Transportation headlines, Monday, Jan. 14

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: Metrolink train sets head into Los Angeles Union Station last Thursday afternoon. Click above to see larger on our Flickr page. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: Metrolink train sets head into Los Angeles Union Station last Thursday afternoon. Click above to see larger on our Flickr page. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

How to solve traffic jams (Arch Daily) 

Jonas Eliasson, Director of the Centre for Transport Studies at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, says it’s pretty easy: tax the most popular routes and watch congestion suddenly melt away. Watch the video. Of course, there’s the little issue of where that congestion goes to.

CicLAvia 2013: Venice Beach, Fairfax Avenue and downtown L.A. (L.A. Streetsblog)

A detailed look at the three routes that will be used in the trio of CicLAvia’s to be held this year. The first is April 21 and will run along Venice Boulevard from downtown L.A. to Venice Beach — which is awesome — and also means the route will intersect with the Expo Line at the Culver City Station. The CicLAvia on June 23 will run along Wilshire Boulevard between downtown and Fairfax Avenue while the event in October will utilize the routes out of downtown previously used. All sound great.

Mixed-use project underway near future Expo Line station in Palms (L.A. Times) 

The 115-unit building on Motor Avenue will be five stories tall and have apartments and condo units the developer hopes appeals to young professionals. The building will be about one-quarter mile from the Palms station.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Jan. 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.

ART OF TRANSIT: A walkway to the platforms at Union Station. Photo by Jeffrey Bell, via Flickr creative commons.

ART OF TRANSIT: A walkway to the platforms at Union Station. Photo by Jeffrey Bell, via Flickr creative commons.

Transit openings and construction starts for 2013 (Transport Politic)

Yonah Freemark does a great job listing the many transit projects that will either open this year and continue and begin construction. He notes there are definitely metro areas investing a lot in traffic, among them Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, New York and Toronto. The most surprising thing about the list, IMO, is the number of bus rapid transit projects — including one that will help transport workers to the ritzy ski town of Aspen, Colorado. Interesting!

As for Los Angeles County, there are currently two rail projects under construction — the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension, both of which are funded primarily by Measure R. Three more projects that will receive considerable funds from Measure R are ramping up toward construction — the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Regional Connector and the Westside/Purple Line Extension.

Exploring the course of the future Crenshaw/LAX Line (KCET)

Eric Brightwell, with camera in hand, takes a walking tour of the alignment for the future light rail line. Perhaps most interesting was his take on the optional Leimert Park station, which he originally believed was unnecessary because of the stop one-half mile away at Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards. Excerpt:

Upon arriving at Leimert Plaza Park and the Leimert Park Village area of the neighborhood I immediately changed my mind. The area seems quite distinct from the rest of the neighborhood and is a real gem of the entire region. There used to be a station there one on the E (and later 5) lines before it headed northeast, and it almost feels like there still is — with people casually hanging out and the presence of a small, charming park.

The Leimert Plaza Park reminded my brother of the small town square of Knoxville, Iowa, where we both lived for a few years. Only Knoxville never smelled like incense, wasn’t known for its jazz, blues and hip hop clubs, and didn’t have even one shop selling African goods. The “town square” is dominated by the beautiful Vision Theatre, which opened in 1931 as the 1,123-seat Art Deco “Leimert Theatre.” It’s currently undergoing renovation, and looks a far sight better than the Fox in Inglewood. Surrounding the village there are more treasures waiting to be discovered — including the street on which neighborhood resident John Singleton filmed most of Baby Boy.

 

The project is currently out to bid and Metro is seeking a contractor that will able to build the Leimert Park station within the project’s current $1.7-billion budget.

Here’s L.A.’s new artist-designed bus (Curbed L.A.)

This one comes from John Baldessari, courtesy of the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education. Their previous efforts included the popular Barbara Kruger bus. Check out the photo. Spoiler: it helps if you like yellow!

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Jan. 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.

Temperature anomalies in 2012. Source: NOAA.

Temperature anomalies in 2012. Source: NOAA.

