Transportation headlines, Monday, March 19

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 odd link between commute direction and marital satisfaction (The Atlantic Cities)

A new study by Chinese researchers suggests that there is a “shared-direction effect” in marital satisfaction. In their upcoming paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, the researchers explain their finding that couples who commute in the same direction seem to be happier together than couples who do not. The effect was even found in couples who don’t travel on the same train. The research suggests that going in the same direction is a commonality that may, in turn, increase the attraction partners feel for one another.

Where's my train? Times Square Station (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

An app for finding NYC subway art (Transportation Nation)

New York City transit riders can now use the Arts for Transit app to learn about each of the 236 permanent artworks in the New York City transit system. The new app is searchable by transit line and artist, and offers turn-by-turn directions to help users locate the piece in the station. For some of the art, the app provides video and audio podcasts detailing the work.

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Friday, March 16

The Pacific Electric Ivy Station (later Culver City) circa 1905. Photo via the Metro Transportation Library Archives.

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.

My getaway car: War reels, liquor store holdups, and my exploits on the rails (Zócalo Public Square Blog)

Much of my experience of L.A.’s streetcar history has been through poring over maps and photos from the Metro Transportation Library’s archives, so I really enjoyed this first-hand narrative account of riding the rails in another L.A. transit heyday. Manuel H. Rodriguez recounts what it meant to be able to access and experience the city as a young man, especially Hollywood — “a world away,” he says, from his home at 53rd and San Pedro.

A meter so expensive, it creates parking spots (New York Times)

A basic tenet of economics is that if the price of a good increases, demand will typically decrease. It’s an inconvenient truth that this holds true for parking spaces too, especially in the reverse: if it’s free, people will consume a lot of parking (time) and spend extra time circling the block to find a free spot. The New York Times takes a look at San Francisco’s attempt to tame the block-circler by making more parking metered spots available in popular neighborhoods through higher prices.

Developers facing new fee to fund transit projects (Santa Monica Daily Press)

Santa Monica’s planning commission has approved a new fee on real estate developments within the city that would raise a projected $60 million over 20 years. The SMDP reports that

planners estimate the fee would cover $60 million of the $119 million in raw costs of the different transit-oriented projects slated for the next 20 years, including bicycle, pedestrian, parking, public transit, auto network and other traffic demand projects.

Staffers: House won’t pass highway bill this month (Politico)

Sources in the House of Representatives are telling Politico that “the House will not take up the Senate’s transportation bill and its own version won’t hit the floor until mid-April at the earliest.” The eighth extension of the current transportation bill is set to expire on April 1, so we may be looking at a ninth extension before the House can take up its companion to the Senate’s transportation bill. The L.A. Times has coverage here of the bill that the Senate just passed and its potential implications for Los Angeles County.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 15

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.

Senate OKs transportation bill with help for L.A. County (Los Angeles Times)

As The Source reported yesterday, the U.S. Senate — lead by California Sen. Barbara Boxer — has passed a massive transportation bill that would make needed investments in roads, bridges and mass transit. The Senate bill isn’t just a good thing for the nation. It could be a great thing for Los Angeles. The $109 billion bill would expand a federal loan program that could help Metro’s and Mayor Villaraigosa’s America Fast Forward (aka 30/10) plan to speed expansion of L.A’s bus and rail system. But one tiny hurdle remains: to get the House to agree. In the meantime the current transportation bill is set to expire March 31, which could bring highway projects to a screaming halt … which, in turn, increases pressure on the House to pass a bill quickly.

Hope for a good transportation bill (New York Times)

A New York Times editorial applauds the Senate bill saying: “Against heavy odds, Congress may yet produce a decent national transportation bill ….” But, it added, [House] Speaker John Boehner said last week that he was ready to take up the Senate measure, or something close to it. That could be a tactic to spur his colleagues to devise their own alternative. But accepting the Senate bill would be exactly the right thing to do.”

