Before he was Pope Francis I, he rode the bus to work in Argentina

A bus in Buenos Aires, photographed in 2009. Photo by ag2078, via Flickr creative commons.

A bus in Buenos Aires, photographed in 2009. Photo by ag2078, via Flickr creative commons.

I’m pretty sure this is the first time The Source has excerpted the National Catholic Reporter, but here’s an interesting graph from their profile today of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who is now Pope Francis I:

Bergoglio’s reputation for personal simplicity also exercised an undeniable appeal – a Prince of the Church who chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace, who gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work, and who cooked his own meals.

The riding the bus factoid is being widely reported by the media. I did a quick perusal of Google but haven’t found a photo. If you know of one, please leave a comment with a link and I’ll add it to this post. UPDATE: Here’s a photo posted on Facebook that appears to be the real thing.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, March 13; will D.C. politicians respond to the rise in transit ridership?

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.

Public transit celebrates near record year but is D.C. listening? (Politico)

Last year was a good one for transit — ridership in the U.S. was the second highest since 1957 even with Hurricane Sandy sidelining service on the East Coast for a time. The question Politico poses: while cities and states continue to pursue transit, will politicians in D.C. come along for the ride?

New trends could mean fewer international flights to LAX (Daily News)

LAX is a busy airport and likely to remain busy for years to come with flights to many international airports. But this is also true: with little investment in its infrastructure for two decades until recently, LAX is facing competition from many smaller airports that now can handle overseas flights thanks to new, more efficient airplanes.

Closer look at DTLA’s streetcar-adjacent Olympic/Hill development (Curbed LA)

The new mixed-use development will help fill in a stretch of South Park that’s riddled with parking lots — supplying far more parking to the area than is actually needed. Curbed points out the building will be on downtown’s streetcar route, which they see as a near certainty. Perhaps — but it will require the feds ponying up $60-million-plus at a time when D.C. and Congress is struggling to achieve much on the transportation front.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 12: More of us on transit, Big Blue Bus marathon detours, road gender matters



ExpressLanes near Union Station, downtown L.A. Photo by Josh Southwick/Metro

ExpressLanes near Union Station, downtown L.A. Photo by Josh Southwick/Metro

More people on public transit, Metro system leading the way (L.A. Daily News)
Record numbers of Americans ditched their cars and took public transporation in 2012 and some of the largest increases occurred right here. We love this story and not just for the reasons you think. What this tells us is that L.A. — once the car capitol of the world — has considered options to driving and is taking them. It’s a sea change but one that bodes well for a city hugged by freeways. Can Beijing be far behind?

Big Blue Bus says there will be marathon detours. Metro, too. (Santa Monica Mirror)

Are you ready for this Sunday’s marathon detours? Probably not. As we’ve previously posted, there will be detours of buses, as well as of cars. Also worth re-mentioning, Metro will run FREE shuttles from the Expo Line Culver City station to Olympic Boulevard/11th Street in Santa Monica during the marathon as an alternative option for those traveling from downtown to the beach. Here’s the list from Big Blue Bus.  

Najarian reconfirmed on Metro Board (Glendale News-Press)

Glendale City Council Member Ara Najarian has been reconfirmed to the Metro Board of Directors.

Gender matters on American roads (Transportation Nation)

More women are driving. So what? Women drive differently than men and have changed driving trends as a whole. Crash patterns are different. But also, women are much more likely to drive compact, fuel-efficient cars. And that’s a good thing for our air quality, not to mention the small issue of climate change.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 7: art of transit, downtown streetcar secures operating funds, new housing in Santa Monica

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: A Metrolink train at Union Station with Metro HQ in the background. Photo by Rayala, via Twitter.

Los Angeles City Council approves operating funds for downtown streetcar (City of L.A. website, Item 18) 

The Council voted on Wednesday to use $352.4 million of Measure R local return funds — the 15 percent of  Measure R that goes back to cities on a per capita basis — to pay for operating a downtown Los Angeles streetcar from the years 2017 to 2046. That assumes, of course, the project is built. Downtown residents last November voted to tax themselves to fund half the cost of the project with the remainder of the money being sought from a federal government grant. The cost of the project is expected to be $125 million.

Long isolated behind a freeway, Santa Monica’s Civic Center rejoins its city (New York Times) 

A good look at two big projects to help remake the Civic Center with a new public park and a large residential development that includes market-rate condos and income-restricted apartments. The developer, Related, has joined with the nonprofit Community Corporation of Santa Monica to build the apartments, which will be available by a lottery that gives preference to those who work or live in Santa Monica. The building is not a small one — but it is a very short to the future Expo Line station at 4th/Colorado and perhaps it’s a model for building other needed housing in the area.

