Zocalo Public Square tackles the can-we-fix-traffic question at last night’s event

From left, UCLA's Brian Taylor, FAST's Hilary Norton, Metro CEO Art Leahy and KCRW's Kajon Cermac. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

From left, UCLA’s Brian Taylor, FAST’s Hilary Norton, Metro CEO Art Leahy and KCRW’s Kajon Cermac. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Zocalo Public Square and Metro held a panel discussion Monday night at the Petersen Automotive Museum with an appropriate topic for the venue: what, if anything, can be done to speed up traffic in our region?

A podcast of the discussion is above. KCRW traffic reporter Kajon Cermac served as the moderator with the panel including Metro CEO Art Leahy, UCLA Director of Transportation Studies’ Brian Taylor and Hilary Norton, executive director of Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic.

Can traffic be fixed or seriously improved? The short answer: probably not much can be done unless the region embraces drastic and politically unpopular measures such as heavier tolling across all lanes on freeways to reduce peak hour traffic, passing laws to greatly restrict driving, building many billions of dollars of new freeways (which includes the challenge of finding places to put them) or going the Detroit route by shedding jobs, residents and the local economy.

In other words, as UCLA’s Taylor put it, the status quo of traffic congestion is the least bad option for the politicians who frequently ask him how to fix traffic.

Which is not to say that things can’t be done to improve mobility and even some traffic.

Taylor praised the congestion pricing projects on freeways in our region (which Metro’s ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110) and said they are improving capacity and speeds in the toll lanes, as well as Metro’s Rapid Buses and the Orange Line. Norton pointed to the increasing number of people taking transit to big events.

And Leahy noted that thanks to Measure R, Metro is currently in the midst of the largest transit building boom in the nation (one that will include a subway station next door to both the Petersen and LACMA on Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile). He said the goal is to keep expanding the transit network and making it work better so that people can use it travel far and wide and get out of their cars.

The conversation covered a lot of ground and I’m interested in feedback and comments from those who listened or attended the event.

My three cents: I felt like it was a good, albeit brief, adult conversation about traffic and urban planning — and the fact that traffic is not something easily “fixed” without serious consequences. I also thought UCLA’s Brian Taylor did a good job pointing to the fact that a lot of the traffic stereotypes about our region are total bunk and that concentrating density around transit and high activity centers may not fix traffic — but often makes places nicer, happier places to live and visit.

 

 

Tunnel boring machine for Crenshaw/LAX Line on the way from Rotterdam

Photos courtesy of Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors

Photos courtesy of Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors

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The above photos were taken in Rotterdam, where parts for the tunnel boring machine for the Crenshaw/LAX Line were recently loaded on the ship that will bring them to North America. The full shipment of TBM parts is expected to arrive in Los Angeles by the end of the year. Once received, the parts will be assembled and the TBM will be ready to start digging the underground portion of the project by mid-2015.

The Crenshaw/LAX Line is an 8.5-mile light rail line that will run between Exposition Boulevard and the Green Line. The project is heavily funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by L.A. County voters in Nov. 2008.

How to save 15 percent on your CicLAvia T-shirt on Oct. 5

CicLAvia_HOLA_2014_Map

CicLAvia – Heart of LA, presented by Metro, is set to take place on Sunday, October 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The 10-mile route is the first to leave the City of Los Angeles as it ventures into East Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles. Heart of LA will cross through downtown L.A. and will extend into entirely new areas including Echo Park, the Historic Broadway Theater District and through Boyle Heights all the way to East L.A.

Show your CicLAvia pride by getting an official T-shirt at the East LA Civic Center Hub! If you have your TAP card, you’ll save 15 percent on shirts while supplies last. (Offer is only valid at the East LA Civic Center Hub.) And while you’re out exploring Los Angeles sans car, make sure to support local businesses. Show your TAP card and save at numerous locations along the Heart of LA route.

There are five other hubs along the Heart of LA route that are accessible via Metro; see above map for all hub locations and their adjacent Metro stations. Bicyclists who want to get to CicLAvia by Metro should review Metro’s bike rules.

Transportation headlines, Monday, September 29

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! 

No, Carmageddon is not inevitable (Zocalo Public Square)

In advance of tonight’s panel discussion at the Petersen Automotive Museum on “How to Speed Up Traffic in L.A.?”, Zocalo Public Square asks several experts for their advice. Congestion pricing (i.e. tolling freeways and roads at peak hours to spread out demand), concentrating more housing and jobs near transit, charging non-residents more for parking than residents (encouraging more residents to shop locally perhaps) and making the ‘burbs more friendly to pedestrians, cyclists and transit are among the suggestions. In other words, a lot of ideas that have been widely discussed for many years — but never really fully implemented either because of local opposition, lack of political will, lack of money or a combination of all the above.

