Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 8

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

ART OF TRANSIT: The new platform for the Arcadia station along the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The new platform for the Arcadia station along the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Why cars remain so appealing even in cities with great public transit (Washington Post) 

This is one of the smartest posts I’ve read in a while about the challenges facing transit in big cities in the U.S. The article is based on maps produced by MIT that allow for comparisons in travel time in a variety of cities (unfortunately, there’s no map for L.A. yet). The gist of it: cycling and driving in many cities are a more efficient and faster way of getting around than transit.

Riffing on those maps — if they’re correct — the Post’s Emily Badger writes:

Another takeaway is that these maps illustrate why people make rational calculations to drive so much of the time, even in cities where decent transit does exist. The total financial cost per trip of driving somewhere is likely higher than taking transit (or biking), once you factor in car payments, insurance, and maintenance. But we tend to treat those as sunk costs. And so we often make travel decisions with a time budget in mind, not a financial one. By that metric, it’s clear here why people who can afford to drive often chose to. It’s also clear on these maps that people who can’t afford a car pay a steep penalty in time to get around.

Transit advocates spend a lot of time worrying about the lack of appeal of transit for “choice riders,” or commuters who have other options for getting around. It’s important to recognize that the decisions they make are often weighed in time.

That means that a big part of the challenge here for cities is to make transit a more efficient travel mode, relative to cars, for more people….

[snip]

But outside of New York — with its extensive subway system — this is an extremely difficult task, particularly given that most of these maps reflect the fact that we’ve built cities to be traveled by cars (by, for instance, routing highways through them). But it’s possible to increase the relative efficiency of transit by creating dedicated lanes and signal priority for buses at stoplights, or increasing forms of express transit service. Transit networks could even compress what feels like the time cost of riding transit by adding cell service and WiFi that enable passengers to use time spent commuting productively — and in ways that aren’t possible from the driver’s seat of a car.

I hope every transit advocate, planner and elected official in our area reads this. I realize some people may not agree, but it certainly struck a chord with me and articulated what I’ve been trying to say for quite a few years: many commuters — including nearly all that I know — consider time the biggest factor in their commutes. They like the idea of transit, but time usually trumps things such as “liking the idea,” cost and the do-gooder factor.

Two other thoughts:

•This article indirectly implies that slowing down transit with extra traffic signals is a great way to dampen ridership and the investment made in transit in the first place.

•The MIT maps are a great argument for a healthy expansion of cycling infrastructure. As Emily writes, there probably is a cap on the number of people who will commute by bike, but there’s probably reason to believe most cities can grow the number of bike commuters somewhat.

Your thoughts, readers?

Bill Ford on the future of more cars: we can’t simply sell more cars (Wall Street Journal) 

Well, that’s certainly an eye-grabbing headline given that Bill Ford happens to be the Big Cheese at one of the world’s largest automakers. Unfortunately the op-ed is behind the WSJ pay wall. If you read it, please leave a comment summarizing the article. Thanks!

Gold Line Foothill Extension photo tour: transit-oriented development (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Photos and text look at some of the development plans in Monrovia, Duarte and Azusa adjacent to the project that is extending the Gold Line from eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border. Looks like Monrovia is the most ambitious thus far with its Station Square plans; I think there are some great opportunities up and down the 11.5-mile alignment.

Why the Highway Trust Fund is running out of funds in five graphs (Washington Post) 

Or to put it in one sentence: the federal gas tax hasn’t been raised in 21 years, cars are more fuel efficient, people aren’t buying as much gas, people are driving less. Why does it matter? The Highway Trust Fund helps pay for road work and transit projects across the country and agencies such as Metro rely on those dollars. More on that later today.

Metro staff recommend contractors to build Purple Line Extension’s first phase

project_map

This another step forward for the 3.9-mile Purple Line Extension project and puts the subway addition closer to construction. Utility relocations and some other prep work have are already underway.

Three rail projects that are receiving Measure R funding are already under construction — the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Expo Line Phase 2 and the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The Regional Connector is ramping up for construction after the awarding of a construction contract earlier this year.

There will be more details on the Purple Line Extension contract later in the month when the staff report is released. The Metro Board is scheduled to consider the contract at its meeting later this month.

