Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 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.

Beijing subway — while Congress bickers, China builds to meet its transportation needs (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

Keeping L.A.’s 30/10 plan on track (Los Angeles Times)

In an op ed in the Los Angeles Times, USC professor Lisa Schweitzer considers the future of the 30/10 Initiative now that Congress has kicked tough decisions about federal transportation spending down the road another 90 days. Schweitzer’s piece explores three funding options that do not depend on Washington:

1) chopping 30/10 up, prioritizing its most critical projects like the subway extension and the regional connnector and pitching the projects to the AAA-rated California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank,

2) looking to the European Investment Bank which has as its mission fostering infrastructure projects that support EU goals, among them slowing global warming (as transit projects do), and

3) seeking loans from the private global capital markets. Measure R which produced a half-cent transportation sales tax is viewed as the sort of low risk revenue stream the capital markets require.

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Transportation headlines, Monday, April 16

CicLAvia image by E.R. Trinidad, via Flickr

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 draws some 100,000 cyclists, skaters, pedestrians (Los Angeles Times)

Are you sick of CicLAvia? Me neither. What a great celebration. The car-free event that closed 10 miles of streets in downtown L.A. and beyond, lured people off of their couches and into the outdoors to experience our city streets and spirit. And, as reported in The Source yesterday, Metro Board Chair Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a $16 million bike sharing program for downtown L.A., Hollywood, Playa Del Rey, Westwood and Venice Beach. Good for the soul and good for the body.

Americans do not walk the walk and that’s a growing problem (NPR)

And speaking of the American physique, we are not in good shape and we know it. And here’s one reason why. Americans now walk the least of any industrialized nation in the world. No wonder we have health problems. And yes, walking to a subway station or bus stop counts and it’s a healthy way to start and end the day.

CicLAvia Redux (Neon Tommy)

This morning’s news seems to be bike obsessed but maybe that’s okay for an active change of pace. Neon Tommy, the USC Annenberg Digital News Site, has some nice shots of CicLAvia. It’s great to see so many different styles of folks out riding and walking, including some very sweet dogs.

How to enjoy L.A. arts and culture without a car (LA Weekly)

L.A. Weekly has an interesting review of a new book “Car-Free Los Angeles and Southern California” by Nathan Landau, calling it a door-to-door guidebook to seeing Los Angeles without getting behind the wheel. “From how to get to the airport (FlyAway!) to planning your route (Metro Trip Planner!) to riding the bus to the Getty (without parking, admission is free!) to getting to Disneyland by transit (it’s possible!), the detailed transit directions for hundreds of Southern California destinations makes a car-less visit feel possible. And, dare I say, enjoyable.” Check out the review and/or check out the book. It sounds like a good read for transit riders and those who would like to be. And by the way, the Disneyland express bus is the Metro 460 from downtown L.A. or the Green Line Norwalk Station.

Transportation headlines, Friday, April 13

CicLAvia isn't just for bikes. Five Angelenos play/perform capoeira, the Brazilian martial art/dance in the middle of Spring Street. Photo by flickr user srd515.

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.

Searching for CicLAvia’s slow gear (Zev’s Blog)

As someone who plans to enjoy CicLAvia on foot this year, I appreciate this call for courteous and thoughtful sharing of the road this Sunday from some of Los Angeles’ foremost bicycle and pedestrian advocates. CicLAvia organizer Joe Linton puts it well when he encourages “all participants…to bring mutual respect, common sense and a willingness to engage with each other.” If you’re cruising around on two legs — as opposed to two wheels — like me, consider bringing a copy of the official CicLAvia architecture guide (PDF) with you.

What will eventually be the northern extension of the Crenshaw/LAX Line to Hollywood? (Ride the Pink Line)

When the Crenshaw Line opens to the public later this decade, riders will be able to transfer at the northern end to the Expo Line and head toward the beach or downtown. But what about an extension of the Crenshaw Line further north to Hollywood? Such an extension is listed in Tier 1 of Metro’s long-range plan, meaning it’s currently unfunded but considered a high priority project in the future. Dan Wentzel of the blog, Ride the Pink Line, weighs in on how the Crenshaw Line might proceed from Expo/Crenshaw to Hollywood/Highland. The primary routes Wentzel considers are a combo of San Vicente Boulevard plus La Brea, Fairfax or La Cienega. Wentzel notes that there are some tradeoffs to consider here between going for the most direct route (La Brea) versus one that hits more destinations (Fairfax or La Cienega).