Not even close: 2012 was the hottest ever recorded in the U.S. (New York Times) 

Temperature records go back to 1895 in many parts of the country and the data speaks for itself: the average temperature of 55.3 in the lower 48 states was a full degree higher than the previous record set in 1998. Scientists say natural variability was certainly one cause for the record warmth, but also say that global warming likely contributed — most of the warmest years on record have come in the past two decades:

NATIONAL (CONTIGUOUS U.S.)
118-year record (1895-2012)
Ten warmest years
1st Calendar Year 2012 +3.3°F
2nd Calendar Year 1998 +2.3°F
3rd Calendar Year 2006 +2.2°F
4th Calendar Year 1934 +2.1°F
5th Calendar Year 1999 +1.9°F
6th Calendar Year 1921 +1.7°F
7th Calendar Year 2005 +1.6°F
Calendar Year 2001 +1.6°F
Calendar Year 2007 +1.6°F
10th Calendar Year 1931 +1.5°F
Calendar Year 1990 +1.5°F

Every state in the lower 48 was warmer than average although much of the West Coast was a little cooler than normal, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The average temperature for Los Angeles was 63.4 degrees, making it the 19th warmest year on record since 1945 (list of cities here). It was also very dry around the country — California had its third driest year on record and the Sierra snowpack suffered.

Why am I going on and on about this? Because there is widespread scientific consensus that global warming is driven by releases in greenhouse gases — i.e. carbon dioxide — that come largely from burning fossil fuels. Transportation is a big contributor in the U.S. and the federal government has said that taking mass transit is one good way to reduce your carbon footprint because transit tends to use fuel more efficiently than motor vehicles — especially cars with just a single passenger.

From the Federal Transit Administration:

What Individuals Can Do To Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

Switching to riding public transportation is one of
the most efective actions individuals can take to re­
duce their carbon footprint.
Car transportation alone accounts for 47% of the car­
bon footprint of a typical American family with two
cars—by far the largest source of household emis­
sions and, as such, the largest target for potential
reductions. The average passenger car in the U.S.
produces just under 1 pound of carbon dioxide per
mile traveled.
If just one driver per household switched to tak­
ing public transportation for a daily commute of
10 miles each way, this would save 4,627 pounds of
carbon dioxide per household per year—equivalent
to an 8.1% reduction in the annual carbon footprint
of a typical American household. This beneit has
a greater impact than other actions, such as replac­
ing light bulbs with compact luorescents (a 1.6% re­
duction based on 20 out of 25 light bulbs changed)
or adding R-40 insulation to a home attic (a 1.2%
reduction).

 

Six ideas for L.A.’s next great transit project (The Atlantic Cities)

A review of the six options released in November for the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project that seeks to connect the Westside to the San Fernando Valley. Among the alternatives: bus rapid transit, managed highway lanes plus BRT, a highway toll tunnel, a rail tunnel and various combinations of those options.

Broad Museum to open in 2014 in downtown L.A. (blogdowntown)

The contemporary art museum at 2nd and Grand Avenue is progressing well and, of course, will be transit-friendly. The Red/Purple Line Civic Center station is a two-block walk away and, of course, the Regional Connector’s future 2nd/Hope station will be one block away.

GrandAvenueMap

Yosemite overhaul may hit troubles (San Francisco Chronicle) 

The latest draft plan for managing the Yosemite Valley would expand parking spaces by 11 percent — to 2,448 spaces — while removing the ice skating rink and relocating or removing bike rentals. Hmmm. The plan doesn’t tackle the thorny issues of limiting the number of vehicles or people that could visit the Valley at any given time, but says that congestion would be reduced by changes to traffic circulation patterns.

As an aside, the Chronicle has the decency to include a link to Yosemite National Park’s planning documents while the L.A. Times story — as usual — does not, perhaps out of fear of ever sending readers away from their own website. Perhaps they should re-think the “external link” strategy as it just sent me to the Chronicle’s website! :)

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Jan. 8

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.

Remembering Huell Howser, the region’s rideshare spokesman (Primary Resources)

Some nice images from the Metro Transportation Library & Archive of Huell, who resided in the area and promoted solutions to help improve traffic.

Bay Area transportation officials support lowering sales tax threshold to 55% (San Jose Mercury News)

Facing a bleak financial future, officials say they back a bill by State Senator Carol Liu (D-Pasadena) that would lower the threshold for sales tax increases to be approved from 66.7 percent to 55 percent. If the Legislature approves the bill and it’s signed by Gov. Brown, it would then go to state voters in 2014, who could adopt it with a simple majority.

To withstand storms, build a better bus system (TransportationNation)

A draft report by New York state officials recommends building a vibrant bus rapid transit system that could more easily be put back online after big storms such as Hurricane Sandy. The report also seeks new BRT lines that would better feed into the subway system while also providing alternative ways to connect neighborhoods. Bus speeds have fallen 11 percent in New York since 1980.

$1.1-million award for L.A. River Greenway Trail (KCET)

The money will help build a walking path and restore habitat along a half-mile stretch of the river in Studio City between Coldwater Canyon and Whitsett Avenue. This is part of a larger effort to have a continuous trail along much of the river in the San Fernando Valley. Good news.