The news release from Metro:

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) staff today recommended awarding a $1.636 billion contract to design and build a 3.9-mile extension of the Metro Purple Line subway from Wilshire and Western to Wilshire and La Cienega to a joint venture composed of three of the world’s top construction companies.

At its July 24 meeting the Metro Board will consider the recommendation to award a contract to the firms of Skanska, Traylor Bros. and J.F. Shea, a Joint Venture (STS). The Metro Board’s Construction Committee will first review staff’s recommendation on July 17.

The procurement process has been extensive and altogether has taken nearly two years to reach the point where the Metro Board this month will consider a contract award for the first phase of the subway extension.

The contract calls for building twin subway tunnels on a 3.92-mile alignment that includes three new underground stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. It also includes train control and signals, communications, traction power supply and distribution, and fare collection systems that will be integrated with the existing Metro Rail system. Construction activities could begin later this year depending on when the contract is awarded. The contract requires completion in October 2024. The contractors have proposed an early completion schedule saving 300 calendar days.

Combined, these three construction firms have more than 300 years of experience.    Traylor Bros., Inc. has a track record that features more than 110 tunneling projects including the Metro Gold Line Eastside project that connects downtown Los Angeles with Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. That project was completed in 2009 on time and within budget, and Traylor Bros. achieved 4.5 million work hours without incident and zero ground loss during construction.

Skanska is building the extension of the Expo light rail project from Culver City to Santa Monica, scheduled to open in early 2016. The project is on time and within budget.  The company also worked on the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa, also scheduled to open in 2016 and is on time and within budget.

Skanska and Traylor Bros. are the team building the Regional Connector, a 1.9-mile underground light rail project in downtown Los Angeles that will connect the Metro Blue, Gold and Expo lines.

Shea is part of a joint venture building the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, which will connect the Metro Expo and Green light rail lines in the Crenshaw and Inglewood corridors.

Shea and Traylor worked on the large City of Los Angeles Northeast Interceptor Sewer tunnel.  

Continue reading

Avoid LAX “Century Crunch” traffic July 25-28 by taking public transit

The news release from Metro:

metro_metrolink_map

Public transit is one of the best options for avoiding the “Century Crunch,” a 57-hour street closure on Century Boulevard to demolish the Century Boulevard Bridge leading into LAX during the weekend of July 25-28 as part of construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project.

Numerous transit lines, including FlyAway® bus, Metro Green Line with free LAX Shuttle G to and from airline terminals, Metro Bus, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, Culver City Bus, Beach Cities Transit, and Torrance Transit will all provide access to the airport during the weekend bridge demolition operation.

Century Boulevard, one of the main access roads to the airport, will be closed to traffic at the Aviation Boulevard intersection beginning 9 p.m. Friday, July 25, through 6 a.m. Monday, July 28. Access to LAX from Sepulveda Boulevard will remain open as usual.  The old railroad bridge needs to be demolished to allow for the future construction of a new Century/Aviation light rail station.

“We avoided ‘Carmageddon’ on the 405 because we planned ahead and Angelenos chose to use transit and avoid unnecessary trips, and we can do the same during the ‘Century Crunch.’ If you are traveling to LAX during this time, it’s the perfect time to discover the car-free options that are available, and you just might decide to use them in the future.” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti.

The FlyAway® service offers four bus lines that serve all terminals at Los Angeles International Airport.  Boarding locations include the Metro Expo/La Brea Station, Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles, the Van Nuys FlyAway® bus terminal in the San Fernando Valley, and Westwood/UCLA Flyaway.  A new FlyAway® service also will begin to operate from Santa Monica Civic Center on July 15. For more information on FlyAway® bus schedules, locations and fares, visit www.lawa.aero/flyaway.

To get to LAX by public transportation on the weekend of July 25-27 and beyond, it is hard to beat the Metro Green Line. Ride to the Aviation/LAX Station, go downstairs and catch the free “G-Aviation” LAX shuttle bus from Bays 6 and 7. The “G” shuttle is operated by the airport and it serves all passenger terminals. Metro Line 120 (Imperial Highway) also serves the Aviation/LAX Station.

metro-map-green-line

Metro Bus lines serving the airport include Lines 102, 111, 117, and 232.  These lines all terminate at the LAX City Bus Center on 96th Street just east of Sepulveda Boulevard. After getting off your bus, walk a short distance to the west end of the LAX City Bus Center and cross over to the LAX Parking Lot C depot where you catch the free “C” LAX shuttle bus to the LAX airline terminals. Line 102 serves Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Stocker Street, and La Tijera Boulevard. Line 111 serves Florence Avenue and Arbor Vitae Street. Line 117 serves Century Boulevard, and Line 232 serves Pacific Coast Highway and Sepulveda Boulevard south of LAX.

