Transportation headlines, Tuesday, November 19

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ART OF TRANSIT: Monday afternoon’s sunset as seen from Metro HQ. From our Instagram feed.

Japan pitches its high-speed train with an offer to finance (New York Times)

Japan plans to build a $100-billion mag-lev train between Tokyo and Osaka, with the route relying heavily on tunnels through mountains. Test trains on test track have gone 360 mph due to the technology — at about 90 mph, the wheels of the train begin levitate a few inches off the ground.

But the project faces skepticism at home, due mostly to its immense cost. Excerpt:

To get the American line off the ground, Japan has come up with a method of financing that is similarly novel. In a meeting with President Obama last winter, Mr. Abe offered to provide the maglev guideway and propulsion system free for the first portion of the line, linking Washington and Baltimore via Baltimore-Washington International Airport, a distance of about 40 miles.

Analysts say Japan has had trouble exporting the technology. It figures if the United States takes it, others will follow.

Several high-profile former politicians and government transportation officials have thrown their weight behind a proposed New York-to-Washington maglev project. Many of those folks were on a recent ride, as was a reporter for the NYT.

Here’s the issue. Maglev always sounds good, and it probably is cool to ride. But every time it is proposed in the U.S., it is usually spurned in favor of existing rail technology, usually because traditional rail is both cheaper and a known commodity. Thus, the money saved on a free Baltimore-to-D.C. segment may not be much compared to the vast cost of the Baltimore-NYC part of the project.

London tube to help heat homes (Sustainable Review)

Mayor Boris Johnson announced that excess heat from the subway will be used to heat about 500 homes. How it works (brief version): heat from the tube’s ventilation system will be channeled to a different network of pipes carrying warm air to the homes.

Huizar needs a ‘Streetcar Austin Beutner’ if streetcar is to succeed (Downtown News)

This long editorial urges downtown Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar to hire a manager to oversee the proposed DTLA streetcar, which in recent weeks has faced scrutiny over possible — and significant — cost increases.

Metro sponsors Northridge Bike Ride, led by C.I.C.L.E.

On Saturday, November 16th, Metro sponsored the Northridge Delis, Desserts and Deliciousness Ride, led by C.I.C.L.E. This ride was the 6th in a series of 20 bicycle ride, which will rotate around different neighborhoods in Los Angeles County to increase bicycle ridership by providing opportunities to bike locally.

The weekend ride attracted 68 participants who met in Dearborn Park and visited famous Northridge and Granada Hills eateries. Stops included The Original Weiler’s Northridge Delicatessen, Gayle’s Perks, Delicious Bakery, and A Sweet Design. At each location, riders were greeted by friendly business owners who shared their family histories and offered riders a taste of home-made products.

As with all the C.I.C.L.E.-led rides in this series, Saturday’s ride was family-friendly, leisurely paced, and fully supported by trained Ride Leaders and volunteers. And as usual, safe bicycling etiquette and rules of the road were reviewed to ensure smooth riding for people of all ages and skill levels. As a result, multiple families joined the ride sporting bicycles with attached child seats and trailers, as well as detached childrens’ bikes.

Metro started these rides in May 2013 to complement Metro’s bicycle safety efforts, such as bicycle traffic skills classes and the “Every Lane is a Bike Lane” educational campaign. The goal of these rides is to encourage local bicycling trips by people of all bicycling abilities. 40% of all trips trips are two miles or less, yet 90% of those trips are made in a car. These are trips that can easily be made on a bicycle. Encouraging local riding will reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as serve as a first-last mile connection to transit. Bicycling can bridge that gap to provide more transportation options to communities across Los Angeles County.

The next Metro-sponsored C.I.C.L.E. ride will take place in January.

Transportation headlines, Monday, November 18

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ART OF TRANSIT: My somewhat less-than-cheery view of fall colors in downtown L.A. What can I say? I get grump-grump on Fridays!

N.H.T.S.A reports higher traffic deaths (New York Times) 

The lead really sums it up:

More people died on United States roads in 2012 than in 2011, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths each increased for the third year in a row, and deaths of bicyclists reached the highest level in six years. Over all, however, traffic deaths continue to be at historic lows.

Fatalities in 2011 were at their lowest level since 1949. The 2012 increase could not be attributed to Americans driving more, because motorists drove nearly the same number of miles in 2012 as they did in 2011, according to the report. Highway deaths increased to 33,561 in 2012, according to the safety agency’s 2012 Fatality Analysis Reporting System, known as FARS. That is 1,082 – or 3.3 percent – more than the 2011 figure. The majority of the increase occurred in the first quarter of 2012, which the report notes was the warmest in history.

