Go Metro Weekends, March 28 − 30

Attend the Downtown Book Fest in the lovely Grand Park this Saturday (image via Creative Commons).

Attend the Downtown Book Fest in the lovely Grand Park this Saturday (image via Creative Commons).

Welcome to the latest edition of Go Metro Weekends!

Buses and trains are for so much more than your weekday commute. This Friday-Sunday, let Metro take you beyond your workday routine to fun, informative, and inspiring events across the City of Angels. Here are a few ideas to get you going.

Friday

Kick off the weekend with Amoeba Record’s free, live DJ series: Rotations. This Friday, DJ Paul V (of Dragstrip 66 and Indie 103.1 fame) guest spins starting at 8 p.m. Browse or shop to your heart’s content and save $3 off purchases over $5 with your TAP card. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Vine Station, Metro Rapid 780 to Hollywood/Vine, Metro Bus 2/302 to Sunset/Ivar.)

Saturday

Calling all bookworms: the Grand Park Book Fest takes place this Saturday from 12-5 p.m.! The event is free to attend, and with valid TAP card, save 10% on purchases at the Writ Large pop-up shop (representing local authors and presses including Red Hen Press) or The Library Store on Wheels. (Metro Red/Purple Line to Civic Center/Grand Park Station, or numerous Metro buses stopping at the park on Grand, Hill, Broadway and Spring.)

Audrey and Agent Cooper put their heads together in Twin Peaks.

Remember Source Readers: “The owls are not what they seem…” (image via Creative commons)

Starting at 12:15 p.m., the Paley Center for Media presents a marathon screening of David Lynch’s cult-favorite series Twin Peaks. The screening is free with price of admission. (Metro Rapid 704, Metro Bus 4 or 14/37 to Santa Monica/Canon, Metro Bus 16/316 to S. Santa Monica/Canon, or Metro Rapid 720 to Wilshire/Beverly and walk northwest about 8 minutes to destination.)

Cheer on the L.A. Kings as they face off against the Winnipeg Jets at the Staples Center. Puck drops at 7 p.m. Ticket prices vary, but all Metro riders save 10% on official merchandise at the team store. (Metro Blue/Expo Line to Pico Station.)

Sunday

Long Beach’s first-ever Restaurant Week begins this Sunday and runs through Saturday, April 5. For a list of participating venues, prices, and hours, visit the Eat LBC website. (Metro Blue Line to various Downtown Long Beach stations.)

All Weekend

Get experimental at LACMA this Friday and Saturday with The Least Important Things, Emily Mast’s procession of theatrical vignettes based on the work of Spanish Poet Joan Brossa. The performances unfold throughout LACMA’s campus and are free if you pick up a timed ticket an hour before the show. Then, if you haven’t already, check out the much-lauded James Turrell Retrospective before it leaves L.A. in just two weeks! LACMA is open from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. (Metro Rapid 720, Bus 20 or DASH Fairfax to Wilshire/Fairfax, Metro Rapid 780 or Bus 217 to Fairfax/Wilshire.)

Rock out with Neil Young at the Dolby Theater this Friday or Saturday at 8 p.m. Ticket prices vary. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland Station, Metro Rapid 780, Metro Bus 212/312, 156/656, 217, or 222 to Hollywood/Highland.)

City of Malibu broke ground on two Measure R funded traffic safety improvement projects

Photos: Ben Jong/Metro

The City of Malibu broke ground this week on two new new traffic improvement projects along the Pacific Coast Highway. One project will replace traffic signals at Big Rock Drive to include a left-turn phase and improve the bus stop and pedestrian access. The other project will realign, extend and widen the truck arrester bed–the gravel lane that helps stop runaway vehicles–and improve signage in the area at Kanan Dume Road and PCH.

Both projects are funded by Measure R. Big Rock Drive received approximately $300,000, and Kanan Dume received $900,000. These are the first Measure R funded roadway improvement projects to begin in the City of Malibu.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 27 (part 2)

I missed this one earlier and I’m going to be tied up tomorrow morning at the Move LA conference, so I thought it best to add now:

More buses and highways across the region will ease traffic gridlock, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says (Daily News) 

Speaking at a transportation forum on the San Gabriel Valley on Wednesday, Mayor Garcetti indicated that he wants to pursue regional solutions — including the extension of the Gold Line from Azusa to Claremont and the Los Angeles County-San Bernardino County line. As many readers know, the Pasadena to Azusa segment is under construction and is being funded by Measure R.

The Azusa-Claremont segment is in Metro’s long-range plan but remains unfunded and has been controversial in the past because many in the San Gabriel Valley thought it should have been funded by Measure R.

Excerpt:

Funding for a second extension of the Gold Line, from Azusa to Claremont, has not materialized. Yet, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority is moving ahead on engineering and designs this summer.