Municipal bus providers with service to LAX include Beach Cities Transit Line 109, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line 3, Culver City Line 6 and Torrance Transit Line 8.  All four lines serve the LAX City Bus Center. Beach Cities, Big Blue Bus, and Culver City also serve the Metro Aviation/LAX Green Line Station.

The bus lines that will be affected by the Century Boulevard closure are Metro Bus 117 and Line 40 owl service, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line 3, Culver City Bus Line 6 and Beach City Transit Line 109.  On the weekend of July 25-27, bus service on these lines will follow recommended detours through the area.

To plan your trip on public transportation, visit metro.net and use the trip planner.  For more information on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, the Century bridge demolition, related street closures and recommended detours go to metro.net/Crenshaw. Join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CrenshawRail and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/crenshawrail.

map_proj_crenslax_detour_final

Follow LAX on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LAInternationalAirport, Twitter at www.twitter.com/flyLAXairport and www.LAXisHappening.com for airport construction and traffic-related impacts.

About Metro

Metro is a multimodal transportation agency that is really three companies in one: a major operator that transports about 1.5 million boarding passengers on an average weekday on a fleet of 2,000 clean air buses and six rail lines; a major construction agency that oversees many bus, rail, highway and other mobility related building projects, and; the lead transportation planning agency for Los Angeles County. Overseeing one of the largest public works programs in America, Metro is, literally, changing the urban landscape of the Los Angeles region. Dozens of transit, highway and other mobility projects largely funded by Measure R are under construction or in the planning stages. These include five new rail lines, the I-5 widening and other major projects.

Stay informed by following Metro on The Source and El Pasajero at metro.net, facebook.com/losangelesmetro, twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.

Metrolink introduces 91 Line weekend service

From our friends at Metrolink:
A New Way to L.A.

Traveling to L.A. and Orange County on the weekends just got easier. Beginning July 5, Metrolink will offer weekend service from Downtown Riverside to L.A. with stops in between at La Sierra, North Main Corona, West Corona, Fullerton, Buena Park and Norwalk. Experience L.A. and beyond like never before with day trips to Chinatown, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Pantages Theatre, L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Universal Studios, L.A. Live, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Old Town Pasadena and much more when you take the 91 Line to L.A. and connect on the Red, Purple, Expo and Gold lines. The 91 Line weekend service offers a new way to see L.A. and experience all that L.A. has to offer.

Due to this schedule change, San Bernardino Line weekend trains (351, 367, 364, 376) will no longer start or end at Riverside-Downtown, also effective July 5.

Metrolink $10 Weekend Day Pass

Metrolink offers a Weekend Day Pass for only $10. This pass allows a passenger to ride anytime, anywhere systemwide on Saturday or Sunday. The Weekend Day Pass includes free connections to most rail and bus lines throughout Southern California.

Inbound to L.A. Union Station 751 753
RIVERSIDE-DOWNTOWN 7:40 AM 9:00 AM
RIVERSIDE-LA SIERRA 7:50 AM 9:10 AM
NORTH MAIN CORONA 7:58 AM 9:18 AM
WEST CORONA 8:04 AM 9:24 AM
FULLERTON 8:29 AM 9:49 AM
BUENA PARK 8:36 AM 9:56 AM
NORWALK/SANTA FE SPRINGS 8:44 AM 10:04 AM
LA UNION STATION (arrival time) 9:20 AM 10:40 AM

Outbound to Riverside-Downtown

752

754

LA UNION STATION 3:15 PM 7:15 PM
NORWALK/SANTA FE SPRINGS 3:36 PM 7:36 PM
BUENA PARK 3:42 PM 7:42 PM
FULLERTON 3:49 PM 7:49 PM
WEST CORONA 4:13 PM 8:13 PM
NORTH MAIN CORONA 4:20 PM 8:20 PM
RIVERSIDE-LA SIERRA 4:29 PM 8:29 PM
RIVERSIDE-DOWNTOWN (arrival time) 4:52 PM 8:55 PM

Transportation headlines, Monday, July 7

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Thanks for riding on Friday, everyone! How was transit service to the various firework events around town? Comment please.

