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.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Jan. 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.

Art of Transit: The 534 bus on Pacific Coast Highway at sunset last Friday. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Art of Transit: A southbound 534 bus on Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica at sunset last Friday. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Lankershim Boulevard rises to prominence in the Valley (L.A. Times) 

Another excellent dispatch in Christopher Hawthorne’s series on the past, present and future of significan streets in Southern California. In this, Hawthorne notes that the stretch of Lankershim that runs above the Red Line subway has become the most vital north-south connection in the San Fernando Valley and that the subway, in turn, has been the primary driver in reviving North Hollywood’s pedestrian-oriented Arts District.

Hawthorne also turns his attention to two projects involving Metro: a pedestrian tunnel under Lankershim to connect the Red Line’s NoHo station to the Orange Line terminus and a pedestrian bridge over the street at Universal City to connect the station entrance to Universal City proper. Hawthorne doesn’t like either project. Excerpt:

Putting pedestrians and drivers into separate silos of space, as the bridge-and-tunnel plan would do, isn’t just a remnant of modernist urban-planning theories that have been widely discredited. It would send drivers a clear message that they’re in control of the boulevard, free to drive even faster than they do now.

Simple and far cheaper solutions at both locations — widen the crosswalks, give people more time to get from one side to the other and ticket drivers who fail to yield — would have the benefit of smoothing the pedestrian flow and making the intersections safer at the same time.

Yet that approach has won little support from Metro, for one basic reason: What’s driving the proposals to remove pedestrians from the boulevard is not just a concern for their safety. It’s also a fear of traffic congestion along Lankershim, a worry that all those people on foot are proving an impediment to the free movement of cars.

I haven’t heard much from readers about the bridge at Universal City.  I have, however, sensed there is considerable reader support for the Red Line-Orange Line tunnel because many people would rather avoid crossing a busy street. I do think there is a very real ongoing conflict in Los Angeles about how much officials are willing to disrupt car traffic for transit, bike and pedestrian projects.

Tunnel beneath the Sepulveda Pass? It could happen quicker with private money (Daily News) 

At last month’s Board of Directors meeting, a motion was passed to consider public-private financing for the Sepulveda Pass transit project. The project is still undefined but among the alternatives considered to date are a bus rapid transit project or possibly a tunnel that could carry both toll lanes and a rail line. In the story, a Metro official says that private financing could speed up the project by years — under Measure R it’s scheduled to be complete by 2039 — and that tolls may be low because of the volume of cars that would use the tunnel.

My two cents: obviously the project has to pencil out before any private firm throws their money into it — they’ll need to know that tolls and/or fares will cover the cost of construction and then some. It will also take a long time to build a tunnel — the Sepulveda Pass project still needs to be defined, environmentally cleared, designed, financed and then built. It’s great that Metro is trying to beat the 2039 Measure R date, but I think we have to still be realistic and realize that such a project is likely not opening in the near term.

How far from the airport should the LAX people mover start? (Curbed LA)

The post is simply a recap of Yonah Freemark’s excellent article at Transport Politic about LAX’s recent offer of land to Metro for a rail station near the airport (he favors a people mover with a station adjacent to the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Aviation/Century station. The comments along with the post are interesting and give you a flavor of what a variety of people want from this project.

We need a new Measure J…are L.A. County’s supes up for it? (CityWatch) 

Ken Alpern poses the hypothetical question to each of the five supervisors (he didn’t literally ask them) and points out that a re-fashioned Measure J could be consistent with each of their stated goals. Specifics are short, but Alpern seems to be thinking along the lines of a measure that would have funding for new transit projects and fully fund others already on the Measure R list. I suspect a lot of water still must pass under the bridge before another measure to extend Measure R goes to voters.

 

Transportation headlines, Friday, Dec. 21

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 nice wintery scene for you on the first day of winter. Guess where this was taken; answer is after the jump. Photo by Kecko, via Flickr creative commons.

ART OF TRANSIT: A nice wintery scene for you on the first day of winter. Guess where this was taken; answer is after the jump. Photo by Kecko, via Flickr creative commons.

With the world possibly ending in about five hours, let’s sneak in one last peek at the headlines!

Light rail to LAX: a questionable proposition? (The Transport Politic)

With all the media and blogs we have in the region, it’s somewhat remarkable that the best analysis of extending transit to LAX comes from a national blogger, the always interesting Yonah Freemark. In this post, he takes a hard look at the three locations that Los Angeles World Airports is proposing for a possible light rail station near the airport and concludes that the likely best solution is for the Crenshaw/LAX Line to have a transfer to the people mover at the Aviation/Century station.