Los Angeles intends to bid for 2024 Summer Olympics (ESPN)

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sent a letter this week to the United States Olympic Committee saying that L.A. intends to compete to host its third summer games, having had the honors in 1932 and 1984. From a transit standpoint, the second phase of the Expo Line, the Gold Line Foothill Extension, the Regional Connector, the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the first phase of the Westside Subway Extension are scheduled to be open by then. But there’s this: some type of transit to LAX is currently on a schedule to be completed in 2028 and I imagine that’s something the USOC would consider with so many people coming to town. Here’s a recent Metro staff report on possible ways to accelerate the project.

Glendora Council approves new mixed-use development near potential future Gold Line station (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) 

The plan is for the development to have 256 new apartments and 4,000 feet of commercial real estate space at the intersection of Glendora Avenue and Route 66. That would put the station close to the planned Glendora station at Vermont Avenue on the second and thus far unfunded phase of the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The first phase is under construction and will run for 11.5 miles from eastern Pasadena to a station just north of Citrus College on the Azusa/Glendora border.

Transportation headlines, Wed., March 6: mayoral election thoughts, subway map for pedestrians, LaHood wants new bikeway standards

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.

Garcetti and Greuel head to runoff (L.A. Times) 

As some polls had predicted, Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel qualified for the runoff election in May for the job of mayor of Los Angeles — and automatic seat plus three appointments to the Metro Board of Directors. This interactive map from the Times breaks down the geography of the voting totals.

It’s pretty obvious from the map that the San Fernando Valley will be competitive. So will South Los Angeles, which mostly voted for Councilwoman Jan Perry. Traffic and transit remain big issues in both the Valley and South L.A. and there are several big projects planned for both areas — the Sepulveda Pass project in the Valley and the Crenshaw/LAX Line in South L.A. So it will be interesting to see if transportation gets a bigger role in the 10-week runoff.

Turnout was a miserable 16 percent. I blame the increasingly long presidential election cycles and the saturation media coverage they generate in the preceding year; it’s little wonder that the average person has little interest in hearing more campaign-speak by the time the city elections roll around the following winter and spring. The city of Los Angeles could move its elections to November, but I have 100 percent confidence they won’t. Why fix a long-standing problem, eh? Over at LAObserved, Mark Lacter blames candidates for not embracing an issue most people care about — traffic.

Unrelated: in the spirit of constructive criticism, may I suggest the Daily News hire a web designer?

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 9.07.51 AM

Sources: AEG’s downtown football stadium a no-go for the NFL (Yahoo Sports) 

This headline is from yesterday. The most interesting part is found in the bottom of the story — with one bidder for AEG proposing to put a baseball stadium instead next to L.A. Live. I’ve long said bringing baseball into downtown proper would be a good move for the city. But I doubt that will happen anytime soon, especially now that the Dodgers have (to their credit) pumped a lot of money into rehabbing the current ballpark.

A subway map for pedestrians (The Atlantic Cities) 


Cool map from the Spanish city of Pontevedra. It looks like a subway map but is actually a map showing walking distances. I could see that being useful for some of our region’s transit hubs.

LaHood announces safety summits to shape new bikeway standards (L.A. Streetsblog) 

With cyclist deaths rising in 2011, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wants experts to come up with designs that make for safer bike lanes and other bike corridors. Good move. Just because it’s a bike lane, doesn’t mean it’s safe and too many cities — I’m talking to you, Pasadena — have thrown up ‘bike route’ signs on busy streets over the years without doing one single thing otherwise to help cyclists.

Transportation headlines, Monday, March 4

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: workers in the Chicago subway. Photo by Chicago Transit Authority, via Flickr creative commons.

ART OF TRANSIT: workers in the Chicago subway. Photo by Chicago Transit Authority, via Flickr creative commons.

L.A.’s broken civic promise (L.A. Times) 

With elections in the city of Los Angeles on Tuesday, the Times’ architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne looks at five urban planning issues in the city that represent failures or issues that need to be addressed by the next mayor. They are: LAX (with an emphasis on transit to LAX), Pershing Square, Grand Avenue, the Westside Subway Extension and the Los Angeles River. This is a outstanding article.

Excerpt on LAX:

But the truth is that the airport’s biggest liability is not simply architectural. Somehow Los Angeles built a major rail route, the Green Line, past LAX 20 years ago without adding a stop at the airport.

And guess what? We are about to build another light-rail route — this time the $1.7-billion Crenshaw Line — near the airport and make precisely the same mistake again.

Why? In part it’s because squeezing a station beneath the existing airport complex would be expensive and complicated. And in part because the operator of LAX, Los Angeles World Airports, has not always seen eye to eye with transit planners at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Plans are underway to build a “people mover” automated train that would take passengers to the airport from a Crenshaw Line station at Century and Aviation boulevards, a mile east of the terminals.

