Transportation headlines, Friday, May 4

A rendering of a proposed parklet for Highland park. Photo via Living Streets LA.

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.

Huizar, Living Streets, unveil parklet designs for El Sereno Ave., York Blvd. (L.A. Streetsblog)

Two parking space–to–parklet conversions on L.A.’s Eastside are starting to take shape with the release of these renderings. Collaborating on the project are Living Streets LA and Los Angeles Councilmember Jose Huizar. The two proposals would go into some of the busier commercial areas of Highland Park, creating a public porch for the community right in the street.

Higher fuel standards could reduce federal transportation funds by $57 billion by 2022 (Transportation Issues Daily)

Larry Ehl notes an inconvenient truth: even as federally-mandated fuel economy standards help us conserve fuel, they’re undermining the principle way that we finance highways, transit and other transportation programs — the gas tax. The gas tax, faithful Source readers will recall, is levied as a flat per-gallon fee that hasn’t changed at the federal level since the first Bush administration. Ehl sees three courses of action for how to make up this yawning funding gap:

  • Reducing spending on highways and mass transit,
  • Transferring additional money from the Treasury’s general fund to the Highway Trust Fund, and
  • Increasing the gasoline tax or raising revenues from other sources to provide receipts to the [transportation] trust fund.

Does suburban local service get cars off the road? (Human Transit)

Jarrett Walker provides another great look into the nuts of bolts of transit in this piece. Walker notes that suburban local service can serve a lot of valid goals, like providing universal access to all, but reducing car traffic is not likely to be an outcome. The crux? The geometry of most suburbs — low density, non-gridded streets — makes high ridership difficult to achieve.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 2

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.

Bike riders with, and without, helmets at the April 2012 CicLAvia. Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro.

Hard-headed: 4 out of 5 bike share riders don’t wear helmets (GOOD)

Maybe it is the fear of helmet hair? With urban bike share programs popping up in cities across the country (L.A. is launching it own bike share program soon), civic leaders are struggling to find ways to encourage helmet usage. Problem is, bike share users are far less likely than regular riders to be carrying a helmet when they need one. Boston’s solution is to install sidewalk helmet kiosks selling inexpensive helmets at bike docks. Another obstacle to wider usage is mixed findings from the research on the effectiveness of helmet use. With more bikes on the road, watch for more public awareness campaigns aimed at increasing helmet use.

Businesses along new Expo Line hoping to cash in (KPCC)

With Phase One of the Expo Line up and running, local businesses along the new line are hoping to attract new customers. KPCC speaks with business owner Cary Earle of Earlez Grille who says, “We need that. It’s going to be good for the community. It’s going to bring a lot of jobs… [and] it’s going to bring a lot of people to the community that don’t necessarily come to this community.” The report also cites a transportation and urban planning professor from USC who feels the next decade could be a threshold changing decade for public transit in Los Angeles.

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 1

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 been a busy past few days at Metro and we’ve skipped some good headlines. So let’s play catch up…

L.A.’s transit dreams coming true? (The Architect’s Newspaper)

This review of the Expo Line praises the unified design of the stations all the way down the line and the views. Reviewer Alissa Walker says the new line, however, deserves better looking rail cars than what is currently being used.

Scenes from Expo Line, day one (Curbed LA)

Nice photo essay from Saturday.

A low-cost way of improving transit (Grist)

How? Make it fun and whimsical, says this blog post — citing a new e-book titled Making Transit Fun. Among some ideas: putting singers on transit (in Portland in the video below), making bus shelters look giant pieces of fruit, putting slides in subway stations for those who don’t want to take the stairs.

Cars, trains and partisan posturing (New York Times)

This editorial castigates the House of Representatives for refusing to put forth a transportation bill that would continue funding at present levels and help sustain 2.9 million jobs. Instead, the Republican-led House is bent on using the bill to advance other parts of their agenda, such as securing an approval for the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Transportation headlines, Friday, April 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.

Expo Line’s opening launches rail service push to Westside (L.A. Times)

The Times’ Dan Weikel and Ari Bloomekatz provide a good recap of the significance of the opening of the first phase of the Expo Line. The piece highlights in particular the benefits to USC students, and, I think, gives a fair assessment of what Expo will mean to Los Angeles. Be sure to check out this cool time-lapse video of the Expo Line by Bryan Chan.

Expo’s backstage safety patrol (Zev Web)

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s official blog details the numerous measures Metro has undertaken to ensure that the public knows how to navigate the new Expo Line safely. The story focuses in particular on the efforts of Vijay Khawani, Metro’s Executive Officer of Corporate Safety, and Barbara Burns, manager of Metro’s Transit Safety Education Programs. As the blog notes, Metro has been very proactive in its community outreach on safety issues:

To educate the public about what’s headed their way, Burns’ team has conducted dozens of training sessions at schools, senior centers and libraries and with neighborhood watch and community groups, sent out hundreds of notices about train testing, put up 4,000 safety posters and handed out 60,000 flyers door to door.