BTW, sounds like there are still a few spots open for anyone interested in attending tonight’s forum — Metro CEO Art Leahy is one of the panelists. Click here for more info. Metro’s 720 Rapid Bus and 20 Local Bus on Wilshire Boulevard stop at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax next to the museum. For those coming via Fairfax Avenue, the 780 Rapid Bus and the 217 Local Bus also stop at Wilshire/Fairfax.

No! Wrong way! U.S. carbon emissions rising again (KCET)

Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States rose about 2.7 percent in the first half of 2014 compared to the same time period in 2013. Experts blame the rise on last winter’s polar vortex that prompted many a Midwesterner and East Coaster to try to keep their homes warm — in those parts of the country, a significant portion of electricity is created by burning coal. One of the nice things about California is that our milder weather means less heating in the winter and the state is less dependent on coal than other regions. Of course, we find other ways to make up for it (in a bad way) — such as sprawling into the desert and sitting alone in idling cars in traffic. One easy solution there: try taking transit every so often, walking or biking or some combination of all three.

Guest post: planning to sprawl (The Last Word on Nothing)

Nice post by Erica Schoenberger on how to explain to students that while individual choices matter when it comes to things that impact the environment (such as traffic), it’s equally important to explain the collective decisions that influence the way individuals act.

Excerpt:

Here’s what I’m trying to help the kids understand.  We’ve been making messes for a very long while and we have known pretty much all along that we were doing so.  The histories of our mess-making really matter.  Getting at the details lets you see how a trajectory was constructed piece by piece, opening up some possibilities and forclosing others.  Further: We may have very good intentions as individuals, but the options we have available to choose among are structured by larger, impersonal forces.  Huge collective investments have supported and promoted all those unfortunate individual decisions and have made it hard for people to make good choices.  To me, this suggests that huge collective investments in support of good decisions are needed.  If a capitalist system must grow to survive, let’s grow toward, not away from, the world we want.   

This is why I hope everyone watches closely as plans evolve for various Metro projects and a potential ballot measure in 2016. These kind of big projects and/or plans will influence the decisions that people make transportation-wise for many decades to come, not to mention the scarce public funds that will be used on them. If you don’t like the choices facing you as an individual, please pay attention to these group decisions — one very much has to do with the other, as Erica writes.

Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct: king of the boondoggles (Streetsblog Network)

A less than optimistic view of the project that involves tearing down an elevated highway and putting it in a tunnel underground. Rising construction costs, a tunnel boring machine (named Bertha) that got stuck and falling toll projections are among the problems thus encountered. That said, the tunnel machine’s Twitter feed is entertaining/informative as these things go although Bertha’s taste in football teams is questionable at best.

“Bike to the Bowl” for the Pixies, Cat Power, and Gogol Bordello Sunday, Sept. 28

This Sunday, September 28, Metro, the Hollywood Bowl, and LA County Bicycle Coalition have teamed up to make it easy to “Bike to the Bowl” to see The Pixies, Cat Power, and Gogol Bordello!

Tickets are still available for the show, which begins at 7:30 p.m. with Cat Power. LACBC will be on hand at the Bowl’s Museum Patio to offer free, secure valet bike parking to those arriving on two wheels. The valet will be open from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.

There are a few different ways to “Bike to the Bowl.” If you don’t want to make the entire trip by bike, connect to the Hollywood Bowl Shuttle (the ride is free with valid TAP card), or hop aboard the Metro Red Line, exit at Hollywood/Highland Station, and ride the rest of the way.

As a reward for your efforts, show your TAP card or bike valet ticket at the Museum Patio and receive a free scoop of ice cream, compliments of Peddler’s Creamery! Can you say sweet deal?

To find out more about LA County bike paths, lanes, routes, and racks, check out the Metro Bike Map.

Your Friday send-off: Fall Out Boy – the song with the super long title (Light ‘Em Up)

Judge my youth (and current musical choices) if you’re so inclined, but Fall Out Boy! The song below is My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up) because of course it is. There’s also a pretty awesome mashup of Light ‘Em Up with Radioactive by Imagine Dragons that’s worth listening to. You’ll have to find that one on your own though.

If enjoying music on bus or train, please remember to use your headphones. And if you have transit playlist song recs, leave them in the comments or tweet them at us @metrolosangeles! Awesome tracks (as deemed by yours truly) will be shared in future posts.

Bonus track after the jump: ONE OK ROCK – The Beginning. The new Rurouni Kenshin movies are out but I can’t watch them yet, so I’ll have to settle for rewatching the first one.

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A Better Blue Line: more photos, work update

Work on the Blue Line in downtown Long Beach is progressing on schedule. Here are some more photos of what’s been taking place.

For those taking transit to Long Beach Comic-Con or other Long Beach events this weekend: the four downtown Long Beach Blue Line stations are closed for repair and other work. Transfer from the Blue Line at Anaheim Street Station to a free shuttle bus serving the downtown Long Beach rail stations.

Blue Line closure alert poster

Related Posts

Service Advisory: 30-day closure of four Blue Line stations
30-day Closure of Four Blue Line Stations
A Better Blue Line
Test Demonstration of Track Work