Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 1

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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.

Continue reading

Preview of July Metro Service Councils meetings

Agendas are now posted for the first set of FY15 Service Council meetings, with some councils rotating their Chair and Vice Chair, and some swearing in new members. All Service Councils are scheduled to receive a report on Metro’s annual on-board customer survey. In addition, Service Councils will receive the monthly director’s report, which provides statistics on ridership, performance and other measures of Metro service.

For more information about each Service Council, click on the name of the council to view their web page. Agenda topics for Service Council meetings, in addition to the on-board customer survey presentation this month, include:

San Fernando Valley (6:30 pm, Wednesday, 7/2) Report on Lassen Street Bridge project; update on Universal Station Tunnel and Bridge project.

Westside/Central (5 pm, Wednesday, 7/9) – Update on new Flyaway service in the Westside region.

Gateway Cities (2 pm, Thursday, 7/10) – Swearing in of new Gateway Cities Service Council member Thomas Martin, Maywood City Councilman; report on Green Line gating and impacts; update on Blue Line refurbishment work in Long Beach; elect new Chair and Vice Chair for FY15.

South Bay (9:30 am, Friday, 7/11) – Swearing in of new South Bay Service Council member Angie Reyes English, Hawthorne City Councilwoman; recognition of customer and nominating operator for the 2014 Customer Appreciation program; report on Crenshaw/LAX bus-rail interface plan.

San Gabriel Valley(5 pm, Monday, 7/14) – Update on Gold Line Foothill Extension construction; recognition of customers and nominating Operators for the 2014 Customer Appreciation program; update on bus/rail interface with Gold Line Foothill Extension.

For a listing of all council meeting dates, times and locations, click here. As always, the public is encouraged to attend and share their comments with the Service Councils on improving bus service throughout LA County. If you would like to provide input to a council but cannot attend a meeting, you can submit your comments in writing through the Service Council web page or send them to servicecouncils@metro.net. If your comments are for a specific council, please make sure to indicate which one you are addressing in your e-mail.

Metrolink to operate special holiday service on July 4

Reminder: If you’re making travel plans for Friday, July 4, please consider that Metrolink will only be operating two special round-trip trains on the Antelope Valley Line. Regular service will resume on July 5. Here are the details from Metrolink:

In observance of Independence Day, Metrolink will not operate service on Friday, July 4, with the exception of two round-trip trains on the Antelope Valley Line. The special Metrolink service will run from Lancaster to Los Angeles Union Station and back.

Antelope Valley Line train 262 will depart Lancaster at 8:55 a.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 11 a.m., while Antelope Valley Line train 268 will depart Lancaster at 2:25 p.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 4:30 p.m.

Making the return trip to the Antelope Valley will be train 263, departing Los Angeles Union Station at 11:40 a.m., while train 269 will depart LAUS at 5:25 p.m. The trains will reach Lancaster at 1:50 p.m. and 7:25 p.m., respectively.

The four trains will make all stops at the 11 stations along the Antelope Valley Line.

Regular service will resume system-wide on Saturday, July 5.

Discover Wearable Tech LA on July 17 and save on admission with Metro

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Wearable Tech LA is the first entertainment and health wearable conference to be held in Los Angeles. The day-long conference will take place at the Pasadena Convention Center on Thursday, July 17. Attendees will be able to meet and collaborate with industry leaders, startups, Hollywood actors and professional athletes.

Those who ride Metro to the conference will be able to save 20 percent on regular admission. Use the exclusive Metro promo code GOMETRO2WTLA when purchasing tickets online, or show your valid TAP card at the registration desk to receive the discount. The special early bird price has been extended until tomorrow to celebrate Team USA in the World Cup–make sure to get your tickets now to get even deeper discounts!

The Pasadena Convention Center is located conveniently near the Metro Gold Line Del Mar Station — the Convention Center is one block east on Green Street. For more routes and connections, use the Trip Planner.

Public invited to attend How to Do Business with Metro workshop

Learn how to do business with Metro at a business workshop on Tuesday, July 8. Firms will be provided with with information on Metro’s certification program, vendor registration, contract look-ahead schedules and other useful information. Metro’s procurement staff conducts one-on-one interviews with firms during the workshop.

The workshop will take place on July 8 from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the Board Room at Metro Headquarters. Register for the workshop here. You can download Metro’s Construction Contractor Certification fact sheet here.

For more information, contact Marisela Villar at VillarM@metro.net or at 213.922.2235.

Metro to conduct rail safety exercise at Union Station subway platform June 29

Metro and the Los Angeles Sheriff and Fire Departments will be conducting a rail safety training exercise on Sunday, June 29, on the northeast corner of the Metro Red/Purple Line platform at Union Station. The exercise will last from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

The exercise area will be clearly marked and will not be open to the public. Metro train service will not be impacted by the exercise and subway trains will run on their normal Sunday schedule.