Transportation headlines, Thursday, Dec. 13

Tucson Streetcar/lasertrimman via flickr

Tucson Streetcar/lasertrimman 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.

Sierra Club picks best and worst transpo projects (StreetsBlog DC)

Which transportation projects are the smartest investments and which are most ridiculous? Sierra Club has put together a list that evaluates projects based on criteria including public health, effects on oil use, land use and economy. The list also reveals who is innovating for the future and who is spending staggering sums on backwards projects. The Tucson Streetcar (left) gets a thumbs up. Wonder what they’ll think of the downtown L.A. version.

London buses offering contact-less payment (BBC)

Passengers on London’s 8,500 vehicles can now buy tickets by swiping a credit, debit or charge card over an NFC (near field communication) reader — a great idea. Just don’t swipe your whole wallet or more than one card might be charged.

Bridging the fiscal cliff (The Transport Politic)

Declining federal expenditures will hit transportation spending hard. How should states and cities keep up their investments? There’s no answer here but responses to the question are welcomed.

Google map apps back where they belong … on iPhone (New York Times)

Google maps are back on iPhones and we couldn’t be happier. The New York Times sums it up: “Google Maps for the iPhone has arrived. It’s free, fast and fantastic.”

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Dec. 12

The holidays can bring out the best in us and also in trains, as these photos taken last Saturday in Milwaukee and Chicago show. But as former midwesterners will attest, the beauty that is December is transformed in January to weather not friendly to waiting outdoors for a bus. Another thing for Californians to be thankful for.

CTA Holiday Train, Belmont Station, Chicago. Photo by CTA SMALL 8248719168_123a3a7806_z

CTA Holiday Train, Saturday, Dec. 8, Belmont Station, Chicago/CTA photo

Pasadena hammers 710 tunnel, stops short of opposing it (Pasadena Sun)

Pasadena City Council members on Monday couldn’t garner the five vote necessary to oppose plans for a 4.5-mile tunnel to connect the Long Beach (710) and Foothill (210) freeways, but city leaders will go on record with a litany of questions and concerns about the project.

Opinion: Watch out Metro Scofflaws, free rides coming to an end (Los Angeles Times)

An opinion piece declares “There will always be some holes, though. At the transfer station at 7th Street and Metro Center, passengers are supposed to pay when they switch lines. But the TAP card validators are so discreetly placed that not many people use them.”

Metro Board member Pam O’Connor appointed SM mayor (Santa Monica Patch)

In addition to serving on the Metro Board, O’Connor represents Santa Monica on the Expo Construction Authority Board, which oversees the extension of light rail into Santa Monica. She was recently president of the Southern California Association of Governments. On the city’s website, she describes herself as a “strong advocate for public transit,” an “enthusiastic urban explorer” and regular user of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus.

Najarian: Vote for MTA seat was ‘orchestrated’ (Glendale News-Press)

Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian is in a fight for his seat on the Metro Board, after failing to get appointed for another term — an outcome he claimed was orchestrated by officials upset by his opposition to a 710 Freeway extension through Pasadena.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Dec. 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.

Government and social media (Government Technology)

This blog post urges government agencies to get off their duffs and dive into the world of social media, saying it’s now an expectation — not just a luxury. However, these words of caution:

But even as agencies flocked to social networks, they often struggled to use these new communication channels effectively. And that’s where 2013 comes into play. Going forward, social media use needs to become more sophisticated. Truly engaging with residents means more than simply posting links to press releases — it means two-way communication and keeping social media pages active with current content on a regular basis.

I’m one of the contributors to Metro’s Twitter account, which has seen a very steady increase in followers in the past year. We do try to keep it a two-way conversation, although it’s hard to respond to every question, idea or rumination. We also run Twitter Tuesday on The Source each week which gives me a chance to highlight many of your tweets about the agency and respond to some of them (this week’s edition of TT will post later today).

Highway deaths their lowest level since 1949 (L.A. Times)

The number of fatalities on America’s roads was 32,367 in 2011 — a shocking level of carnage, in my view — but that’s 26 percent below the numbers in 2005. “However, bicycle deaths rose 8.7% to 677 and pedestrian deaths rose 3% to 4,432, the NHTSA said,” according to the article. Many of the cycling accidents were caused by head injuries and the story notes that only one in four cyclists wears a helmet. Here’s a NHTSA publication from earlier this year, which concludes that the drop in deaths is due largely to a decline in the number of fatalities involving younger motorists.