The most beautiful train stations in the world (Flavorpill)

Is Los Angeles Union Station one of the 10 most beautiful train stations in the world? Culture blog Flavorpill thinks so and your humble Metro blogger agrees completely. I’m particularly fond of Union Station’s mix of Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco architectural elements — two of my favorites styles, both of which you can see across L.A. Hat tip to LA Observed for the link.

Walk Score’s best cities in America for public transportation (NRDC Switchboard)

Everyone’s favorite mapping tool, Walk Score, has launched a new service called Transit Score and used it to determine what it believes are the best American cities for public transit. The Switchboard blog has a recap and analysis. Los Angeles clocks in at 11, just behind Portland, Ore., and ahead of Denver, Colo. — respectable enough company, I suppose. That said, I do have some constructive criticisms of Transit Score’s methodology.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 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.

Workers in Mao suits at the Summer Palace, Beijing, 2008. Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro

Carmakers In China rev up as industry shifts east (NPR)

NPR visits the Beijing auto show, which is now the world’s largest car market and a crucial one for Detroit. Ford has just announced plans to open its fourth Chinese assembly plant and General Motors is planning to open 600 more dealerships in China. Ford now sells more cars in China than it does in the U.S. “Shanghai is the new Detroit. They make a lot more cars here than in Detroit,” notes a Port Huron, Michigan, native who runs a parts plant in China.

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 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.

Union Station and downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro.

A win-win scenario for Farmers Field (Los Angeles Times)

In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, UCLA urban planning professor Donald Shoup writes that AEG should bundle their event tickets for Farmers Field with free Metro day passes (and, in fact, AEG has proposed to sell transit tickets with game tickets as part of their draft environmental study). In support of his proposal, Shoup cites the experience of Seattle’s 72,000-seat Husky Stadium where the team contracts with Seattle Metro to allow tickets to serve as transit passes on game days. Public transit ridership among fans jumped from four percent the year before the program began in 1987 to 20 percent in 2008.

New York City finalizing maps of bike share stations (Transportation Nation)

Bike share in New York is inching closer to becoming a reality as the city finalizes its bike station locations. Large bike docks are planned for important transit stops including the Port Authority, Penn Station, Columbus Circle and Astor Place. The placement of bikes at subway stations and major bus stops should help New York address its first mile/last mile problem, or how commuters travel between the subway or bus to their nearby destination. Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Monday, April 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.

Clear the tracks, Beverly Hills (L.A. Times)

A long editorial takes the stance that Metro staff were correct in recommending a Century City station at the intersection of Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars for the Westside Subway Extension, even if it means tunneling under parts of the Beverly Hills High School campus. The paper opines that Beverly Hills’ objections have “little merit” and that both the subway and this particular station are smart moves from a planning perspective and that delays brought by legal actions would be a slap in the face of the nearly 68 percent of L.A. County voters who in 2008 supported the Measure R half-cent sales tax hike to help fund the subway project.

Beverly Hills Council requests public hearing on subway project (Beverly Hills Patch)

At a special session on Sunday evening, the Council voted unanimously to request a special hearing on the Westside Subway Extension project under a little-used provision of the Public Utility Code. The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled to consider the subway’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report at their meeting on Thursday and will discuss the request at that time.

Breakdowns and delays vex Blue Line riders (L.A. Times)

The article looks at the problems on the Blue Line this year — twice as many trips in January and February were delayed or cancelled in 2012 than in the first two months of 2011. The delays are put in the bigger issue of deferred maintenance and what Metro and other agencies are doing about it (short answers: investing a lot of money trying to catch up). If you missed it, here’s a post on a Metro staff report on issues impacting the Blue Line and here’s an earlier Source post looking at the Metro employees who are charged with overhauling Blue Line rail cars to keep them rolling.

Italy launches private high-speed rail train (AFP)

The private train between Rome and Naples is part-owned by Ferrari — seriously — and boasts a dark red color. Nice!

The view from near Glacier Point in Yosemite -- from left that's Half Dome and Vernal and Nevada falls. Photo by Steve Hymon, via Flickr.

Yosemite high country roads begin to reopen (Yosemite N.P. website)

Road openings each spring are usually a reflection of how much snowpack there was the previous winter — the snowpack was 43 percent of normal in Yosemite as of April 1. That’s the reason that Glacier Point Road opened on Friday with plows making big-time progress on Tioga Pass Road, which allows access to the park from Lee Vining in the Eastern Sierra. Glacier Point Road opened May 27 in 2011 and Tioga Road on June 18. Reminder: Yosemite is served by park shuttles, the regional YARTs bus (which includes stops in Mammoth Lakes), Greyhound and Amtrak buses that connect with the San Joaquin train. More info here.

