Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 2

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! 

Photo: Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Photo: Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Garcetti’s anniversary spin (on Metro) includes World Cup stop (L.A. Times) 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recognized his first anniversary in office by tooling around L.A. on Metro Rail on Tuesday, including a stop at Buffalo Wild Wings in the Crenshaw District to watch the USA-Belgium match. Excerpt:

On the trip, Garcetti lamented getting “stuck in City Hall,” saying quick, unplanned encounters with people help him gauge people’s concerns and can build trust with residents, particularly in his early years as mayor. “Most people don’t want a half-hour meeting with the mayor,” he said.

The mayor will also serve as the Chair of the Metro Board for the next year (the Board Members take turns). It will be interesting to see what kind of agenda he pushes at Metro — and think a good starting place is to talk to folks who ride the system and pay the bills here. Semi-related: a great way to gauge people’s concerns about Metro is to also read our general Twitter feed, including tweets from riders.

Metro commits to deal ensuring subway won’t hurt Disney Hall acoustics (L.A. Times) 

The agency and Disney Hall agree to several mitigations to ensure that the Regional Connector — running 135 deep underground and adjacent the concert venue — won’t cause vibrations that could impact acoustics. Tests last year established the ambient noise in Disney Hall and Metro has agreed to limit vibrations to well under those standards.

Burbank-Palmdale segment added to bullet train timetable (L.A. Times) 

In response to criticism and doubts from state lawmakers, the California High-Speed Rail Authority wants to accelerate construction of a Burbank to Palmdale segment of the bullet train project. Such a segment could reduce travel time for trains from more than an hour to 14 to 16 minutes.

That said, there remains considerable challenges. The first is finding the funding — the L.A. to Palmdale segment is estimated to cost more than $13 billion and that could rise if a more direct tunnel to the Antelope Valley is built under the San Gabriel Mountains. The segment would presumably later connect to Union Station and Bakersfield and the segment being planned between there and Madera.

My three cents: I think there are plenty of reasons to remain skeptical about the ability to build a $68-billion project between San Francisco and Los Angeles with the major funding source a $10-billion voter-approved bond. That said, if funding is limited, it sure would be great to see commuter rail get a boost in populated and taxpayer-heavy Southern California, an area where commuters are already riding trains on a daily basis.

Contractor for 405 sues MTA over cost overruns, delays (Daily News) 

Kiewet filed the lawsuit in May, seeking $400 million in costs, according to the Daily News. Excerpt:

In a statement, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said that “Metro does not believe this claim complies with those contract requirements. However, Metro continues to negotiate in good faith with Kiewit to resolve specific outstanding claims under terms of its contract.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents this portion of Los Angeles and has publicly blamed Kiewit for the project’s delays, declined to comment Tuesday.

 

Jenna Hornstock shares refinements to Union Station’s Master Plan (The Planning Report) 

Jenna is heading up Metro’s team of planners working on the Union Station Master Plan. In this interview, she talks about the many details of the emerging plan that were released last month (Here’s a Source post about the plans).

The Planning Report saved perhaps one of the juiciest questions for last, asking Jenna how the Master Plan would be funded and if there could be money available from a potential Measure R 2 sales tax. As Jenna wisely pointed out, the key word with Measure R 2 is “potential” and that it’s impossible at this time to say what will or will not be funded by it. As if often the case at Metro, projects are planned before all the funding is secured — the agency often needs to have firm plans in in order to get money to build them.

Donald Shoup, parking guru, on how L.A. should manage its meters (L.A. Times) 

Interesting interview with the UCLA professor who literally wrote the book on big cities and parking policies (a book highly critical of big cities, that is). There’s nothing fantastically new in the interview but it’s always fun to revisit the question of whether developers should be required to build parking or not (they almost always are for both residential or commercial properties). Parking is very expensive to build and maintain and folks such as Shoup believe it results in a lot of expensive, free and unnecessary parking that consumes a lot of space that could be better used for other purposes.

In other words, if someone in a city wants a car badly enough, they’ll find a parking place and the money to pay for it. Agree or disagree, Angelenos?

 

@Metrolosangeles Twitter Tuesday, July 1 edition

You know the drill: To get our attention, tweet us at @MetroLosAngeles tag to your tweets and subscribe to our feed if you haven’t already. For specific complaints and customer service, please use the Customer Comment Form on metro.net.

Metrolink to offer new 91 Line weekend service, adjust San Bernardino Line

Metrolink riders will now have more weekend travel options. Metrolink is adding new 91 Line weekend service between Downtown Riverside and Los Angeles. From their press release:

This Saturday, Inland Empire travelers will now have additional options to reach destinations in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, with Metrolink beginning new 91 Line weekend service.  Four new trains will now run between Downtown Riverside and Los Angeles on both Saturdays and Sundays, with interim stops at the Riverside-La Sierra, North Main Corona, West Corona, Fullerton, Buena Park and Norwalk stations.

With this added service, San Bernardino Line weekend trains 351, 367, 364, and 376 will no longer start or end at the Riverside-Downtown Metrolink station. The first 91 Line weekend train leaves the Riverside-Downtown station at 7:40 a.m., while the final train returns at 8:55 p.m. For a complete schedule, visit metrolinktrains.com.