There’s a lot of chilling news in just two paragraphs; I’m sure everyone would like to know what is happening on the motorcycle, pedestrian and cycling fronts (on cycling, I’m guessing perhaps more people are biking).

The last sentence threw me for a loop, too. I expected it to say colder than usual — i.e. perhaps accidents were weather related. In fact, it may be the other way around. Warmer temps meant perhaps that more people were on the road driving not as carefully as they should.

Metro gate rail problem lets cheaters ride for free (L.A. Times) 

The headline is misleading. The article is a look at Metro’s plans to install and latch gates at 41 of Metro’s 80 stations, including the entire subway and many of the busiest stops. The remaining stops are not getting gates because of lack of space (think platforms in the middle of the tracks) or the expense involved. At the stations with no gates, passengers are expected to tap their TAP cards (this is the so-called problem in the headline) and those who fail to tap can be cited by Sheriff’s Deputies. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky published a similar article about this issue back in September.

Ed P. Reyes River Greenway on the verge of opening for business (L.A. Streetsblog)

Nice look at the new 1.15-acre park adjacent to the 5 freeway, Los Angeles River and Gold Line tracks named after former L.A. Councilman Ed Reyes, a champion of making the river look like, well, a river. Gold Line riders have been able to watch the work progress over the past year; the park is on the east side of the river and south side of the tracks. Another six-acre park is planned on the old Albion Dairy site on the eastern bank of the river between Spring and Albion streets. Slowly but surely, the river is getting some green space.

And it can definitely use it — here’s a nice pic from Simon Oh posted to Instagram and looking south from the 1st Street Bridge:

Making connections on a trapped subway train (NPR)

Very nice story about Paquita Williams, a subway conductor and 15-year veteran of the New York Subway. Excerpt:

With the power out, Paquita walked the length of the train, comforting nervous passengers. That made a real impression on Laura. “You really made everybody on that train connect,” Laura says. “We all started talking with each other like human beings. And we left the train and somebody was like, ‘Let’s do this again tomorrow morning.’

Go to the above link to listen to the segment — it only runs about two minutes.

Transportation headlines, Friday, November 15

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ART OF TRANSIT: I hope the ultra-skinny models next stop was for a double-double, large fries and a seven milkshakes. For each of them.  

Westwood bike lanes connecting Wilshire and National killed by council office (L.A. Streetsblog) 

Actually the stretch of road in question is Westwood Bouelvard between Pico and Santa Monica. The city had been looking at a floating bike lane concept for that stretch of busy road in hopes of preserving a peak hour general traffic lane. But Damien Newton reports that concept is opposed by the local council office. Here’s the thing: Westwood Boulevard offers a key connection between UCLA and future Purple Line Extension and Expo Line stations. Good bus and bike infrastructure on that corridor is super important.

Starbucks to test store on a Swiss train (USA Today) 

Photo: Starbucks.

Photo: Starbucks.

Looks like the Swiss will soon be able to enjoy overheated coffee that doesn’t taste quite right while traveling between Geneva and St. Gallen. Excerpt:

It was a serious challenge to design the Starbucks store on a train, says Liz Muller, director of concept design for Starbucks. “We had to take into account the constant movement of the train, space limitation and stringent safety regulations.”

It’s one of the smallest espresso bars and stores that Starbucks has ever designed, she says.

The exterior of the sleek red and white car is branded with Starbucks’ siren logo on both sides, including “Starbucks” text. White icons representing menu items, including beverages and muffins, and an image of Starbucks espresso machines are on train windows.

Inside, the colors are the familiar Starbucks browns and whites — but no orange or green. The car’s two levels provide seating for 50.


Wow, if Swiss trains could just add Victoria’s Secret, an Apple store and a Cinnabon…

Los Angeles is not a sin (Zocalo Public Square) 

This amazingly intelligent article by Joe Mathews is not about transportation per se — rather it’s about the gushing and often lacking-in-insight coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Big excerpt:

The biggest currents in the flood of commentary are these: that the aqueduct is a singular, only-in-L.A. engineering accomplishment; that it was responsible for the creation of the city; and that it was the city’s original sin, committed by a few powerful people who held L.A. in their sway. All of this new commentary is seasoned with the spice of self-congratulation over finally having a conversation about water after 100 years of supposedly ignoring it.