Transportation headlines, Friday, April 20

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.

Beverly Hills City Council action may delay Metro vote on subway study (Beverly Hills Patch)

Metro officials received a letter late Thursday from the Beverly Hills City Attorney informing Metro that the Beverly Hills City Council will hold a special meeting on Sunday night. The meeting’s purpose is to vote on whether to request a special hearing from Metro on the location of the Westside Subway Extension in Beverly Hills.

The Beverly Hills City Attorney says that such hearings can be requested under the state Public Utilities Code and that such a hearing — if requested — would preclude the Metro Board of Directors from voting next Thursday on whether to approve the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report for the subway project. The FEIS/R must be approved by both the Metro Board and the Federal Transit Administration before final design and construction of the subway project can begin.

The city of Beverly Hills opposes the Metro staff recommendation for a subway alignment that would tunnel under parts of the Beverly Hills High School campus in order to reach a Century City station at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars.

Metro officials say they will respond if a request for a hearing is received from the city of Beverly Hills and Metro will comply with the law.

Still L.A.’s transportation mayor (L.A. Times)

The editorial praises Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for staying focused on transportation during his time in office. But the editorial doesn’t — at least not at this early stage — praise the Mayor’s plan to ask voters to extend the Measure R sales tax increase to accelerate the building of transit projects. The big question, asks the newspaper, is whether such a plan would create too much debt.

Red car trolley begins testing at Disney’s California Adventure (Disney Parks blog)

Check out the pics in the post — the trolley, fashioned after the old Pacific Electric cars looks pretty authentic. It is set to open June 15.

San Francisco MTA releases post earthquake photos (SFMTA Photo Archives)

Interesting set of 43 photos detailing some of the damage the massive 1906 earthquake inflicted on streetcar facilities around San Francisco.

 

 

Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 19; the Mayor proposes Measure R extension to accelerate construction of transit projects

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.

Villaraigosa’s legacy focuses on transportation plan (L.A. Times)

L.A. Mayor Antonio focuses on transportation in State of the City speech (Daily News)

In his State of the City speech on Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair proposed a ballot measure that would ask Los Angeles County voters to indefinitely extend the Measure R half-cent sales tax that they approved in 2008 in order to build the 12 Measure R transit projects in the next decade. The original Measure R was for 30 years and expires July 1, 2039.

Stories in the Times and Daily News both ponder whether voters would be in the mood to vote for an extension and the Times, in particular, pokes around the issue of whether Metro could afford the debt that would be created by borrowing against future sales tax revenues — agency officials say they can. The counter-argument, of course, is that building projects now instead of in the 2030s would result in a considerable cost savings, not to mention the added benefit in mobility for the region.

Of the 12 Measure R transit projects, the following are scheduled to be done in the late 2020s or the mid-2030s: Westside Subway Extension to Century City and Westwood, Metro Connector to LAX, West Santa Ana Branch Corridor project, the Green Line Extension to the South Bay, the Eastside Gold Line Extension to Whittier or South El Monte and the Sepulveda Pass transit corridor project.

It remains to be seen whether the Metro Board of Directors will pursue a Measure R extension. If so, the Board will also need the Legislature to approve and the Governor to sign a state bill — AB 1446 — that would allow the Board to put a ballot measure to voters as soon as this November’s ballot, which should inspire high turnout because of the presidential election.

Here is a post on a Metro staff report looking at funding scenarios for a Measure R extension — as staff proposes it’s a straight-up acceleration of transit projects, not an expansion of budgets for the project. The original Measure R expenditure plan is here. The Mayor’s prepared remarks are posted after the jump.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 18; Villaraigosa to propose extending Measure R

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.

Mayor proposes extension of Measure R sales tax (L.A. Times)

Mayor to urge Measure R extension (Daily News)

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa will propose asking L.A. County voters to extend the Measure R sales tax to accelerate the construction of transit projects in his State of the City speech this afternoon. The original Measure R half-cent sales tax was approved by county voters in 2008, went into effect in mid-2009 and expires in mid-2039.

The idea is to borrow against future Measure R revenues in order to build the transit projects in the next decade and create more jobs. It is important to note that the Metro Board of Directors has yet to discuss whether to put an extension to voters, nor has the Board made a decision to do so. Some Measure R projects are already scheduled to be built in the next decade while others — such as the Metro Connector to LAX, the second and third phase of the Westside Subway Extension (to Century City and Westwood, respectively) and the Sepulveda Pass transit project — have much longer timelines.

Metro staff will be discussing funding scenarios for project acceleration — including a Measure R extension — with Board committees this week. Here’s the presentation that they will give. And here is the original Measure R expenditure plan with all the project timelines.

Passage of a state bill will also be required in order to get an extension onto the ballot in November. Here’s a recent post about the bill, AB 1446 by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), clearing its first committee in the state Assembly earlier this month.

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