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.


Transportation headlines, Thursday, Feb. 28; subway attendants video, Americans driving less

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.


Subway attendants (Improv in Toronto)

Check out the video of the neat little stunt undertaken recently in Toronto. As government mouthpiece, I have to tell you snack carts are prohibited on Metro :)

For eighth year in row, Americans drove fewer miles (DC Streetsblog)

Well, 37 fewer miles to be precise. But it's interesting that the trend is holding.

Stranding of passengers shows difference between Washington Metro's goals and reality (Washington Post)

The paper's Dr. Gridlock says that two recent power outages on the Green Line — in which passengers actually walked away from trains — shows Metro has a ways to go to live up to its safety and customer satisfaction plans.

 


Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Feb. 27

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 full moon hovers over the Gold Line's Lake Avenue Station in the middle of the 210 freeway in Pasadena. No, I didn't add the moon in Photoshop -- it was there and it was orange-ish. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A full moon hovers over the Gold Line’s Lake Avenue Station in the middle of the 210 freeway in Pasadena. No, I didn’t add the moon in Photoshop — it was there and it was orange-ish. I’ll try to get a shot next month of the moon closer to the horizon; my timing was off last night. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Check out the progress on the 405 project at Wilshire (LA Observed) 

Nice gallery of photos of work on the Wilshire flyover ramps that should make it easier and safer to exit and enter the 405 at Wilshire. The ramps will also hopefully ease some of the congestion at the Wilshire underpass of the 405. Carmageddon I and II — the freeway closures to demolish the Mulholland Bridge — got a lot of the media attention, but I suspect that the Wilshire ramps will be the improvement that most Westside motorists appreciate about the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project.

ExpressLanes in Southern California promise relief and opportunities for commuters and businesses (Welcome to the Fast Lane)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s blog has an entry on the opening of the ExpressLanes on the 10 freeway over this past weekend. Excerpt:

The Obama Administration believes that the key is to give people choices–better transit options, more buses and bus stops, incentives for carpooling and van pooling.

In this case, the HOT lanes that FHWA supported offer a choice of free or tolled lanes to motorists. As more drivers choose the option of avoiding congestion by choosing a tolled lane, it actually reduces congestion on the free lanes at the same time.

We think it’s a very interesting solution, and across the country state departments of transportation seem to agree as the move to add HOT lanes continues.

Cars and robust cities are fundamentally incompatible (The Atlantic Cities)

Good post from earlier this month on studies that show as the number of people who drive to a downtown area increases, the number of people actually working in downtown decreases. The problem: too many parking lots taking up space that could otherwise be used for offices and buildings that contribute to the critical mass that downtown areas thrive upon. This article, me thinks, applies directly to downtown Los Angeles — which has far more parking than is actually needed.

 

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Feb. 26: art of transit, does light rail stop people from driving?, raising the gas tax?

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 bus on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A bus on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. There’s a color version after the jump — I like the photo but can’t decide which version I like better. You decide! Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Does light rail really stop people from driving (The Atlantic Cities) 

A new study in the UK showed little evidence that four different light rail lines (all in Britain) made much of any difference on car ownership rates or the amount of driving. Rail ridership in the light rail corridors did go up, but that mostly seemed to come at the expense of bus ridership. Excerpt:

With that in mind, the work still underscores some important lessons. For starters, it offers a sound piece of advice: cities considering a light rail system should strongly consider whether improving the local bus system would be cheaper and just as effective. It also provides yet another reminder of the irrational love people have for their cars; getting city residents to give up driving often requires more than just offering them a ride.

LA Observed: Traffic, bikes and the 405 (KCRW)

LA Observed Kevin Roderick’s weekly radio segment focuses on the lack of talk about traffic during the mayoral campaign. Voters seem interested, Roderick says, but it’s hard for any prospective mayor to credibly say they can fix traffic — thus the talk instead of providing alternatives to it, i.e. bikes and transit. Good segment.