It’s not just that all of this is wrong. (Has there ever been a time when L.A. wasn’t talking about water?) It’s that it all reeks of the disease that might be called “Los Angeles exceptionalism,” the notion that this is a place different from all the rest, as if skullduggery or deception or imported water makes L.A. unique.

For the record, imported water has been a feature of cities since Roman times. Even places wetter than L.A. take the water of others. New York built its first two aqueducts in the 19th century, decades before the L.A. Aqueduct. San Francisco, for all its environmental self-regard, still relies on water taken from the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park, part of a project that began the same year that the L.A. Aqueduct opened.


Of course, it is the banality of L.A. civic life that makes the conspiracy theories and cinematic narratives so powerful. We’d rather believe in shadowy power than reckon with the fact that no one is in charge. The Chinatown narrative—it’s the powerful guy’s fault—absolves us not only of blame for L.A.’s problems but also of responsibility for solving them.

The bigger question is this: Can L.A. ever stop thinking of itself as an exceptionally unnatural or corrupt or fallen place? You can try to debunk the conspiracy theories. You can try to argue that we have the power to write our own history, just as we did in the past. You can try to convince people that we’ll never get our act together as long as we believe that a few powerful people control everything. You can … Ah, forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.



A lot of the things that Joe writes about the aqueduct can also be said about the way transportation has been written about here. First, there’s the myth that our traffic and our commutes is spectacularly worse than other places. It’s not; our commute times are pretty typical of major metro areas in the U.S.

And then there’s the notion that still rears its head from time to time that L.A. is too sprawling, too different and too car addicted for transit here to work. Of course, that’s bunk. London is sprawling. So is Paris. And Moscow. And transit works there. But as with coverage of the aqueduct, that kind of context is often missing. 

Going forward, the Los Angeles area can be whatever it wants to be, people.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Nov. 14

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ART OF TRANSIT: Culver City station from our Instagram account.

Exploring the South Bay Green Line Extension (KCET Depatures)

A look at the possible route and station locations of the light rail alternative for the Green Line Extension project, which is partially funded by Measure R. The light rail option would extend the Green Line along the old Harbor Subdivision rail right-of-way to a new transit center in Torrance. More funding would be needed to reach Torrance.

Better public transit is as good as gold (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Assemblyman Mike Gatto authors an opinion piece calling for the Gold Line to be extended from Pasadena to the airport in Ontario to help improve transit in a region he describes as underserved. A Pasadena-to-Azusa extension is under construction and is funded by Measure R and a second phase to Montclair is in Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan but is not funded at this time along with other unfunded transit extensions or new projects.

Lessons in urbanism from Chicago for downtown L.A. (DTLA Rising)

Check it out!: a two-way protected bike lane in downtown Chicago. Photo by Brigham Yen.

Check it out!: a two-way protected bike lane in downtown Chicago. Photo by Brigham Yen.

Brigham Yen finds downtown Chicago to be exceptionally clean and with good signage. “After 4 days of exploring, Chicago in a nutshell can be summed up as: 4-directional, walkable, bike-friendly, bustling, architecturally stunning, proud, and yes, evenimmaculate. Even the alleyways were clean. Amazing!,” he writes. The post has a ton of great photos backing up Brigham’s assertion.

Pronghorn take to highway crossings (High Country News) 

Pronghorn cross a road in Sweetwater County, Wyoming. Photo by carfull...Cowboy Stater via Flickr creative commons.

Pronghorn cross a road in Sweetwater County, Wyoming. Photo by carfull…Cowboy Stater via Flickr creative commons.

Eight-foot-tall fences have been built to funnel pronghorn in Wyoming to a pair of overpasses and eight underpasses to help them get across Highway 191 on their annual 100-mile migration in Wyoming. After initial fear and anxiety, the pronghorn (commonly and wrongly called antelope) seem to be taking to it. That’s good news for proponents of highway wildlife crossings which are sometimes mocked for their cost and ambition — but in Florida, California, Montana and many other places are also proving to work.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, November 13

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ART OF TRANSIT: Line 45 on Broadway just north of Chinatown. From Metro’s Instagram account.

Is it okay to kill cyclists? (New York Times) 

I’m a couple days behind in my reading, so apologies for not including this yesterday. This op-ed by Daniel Duane, a sometimes cyclist in San Francisco, is very well-written. As he points out, motorists are frequently given the benefit of the doubt in deadly accidents involving cyclists, even when there are laws on the books that protect the rights of those on bicycles.