Major changes for Wilshire Grand project (Downtown News)

Korean Air is considering major changes to its $1-billion plan to replace the aged Wilshire Grand Hotel. Instead of building a 45-story tower with 560 hotel rooms and a second-phase 60-story office complex, the company instead is looking at erecting a single tower with 900 hotel rooms and a diminished office component. At 900 rooms the hotel — which does not yet have an operator — would be among downtown’s largest. It’s also within walking distance of the Metro 7th Street/Metro Station.

Trade in your car for a bicycle at bike shop in Woodland Hills (PRWeb)

In response to high gas prices, a Woodland Hills bike shop is generously offering to take cars as trade-ins against the purchase of a new bike. “I’ve heard it said that cars run on money and make you fat — and bicycles run on fat and save you money. That’s never been more true,” said David Kooi, owner of the Santa Monica Mountains Cyclery shop in Woodland Hills. But hurry! This offer expires March 25. Wonder if they’ll get any takers.

 

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, March 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.

Senate passes bipartisan overhaul of highway, transit programs; House action uncertain (Washington Post)

As reported earlier by The Source, the Senate voted today for a bill that would overhaul transportation programs and keep aid flowing to thousands of construction projects. The unusually bipartisan vote was 74 to 22. The Senate bill’s passage puts pressure on the House for quick action to maintain the federal government’s power to collect $110 million a day in federal gasoline and diesel taxes. These revenues are the main source of money for highway and transit programs. The current transportation bill is set to expire on March 31.

Concept drawing of the proposed Downtown L.A. Streetcar. (Credit: CRA/LA)

LA Streetcar project inches forward; begins environmental review (blogdowntown)

Blogdowntown is reporting that the Downtown L.A. streetcar project is moving forward with an environmental review of two possible downtown routes; here’s a post from last week about the routes. The project, estimated to cost more than $100 million, will span four-miles and serve a cross-section of downtown neighborhoods, including Bunker Hill, South Park, Historic Broadway and L.A. Live. As planned, the streetcar would run seven days a week for 18 hours a day.

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 13

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.

Residents want a reduce Bergamot Transit Village (Santa Monica Daily Press)

A coalition of neighborhood groups held a protest outside Santa Monica City Hall on Monday, imploring city officials to reduce the size of the planned commercial and residential development next to a future Expo Line stop. Their big complaint: traffic is bad enough in the area without adding 325 or more residential units amid a 766,000-square-foot development. As one critic says, housing in the area is in short supply — meaning many workers have to commute to their jobs in Santa Monica. Which, of course, is also a pretty good argument for building as many residential units as possible.

Transit agencies have a powerful story to tell legislators (Welcome to the Fast Lane)

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood uses new national transit ridership stats — 2011 was the second-highest transit ridership year since 1957 — to argue Congress needs to pass a long-term transportation spending bill. Excerpt:

The benefits of transit are enormous. Transit helps connect Americans with jobs, education, medical services, groceries, and more.  It helps us spend more time with our families, avoid the stress of driving in traffic, lighten the burden on our congested roadways, lower our dependence on fossil fuels, and reduce our carbon emissions. And, for the many Americans who don’t drive, transit provides the only way to get where they need to go.

APTA’s ridership study tells us that Americans need and want public transit. But FTA, APTA, and transit agencies across the country can’t meet the current and growing demand for transit services unless Congress passes a long-term transportation plan.

 

The above chart also makes a compelling argument that transit ridership is tied to both gas prices and employment.

Bike thief (New York Times)

Filmmaker and cyclist Casey Niestat has had his share of bikes stolen during his time living in New York City. Click above to watch his film in which Niestat steals his own bike several times to demonstrate how few people are willing to stop a bike theft in the Big Apple. He finally gets caught — after dozens of people ignore him. Great video.