State agency OKs bullet train plan with service to O.C. (L.A. Times)

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has signed off on the latest of iteration of the state’s plan to connect the Bay Area to So Cal. The approval included an amendment that will bring Anaheim back into the fold after a one-seat-ride to Orange County had been previously shelved to save costs. The proposal now heads to the State Legislature for approval — where it’s likely to encounter some skeptical members — before Gov. Jerry Brown can sign off on the beginning of construction. The press release from the California High-Speed Rail Authority is posted below.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 11

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.

It’s National Library Week. The Metro Transportation Library’s YouTube Channel features topical playlists of more than 200 films and videos related to the past, present and future of transit and transportation in Los Angeles — everything from a 1914 Pacific Electric training film to a 1991 promotional video for building the Metro Red Line. Part 3 of this 1947 film, “It’s A Big Job,” details what it’s like for the first day of a Los Angeles Transit Lines operator. (Part 1 and Part 2 of the training film)

Ridership on New York subway soars (New York MTA)

There were about 1.64 billion boardings in 2011, the highest number since 1950. Here’s a cool list from the New York MTA:

Annual Subway Ridership

1. Tokyo
3.151 billion (2010)
2. Moscow
2.389 billion (2011)
3. Beijing
2.180 billion (2011)
4. Shanghai
1.884 billion (2010)
5. Seoul
1.769 billion (2010)
6. Guangzhou
1.640 billion (2011)
7. New York City
1.640 billion (2011)
8. Paris
1.506 billion (2010)
9. Mexico City
1.410 billion (2010)
10. Hong Kong
1.378 billion (2011)

 

Planning L.A., a history (The Atlantic Cities)

An interview with David Sloane, who wrote a book titled “Planning Los Angeles” that takes a look — as the name implies — at the role urban planners have taken over the decades in shaping the region. In Sloane’s view, much of the L.A. area was built according to plans that were on the books.

A Carmageddon baby boom? (KNBC)

Is there a baby boom because all those people stayed home during Carmageddon last July? Probably not, but KNBC manages to get one couple to ‘fess up and one local hospital to say ‘maybe’ and that’s enough for this story. Plus, we all know that everyone who stayed home was doing yard chores.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 10

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.

Van Nuys Rapidway project re-branded (Daily News)

The Metro project that sought to put a transit project on Van Nuys Boulevard has expanded its boundaries so that Sepulveda Boulevard will also be considered. The new name of the project is the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor — and a set of three public meetings begin Thursday. Many community members had wanted Sepulveda to be in the picture because another Metro project seeks to build a transit project over the Sepulveda Pass between the Westside and the Valley.

Expo Line bike crossing safety at Rodeo (LADOT Bike Blog)

At the junction of Exposition Boulevard, Rodeo Road and the Expo Line tracks, the roadway crosses the tracks at a severe angle. The blog gives some pointers to cyclists about crossing the tracks on this part of the Expo Line, which is in the street-running segment — meaning there are no crossing gates and trains and vehicles will be obeying traffic signals. (Photo by LADOT Bike Blog).

Are the exurbs history? (D.C. Streetsblog)

Recent Census data seems to show that growth in the most distant of suburbs has stalled over the past four years. Where is the growth going instead? Hard to say, says this analysis — although some core urban areas seem to be growing while their ‘burbs are shrinking.

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, April 9

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.

 

A view of Southern California that sums it up: subdivisions, Lake Elsinore, mountains and sunset, as seen Saturday evening from Highway 74. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

No high-speed rail to Anaheim (L.A. Times)

The revised business plan for the bullet train project released one week ago glossed over this not-so-small point: high-speed rail tracks will not be built between Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim in order to save the $6 billion. The media didn’t catch this — I didn’t either. Excerpt:

It is unclear under the new proposal if or when bullet train service would be extended to Anaheim. The $68-billion project is supposed to be completed by 2028.