Interestingly, the last couple of paragraphs in the article have provoked some criticism from cycling activists:

Cycling debates often break along predictable lines — rural-suburban conservatives opposed to spending a red cent on bike safety, urban liberals in favor. But cycling isn’t sky diving. It’s not just thrill-seeking, or self-indulgence. It’s a sensible response to a changing transportation environment, with a clear social upside in terms of better public health, less traffic and lower emissions. The world is going this way regardless, toward ever denser cities and resulting changes in law and infrastructure. But the most important changes, with the potential to save the most lives, are the ones we can make in our attitudes.

So here’s my proposal: Every time you get on a bike, from this moment forward, obey the letter of the law in every traffic exchange everywhere to help drivers (and police officers) view cyclists as predictable users of the road who deserve respect. And every time you get behind the wheel, remember that even the slightest inattention can maim or kill a human being enjoying a legitimate form of transportation. That alone will make the streets a little safer, although for now I’m sticking to the basement and maybe the occasional country road.

Damien Newton, writing at L.A. Streetsblog, said the problem with the New York Times’ piece was that it “still paints the problem of cops not enforcing the law as partially “the cyclists” fault.” Damien also has links to some of the other reaction.

With all due respect, I didn’t read the NYT article that way — i.e. blaming the victims. I found it appropriately and enormously sympathetic to the plight of cyclists while being very critical of law enforcement.

Robert Greene in the Los Angeles Times also has a good op-ed article today reacting to the NYT piece and comes to many of the same conclusions. 

Your thoughts, readers?

No time to write? Take the subway (KCRW)

Pinched for time, librarian and film historian Christina Rice was desperate for time to work on a biography of 1930s film actress Ann Dvorak. The answer: she used her Red Line subway trip from NoHo to downtown L.A. and back to peck away on her keyboard until the book was finished. Here’s the interview:

Bridge to nowhere (The Architect’s Newspaper) 

An effort by the architectural firm RAC Design Build to have the old Riverside-Figueroa bridge preserved and converted to a pedestrian walkway/park (think New York City’s High Line) is very unlikely to happen (the city is building a replacement bridge). The problem: the city of L.A. says the cost may be prohibitive and there doesn’t appear to be much political support for the plan as the bridge’s April demolition date gets closer. Too bad, but it’s a bit of a tough location, too — hemmed in by the 5 and 110 freeways.

Blighted cities prefer razing to rebuilding (New York Times) 

This quote sums it up nicely:

“It is not the house itself that has value, it is the land the house stands on,” said Sandra Pianalto, the president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. “This led us to the counterintuitive concept that the best policy to stabilize neighborhoods may not always be rehabilitation. It may be demolition.”

Large-scale destruction is well known in Detroit, but it is also underway in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Buffalo and others at a total cost of more than $250 million. Officials are tearing down tens of thousands of vacant buildings, many habitable, as they seek to stimulate economic growth, reduce crime and blight, and increase environmental sustainability.

One of the big problems is that many of those cities have been steadily losing population — presumably to the ‘burbs. I’m from Cincy and while the city proper has shrunk, the metropolitan area has steadily spread 10 to 20 miles outward in my lifetime.

The tough part of this story is that it’s easy to understand the dilemma of city officials. The renovation they probably want isn’t happening or isn’t happening fast enough. The question is whether something better will come along.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, i.e. 11/12/13

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ART OF SUNRISE: Nice one a little after 6 a.m. this morning in lovely downtown Montrose, served by the 90 bus; downtown Montrose is where Will Ferrell went streaking in “Old School.” Photo via submission by Maricela Gomez.

Vote on 405 toll lanes in O.C. is delayed (L.A. Times)

The Orange County Transportation Authority will not vote until Dec. 9 on plans to improve traffic on the 405 freeway. Among the alternatives: converting the existing HOV lane to a congestion pricing lane, adding a second toll lane and adding a general purpose lane for 14 miles of the 405 south of the L.A. County line (between the 605 and 73 freeways).

Who knows if OCTA will go for it? The L.A. Times worked the phrase “Lexus Lanes” in the second graph of its article and will likely keep doing so — especially with cities along the route opposing this alternative. Of course, lost in the heat is that no general purpose lanes would be lost and under the controversial option, a general lane would be added. As for carpoolers and who pays tolls and who does not, those decisions have not yet been made.

This staff report from OCTA lays out the different alternatives — see page 3.

The obvious reader question: what does this mean for the 405 north of the O.C.-L.A. boundary? At this point, nothing. The Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project, which is nowhere near the O.C. line, is looking at a possible toll tunnel to help pay for a transit project — but that is one of several concepts that have been studied on a preliminary basis. That project is still in its very early phases and will need a lot more funding before being built; that’s the reason a public-private partnership is being explored.