Najarian Metro Board seat in danger over his opposition to 710 big dig (L.A. Streetsblog)

Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian has made it no secret as a Metro Board Member that he is opposed to filling in the gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. Officials from other cities want the issue to at least be studied — a tunnel and other project alternatives are currently in the environmental review process — and have opposed Najarian being selected for another term as a Metro Board Member.

Pols attack Expo mixed-use project on Sepulveda (Curbed LA)

A 538-unit proposed residential development adjacent to the Expo Line Phase 2 station at Sepulveda and Pico is drawing a lot of opposition from pols these days, most recently L.A. Council Members Paul Koretz and Bill Rosendahl, who say it’s too large. Of course, the default position for westside politicians is to oppose development because of traffic concerns (and hey it’s worked so far!). The site, which is currently occupied mostly by a cement manufacturer is not only adjacent to a future Expo station — making connections to Santa Monica, Culver City and downtown L.A. easy — it’s also next to bus lines running on Pico and Sepulveda boulevards. The nearby neighborhood along Pico is also walkable; the Westside Pavilion is down the street. Will residents of the development have cars and use them? Surely. Will they use them as much as they would if they lived in the ‘burbs or far from transit? Probably not.

Transportation headlines, Monday, Dec. 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.

Happy property tax day, Source readers!

ART OF TRANSIT: does the sign make it clear enough? Photo by Martin Deutsch, via Flickr creative commons.

The cracks in the nation’s foundation (N.Y. Times) 

This strong editorial pleas with Congress to get off its duff and fix the nation’s ailing infrastructure. Excerpts:

The need for investment in public works, never more urgent, has become a casualty of Washington’s ideological wars. Republicans were once reliable partners in this kind of necessary spending. But since President Obama spent about 12 percent of the 2009 stimulus on transportation, energy and other infrastructure programs, Republicans have made it a policy to demonize these kinds of investments.

When the president asked recently for a modest $50 billion for transportation improvements in the “fiscal cliff” talks, Republicans literally laughed out loud. There will be no stimulus in any deal, said Representative Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, the incoming chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. (snip)

The president’s $50 billion proposal for highways, rail, mass transit and aviation, hard as it will be to achieve, is only a slim down payment on the real job. (He proposed the same package last year as part of the American Jobs Act, which Republicans ignored.) Most estimates put the cost of basic repairs at more than $2 trillion, and that does not even include long-range upgrades to the electrical grid, storm protection and mass transit.

Around the country, ridership on transit has grown significantly since the 1990s, but federal investments have fallen far short. The Transportation Department says that if $18 billion were spent every year — 40 percent more than is being spent now — transit systems might get to a state of good repair by 2028. But that does not include spending to improve service or keep up with growth, or to protect systems like New York’s from storm damage. (The city’s subway system needs $4.8 billion just to recover from Hurricane Sandy.)

House transportation chair: build light rail to LAX or else! (KPCC) 

Outgoing House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Florida) says he’ll try to torpedo some L.A. transit projects unless light rail is extended to LAX — sooner rather than later. The project is currently under study and scheduled to be complete in 2028 under Metro’s long-range plan. It would have been accelerated under Measure J, which fell .56 percentage points short at the polls. Of course, getting the project done will require help from Los Angeles World Airports, a city of Los Angeles agency that needs to environmentally clear the project and make a financial contribution.


Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Dec. 5

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.

Assemblyman Mike Feuer recovering (KPCC) 

I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now — Feuer was injured after a SUV ran a red light and struck his vehicle. Sounds like Assemblyman Feuer will be okay, which we’re all very relieved to hear. Feuer shepherded the legislation that made Measure R possible through the Legislature in 2008 and he also sponsored the legislation to get Measure J on the ballot. He has been a very good friend of public transit while representing his Westside district and we wish him a very speedy recovery.

LaHood may be sticking around (Politico) 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tells House Transportation Chair Bill Shuster that for the time being he will remain in his current job. There had been rumors swirling that L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa could be a candidate for the post if LaHood stepped aside although like most Washington rumors, it’s unclear where they’re coming from.