“Our project will be ready in 2017. If there is a sales tax initiative passed in 2016 we will be shovel ready and could complete the project by 2022,” said Habib Balian, CEO of the Authority.

The mayor of Los Angeles announced that he fully supports the Gold Line extension from Azusa to Claremont.

In the past, smaller cities in the county clashed with former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, but on Wednesday Duarte Mayor John Fasana, who represents the 31 San Gabriel Valley cities on the MTA board, welcomed the regional message brought by Garcetti to the inland areas.

“At times we’ve had to bare our knuckles and fight for the resources,” Fasana said. “Now, we see an unprecedented opportunity. This new era really bodes well for us.”

All that said, funding is likely to depend on whether the Metro Board — which includes Garcetti and three of his appointees — ultimately decides to pursue a new sales tax increase to Los Angeles County voters to consider in Nov. 2016. While some Board members have openly discussed the possibility, they certainly have NOT yet voted on going forth with a ballot measure.

The activist group Move LA is holding a conference on Friday in downtown Los Angeles in which a “Measure R 2″ will be the focus of discussion. I don’t know how much or how little anyone in elected office is prepared to commit to such a notion, nor do we know what projects would ultimately be funded. Metro has been, and continues, to work with Councils of Government across the county to find out more about their transportation priorities.

In the meantime, it is certainly interesting to hear the mayor support a Gold Line extension that is entirely outside the city’s boundaries, although the Gold Line certainly has a busy segment in the city and will ultimately run through downtown Los Angeles after the Regional Connector is built.

Tentative agreement on new contract reached between Metro and union leaders representing maintenance workers

Here is the statement from Metro:

Tentative agreement on a new labor contract has been reached between Metro and the leadership of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1277, which represents Metro’s maintenance employees.

Details will not be released pending an ATU membership vote. That should take place over the next month.

ATU Local 1277 represents 2,291 Metro employees ranging from service attendants who fuel and clean buses to bus mechanics and rail maintenance specialists. In addition, ATU represents 1,101 retirees. Their last labor contract expired July 1, 2013. ATU has since honored terms of the old agreement. If approved, the new multi-year pact would be retroactive to last July 1.

Other actions taken by the Metro Board of Directors today

It was a very quiet and relatively quick meeting today of the Metro Board of Directors owing to a light agenda. Don’t fret: I suspect the April and May meetings will be far busier — the May 22 meeting, in particular, is when the Board is scheduled to consider fare changes.

As for today, a couple of items of potential interest:

•The Board approved amending Metro’s Customer Code of Conduct to explicitly prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in Metro buses, trains and other facilities. The Code already prohibited smoking, so this is basically a clarification of that rule.

•The Board approved the motion by Board Members Eric Garcetti and Don Knabe seeking Metro to implement a number of technology upgrades, including potentially internet access on buses and trains. Here’s the motion and an earlier post.

•The Board voted to receive and file a staff report on Metro’s executive reorganization plan.

Yaroslavsky motion pushes for creation of San Fernando Valley-Westwood Express bus

We posted last month about proposed route changes for buses in the San Fernando Valley. One of the proposals is for the creation of a new 588 bus that would operate at peak hours that would run between Westwood and Nordhoff Street in North Hills, mostly along the 405 freeway and Van Nuys Boulevard. This new line still requires funding.

Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky submitted a motion to the Metro Board today about the 588 bus; the motion was approved unanimously by the Board today and asks that staff continue the studies needed for the line and to report back to the Board in May. Here’s the text of the motion:

Motion by Director Yaroslavsky

Valley-Westside Express Bus

The San Fernando Valley and Westside are two of Los Angeles’ largest economic engines—places where millions live, shop, work and play. However, there is currently no express transit connection between the regions, which are separated by the Santa Monica Mountains.

This summer, the 405 Project is expected to complete construction and open High Occupancy Vehicle lanes that will create a new avenue for express bus service through the Sepulveda Pass.

Earlier this month, the San Fernando Valley and Westside/Central Local Service Councils held public hearings and made recommendations on proposed changes to bus service in their respective regions. Among the recommendations was the creation of Line 588, an express bus offering nonstop service through the Sepulveda Pass via the I-405 HOV lanes. The line would connect Westwood to the Orange Line and extend north along Van Nuys Boulevard to North Hills. When Phase 2 of Expo Line opens, it would extend south to meet it, providing a connection to Santa Monica, USC and downtown L.A. The proposed line received strong support from the public.

Line 588 promises an immediate solution for Metro patrons while plans for a more extensive future project through the Sepulveda Pass are being evaluated. Because funding has not yet been identified for the bus line, staff is not currently conducting the tests, studies and analyses that are needed to operate it. While efforts to fund the line continue, staff should make these preparations to ensure that Line 588 can begin serving the public as soon as possible.

