement when it comes to moving trains and buses along streets in L.A. and elsewhere.

Brentwood groups oppose bike lanes on Bundy (Brentwood Patch) 

The two groups say the city of Los Angeles plan to add the lanes and remove car lanes on Bundy between San Vicente and the Culver City border will make Westside traffic worse. Sort of related issue: I’m more interested in knowing how cyclists will be able to reach the VA Hospital station for the Westside Subway Extension — the station is a long walk from the retail center of Brentwood.

Mass transit use isn’t up everywhere (The Atlantic Cities) 

Atlanta, Memphis and Tacoma — ridership is down, despite the recent news that overall transit ridership was the second-most since 1957 according to the American Public Transportation Assn. The Atlantic Cities also believes there’s an interesting relationship — the aforementioned cities also recently rejected tax increases to fund transit.

Which major cities are leaders in reducing greenhouse gases (Smithsonian)

The headline is a little misleading because hard numbers do not exist in terms of how much greenhouse gases come from a city. However, things to reduce greenhouse gases can be measured and by that count these five seem to be faring well: New York City, London, Addis Ababa, Sao Paulo and Copenhagen.