The added service will give Inland Empire residents more options to travel into Los Angeles and Orange counties.

As always, once riders reach Los Angeles Union Station, individuals can transfer to the Metro light-rail and many bus lines at no additional cost to access attractions such as Chinatown, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Pantages Theatre, Universal Studios, L.A. Live, Old Town Pasadena and others.

The 91 Line weekend service also offers riders access to attractions near Orange County stops such as Knott’s Berry Farm and Downtown Fullerton. The San Bernardino Line and 91 Line weekend services complement the existing Inland Empire-Orange County Line, which provides two round-trips between San Bernardino and Oceanside each Saturday and Sunday.

Go Metro to the Colorado Street Bridge Party July 12 and receive a free poster

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Images courtesy of Pasadena Heritage

Celebrate the historic Colorado Street Bridge at a party hosted on the bridge itself! Pasadena Heritage invites the public to an evening of live music, dancing, vintage cars, and children’s activities atop the iconic span on Saturday July 12 from 6 – 11 p.m. A variety of local vendors will offer food and beverages for purchase, including dumplings, BBQ, Mexican fare and drinks.

If you didn’t know it already, bridges + trains = best friends. Getting to the festivities via Metro is easy and convenient. Hop on the Metro Gold Line to Memorial Park Station and walk two blocks south to the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Raymond Avenue to connect with the free Pasadena ARTS Route 10 shuttle. The Route 10 shuttle will run every 17 minutes starting at 5 p.m. until 11:15 p.m. the evening of the party.

It is also possible to reach the celebration on foot—head west on Colorado from Memorial Park Station and walk for approximately fifteen minutes. Show your valid TAP card at the event merchandise table to receive a free commemorative Kenton Nelson poster while supplies last.

Tickets to the Colorado Street Bridge Party can be purchased in advance online for $16 adults/$8 kids or for $18 adults/$9 kids the day of the celebration. For additional info about the festivities, click here.

Summer Metro Motion explores unique So Cal journeys via Metro

In the summer edition of Metro Motion, we hear from two millennials – one a scientist, the other a teacher – and find out how climate change inspired their journeys to lives without cars. Sure, they’re saving money. But that’s not their point. They see public transit, bikes and walking as the best ways to take care of our ailing planet and ourselves.

Summer is here and that means peak produce and time for a trip to L.A.’s fabulous farmers markets via Metro. The produce and prepared food is primo and these modern markets offer tools to teach healthy eating and cooking skills.

Looking for the quintessential So Cal biking experience? Watch as cyclist Mike Ryan loads his bike onto the Expo Line to Culver City, jumps on the Ballona Creek Bike Path and cycles to Marina del Rey for a free concert with the ocean and the stars as backdrop. Beautiful!

We also travel back in time to bid a fond farewell to I-405 construction as the Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project opens the completed HOV lane. We look back at Carmageddon I and II, Rampjam and Jamzilla — and at the same time we look forward to smoother sailing through the pass.

Metro Motion runs quarterly on cable stations throughout Los Angeles County. It’s co-produced by Metro and Santa Monica City TV.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 1

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! 

Boo!

Boo!

Hello Metro riders and readers. I was on vacation for a couple of days, so I’m catching up. As usual, please bear with me.

Train station to connect Metro rail lines with LAX approved (L.A. Times) 

The Times neatly and succinctly summarizes the Metro Board’s decision last Thursday to go forward with environmentally clearing an additional station on the Crenshaw/LAX Line that would connect with a people mover to be built by Los Angeles World Airports. Excerpt:

Officials say the new station will speed up airport access and could include check-in counters, flight information boards and currency exchange locations. The board also asked for a review of baggage check facilities at similar airport transportation hubs in other cities to determine whether that service could be added.

In an early Metro concept sketch, the station is depicted as a glass, multi-story building with covered rail platforms and a passenger drop-off area.

The 96th Street station still must go through a final design process, environmental review and cost analysis. Additions such as ticketing areas and concessions would increase the $200-million cost.

 

MTA predicts less than one percent of LAX passengers will take train to LAX (LA Weekly) 

Gene Maddeus dives into the Metro staff report and focuses on ridership estimates that show that the majority of LAX passengers in the future will likely travel to and from the airport by car — and that the FlyAway bus may attract significantly more passengers than a light rail-people mover connection. Excerpt:

The station approved Thursday is a much cheaper alternative, which probably won’t have all the bells and whistles that Garcetti had envisioned. Nevertheless, it is a rail connection to LAX, and Garcetti heralded it as a key step in the direction of building a world-class airport.

Assuming that LAX and MTA can continue to cooperate on this, the rail link could open around 2022. That leaves one big unanswered question: Will anybody use it?

As the saying goes, predictions are hard, especially about the future. Nevertheless, MTA has made its best effort to guess how many people will take the train to the airport. The answer:

0.8%.

[snip]

This is not to say that the train-to-LAX link should not be built. It is to suggest that expectations be kept in check until MTA can plan, fund and build a more comprehensive rail network.