Even then, Freemark isn’t very impressed with the transfer proposed by LAWA; it would require passengers to take an elevator to an overpass that would carry them to the people mover platform on the other side of Aviation Boulevard. That, he suggests should be reworked.

Excerpts from the post:

The fundamental difficulty is that the airport authority — Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) — seems awfully reluctant to allow trains into the main terminal area. While Metro’s spring proposals suggest a light rail loop, an elevated line, or an underground tunnel directly adjacent to the central areas of the nine-terminal complex, the closest LAWA is willing to come is an “on-airport” station at the far eastern edge of the terminals area (see image (1) below). A station there, built as an extension of the Crenshaw Corridor, would be more than a half-mile from the international terminal at the western edge of the complex. Yes, light rail would get customers closer to check in areas, but few would be within comfortable distance walking, particularly with heavy bags… [snip]

If we are to take it as a given that LAWA absolutely must have a people mover and that it is reluctant to allow light rail into the main terminals area, its third proposal (see (3) below) comes across as more appealing. The light rail station at Crenshaw and Aviation, on the main trunk of the Crenshaw Corridor, would provide a bridged transfer to the people mover system, which would then offer a link to all of the airport’s terminals…[snip]

Requiring passengers to transfer to a people mover from the trunk of the light rail line has the added benefit of putting the onus of financing the rail connection in the hands of the (relatively more wealthy) airport authority, rather than Metro. This is perhaps the most important point of all. Though Metro has allocated $200 million to this project, it would need far more than that to complete the branch extensions envisioned in the first or second proposal presented above. But the third proposal, which would build off the already funded Crenshaw Corridor using only the airport-desired people mover, could — and should — be funded by LAWA, perhaps with only a small contribution from Metro. This would allow the transit authority to avoid spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a project that would benefit few passengers and force the airport’s users, the people who would be using the rail-airport connection, to pay for it.

Read the entire post — it’s a very interesting analysis.

More cars on the road make you late, but some cars on the road make you later than others (Atlantic Cities) 

The latest analysis of the mathematics of traffic show that limiting the number of cars coming from some neighborhoods can help reduce key bottlenecks that slow everyone down. The policy implication of the study is that getting people out of cars and into transit should be targeted to certain areas rather than the entire region. Hmmm. Interesting.

Continue reading


Transportation headlines, Thursday, Dec. 20

Expo Line at La Brea Station/Metro photo

Expo Line at La Brea Station/Metro photo

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.

2012’s biggest transportation successes (The Atlantic: Cities)

After a year of fighting the good fight for transit development across the country, it’s important to remember what went right, even though it’s tempting to think of what went wrong.

The Atlantic: Cities picks out a few winners, including New York’s valiant efforts to keep the city moving after Superstorm Sandy. They also mention the increasing prevalence of real-time transportation data to make travel easier for transit users. (A new version of the Go Metro app is now available here.)

Not mentioned is that in L.A. we have a lot to celebrate, including the opening of two lines: the Expo Line to Culver City and the Orange Line Extension to Chatsworth. But perhaps our greatest achievement may turn out to be  the new national tool created for transit funding with the integration of elements of Metro’s America Fast Forward initiative into the surface transportation bill championed by our hard-working Senator Barbara Boxer and Mayor Villaraigosa.

Feds sign $1.55-billion commitment for Honolulu rail project championed by Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died this week (Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

Sad news followed by good this week, as Hawaii mourns the death Monday of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). Sen. Inouye championed the light rail project that the federal money will support.

See tons of game changing L.A. projects that never got built (Curbed LA)

This could be fun. In March, the A + D Architecture and Design Museum will host “Never Built: Los Angeles,” a collection of project plans for the L.A. that could have been. The show will display master plans for all kinds of dreams, including amusement parks, subways and the monorail that might have been, had we had the resources and commitment to get the jobs done. The Metro Transportation Library & Archive supplied lots of cool stuff for this show.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Dec. 19 — NYC subway fare increase, Big Blue Bus getting TAP

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.

TAP coming to the Big Blue Bus (Santa Monica Lookout) 

Very good news obviously as the BBB is a major carrier with buses running between major attractions — i.e. downtown Santa Monica, UCLA, Century City and downtown L.A., to name a few. The city of Santa Monica is also working on getting new bus shelters and a real-time bus arrival app.