I, THEREFORE, MOVE that the Board direct staff to:

1.    Prepare studies, tests and analysis for launching Line 588, an express bus connecting the San Fernando Valley and the Westside via the I-405 HOV lanes; and

2.    Report back on the status and progress of the preparations at the May, 2014 full Board meeting.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 27

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! 

Community hopes to cut down tree plan (Park La Brea News/Beverly Press)

A story about Metro’s plans to eventually remove about 135 trees along Wilshire Boulevard as part of the construction of the first phase of the Purple Line Extension. Here’s our post about the plan that includes this key detail: Metro also plans to plant two trees for every one that is removed. Still, some community members in the Miracle Mile aren’t happy, pointing to many years of effort to beautify Wilshire Boulevard and unhappy that adult trees may be replaced with younger, smaller ones.

El Sereno’s Soto Street bridge may not have a historic leg to stand on (The Eastsider) 

The bridge once carried Pacific Electric streetcars over the intersection of Huntington and Mission. City of Los Angeles officials don’t think the 80-year-old structure is very distinctive architecturally; others think otherwise. My three cents: to my eyes the bridge doesn’t look much different than other highway-type bridges.

Will women every feel completely safe on transit? (The Atlantic Cities) 

Very interesting post that seems to conclude the answer to the question in the headline is ‘no’ — at least not until society does a better job of decreasing instances of sexism. It’s also worth noting that women tend to ride transit more than men. Excerpt:

Women who aren’t bound to the bus by economic necessity cite reliability and convenience as reasons they choose to stick with their cars. That’s more or less what men say. But women, regardless of income, tend to have an additional factor: safety. In a 2007 survey, 63 percent of New York City subway riders said they’d been harassed on a train, and 10 percent reported having been assaulted. It seems safe to assume that most of those riders were women. Among those who merely witnessed harassment or assault on public transit, 93 percent reported that the victim was female.

It’s no wonder there’s a gender gap when it comes to transit riders’ concerns. But there’s also a gender-class gap, between the women who can simply refuse to ride because of those concerns and those who have to get on the bus anyway. “Women tend to be more fearful in public environments like the bus stop than when they’re on the bus or on the train,” says Loukaitou-Sideris. This makes sense: on the bus there are often other travelers, but at the bus stop you might be alone. Even then there are exceptions; late at night, a woman might find herself on the train with only one other passenger she doesn’t trust, just the two of them in an enclosed space.

 

The writer lives in our area and says that while she is willing to ride Metro during the day, she’s much less apt to take the agency’s transit at night when there are far fewer riders on many routes and a greater chance of her being isolated with other riders she doesn’t trust. Your thoughts, women riders?

Public transportation ridership is growing — here are the facts (APTA)

In response to recent criticism over its recent claim that transit ridership in the U.S. is at the highest since 1956, the American Public Transportation Assn. has put out a subsequent release. Much of the criticism centered on the fact that a far greater percentage of Americans used transit in 1956 than currently. Excerpt from the release:

On March 10, 2014 the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reported that public transportation use in the United States in 2013 rose to 10.7 billion trips – the highest number in 57 years.  APTA and its predecessor organizations have collected ridership information since 1917. The highest U.S. public transit ridership number in history was 23.5 billion trips in 1946, a decade when many Americans did not own a car.  The ownership of cars en masse came later and led to suburbs designed for car use and subsequent sprawl.

This ridership increase isn’t a one-year blip on the radar.  If you look at the 18 year period from 1995-2013, public transportation ridership grew 37.2 percent, almost double the amount of the population growth at 20.3 percent.  This is a long-term trend that shows that more and more Americans are using public transportation.  APTA has used the 1995 number because after that year, ridership increased due to the passage of the landmark ISTEA legislation and other surface transportation bills which increased funding for public transportation.

More recent shifts in trends point to the growing demand for public transportation.  Our analysis shows that the 2005 gas price shock, when prices first went to $3 for a gallon of gasoline, combined with demographic shifts including the Millennials’ desire for travel options and the Baby Boomers’ return to urban areas, have established consistent travel behaviors that led to the highest public transportation ridership since 1956.

My three cents: both sides have a point. I’ve never found quite understood the point of comparing contemporary transit ridership to that in the 1950s, when there were far fewer Americans. On the other hand, I do think it’s worth noting that in recent times transit ridership has been healthy in many quarters and worthy of further investment.

From the Department of Reader Complaints….

I finally, and inevitably, received a complaint about the occasional postings of Bruce Springsteen videos — despite the fact that “Thunder Road” is at its core a song about the importance of mobility in escaping loser towns. In the spirit of diversity, today’s musical interlude is more transit specific….