The people mover would be a sadly inefficient compromise. The worst-case scenario, which can typically be counted on at LAX, is that passengers on the Crenshaw Line would have to drag their suitcases over a pedestrian bridge before getting on the people mover.

Hawthorne believes a rail station needs to actually be located at the airport.

Excerpt on the Westside Subway Extension:

As the backbone of a thriving new mass-transit system, the subway is worth its admittedly sky-high cost. The subway we build now will be a bargain compared with the one we try to build several decades from now.

And the truth is that opposition in places such as Beverly Hills is not just about safety. (Tunneling of this kind has become routine for subway builders around the world.) It is also driven by fears of the changes a subway line through the city might bring.

The same anxieties kept Bay Area’s BART system out of Marin County and the Washington, D.C., Metro out of Georgetown decades ago. (And the subway out of Beverly Hills in the 1980s, for that matter.) If they were patently offensive then, they are indefensible now.

Hawthorne’s point: get the subway built ASAP. Read the entire article please. Los Angeles has long struggled to create vital public spaces commonly found in other cities. These ideas haven’t generated much conversation in the mayoral campaign thus far, thanks in part to an endless series of debates seemingly designed to generate little more than scripted sound bites.

In the most recent poll reported on by the Times, voters’ top priority was the city budget, job creation and schools. Interesting. I tend to associate local government most with public safety and land use decisions — while voters (at least in this poll) go for broader subjects.

Working from home vs. working from the office (New York Times)

This editorial comes on the heels of Yahoo’s CEO ordering the troops back to the office in hopes of greater creativity and productivity. The Times tepidly suggests that such decisions shouldn’t be made so quick as there are benefits to work-at-home — one of those being that it helps traffic congestion. In Los Angeles County, 4.7 percent of workers work at home — imagine putting 72 percent of time alone in cars and sending them on the freeways at rush hour! Some parts of the county have even higher percentages: in Santa Monica, home of the screenwriter-who-sits-at-Coffee-Bean-all-day, about 10 percent of the workforce does their job from home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Hands across America (The New Yorker, March 4 edition) 

A very entertaining recent history of the hand sanitizer industry, which may interest those who sped a lot of time in public spaces. The article begins with a long anecdote about Purell, which took 10 years of losses on its sanitizer product until public appetite exploded, catching on first with health-care workers and then with the masses. The article is behind the New Yorker’s pay wall, but an abstract is available for free.

Transportation headlines, Friday, March 1: high-speed rail wins a lawsuit, more evidence millennials ♥ their cell phones more than cars

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.

High-speed rail wins lawsuit over Peninsula route (San Jose Mercury News)

After five years of legal wrangling — five years! — a judge dismissed a lawsuit trying to block the California High-Speed Rail Authority from building the line along existing tracks between San Jose and San Francisco. Opponents wanted the train to reach San Francisco via a route in the East Bay that was far from their cities.

Amtrak ridership up, but Amtrak facing cuts (Sacramento Bee) 

The number of riders has increased 55 percent since 1997 with a record 31 million last year. “The increases were especially pronounced in states that subsidize short-distance trains between major cities,” reported the Bee. But sequestration cuts could squeeze the railroad. The article is based on a new study of Amtrak by the Brookings Institution.

Millennial and cars: an evolving relationship (Zipcar) 

The car sharing firm’s third annual survey shows that for a lot of reasons those aged 18 to 34 are driving less and having a computer and cell phone is seen by many as more critical than having a car. If anyone out there is working on an “American Graffiti” remake, please take note. If anyone out there has no idea what “American Graffiti” is, don’t sweat it.

TOD for Expo Line Sepulveda station approved by L.A. Planning Commission (Curbed LA)

The complex with 638 apartments will include more bike parking, public restrooms for transit users and some parking for those riding the Expo Line. I think the new residences will give businesses along the Pico Boulevard corridor a lift, not to mention it being an easy ride on the Expo Line to either Santa Monica, Culver City or downtown Los Angeles.

Council candidate proposes new rail lines for Hollywood (Curbed LA)

With a few days to go before the primary election, Matt Szabo sent out an email blast proposing a subway connection between Hollywood and Century City, a rail line along Sunset Boulevard between downtown L.A. and Hollywood and a streetcar connecting Atwater Village and downtown L.A. with a route along the L.A. River corridor. It’s always refreshing to see candidates talking about public transit, but it’s also my job as government mouthpiece to remind voters that none of these projects are presently funded in Metro’s long-range plan, meaning there’s an enormous amount of work to get them studied, paid for and built anytime soon.