Transportation headlines, Friday, Jan. 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.

Universal City as seen from the Santa Monica Mountains. Some would argue Studio City is also seen in this photo, others may argue it's not. Photo by The City Project, via Flickr creative commons.

Universal City as seen from the Santa Monica Mountains. Some would argue Studio City is also seen in this photo, others may argue it’s not. Photo by The City Project, via Flickr creative commons.

Uh oh, Metro now naming stations to honor people (LAObserved) 

Kevin Roderick has some issues with the three name changes approved yesterday by the Metro Board of Directors. Excerpt:

Pity the poor tourists of the future. One of the most short-sighted and, frankly, minor-league things about Los Angeles is that today’s politicians too easily give in to the urge to name things — buildings, freeway legs, intersections — for people. Alive or dead, famous or not. Now you can add to this bush-league trend the naming of transit stations. You might think that, like in London or Paris or New York or San Francisco, the names of stations would generally be reserved for labels that help riders figure things out geographically. Well, not so much in LA going forward.

My understanding is that there will be some signage changes in the Metro system but in communications with Metro riders — especially when space and/or time is in short supply — the geographic names of stations will be emphasized.

To be consistent with direction from the Metro Board, we’ll call the Red Line Universal Station by its new name — Universal City/Studio City. But we’ll also try to frequently remind readers that the station is actually two miles from the heart of Studio City at Ventura and Laurel Canyon, where many of the area’s good restaurants are. It’s about a 12-minute ride on the 750 Rapid Bus from the Universal City/Studio City Red Line station to downtown (for lack of a better term) Studio City.

Our view: a 710 surface route is dead (Pasadena Star-News) 

This editorial notes that no surface route was included in the Alternatives Analysis for the SR-710 Study that was released late last Friday. The AA recommends five alternatives for further study in a formal draft environmental impact/statement and only one of them involves closing the gap in the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena — and it proposes a tunnel. The Star-News says that after decades of fighting about closing the gap, this means that the surface option — last killed in the 1990s — is finally dead and not likely to reanimate. As a result, it would like to see: 1) the state of California finally sell properties it has been hanging onto for years in case the freeway was built, and; 2) the Arlington Gardens land protected through a zoning change by Pasadena.

How about a West Hollywood transit tunnel? (Ride the Pink Line) 

Transit blogger Dan Weitzel has an intriguing (and likely expensive) proposition: building a tunnel under Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, allowing the Rapid Bus to bypass the often clogged street above. Dan says a tunnel in downtown Seattle could serve as a model and that perhaps the city of WeHo could use bonds to finance the tunnel itself as such a project is not in Metro’s long-range plans. I believe it currently takes the 704 about 10 to 15 minutes to travel through WeHo.

BART could upgrade wi-fi for passengers (San Francisco Chronicle) 

There’s already wi-fi in some parts of the BART system, but it’s weak and sporadic and the Chronicle says it has generated more complaints than good will toward the rail agency. Now BART is considering a plan to add security cameras to rail cars that essentially use wi-fi to send images back to BART’s security center. The same wi-fi may be made available to riders.

In the subways, a voice to stir the soul (New York Times)

A nice profile of Geechee Dan, the frequent singer who has graced a variety of subway stations in Manhattan since 2000. At 72, he’s lived quite the life and still performs as part of a band although the subway supplies him with regular crowds. Check out the video.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Jan. 24

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.

Ciclavia. Photo by Davey Gonzalez/Flickr

Ciclavia. Photo by Davey Gonzalez/Flickr

I blocked off Wilshire and Angelenos loved it (Zocolo Public Square)

Aaron Paley, co-founder and executive director of CicLAvia, talks about the birth of L.A.’s day-long bike ride celebration through closed city streets (the next one is April 21) and how its growing popularity speaks to our need to connect and engage. And the news is good: This year for the first time there will be three events, rather than two. Hooray!

Does a Metrolink connection to Ontario Airport make sense? (Daily News)

Want to get from LA/Ontario International Airport to downtown L.A. in 20 minutes on Metrolink? L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl likes the idea. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that it currently takes about an hour to travel the airport-adjacent East Ontario Metrolink Station and downtown L.A. — so there’s some work to do to shave that time in more than half.

Downtown L.A.’s edgy arts district is neighborhood in transition (Los Angeles Times)

The Gold-Line adjacent arts district is drawing comparisons to New York’s meatpacking district, where trendy shops, restaurants and offices have taken over industrial buildings. But the concern is that gentrification will drive out low-paid artists who can no longer afford to live there.