 

The new Aviation/96th station will likely be most convenient to those using the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line. An extension of the Green Line to the south (a Measure R funded project) and extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the north to a connection with the subway (a project in Metro’s long-range plan but without any current funding) would, of course, significantly increase the reach of both lines.

Supervisor Don Knabe on the Aviation/96th station (Supervisor Don Knabe’s website)

LAX is in Don Knabe’s district and the Supervisor and Metro Board Member sent this note to constituents about last week’s vote — the last graph is key:

For years, I’ve said it’s embarrassing that the second largest city in America with the third busiest airport still does not have a direct transit connection. Major airports across the country, as well as internationally, can be accessed by subway, people mover, or air train, yet traveling to LAX requires a car, or a shuttle ride from the Green Line.

We’ve struggled for decades trying to solve this transportation puzzle, but finally, the MTA Board took a giant leap towards creating a solution last week. On a motion by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Mike Bonin, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and me, the Board voted in favor of constructing a rail station at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard as part of the new Crenshaw/LAX rail line. This state-of-the-art station will serve as a “front door” for riders, connecting them to the LAX terminals via airport people mover.

Though this is a major milestone in finally linking the airport to our regional transit system, there are still hurdles to clear. Metro must continue working with Los Angeles World Airports and the Board of Airport Commissioners to ensure that a people mover will be constructed. Without their guarantee, we could end up stuck with a state-of-the-art station to nowhere. As the details surrounding the new rail station and a people mover continue to develop, I will be sure to keep you updated.

 

Metro buses get multi-camera surveillance systems (KABC-7) 

In order to prevent crime and remind riders that law enforcement is watching, Metro is overhauling the video systems on its buses — including monitors showing riders a real-time video feed. The move was prompted, in part, by the 191 assaults on Metro bus operators between 2010 and 2013. “We have every confidence that this is going to increase safety and discourage those who might be inclined to do otherwise,” L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is quoted in the article. Here  is our post from last week announcing the upgrades.

The painful consequences of liking fake subway maps (Los Angeles Review of Books) 

Ben Pack ruminates on transit maps, driving and bike riding in the Los Angeles area, culminating in a cycling accident in Hollywood.

 

 

Reflections on Union Station: an essay by Rafer Guzman

guzman_5_attract_UnionStn_01_resize On the occasion of Union Station’s 75th anniversary, Metro created a special commemorative publication, Union Station: 75 Years in the Heart of LA, featuring eight written and five photographic essays that celebrate the station by authors John C. Arroyo, William D. Estrada, Stephen Fried, Rafer Guzman, David Kipen, Marisela Norte, D. J. Waldie, and Alissa Walker. The book is on sale now at the online Metro Store. All essays will also be posted on The Source in the coming weeks. The series was edited by Linda Theung, an editor and writer based in Los Angeles.

Six Degrees of Union Station
by Rafer Guzman

Stick around Los Angeles long enough, and you’re bound to end up in a movie. It’s a rule that applies mostly to humans, but as any location scout can tell you, it’s also true about buildings.

Union Station clearly has a face and figure made for the movies. Its Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and Art Deco ornamentation—a stylistic combination nicknamed Mission Moderne—has always made it a distinctive presence. Yet it hasn’t become as famous as, say, the ubiquitous Capitol Records building, the cylindrical tower at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street seen in too many movies to count, or the Griffith Observatory, immortalized as the site of James Dean’s existential freak out in Rebel Without a Cause. The station has been more like a character actor: dependable, versatile, but always recognizable. Its onscreen career has been marked by memorable appearances, big breaks, near misses, prolific stretches, lean periods, and, later in life, rediscovery. (It’s no secret that the seventy-five-year-old station has had some “work” done, including a facelift in 2013.)

You might call Union Station a supporting cast member, like a Karl Malden or Stanley Tucci, an actor who rarely takes the lead but nevertheless shines in the background. Over the years, the station has played a wide range of roles, from a bank in the 1960s (the 2002 period piece Catch Me if You Can) to a library in 1997 (Most Wanted). But it also tends to play itself, or some version of itself. Like a lot of great actors, Union Station is at its best when it finds a part that suits its persona—in this case, a grand, dramatic space with the unmistakable ambiance of the golden age of Hollywood.

It’s no accident that some of Union Station’s earliest roles were in film noir. There’s an inherent drama to a train station—a place of hellos and goodbyes, of thronging crowds and lonely anonymity—that suits the genre. You can see Union Station in a small but standout role in Criss Cross, a 1949 Robert Siodmak picture starring a baby-faced Burt Lancaster and Yvonne De Carlo (well before her career playing the matriarch in television’s The Munsters). The movie sticks mostly to generic backdrops—the dark alley, the dive bar—until Union Station shows up about halfway through. Suddenly, Criss Cross comes alive as the two stars zigzag through the station’s marble-lined spaces, each time missing each other by a narrow margin. Then, of course, comes the fateful moment.

Promotional poster for Criss Cross. Courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLC.

Promotional poster for Criss Cross. Courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLC.

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