It was partly the elimination of service from downtown’s Union Station to Orange County that helped slash the project’s price tag by $30 billion, said Lance Simmens, a spokesman for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Until the recent revisions, the estimated cost of linking the Bay Area to Anaheim was nearly $100 billion.

The politically sensitive change had not been immediately evident Monday when the new plan was unveiled because the report did not explicitly state it. But a series of passages makes clear that the reduced budget would not cover costs of dedicated high speed tracks or electrical systems needed to operate bullet trains between Los Angeles and Anaheim. Other language in the plan suggests that an expanded future project or a second phase could reach Anaheim.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, impact this has on the new rail station proposed for Anaheim that comes with a $200-million price tag. It may also be a smart move. Bullet trains weren’t going to be that much faster in the L.A.-to-Anaheim corridor than regular trains and the tracks were going to dead-end at Anaheim with the bullet train route between L.A. and San Diego going through the Inland Empire to Riverside before turning south.

Sunday letters: changing our car culture (New York Times)

Fun and fascinating back-and-forth between Times readers on Americans’ driving habits and whether we should be driving less. Some favor a gas tax to help prompt more transit and discourage ‘let’s-drive-everywhere’ behavior. Others say cars are the only practical way to get around modern America.

What should I do with my old bike helmet? (Grist)

Advice columnist Umbra has several suggestions for using helmets whose noggin-protecting days may be over. Turn a helmet upside down and hang it from a beam and it makes a pretty nice flower pot, for example.

Transportation headlines, Friday, April 6

AEG proposed to fund an expansion of Pico Station to handle game-day football crowds. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

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.

How UCLA aced its traffic test (Zev’s Blog)

Each morning I take the Big Blue Bus #8 to class at UCLA. And judging by the robust patronage, I’m not surprised to hear that UCLA is succeeding at encouraging campus commuters to take alternatives to the car. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s blog delves into the important question: How did UCLA manage to increase its enrollment and building square footage over 20 years without increasing the number of car trips onto campus?

U.S. PIRG report: Young Americans dump cars for bikes, buses (D.C. Streetsblog)

Perhaps the decline in driving among American youth has something to do with UCLA’s success? A new report from the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) finds some intriguing/exciting trends in youth travel. Here’s a particularly juicy quote from the report: “From 2001 to 2009, the annual number of vehicle miles traveled by young people (16 to 34-year-olds) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita—a drop of 23 percent.” Meanwhile, transit use is up 100 percent over that same span for those with household incomes over $70,000. In the longer run, it’ll be good to keep an eye on how much the recession affected some of those travel trends, or if we’re seeing a more fundamental shift.

First look at Farmer’s Field traffic EIR: The good, the bad and the ugly (L.A. Streetsblog)

Now that the Farmer’s Field EIR is out and we’ve all had a little time to digest it, Streetsblog’s Damien Newton lays out what he considers to be promising and troubling about the proposal. While he’s heartened to see AEG willing to contribute some serious money to expand the Blue and Expo Line station at Pico, he’s concerned about the 101 Freeway expansion proposal — namely that it will just encourage more driving. For more analysis of AEG transportation plans, give a listen to Warren Olney’s discussion of it on the KCRW program “Which Way L.A.?”

Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 5

A rendering of the proposed Farmers Field. Source: AEG.

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.

AEG unveils traffic plan for downtown football stadium (Daily News)

Among the mitigrations proposed: doubling the size of the platforms at the Pico Station that serves the Blue and Expo light rail lines, giving patrons the chance to buy transit tickets when purchasing game tickets online, widening and/or restriping streets and widening a mile-long stretch of the Hollywood Freeway, using a smartphone app to guide motorists to parking and running shuttles between downtown parking lots and the stadium.

AEG identified 50,000 parking spaces within a 20-minute walk of the stadium — a fact that, I think, says something about downtown L.A. and the ridiculous amount of space dedicated to parking. The developer also plans to build two parking garages to add 1,000 more spaces.

Beverly Hills may pursue legal action on the subway (Beverly Hills Patch)

Beverly Hills Mayor William Brien explains why the City Council has directed city staff to hire legal counsel to help the city fight any efforts by Metro to tunnel under parts of Beverly Hills High School for the Westside Subway Extension project. Metro staff have proposed an alignment that travels under the school campus as part of the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report. The Metro Board of Directors are scheduled to consider that route as part of their certification of the FEIS/R at their April 26 meeting.