Garcetti seeks to expand Hyperion Bridge deadline (L.A. Streetsblog)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to delay firming up plans to renovate the bridge over the Los Angeles River for more community review of the current plan. Cycling advocates have been very critical of the city Bureau of Engineering’s plans, saying they serve motorists but not pedestrians or those on bikes.

Report from the California bike summit (L.A. Times)

Editorial page writer Robert Greene attended the summit in Oakland and offers a few impressions. Among them: Long Beach is probably tops in building bike infrastructure. Another: Design really matters and that cycling is a vital way of getting around for some low-income communities that have lost jobs and have poor transit service. He also ends his piece with a chide of sorts concerning safety. Thoughtful piece.

Bacon deodorant: coming soon! (JD Foods)


I can’t wait for our first complaint about this, uh, exciting new hygiene product. From the product description:

Using POWER BACON will probably make everyone drawn to you like you were the most powerful magnet on Earth. And by everyone, we mean friends, acquaintances, beautiful strangers, dogs, bears, swamp alligators, lions and even pigs. It’s like an aphrodisiac for your armpits. But use your new power wisely, because with great bacon power comes great baconsponsibility.

There’s also this:

Do not eat or hike in the woods without a firearm while wearing POWER BACON.

Before putting bacon deoderant into your grooming lineup, you may want to consider the Metro Customer Code of Conduct, which has this to say on the issue of odors:

6‐05‐160 Odors
A. A person may not be in a Metro facility or vehicle with an unavoidable grossly repulsive odor so extreme it causes a nuisance, unreasonably interferes with the use, operation, or enjoyment
of the Metro facilities or vehicles for Metro representatives or patrons, or creates an unsafe
35 condition.
B. Extreme odors may arise from a variety of sources, including one’s body, possessions, clothing, food, chemicals, or accompanying animals.

Transportation headlines, Friday, November 8

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ART OF TRANSIT: An early customer for the new NB 405 flyover ramp from Wilshire Boulevard on Thursday. The ramp is part of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: An early customer for the new NB 405 flyover ramp from Wilshire Boulevard on Thursday. The ramp is part of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

The mysterious, invisible opera in L.A.’s Union Station (The Verge) 

Great coverage of the “Invisible Cities” operate at Union Station via wireless headphones. The operate has been extended through this weekend; check here for ticket availability.

Register parent, Freedom Communications, drops talk of hub-naming rights (Orange County Register) 

The ‘oy vey’ story of the day. The Register’s owner was going to help Anaheim find a corporate sponsor interested in naming rights for the the new transportation hub under construction adjacent to the Angels’ ballpark. The sorta Journalism 101 obvious problem: it’s probably best if newspapers aren’t involved in funding projects they’re supposed to be covering.

The station looks nice, btw. It would be even nicer if there was evening train service back to L.A. for those interested in watching the Ducks engage in the exciting sport of ice hockey at the nearby Pond.

Rendering: city of Anaheim and OCTA.

Rendering: city of Anaheim and OCTA.

A look at how the New York subway system is being prepped for wireless reception (NY1) 

Cell service has already arrived at some Manhattan subway stations and the New York MTA is planning on having it at 277 stations by 2017. Here’s a look at some of the behind-the-scenes work to make that possible. The Metro Board of Directors approved a contract earlier this year to provide cell reception at underground stations but it will likely take a couple of years to implement.

King County proposes ending 74 bus routes (

Unhappy news for the Seattle area. Metro Transit says it needs more funding to replace the $1.2 billion lost to the Great Recession that began in 2008.

Cities turn to streetcars to spur economic development (Stateline: Pew Charitable Trusts)

The focus of the story is the four-mile streetcar project in Tucson that is expected to cost about $196 million and — according to supporters — attract four times that much in economic development along the route. The city of Los Angeles is seeking to build a four-mile streetcar route through downtown L.A. with the latest estimate running $153 to $162 million, according to city officials. Federal funding will be needed.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, November 7

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ART OF TRANSIT: The old streetcar depot on the VA campus in West Los Angeles. It was built in 1900 — and looks like it was last painted around that time — and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Here is a story that ran in the L.A. Times today about a new study alleging that the VA is putting hundreds of historic properties at risk of demolition by failing to maintain them. It’s not really related, but the Purple Line Extension’s station at the VA Hospital will be near the trolley stop, but on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard.