California screaming (New Yorker) 

A good story — albeit behind a paywall — about the ongoing gentrification and spectacular rise in real estate prices in San Francisco due to a booming tech industry in the Bay Area. If you can get your paws on a July 7 edition, it’s worthy of a role. Transit plays a role as the article discusses the controversy over private tech industry buses ferrying workers between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Proponents say the buses help get commuters out of cars while opponents argue that tech firms should have never been allowed to use public bus stops for free and that the buses make it too easy for wealthy young workers to drive up housing costs in the city of San Francisco while working outside the city.

The median household income in S.F: $73,802. In L.A.: $49,745, according to the Census Bureau’s latest numbers. That’s a big difference!

A very interesting story because some of the things happening in San Francisco seem to be good and enviable: jobs are being created, infrastructure is being improved upon. On the other hand, and as the article makes clear, there remains serious debate over much the tech industry workers — with their new wealth — are really contributing to the city where they reside. And it’s pretty clear that San Francisco’s leaders efforts to build and encourage the development of affordable housing are, at best, painfully slow.

City of Pasadena studies protected bike lanes (Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition) 

The city hired a contractor to look at the possibility of protected bike lanes — i.e. ones protected from traffic by more than a thin white stripe of paint — on six east-west streets. A couple could help cyclists reach Gold Line stations, most notably on Del Mar and Villa. Del Mar is a bit of a bad joke at present: the city has it marked as a bike route even though car traffic is very heavy and there are stretches where cyclists have no choice but to take a whole lane because space along the curb is either lacking or used by parked motor vehicles. Pasadena has been talking about improving bike infrastructure for quite some time now but that hasn’t resulted in any real action. I should know. I live and bike there.

Cash free buses (Transport for London) 

Buses in London no longer accept cash fares. Riders can pay with an Oyster card (their version of Metro’s TAP card) or use contact-less cards such as debit or credit cards. The transit agency says very few people were using cash on buses anymore and the move will save the agency money.

Riverside: streetcars may roll in the city’s future (Press-Enterprise)

The city is studying a potential 12-mile streetcar line with a first phase that would connect downtown to UC Riverside. I haven’t been to Riverside in forever; would this work, readers?

Hell must look like this: a grueling year for a train-struck town (NPR) 

A look back at the tragedy in Lac-Megantic, where last July the brakes of an unattended train failed. The 72-car train — complete with tanker cars filled with oil – rolled downhill, overturned and exploded in Lac-Megantic’s downtown, killing 47 people. Much of downtown is still abandoned due to rubble and contamination from the fire. An unbelievable story of neglect. The New York Times Magazine also published a short piece in December about those in a tavern next to the tracks when the train derailed.

Northbound 405 closure between Getty Center Drive and Greenleaf planned night of July 7

Here’s the press release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is scheduled to conduct a nighttime freeway closure on the northbound I-405 between Getty Center Drive and Greenleaf on the night of Monday, July 7 through the morning of Tuesday, July 8, 2014. The contractor will install electrical loops on the northbound freeway.

Closure information is as follows:

  • Night of Monday, July 7, midnight to 5 a.m., Tuesday, July 8

Ramps begin closing as early as 7 p.m. and lanes begin closing at 10 p.m.

Ramp Closures:

  • Northbound Sunset Boulevard to on-ramp
  • Northbound Moraga on-ramp
  • Northbound Getty Center Drive on-ramp
  • Northbound Skirball Center Drive on-ramp
  • Northbound I-405 to the north US 101 connector

Detour:

Take the northbound Getty Center Drive off-ramp, head north on Sepulveda Boulevard to the northbound I-405 on-ramp at Greenleaf Street.

What to expect:

Heading to Anime Expo? Use Pico Station!

Went cosplayer-spotting at the Metro Blue/Expo Pico Station on Day 1 of Anime Expo, taking place now at the L.A. Convention Center through July 6. Pico Station is an east one-block walk to the convention center for those headed to the Expo! (Blue Line timetable/map and Expo Line timetable/map)

If you spot any awesome cosplayers in transit, (ask them if you can) take their photos and tag us on Twitter or Instagram @metrolosangeles!

Photos by Anna Chen and Steve Hymon/Metro