The case for a higher gas tax (New York Times) 

Valerie J. Karplus, a research scientist in the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change at M.I.T., uses this op-ed piece to make the case that the only thing that will get Americans to drive less is more expensive gasoline. And by expensive she means a lot more than the current national average of $3.72. Excerpts:

But if our goal is to get Americans to drive less and use more fuel-efficient vehicles, and to reduce air pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases, gas prices need to be even higher. The current federal gasoline tax, 18.4 cents a gallon, has been essentially stable since 1993; in inflation-adjusted terms, it’s fallen by 40 percent since then.

Politicians of both parties understandably fear that raising the gas tax would enrage voters. It certainly wouldn’t make lives easier for struggling families. But the gasoline tax is a tool of energy and transportation policy, not social policy, like the minimum wage.

She argues that President Obama took the easier path by greatly raising the fuel efficiency requirements of new vehicles — something that won’t reduce driving much or raise much money for infrastructure improvements. I do think the new standards, however, have a good chance of greatly reducing air pollution in our region. But if driving greatly increases, then those gains could be for naught.

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Transportation headlines, Monday, Feb. 25; looking for love on the bus, subway and Walmart

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.

Source: Psychology Today.

Source: Psychology Today.

Missed connections: looking for love on the bus, train and Walmart (Psychology Today) 

The above graphic is one big slice of awesomeness. Psychology Today looked at the last 100 “missed connection” posts in Craigslist in each state to find the place where boy/girl didn’t quite connect with boy/girl. Transit got the top nod in five states in addition to the District of Columbia. That’s no match for Walmart, which lead 13 states — because, you know, love never looked better than under fluorescent lights. It’s also interesting that LA Fitness is apparently more of a meat market in Arizona than it is in California, where 24 Hour Fitness serves as the local candy shop.

And some special mentions….

Georgia: Wow, your traffic must really be pathetic if you have that much time to sit and ogle girl/boy from a vehicle.

Utah: very old school — meeting girl/boy at college!

Nevada: I wonder how many of those casino connections last more than a week?

Indiana: The state must lead the nation in shy people if you meet someone “at home” and still need to place a “missed connections” ad.

Maryland: Meeting someone in a park sounds nice.

Hat tip for this post: Human Transit, transportation planner Jarrett Walker’s most excellent blog.

Westside traffic: C’mon, council candidates, let’s fix it (L.A. Times) 

Editorial writer, Brentwood resident and car commuter Carla Hall recently attended a Streetsblog forum for 11th Council District candidates and didn’t come away impressed. She wanted to hear more about fixing car traffic in the congested Westside and doesn’t think transit or cycling offer much hope. Nor is she a fan of left-turn signals.

Of course, fixing traffic in many cities is notoriously difficult and the Westside is no exception. It’s also difficult when so many proposals — including one mentioned by Hall that would have turned Olympic and Pico boulevards into one-way streets — are shot down by Westside residents!

As for Brentwood, I think there are three Metro projects that would have been worth mentioning or debating their merits: the Wilshire/405 flyover ramps under construction, the new and wider Sunset Boulevard bridge and Metro’s decision to end the third phase of the Westside Subway Extension at the VA Hospital, meaning it doesn’t quite reach Brentwood. 

After M.T.A. setbacks, no-swipe fare cards are still stuck in the future (New York Times) 

The paper cards that are swiped to get patrons through turnstiles on the New York subway have been around since 1993 and are likely here to stay for some time. The agency’s efforts to adopt no contact smart cards — i.e. such as TAP cards — no longer seem to be a priority, even though many other large transit agencies have gone that route. The MetroCard used in New York costs too much and does too little, complain officials.

The mayoral candidate video series: Wendy Greuel (L.A. Streetsblog)

The fifth and final installment in the series that allowed each of the leading candidates for Los Angeles mayor to talk about their take on local transportation issues.