Biting the bullet train cost (Long Beach Press Telegram)

This editorial takes a skeptical view of the new business plan released this week by the California High-Speed Rail Authority that trimmed costs of the project from $98 billion to $68 billion. The Telegram’s view: if $30 billion in savings could be found, perhaps there’s more left to chop. The editorial says that Californians are all for innovation but want to see a return for their investment and build something they’ll actually use.

Post 9/11 Security Upgrade To NYC Transit Lags (Transportation Nation)

A new report by the New York State comptroller says the first phase of the New York MTA’s security upgrade — in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — will not be be completed for another two years. The report notes that the M.T.A. has already installed 3,000 cameras at transit hubs and in bridges and tunnels but still needs to find personnel to monitor videos and photos and share information with the police and fire departments. The upgrade was supposed to be completed in 2008 but that date has now been pushed back to 2014. The final budget is expected to be $882 million dollars–nearly $300 million over the originally estimate.

 

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 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.

 

The Lincoln Tunnel: How many Angelenos would drive everywhere if the 405 had a $12 toll? -- although it certainly doesn't stop a lot of New Yorkers from driving. (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

SoCal group votes on foot-friendly transit plan (San Jose Mercury News)

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is expected to adopt a 25-year transportation plan later this week. The plan — an assemblage of locally-funded plans — is significant because it shows the emphasis being places on mass transit, transit-oriented development, cycling and pedestrian improvements across the six-county area.

After 100 years, Muni has gotten slower (New York Times)

On many bus and rail lines in San Francisco, travel times in 2012 aren’t much different than in 1912. In those days, streetcars had little competition — unlike today, in which buses and street-running rail lines have to jockey for space with cars. The Muni system has a program underway to speed some lines by adding bus lanes, reducing the number of bus stops and better synching traffic signals to keep buses and trains moving.

 

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 3

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.

A single day on the Moscow subway … in 2 minutes (The Atlantic Cities)

And we complain about crowding? Russian cinematographer Sasha Aleksandrov captures a day on the Moscow subway … to the music of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Norwegian (not Russian) composer Edvard Grieg.

Gov. Brown looks to global warming fees to pay for high-speed rail (Silicon Valley Mercury News)

As reported yesterday on The Source, the price tag for the new high-speed rail plan has been pared back from $98 billion to a mere $68 billion. But what to do about the $55 billion or so for which no source has been identified? Bullet train backers are suggesting the shortfall could be patched with money from California’s new cap-and-trade program — a pollution auction established by the state’s landmark global warming law.

The program would force polluters to buy credits in electronic auctions to offset greenhouse gas emissions, with the revenue going to programs that reduce greenhouse gasses. Under that definition, high-speed rail could certainly be a candidate for some of the money — a guesstimated $2 billion to $14 billion a year — but it remains unclear whether it would get it, how much it would get and if any of that money actually will show up. A massive showdown between the state and business leaders on the legality of cap-and-trade is expected and it will not be a quiet one, since billions of dollars are at stake.

How did downtown transform itself to a great place to live? (KCET)

To say downtown L.A. has been transformed from a dark and (in some areas) scary sci-fi set to a bright and sometimes beautiful city center is an understatement. An obvious reason for this is the arrival of new apartments and condos. During an almost 30-year period beginning in 1970, downtown Los Angeles gained a grand total of 4,300 units of housing. Then between 1999 and 2008 downtown gained at least 7,300 housing units just from long-term vacant buildings. What accounts for that tremendous uptick? Many factors, of course, including a growing transit system to attract new residents to downtown. But at least in the policy realm, arguably no reasons are as significant as a single ordinance passed by the L.A. City Council in 1999.

California gas prices soar as consumption falls (Sacramento Bee)

Gasoline prices soared by an average of 23 percent statewide last year, and in-state consumption of gas declined nearly 2 percent, according to 2011 statistics released Friday by the California Board of Equalization. We knew that and we don’t like it. But what’s to be done about it?