Transportation headlines, Monday, March 12

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 Metrolink station at Bob Hope Airport. Officials hope to improve transit access to the airport. Photo by Eric Fredericks, via Flickr creative commons.

Tough times at Burbank airport (L.A. Times)

The loss of American Airlines last month is giving Bob Hope Airport budget headaches. The airport has also seen declining parking revenues and passenger numbers. Officials think improving the airport’s connections with the region’s mass transit system will help.

Use of public transit rose in 2011, but agencies not out of the woods yet (New York Times)

Tansit ridership reached 10.4 billion boardings in 2011 — the second-most since 1957 — which the Times attributes to declining unemployment and rising gas prices. Excerpt:

Ridership rose in many parts of the country whose employment pictures brightened, including Miami, Nashville, San Francisco, San Diego and Louisville, Ky. Dallas, which opened a new light-rail line in 2010, saw a large jump in its light-rail ridership last year.

But there are big challenges ahead for transit systems. Many have had to cut service and raise fares since the downturn began, and the trouble is not over for many systems. So while Boston saw record ridership levels last year — the most since the 1940s — it also faces a big deficit in the coming year, brought on by rising operating costs, high debt and sales tax revenues that have failed to meet expectations in recent years. As a result, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has proposed significant fare increases and service reductions, which could deter riders.

 

Here’s the news release about 2011 ridership from the American Public Transportation Assn.

The go-nowhere generation (New York Times)

This provocative essay gives a kick in the hindquarters to teens and young adults for spending too much time on the Internet and not enough time on bikes, the open highway or yearning to leave their hometown for someplace better. Or at least somewhere with a job. As a result, we’re no longer a country where the young are “born to run.” Rather, we’re a country of “born to check my ex-girlfriend’s status update.” Sad, but an excellent excuse to kill time watching Bruce play his anthem in Phoenix in 1978.

Transportation headlines, Friday, March 9

The Expo Line right-of-way just south (right) of Olympic Blvd. at Cloverfield Blvd. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

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.

Fifty-two trees to be moved for Expo Line in Santa Monica (Santa Monica Mirror)

Before Expo Phase 2 construction begins along the right-of-way, the city of Santa Monica will remove 52 trees from the southern edge of Olympic Boulevard between Stewart Street and Cloverfield Boulevard. Fear not, 38 of them — palms, ficuses and others — will be finding a new home nearby. The Mirror cites a Santa Monica staff report stating that the city may use some of the trees to create a “buffer” between the new Expo maintenance facility and surrounding homes. Note: The coral trees in the center median of Olympic are not the trees being moved.

U.S. Conference of Mayors report: nation’s transportation infrastructure needs to keep pace with growing exports (Progressive Railroading)

U.S. exports are on the rise and that’s good news for the local economy. After all, the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach combined handle more cargo than any other port in the country. But that also means more freight moving on our local rails and roads, and more congestion as a result. That has Antonio Villaraigosa — in his capacity as L.A Mayor, Metro Board Chair and U.S. Conference of Mayors head — championing more federal investment in the infrastructure that helps move freight from ports to local warehouses and those throughout the country.

Report from last week’s DTLA bike sting (L.A. Streetsblog)

How effective has the new bright green Spring Street bike lane been at keeping bikes and cars at a safe distance? The LAPD sought to determine that last week through an enforcement operation against rule breakers. Streetsblog writer Carlos Morales checked in on the “sting” and found some clueless drivers, obstructing film crews and the occasional confused cyclists — on top of everyone else who was getting along well enough. My thought: If the bike lanes were physically separated from traffic — a la those in Long Beach, Montreal, New York — a lot of these problems would be engineered away.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 8

Japanese bullet train. Photo via Flickr by adam79

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.