Does zoning matter in Los Angeles? (KCET)

Interesting letter from a planner written to the “Laws That Shaped L.A.” column in which the writer argues that the city’s laws are jumbled and changes rather routine. He argues that changing zoning laws to encourage a specific use do not always work and includes some interesting info about the importance of manufacturing in Los Angeles’ economy.

Transportation headlines, Monday, Jan. 7

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: An eastbound 20 bus passes by MacArthur Park on Friday afternoon. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A westbound 20 bus on Wilshire Boulevard passes MacArthur Park Lake on Friday afternoon. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Mayoral candidates split on Westside Subway route (Daily News) 

Here’s the first sentence of the story: “In a mostly amicable race so far, one of the first issues to divide the leading candidates for Los Angeles mayor involves another city altogether – Beverly Hills.”

The story is a followup to last Thursday’s mayoral debate at a Beverly Hills synagogue, in which candidates briefly discussed their views on the Westside/Purple Line Subway Extension and whether the route should go under the Beverly Hills High School campus  on its way to a station in Century City at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars.

For those keeping score at home, Eric Garcetti said on Thursday it should  go under the High School which would put the Century City station at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars. In the article in the Daily News, Wendy Greuel clarified that she supports Metro’s decision to route the subway under the campus  to the Constellation Station location. Kevin James has called for alternative routes for the subway while Emmanuel Pleitez criticized these sorts of projects as “grandiose.”

Jan Perry said the subway should not go under Beverly Hills High because there are oil fields and instability at the campus. Excerpt:

Perry’s decision to oppose the tunnel came after attending Metro meetings and reading documents related to the project, she said in an interview Saturday.

She said her position wasn’t influenced by her longtime friendship with Lisa Korbatov, who sits on the five-member Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education, and is a vocal opponent of the route.

Korbatov helped throw a fundraiser for Perry in 2011, and was scheduled to help throw another one over the recent holiday period, an event canceled because of scheduling issues. Korbatov has been quoted in Perry’s campaign literature, saying Perry has the “kind of independence and leadership” needed by the mayor of Los Angeles.

Korbatov’s parents helped establish the garment district in downtown Los Angeles, and the family is longtime supporters of Perry, who represents parts of downtown. Lisa Korbatov and her family members have contributed at least $4,700 to Perry’s mayoral campaign, according to the City Ethics Commission.

Asked about her ties to Lisa Korbatov, Perry replied: “I make my own decisions, I don’t make them based on friendships. I talk to a lot of people.” Korbatov also dismissed any notion Perry made her decision based on the two women’s friendship.

The Metro Board of Directors in May selected an alignment for the subway last May when they voted to certify the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report; the Board chose the alignment under the campus because of safety concerns over locating the tunnels and station under Santa Monica Boulevard along active earthquake fault zones. The Federal Transit Administration issued their “Record of Decision” approving the FEIS/R also last year. Utility relocation work on the  first section of the  subway project has begun.

In order to change the route, Metro would have to re-open the environmental study phase of the project, the Metro Board of Directors would have to approve of the new studies and the FTA would be required to issue a new Record of Decision. The project could be delayed as a result.

Colorado Boulevard Bridge work begins in Arcadia for Gold Line Foothill Extension (Arcadia Patch) 

A short stretch of Colorado Boulevard just west of Santa Anita Avenue will be closed for the next three months as work ramps up to replace and widen the bridge carrying tracks over the street. The work is part of the project that is extending the Gold Line for 11.5 miles from eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border — look for a lot more construction work along the entire alignment in the coming months.

Santa Monica Council weighs names for Expo Line stations (Santa Monica City Council agenda) 

The Council wants its three stations named “Downtown Santa Monica,” “Colorado/17th Street/SMC” and “26th Street/Bergamot.” This differs from the more generic names currently being used by the Expo Line Construction Authority, the independent agency building the second phase of the Expo Line. Station names are ultimately the decision of the Metro Board of Directors. In this case, the “SMC” — as in Santa Monica City College” — is interesting because the closest part of the campus is about .6 miles from the Expo Line station at 17th and Colorado.

$3-billion road repair bond proposed for Los Angeles (L.A. Times)

Two members of the Los Angeles City Council — Mitchell Englander and Joe Buscaino — have proposed asking voters to consider a property tax increase on the May 21 ballot that would raise three billion dollars to repair streets in the city. The proposed tax increase would initially raise property taxes by $24 on a home valued at $350,000 with that increase rising to $120 in the peak year of the bond. I know many readers on The Source do not live in Los Angeles, but many of you ride buses that get a good bounce or two (or more) while traveling along Los Angeles streets.