Will Los Angeles ever get a bike share program? (Downtown News)

Metro’s Board of Directors in October voted to begin exploring a countywide bike share program — in effect, ending the city of Los Angeles’ efforts to start a program through BikeNation, a private firm. The Downtown News reports that problem with the city’s effort, and one that could plague the countywide effort, is a contract the city of L.A. has with two outdoor advertising firms that gives them exclusive rights through 2021 to the kind of ads that would presumably be used to help fund a bike share program. Other cities aren’t encumbered with these kind of deals, allowing them to seek exclusive advertisers for their programs — for example, the CitiBikes in Gotham.

What does it take to map an earthquake fault? (KPCC)

A very well-written explanation of how earthquake faults are mapped in California and the efforts underway to better map the Hollywood Fault. The issue in Hollywood involves development: two skyscrapers are proposed for a site that critics say is on top of the fault. The bigger issue is that due to state budget cuts, many fault maps need updating, the reason Metro had to perform its own set of tests to determine the location of the Santa Monica Fault and the West Beverly Hills Lineament when planning the Purple Line Extension.

Purple Line project gets Maryland approval to seek public-private partnership (Washington Post)

The $2.2-billion project would build 21 miles of light rail through the busy D.C. suburbs in Maryland, providing connections to Washington Metro rail lines and commuter rail. The deal would involve getting $900 million in federal funds and then have a private firm or firms provide up to $900 million of the cost in exchange for receiving $100 million to $200 million annually for 30 to 35 years to operate and maintain the line. It will be interesting to see if they can make it work. These deals always sound plausible on paper but often prove difficult to engineer in the real world.

Do bike lanes fuel gentrification? (Utne Reader)

A very interesting article about efforts to install protected bike lanes on Chicago’s South Side and the somewhat mixed reaction by African-American churches in the area who feared loss of parking. But the Utne Reader dives deeper and looks at the views by some that bike lanes — sometimes known as ‘white lanes’ — are the prelude to the kind of gentrification that could change their neighborhoods in profound ways, and not all of them for the better.

A really fascinating and fair piece of journalism. Read it.

Cincinnati streetcar in jeopardy as new mayor threatens to stop it (Next City)


Photo by David Cole

The mayor-elect of the Queen City doesn’t like Cincy’s effort to build a downtown streetcar. Construction has begun and a half-mile of track may be built by the time he takes office — and the cost of stopping it may be more than building it. One of the often heard complaints about the project (one of many similar projects around the country) is that the money would be better spent on improving bus service in town.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, November 6

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ART OF TRANSIT: 6th & Spring in DTLA, from our Instagram account.

Anti-HSR rail forces renew call for new alignment (California High-Speed Rail Blog)

Bullet train plan proponent Robert Cruickshank writes that those pushing for a rail line across/under the Tejon Pass are, in fact, floating a plan that would kill California’s high-speed rail project by making it more complex than it already is and less likely to attract private investment. It would also take Bakersfield and Fresno off the route’s main line — making some Kings County residents happy but defeating the purpose of the project, which is to tie together major cities across the southern half of the state.

Researchers say mountain lion killed on the 101 freeway probably from the north (Ventura County Star)

The cougar killed in Agoura Hills in October was trying to get from the north to area south of the 101 freeway, where there is a small group of lions inhabiting the Santa Monica Mountains. The fear for many years is that the lions in the Santa Monicas will hit a genetic bottleneck unless their population is allowed to mingle and mate with the larger number of lions up north in the Santa Susana and San Gabriel ranges. Caltrans has twice come up short with the $10 million needed for a wildlife tunnel near the Liberty Canyon exit. While wildlife crossings are sometimes mocked by the media (not the Star), they work elsewhere and I hope something can be done here — it’s smart wildlife management.

A mountain lion uses a wildlife underpass in Florida. Credit: Florida Department of Transportation.

A mountain lion uses a wildlife underpass in Florida. Credit: Florida Department of Transportation.

Showing up to work tired is just like showing up to work drunk (Marketplace)

Okay, not a transportation story per se, but it reminded me of a Gold Line ride last week when three of the four of us sitting on the aisle-facing seats slipped into a deep slumber in the middle of the day. And I was only riding from Del Mar to Union Station — a 19-minute ride.

As the story says, the average American is getting 90 minutes less sleep these days as usual and one of the culprits is the unending and around-the-clock cascade of work emails that people are getting on their smartphones. To put it another way, people are not being given a chance to stop thinking about work.

Today’s timewaster: Awesome aerial footage of the Los Angeles Aqueduct from KPCC: