Transportation headlines, Friday, September 25

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: Panelists speak at the Social Media Week forum hosted by Metro earlier this week on the agency's use of social media and other rider issues. Click above to listen to the panel!

ART OF TRANSIT: Panelists speak at the Social Media Week forum hosted by Metro earlier this week on the agency’s use of social media and other rider issues. Click above to listen to the panel!

The Valley deserves to be part of L.A.’s transit revolution (L.A. Times) 

In this opinion piece, Matthew Fleischer says that it makes sense to upgrade the Orange Line to rail — as an increasing number of people say is necessary. But it would be expensive, he notes, and that it may make more sense to simply run express buses similar to the express subway trains in New York (and elsewhere).

Excerpt:

Buses, unlike trains, have the maneuverability to pass one another easily. To hop on at Chatsworth and take the bus all the way to North Hollywood means making 16 time-consuming stops. An express route could potentially save huge amounts of time for riders at the tail end of every route. An express bus from North Hollywood, for instance, could potentially skip right to Reseda, while another local bus leaving at the same time could service the stations it passed over. If the express bus catches a local bus in front of it, it can simply pass by and continue on its direct route — unlike a train.

Los Angeles is in the midst of a public transportation revolution. Rail projects like the Expo Line and the “subway to the sea” may one day reinvent the way Angelenos interact with their city. The San Fernando Valley absolutely deserves to be part of this revolution.

The Metro Board this summer approved a motion asking Metro staff to explore a number of improvements, including a potential rail conversion. Metro staff responded with this preliminary report outlining some short- and long-term fixes that should be studied further. Not on the list: express buses.

The short-term fixes, not surprisingly, largely involve trying to get more green lights for the Orange Line, which often finds itself having to stop at station platforms and most cross north-south cross streets. If you’re interested in this issue, see the staff report at the above link. Pretty interesting discussion and it will be intriguing to see if the issue of express buses is raised by others.

Sepulveda Pass and LAX transit (Let’s Go LA)

Intriguing post about a potential transit tunnel under the Sepulveda Pass and the many possible future transit and/or light rail lines that it may serve. A lot of what is shown on the map are project that aren’t in Metro’s long-range plan — meaning there’s no funding or planning in the works — but it’s still fun to contemplate. The blog post certainly hits the nail on the head by saying that a Sepulveda Pass transit tunnel would only get chance to get it right, meaning it really needs to be able to accommodate whatever the future holds, transit wise.

As many of you know, the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor is a project set to receive about $1 billion from Measure R. But it’s also a project not scheduled to be completed until the late 2030s and vastly more funding would be needed to build a tunnel, if that option is pursued. Metro has done some preliminary studies of possible concepts and is looking at a public-private partnership to fund the project, although nothing is for certain at this point.

Continue reading

Monday’s Zocalo forum will ask: Is traffic L.A.’s destiny? (We certainly hope not!)

Metro photo

Metro photo

What could speed up traffic? We all have opinions, of course. But at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Petersen Automotive Museum some pretty good minds will tackle the subject as part of a Zocalo Public Square forum. The forum is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended.

Here’s how the Zocalo website describes it:

When people say that death and taxes are the only certain things in life, they are forgetting about Southern California traffic. Despite freeway widening and highway construction and newly synchronized streetlights, there’s still not enough room on the roads. We now get accident reports in real time and can change our routes to avoid jams, but Angelenos still spend more time in traffic than other Americans. However, there is more change still to come. The region is in the early stages of a 30-year transit transformation that began with the passage of Measure R in 2008, a sales tax increase that is funding a wide range of transportation projects. Will express lanes, fewer potholes, and improved interchanges speed drivers along? And will new rail lines, improved bus service, and bike lanes finally get millions of people out of their cars? L.A. Business Council president Mary Leslie, UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies director Brian D. Taylor, Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic executive director Hilary Norton, and Metro CEO Art Leahy visit Zócalo to ask whether traffic is forever L.A.’s destiny. KCRW traffic reporter Kajon Cermak will moderate.

What could speed up traffic? Taking Metro bus 720 or 20 down Wilshire or the 217 down Fairfax to the Monday night forum could help. Find out more at the forum.

Zocalo is an L.A. based not-for-profit group that blends live events with written and broadcast journalism. Metro and Zocalo are co-presenting the event.

Go Metro Weekends, Sept 26 – 28

Feast of San Gennaro!