Fix for flawed light rail junction is outlined (L.A. Times) 

A consultant has offered several proposed solutions to permanently fixing an issue with the track at the junction of the Blue Line and Expo Line that was causing excess wear on train wheels. The most practical solution is reducing the width in the rails by a half-inch in one part of the junction.

New York MTA votes to raise cost of single rides, monthly passes (New York Times) 

The Board voted to increase the cost of a single ride (transfer included) from $2.25 to $2.50 and the cost of a monthly pass from $104 to $112 — in 2010, the monthly pass was raised from $89 to $104. By comparison, a single ride on the Los Angeles Metro is $1.50 (transfer not included) and a monthly pass is $75. As this Bloomberg article notes, Hurricane Sandy in October delivered the worst damage to the New York subway in its 108-year history and the New York MTA may borrow up to $4.8 billion for repairs and infrastructure upgrades.

California gas and diesel demand down in August (California Board of Equalization)

The dip was slight — 1.1 percent for gasoline and 2.1 percent for diesel. As for the overall trend with gasoline, here’s an interesting graph showing the ‘trend’ is all over the place:

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USC would gain control of taxpayer-owned parking lots at Exposition Park (L.A. Times) 

The deal is part of a lease package between USC and the state, which owns the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, the home to Trojans football. The school may also share some profits from the parking. Of course, if you don’t want to get stuck in horrible, horrible game-day traffic, there’s always the Expo Line and parking near many Metro Rail stations is free or cheap.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Dec. 18

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.

Good morning, Source readers. I was out of town for the past few days so I have some catching up to do. It’s great to see that utility relocation work began on the Regional Connector last week, meaning there are two Measure R transit projects under construction (Expo Line Phase 2 and Gold Line Foothill Extension) and three others ramping up toward construction (Connector, Crenshaw/LAX Line, Purple Line Subway Extension).

One other nice bit of news: The Source was the recipient of an update from the Metro tech team that should improve this blog’s reliability and appearance. Please forgive any weird looking spacing and such as I get familiar with some of the new features.

Downtown property owners fight MTA’s subway tunnel plans (L.A. Times) 

Putting aside the fact that the reporter calls Metro a city agency, the article gives a cursory look at lawsuits brought by lawsuits from Thomas Properties and the Westin Bonaventure against Metro over the Connector project. Both plaintiffs complain that digging for the Connector along Flower Street between 4th and 6th streets will disrupt their businesses. The problem is that old support structures for buildings along Flower Street remain in the ground and would get in the way of tunnel boring machines in those blocks — thus the reason that Metro plans to excavate the tunnels from above and then cover the street with metal plates. Excerpt:

The MTA says it will work with property owners during construction to resolve problems as they arise. Changes have already been made to the plan to minimize disruption, including installing the metal plates flush with the street instead of raised as originally envisioned, officials said.

Transit improvements are worth the money and aggravation because they make the city more livable and attract economic development, the MTA’s Cardoso said.

“We are reinventing Los Angeles, basically,” he said. “We will live through it.”

 

A Google Maps view of the approximate area under the influence of the new Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan.

A Google Maps view of the approximate area under the influence of the new Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan.

No parking required in mixed-use plan for Cornfield area (Curbed LA)

Wow — leave town for a few days and the world turns upside down. In a historic move, the city of Los Angeles Planning Commission approved new zoning laws that remove any kind of parking requirements for the neighborhoods along the Gold Line and near the Los Angeles River. It’s mostly industrial now, but the city would like to see the area be a mix of industry, retail and residential. The parking requirements were lifted to encourage developers to build (or rebuild) in the area — not to mention because the neighborhood is near three Gold Line stations as well as the Los Angeles State Historic Park.

Keep in mind that this is a section of river that under city plans will one day be lined with new parks. It’s downtown Los Angeles adjacent and in my view, could comfortably hold thousands more residents in precisely the kind of urban area that makes sense to develop/redevelop. Great news, people! BTW, the Curbed article has a nice zoning map of the area.

Train travel makes a comeback (MSN Money) 

Interesting overview of some long-gone train routes that either will be or may be running again. Example: train service between Boston and Cape Cod will begin next summer for the first time in decades. Meanwhile, on the Left Coast, there may soon be a rail link between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, while Phoenix and Tucscon are exploring a rail connection. Hey, if Santa Fe and Albuquerque can do it, L.A.-L.V. and Phoenix-Tucson should be able to, too!

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.”