Letter to Mark Lacter (Examined Spoke)

A thorough take-down/dismemberment of Lacter’s recent post at LAObserved complaining about providing more space for cyclists on L.A. streets. It’s always fun to watch what someone armed with actual facts can accomplish!

Transportation headlines, Friday, Feb. 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.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Gold Line train bound for East Los Angeles crosses the 1st Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River on Wednesday afternoon. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Gold Line train bound for East Los Angeles crosses the 1st Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River on Wednesday afternoon. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Where the Los Angeles mayoral candidates stand: transportation (Los Angeles Times) 

Best breakdown I’ve seen yet on where the major candidates stand on a variety of issues, including project acceleration, lowering the voter threshold for transportation tax increases,  rail versus buses, the route for the Westside Subway Extension in Century City (i.e. should it tunnel under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus), a 710 tunnel, adding more toll lanes in Los Angeles County and moving the north runway at LAX, among other questions. While the candidates often agree, there are certainly differences. Put down your jelly donuts and read this, people and/or voters!!

Mapping the end of the road on the 405 (ZevWeb) 

Good piece on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website about the Sepulveda Pass project on the 405. The gist of it: many elements of the project will be finished this year but one challenging section around Montana Avenue and Church Lane will see work carry over into 2014. In that area, utility relocations have been particularly problematic.

Motor vehicle fatality estimates: 2012 sees five percent increase (National Safety Council) 

These are early estimates — usually the federal government takes about a year to compile all the information and come up with a firmer number. California fared worse than the nation with the state seeing an estimated seven percent increase in deaths from 2011 to 2012, with 2,994 fatalities. 

Five ways to make public transit awesome (Mother Nature Network) 

Writer Chris Turner says it’s no surprise transit often fails to capture the public’s imagination — too often bus stops and train stations are designed as little more than an afterthought. His suggestions include making the bus stop a sanctuary, a cafe and/or a community gathering place. Check out a very cool photo with the post of a transit line and green space in Germany.

The mayoral candidate video series: Eric Garcetti (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The fourth part of Streetsblog’s interviews with the five leading mayoral candidates is with Councilman Eric Garcetti, who discusses the Metro Board and busways.

 

Transportation headlines: toll lanes, bike lanes, bus lanes & art of transit

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 Metro Rapid bus crosses the Broadway bridge over the Los Angeles River on Wednesday afternoon, the day after a storm greened the local hills and dumped snow in the San Gabriel Mountains. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro Rapid bus crosses the Broadway bridge over the Los Angeles River on Wednesday afternoon, the day after a storm greened the local hills and dumped snow in the San Gabriel Mountains. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

 

Readers respond to proposed bike lanes (LA Observed)

Mark Lacter wrote recently that he doesn't believe it's a good idea to add bike lanes to parts of Westwood and Sepulveda boulevards on the Westside at the expense of traffic lanes. Reactions run the gamut — fun read — and the question that swirls above the issue is this: how many cyclists are using the new bike lanes in the city?

More freeway toll plans? Slow down, Southern California (Daily News)

The editorial lightly punches Metro for proposing new toll lanes on 13.5 miles of the 5 freeway through the Santa Clarita area before the impact of the ExpressLanes on the 110 and 10 are known (the lanes on the 10 open Saturday). Metro, however, did send a letter to the Daily News saying there's a key difference: the toll lanes on the 5 are being proposed as a way to accelerate the project and have it built by 2019 instead of 2040 or after.

The mayoral candidate video interview series: Jan Perry (L.A. Streetsblog)

Councilwoman Jan Perry gets her turn in part three of the series; her interview takes place on an Expo Line platform.

 

CicLAvia unveils map for CicLAvia to the sea on April 21 (L.A. Streetsblog)

The map of the new route is out and the big to-do is that cyclists and pedestrians will be able to take Venice Boulevard from the ocean all the way into downtown L.A. The new course will also intersect with the Expo Line, Red Line, Purple Line, Blue Line and Gold Line.