 

A collision of visions on bullet train (Los Angeles Times)

A high-speed rail line would transform California lifestyles for the better, backers say, but opponents see a costly social-engineering folly. Among the concerns: That it would push Californians into European and Asian models of dense cities and reliance on state-provided transportation. Critics further complain that the bullet train would undermine California’s identity, which during the last half-century has revolved around single-family homes that have driven economic growth, family-oriented lifestyles and signature West Coast recreation. But what if Californians — particularly 21st century Californians — are asking for the change to denser cities with more apartment options and public transportation?

Money for nothing: Study confirms taking public transit saves, big time (Next American City)

As Southern Californians many of us tend to feel smug about living in a world-class city without snow and at (relative) bargain basement prices, particularly compared with Manhattan. Now we find out that living in the NY City suburbs may actually be pricier than living in town. While this may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, a new analysis by the Center for Neighborhood Technology finds that Manhattan residents spend a lower percentage of their incomes on housing and transportation than their counterparts in car-dependent suburbs like Westchester County, N.Y., Litchfield County, Conn. or Warren County, N.J. Whether or not the disparity is skewed by sky-high incomes of city dwellers it appears that suburbanites may be benefitting from the knowledge in that some counties surrounding Manhattan are beginning to invest in transit-oriented developments … just like L.A. County. And there’s another good reason to feel smug.

West Hollywood adopts new parking credits program (WestHollywood Patch)

With parking places at a premium in West Hollywood, businesses have been scrambling to provide the necessary 3.5 (for retail) parking places per 1,000 square feet of commercial space, as required by law. (Restaurants must provide nine places and nightclubs 15.) The upshot has been that businesses without enough parking must lease off-site spaces and some of those are not available to customers, reports the WestHollywood Patch. Further, some property owners who are leasing spaces have been accused of leasing more spots than actually are available. So this week the City Council approved a new program that puts the city in charge of supervising and selling parking places to businesses needing off-site parking credits. It’s hoped that this will end the selling of ghost parking and encourage economic development of small new businesses that have not been able to fulfill the parking rules. Has anyone suggested changing the zoning law?

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, March 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.

Expo Line right of way, Santa Monica (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

Nearly 200 U.S. mayors press for passage of federal transportation bill (The Sacramento Bee)

One hundred eighty eight mayors have signed a letter urging the House and Senate to pass the next federal transportation spending bill. Noting that cities generate over 90 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and more than 85 percent of the nation’s jobs, the letter expresses the mayors’ strong opposition to a pending House bill that proposes to shift gas tax revenues away from public transportation. Excerpt from letter:

“As mayors we urge adoption of final bipartisan legislation that provides adequate funding, at least at current levels with an adjustment for inflation, to help us invest in needed transportation infrastructure and preserves the fundamental elements of current law.”

The mayors also warned of the projects that would be halted and the jobs that would be lost through Congressional inaction.

The right way to fund transportation (Politico)

In an opinion piece in Politico, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell argues that failure to invest in America’s infrastructure undermines the country’s productivity, undercuts American competitiveness in the global economy and is a huge pass on the best chance the country has to expand employment by the millions. Rendell’s piece quotes New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who has written that flying from the Hong Kong airport to New York’s Kennedy Airport is “like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.”

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 6

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.

Sunset Triangle Plaza (Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro)

Los Angeles seeks pedestrians (The Atlantic Cities)

Angelenos who care about public space and making LA a more livable city had reason to celebrate on Sunday. That is when a coalition of Silver Lake residents, city agencies, public space advocates and others, welcomed to L.A. a new pedestrian plaza in Silver Lake. Advocates hope that Sunset Triangle Plaza will be the first of many such L.A. parks and public spaces.

MTA’s long-planned restoration of historic North Hollywood train depot set to begin (North Hollywood-Toluca Lake Patch)

It has been nearly 50 years since a Pacific Electric Red Car trolley left the San Fernando Valley bound for downtown L.A. Now, Metro is beginning a long-planned restoration of the historic train depot at Lankershim Blvd and Chandler Blvd in North Hollywood. The Patch looks at this significant piece of North Hollywood and L.A. history.

Continue reading