Downtown L.A. streetcar: next stop, Washington (blogdowntown) 

Streetcar organizers and proponents say now that downtown residents have created a new tax district, they’ll be asking the federal government to pay for the other half of the line. Nothing’s guaranteed, they say, but lobbying should be intense. As far as streetcar grants go, L.A.’s will likely be one of the larger asks of the feds.

Looking back at historic streetcars on Broadway (Primary Resources) 

Great post from Metro’s Transportation Library and Archive on the history of streetcars on Broadway — including many other fine pics such as the one above.

Controversial HOT lanes spread nationally (USA Today) 

A pretty thin story, but it points out that the ExpressLanes that opened last month in Los Angeles are just one of many similar projects that have opened or are in the planning stages across the country.

Last stop for Track 16 (KCRW Which Way L.A.?)

The well-known gallery at Bergamot Station is losing its space to make room for a future Expo Line station.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Dec. 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 Portland Street in downtown Portland. Photo by, via Flickr creative commons.

Downtown voters vote ‘yes’ for special tax to fund streetcar (blogdowntown) 

Seventy-three percent said ‘yes’ to creating a new tax district in downtown Los Angeles to raise at $62.5 million to $85 million to help fund a streetcar. The local funds are needed to attract federal grants that will be required to build the $125-million project. Proponents have argued that the streetcar will bring new development to downtown — the rails are a very visible infrastructure improvement and the streetcar is basically a pedestrian-enhancer. Some critics have said the benefits are being oversold. I don’t think a streetcar is a panacea for downtown; I do think that all things considered it will be a big plus.

It’s official, 1st Street bike lane will lose some of its buffer (L.A. Streetsblog) 

I think most reasonable people can agree there’s no shortage of parking for police vehicles near the stil relatively new LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. But police cars have persistently parked in the bike lane on 1st Street anyway to be closer to the building’s entrance and have now come up with a novel solution to deal with complaints from cyclists: rearrange the bike lane so that police cars get to park next to the curb and bikes have to wedge themselves between the special police parking lane and vehicle traffic on 1st Street. Really?

Will hitching posts make Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park more beautiful? (The Eastsider L.A.) 

The decorative bollards are fine. Maybe putting them on the sidewalk in front of a gas station will give the corner of Sunset and Alvarado a little more class. As far as making Sunset Boulevard shine through this area, I think a street median is what’s most needed. Oh — and lose the strip malls.

Muni plan to appease North Beach (San Francisco Chronicle) 

The Central Subway project will extend one of the Muni lines into Chinatown. Now there’s talk of extending the line further — all the way to the popular North Beach area — in order to find a better place to dig a hole to get the tunnel boring machine out of the ground. A train station near Tommaso’s sounds good to me.



Transportation headlines, Monday, Dec. 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.

Time to lower sales tax threshold for transportation (San Jose Mercury News)

Scroll down to the second reader question in this transportation column — the reader points to the narrow losses of sales tax measures in both Alameda and Los Angeles County as indicative that the super-majority needs to be lowered. One legislative observer says that the new Democratic majority in both the state Assembly and Senate could choose to put that issue to voters in 2014. In meantime, needed transportation projects are put on hold.

Voting concludes today on downtown L.A. streetcar tax (L.A. Times) 

This is the last day for downtown residents eligible to vote to mail in their ballots on whether to create a new tax district to help pay for the $125-million streetcar. Supporters say it will bring economic development to downtown, particularly along Broadway — a street certainly in need of a breath of fresh air. There is no organized opposition.
A struggling 19-year-old service worker barely earning enough to make ends meet has to pay $64 for her monthly Muni pass. A wealthy 66-year-old homeowner from Pacific Heights can purchase that same fare for $22.

Seem fair?

With debate swirling in recent months over a proposal to provide free Muni service for The City’s low-income youths, a larger regional conversation has begun about the possibility of basing some transit fares on a customer’s ability to pay.

Both Muni and the MTC — the Bay Area’s regional transit agency — are conducting studies. It’s hard to argue with the fairness part, but also seems difficult to administer and keep it fair.

Ventura County VISTA buses now offer wi-fi (Ventura County Star) 

The buses now offer free wi-fi — no password is needed — on all lines, following hte lead of a few other transit agencies around the state. Officials say cost of wi-fi has been coming down and it’s very popular with customers (shocker!).