On this day Arthur Winston joined the Los Angeles Railway (Metro Transportation Library Primary Resources blog)

The Metro Library blog points out that on this day in 1924, 18-year-old Arthur Winston began working for the Los Angeles Railway and continued working until the day before his 100th birthday in 2006. He was named “Employee of the Century” because he was never late for work and only took one day off during his entire career. A man of distinction by any measure. But is this old-fashioned work ethic still alive?

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Jan. 23

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.

Transit taxes would be easier to pass under proposed constitutional amendment (San Francisco Examiner) 

A look at the bill by Senators Carol Liu and Ellen Corbett that would allow a ballot measure to go to lower the threshold needed for new transit taxes from 66.67 to 55 percent. Officials at agencies in the Bay Area support the plan, saying they are facing budget shortfalls that will likely force them to go to voters in the near future.

Port of Los Angeles rail yard upgrades to speed movement of goods, cut congestion (Welcome to the Fast Lane) 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood praises the West Basin Rail Yard project at the Port of Los Angeles, designed to help get freight directly from ships to trains using the Alameda Corridor. The $138-million project broke ground earlier this month; here’s a Daily Breeze story about it.

LaHood staying on as Transportation Secretary (Bloomberg News) 

Speaking of Secretary LaHood, he said yesterday that he is staying on for an indefinite period of time during President Obama’s second term. There has been speculation about possible replacements for LaHood in the media, but as far as I can tell none of the articles actually employed on-the-record sources or facts.

New renderings of retail project near Culver City station (Curbed LA)

The drawings are for a three- and four-story upscale retail project near the Expo Line Culver City station. Curbed LA says it will bring new life to the area near the Helms Bakery complex.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Jan. 22

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.

What’s Los Angeles like eight years from now, mayoral candidates? (L.A. Times) 

The Times asks five candidates for the mayor of Los Angeles for their vision for the nation’s longest city in the year 2021 — after, presumably, eight years of their leadership. Here are videos of their answers, which include frequent mentions of traffic and transit although specifics are missing (the videos are less than two minutes each). The mayor of Los Angeles gets an automatic seat on the Metro Board of Directors along with three appointees. That, of course, gives the mayor a nice measure of influence, the reason that voters in the city of L.A. who care about Metro should also care about who is the next mayor.

Open thread: big dig alternatives analysis released (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The Alternatives Analysis was released late Friday afternoon for the SR-710 project, which proposes to improve traffic in the area around the 710 gap between Alhambra and Pasadena. Streetsblog looks at the five options: no build, transportation systems management improvements, a bus rapid transit line between downtown L.A. and Pasadena, a light rail line from East L.A. to Pasadena and a freeway tunnel that would close the existing gap.

By the gallon or by the mile? States look for new highway revenue (KCET) 

D.J. Waldie looks at the idea of charging motorists taxes based on the number of miles they drive versus the gas tax. The problem is that tax revenues are declining or have flat-lined because vehicles are getting better fuel mileage. The by-the-mile tax has been talked about for quite some time and probably makes sense. But I think this will happen about the same time the federal government gets rid of the mortgage interest deduction — which is to say it’s an extreme longshot.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Jan. 17

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.

Gold Line-Chinatown

ART OF TRANSIT: A northbound Gold Line train leaving the Chinatown station last week at sunset. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Congressman says Najarian should remain on the Metro Board (L.A. Streetsblog)

Rep. Adam Schiff urges local officials to vote to keep Glendale Ara Najarian on the Metro Board of Directors. Najarian’s vote to put Measure J on the ballot and opposition to a tunnel to close the 710 gap has raised opposition to him serving another term on the Board.

Highland Park TOD to be discussed (The Eastsider LA)

A small apartment and condo complex near the Highland Park Gold Line station is to be discussed by the Highland Park Neighborhood Council. It’s been in the works for five years and features about 80 units to built atop city parking lots behind businesses on Figueroa Street. Seems like a great place to build — it’s literally a 12-minute ride on the Gold Line to Union Station — and having more residents in the area would help merchants on Figueroa. But it sounds like Highland Park is taking the same route as South Pasadena and minimizing the number of people living near its central business district and transit. Hmmm.

The disturbing and sometimes tragic challenge of walking in America (NRDC Switchboard blog)

Getting around on one’s two feet may be historic — but in too many parts of America, it’s also become inconvenient, dangerous, an afterthought or illegal. Watch this video about a pedestrian who “interfered with traffic” in Woodbridge, Virginia:

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Jan. 16

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.