No more free meters on Sundays in San Francisco (San Francisco Chronicle)

The tradition of free meters dates back to 1947 but it’s all over now. The move is intended to raise money for mass transit, perhaps nudge more riders to transit and help local businesses that need more parking turnover to lure customers.

Transportation headlines, Friday, Jan. 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: Kawaguchiko Station in Japan with Mt. Fuji in the background. Photo by Les Taylor, via Flickr creative commons.

ART OF TRANSIT: Kawaguchiko Station in Japan with Mt. Fuji in the background. Photo by Les Taylor, via Flickr creative commons.

Los Angeles Mayor candidates talk transportation (KPCC)

There are few specifics from a candidate forum held Thursday night at a Beverly Hills synagogue. The article notes that Councilman Eric Garcetti was the only candidate who outright supported tunneling under the Beverly Hills High School campus for the Purple Line Extension.

There are more details in L.A. Weekly, which reports that Controller Wendy Greuel didn’t take a position — only saying there should be a station in Century City — while Councilwoman Jan Perry said that she didn’t believe the tunnel should go under the school. Kevin James also criticized the planned subway route and Emmanuel Pleitez criticized large rail projects in general, reports the Weekly.

Hey, I just found video of the debate at the Jewish Journal website. The discussion on transportation begins at the one hour, 14-minute mark.

Subway deaths haunt those at the trains’ controls (New York Times) 

Powerful story on how train operators cope — or try to — after accidents in which subway trains strike people who commit suicide or somehow fall on the track. Such accidents occur on a far more frequent basis in New York than elsewhere, perhaps because of the sheer size of the system and its high ridership.

BART labors to keep escalators running (San Francisco Chronicle) 

At one point this past summer, 28 of the agency’s 179 escalators were out of service — called the ‘dark days’ by BART staff. All transit agencies struggle to keep escalators (filled with hundreds of parts) working and BART is now considering canopies to help protect some escalators from the elements. Sounds familiar!

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Jan. 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.

For the record: gasoline was most expensive in 2012 (Wall Street Journal) 

The national average of $3.60 a gallon was the highest ever in the United States, besting the $3.51 average of 2011. The average in California was $4.03 a gallon in 2012. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the Prius has become the top-selling car in the state.

Connecting the Rio Hondo Bikeway to El Monte Station (Pasadena Star-News) 

Staff writer Steve Scauzillo says that it makes no sense for the Rio Hondo Bikeway — a major artery for cyclists — to pass so close to the new El Monte Station but without a connection to it. In fact, there’s a fence between. Scauzillo has a couple suggestions on fixing it and says he’s joining the advocacy group Bike SGV in fighting for a connection.

A view of the Rio Hondo Bikeway and the old El Monte station from Google Maps.

A view of the Rio Hondo Bikeway and the old El Monte station from Google Maps.

A monorail on the Sunset Strip and other visions of L.A.’s future (Curbed LA)

Fun post with some whimsical views of a future L.A. I’m not so sure about the monorails, but I like the rewilding of the Venice Canals!

Bus here yet? Check the monitor! (Portland Tribune)

A streetcar-adjacent pub in Portland has added a nice feature: a wall-mounted computer monitor showing when the next streetcar will arrive at a stop outside the bar. The owner of the bar added the monitor after observing that many customers were leaving about the same time that streetcars were arriving.

25 years later, San Jose light rail among the worst (Oroville Mercury Register) 

The light rail serving San Jose and surrounding area was built assuming a lot of development would occur along the tracks. It didn’t entirely happen, the reason that ridership has continued to suffer. Transit officials argue that without the light rail system congestion on area freeways would jump by six percent — and traffic is already pretty bad because of San Jose’s sprawling nature. Interesting read.

How Avis will ruin Zipcar (Washington Post)

Badly, according to the Washington Post, which foresees the hip culture of Zipcar being consumed by the broader corporate culture of Avis. They also think there are some antitrust issues.

Pinnacles National Monument set to become a National Park (L.A. Times)

We talk a lot about cities on The Source, so here’s a breather — the Senate approved elevating Pinnacles National Monument in Northern California to a National Park. That would be the ninth national park in California. The Times fails to note this interesting fact: The Golden State and Alaska currently have the most parks, with eight apiece, although there’s more acreage in the vast Alaska parks than here. Park photos via Google.

Still, it’s nice to see we’ll be tops if President Obama signs the Pinnacles bill. Think about it. The nation’s most populous state will still have 6.28 million acres in national parks, not to mention the millions of acres of land owned by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and California State Parks.