Century Plaza’s two-tower makeover is a go (Curbed LA)

The historic hotel will be renovated and a pair of 46-story residential towers will be built alongside it. A two-acre park is also being added to the mix. All will be a stone’s throw from the planned Westside/Purple Line Extension’s Century City station at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars.

Unlicensed drivers pose threat on California roads (Department of Motor Vehicles) 

Not exactly a shocking conclusion but it’s interesting to see the stats on this — unlicensed motorists are almost three times as likely to cause a fatal crash. The number of such crashes hasn’t dropped over time and the DMV news release includes this chilling sentence: “The actual number of unlicensed drivers in California is unknown because these drivers do not come to the attention of the DMV until they are involved in a crash or convicted of a traffic violation.”

Union Station’s Harvey House still looking for an operator (Eater LA)

The old restaurant at Union Station — closed since the late 1960s — is still looking for someone willing to put the bucks into reopening it. Everyone seems to agree it’s a great-looking space. There must be doubts whether it can profitable, although “Traxx” has certainly survived.

Bids due Friday on first leg of state high-speed rail project (San Jose Mercury News) 

Five firms will submit their bids to build the first leg of the bullet train in the San Joaquin Valley. Officials will study the quality of the bids for a couple of months without looking at each firm’s proposed price — a way, officials say, to prevent bias while analyzing the information. Excerpt:

The rail authority has budgeted $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion for the project’s initial leg between Madera and Fresno. But the actual prices submitted by firms will prove whether that estimate is accurate — and could set a precedent for whether the $69 billion estimate is off the mark, as skeptics claim.

The state does not have room to spare, possessing less than a fifth of the money needed to build the full San Francisco-to-Los Angeles rail line.

A photo of Beijing's smog taken on Monday after it had improved a bit from Saturday's high levels. Photo by Infinite Jeff, via Flickr creative commons.

A photo of Beijing’s smog taken on Monday after it had improved a bit from Saturday’s high levels. Photo by Infinite Jeff, via Flickr creative commons.

On a scale of 0 to 500, Beijing’s air quality tops ‘crazy bad’ at 755 (New York Times) 

The reading on Saturday was well beyond the index used by an air quality monitor at the U.S. Embassy. The Times said it was unclear what caused the air to become “postapocalyptic” — the word used by one Beijing word to described it — beyond the usual reasons: factories ringing the city and a surging number of cars on local roads. The Chinese government doesn’t report on readings beyond 500 and recently reported that air quality has improved for the 14th straight year.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Jan. 15

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.

Fares increase in Chicago (Chicago Tribune)

Excerpt: “A CTA 30-day pass will cost $100, up from $86, and a seven-day pass will increase to $28 from $23. Three-day passes will cost $20, up from $14, and one-day passes will increase to $10 from $5.75.” The base fare remains $2.25.

By comparison, the Metro base fare is $1.50, a 30-day pass is $75, a seven-day pass is $20 and a day pass is $5. Those are the regular fares; there are deeply discounted passes for students, the disabled, Medicare recipients and senior citizens.

BART struggling to meet surging demand (San Francisco Chronicle) 

The heavy rail system in the San Francisco Bay area is serving about 390,000 average weekday riders and ridership is expected to keep rising after some recent improvements. As a result, many passengers have to stand on trains for longer amounts of time and the agency’s infrastructure at times is having a difficult time handling the load. Officials are mulling several improvements — including a signal upgrade that would allow more trains to run through tunnels under San Francisco Bay. BART is also in dire need of new rail cars.

Another TOD planned for Gold Line in Pasadena (Curbed LA)

A developer just purchased a plot of land adjacent to the Sierra Madre station in eastern Pasadena and is planning a 212-unit apartment complex — next to the existing Stuart Apartments. Pasadena, to its credit, has pushed for more housing near rail stations and hundreds of units have been built near the Del Mar and Lake stations, in particular.

IMG_0145

The Apple Store at Grand Central Terminal in New York. Photo by Brigham Yen.

Using NYC’s Grand Central Terminal as a model for Los Angeles Union Station (DTLA Rising)

Blogger Brigham Yen just returned from a visit to the Big Apple and thinks that Grand Central Station should inspire the Union Station Master Plan. Brigham believes that Union Station needs to serve as a destination — not just a transfer point — and he believes that will happen when many more stores are added to the Union Station complex. GCT is home to 68 businesses, including an Apple store. As many of you know, a master plan is being developed for Union Station — more info here.