Feast of San Gennaro is happening this weekend, don’t miss the cheesy, tomato sauced goodness! Photo: Feast of LA Official Facebook

Friday

From the mystical land of Shaolin…or rather Staten Island, New York, come the Wu Tang Clan. They’ll be performing their first show in the newly renovated Forum! They’re also bringing a few special guests along with them. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. with tickets still on sale starting at $36. (Metro Bus 115 or 212 to Manchester/Prairie)

Saturday

Famed British artist D* Face will be unveiling his newest project, Scars and Stripes, at PMM Art Projects. The exhibit touches on the American Dream and its connection to artists we have lost such as Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix. The free showing starts at 6:30 p.m. (Metro Bus 14 to Beverly/Robertson or 16 to 3rd/Sherbourne)

The Long Beach Folk Revival takes place at Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach this Saturday. See this previous post for event, Blue Line construction and discount info!

Sunday

Former Watts Tower Art Center director Mark Steven Greenfield brings together some of his most cherished work from the last four decades with the “Lookin’ Back in Front of Me: Selected Works from Mark Steven Greenfield” exhibit at the California African American Museum. Exhibit starts at 2 p.m and is free to attend. (Metro Expo Line to Expo Park/USC Station)

While you’re in the area, be sure to check out Cine Sin Frontreas at the Ray Stark located at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. See highlights from the esteemed Moriella International Festival and enjoy a Q&A with Yolanda Cruz. Admission is free but you’ll still need a ticket. The festival takes place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Metro Expo Line to Expo Park/USC Station)

All Weekend

Circus Vargas will be in town starting this weekend! They’ll be here until October 20 so don’t miss your chance to save $10 off bleacher or arena tickets. (Performance locations vary so it’s best to use Trip Planner to find routes and connections)

The 13th Annual Galbani Cheese Italian Feast of San Gennaro LA takes over Hollywood once again. Try some amazing Italian food, enjoy great music and great family fun. The fest runs Friday from 5 p.m to midnight, Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Be sure to show your TAP card to save $1 on admission. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland Station)

Crenshaw/LAX Community Leadership Council meeting Thursday, October 9

The Crenshaw/LAX Community Leadership Council (CLC) will hold their quarterly meeting on Thursday, October 9, 2014. The meeting will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Dulan’s on Crenshaw located at 4859 Crenshaw Boulevard.

Learn about the 8.5-mile light rail transit project, get a construction status update and hear reports from the CLC Project Oriented Discussions (PODs) Moderators for the Small Business Resources, Economic Development, Transit Oriented Development and Safety PODs. Also learn about the Station Naming Policy and provide feedback on the station names currently under consideration.

Refreshments will be provided and meals will be available for purchase. Those attending may RSVP to crenshawclc@metro.net.

Follow these swans to Swan Lake at the Music Center Oct. 9-12

In 1966, the Music Center presented Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn with The Australian Ballet on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage. Now, in celebration of the Music Center’s 50th Anniversary, Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center is bringing Swan Lake and the legendary dance company back for a special engagement from October 9 through Oct. 12.

Getting to the Music Center via Metro is easy…so easy even swans can do it. The video below features four local ballet students performing the iconic ‘Four Little Swans’ dance at Los Angeles Union Station.

The dancers in the video are Michelle Lemburg, Bella Hoy, Jolie Moray and Katie Brady. In addition to studying ballet, Michelle, Jolie and Katie have also participated in the Music Center Spotlight Awards program, a scholarship program recognizing exceptional high school students in the performing arts. More photos of the lovely dancers at Union Station can be found at Metro’s Flickr page!

Go Metro to Swan Lake and save 20 percent on select seats for the matinee performance on October 11 at 1:30 p.m. Just show your valid TAP card at the box office, or use Metro’s exclusive promo code if purchasing tickets online. To get to the Music Center, use the Red/Purple Line Civic Center/Grand Park Station. There are also numerous buses that serve the Music Center on Hope Street and Grand Avenue. For more routes and connections, use the Metro Trip Planner or Google Transit.

Listen to Metro’s Social Media Week panel on how Metro uses social media to connect with riders

First, a big thank you to our panelists and everyone who attended yesterday’s “Metro Moves Forward: Engaging Customers of Public Transportation in L.A.” event at Union Station. The presentation and panel discussion were part of Social Media Week.

Above is the 49-minute panel discussion. I accidentally deleted a few seconds at the beginning (blame Garageband please!) in which my colleague Anna Chen introduces herself and explains how she landed her gig at Metro. The panelists are frequent Metro riders who also often write about transit and their experiences on Metro:

Alissa Walker is the Urbanism Editor at Gizmodo where she writes about cities, architecture, transportation, and technology and she blogs at awalkerinla.com. She is on the steering committee of Los Angeles Walks and relishes life in Los Angeles without a car. Follow her at @awalkerinLA. And you may want to read (or re-read) her great #lahaters series in which Alissa exposes the dumb stereotypes that media-types like to write, rinse and repeat about Los Angeles and the surrounding area.

Gann Matsuda covers the Los Angeles Kings and the National Hockey League at Frozenroyalty.net and uses the Expo Line to travel to and from Staples Center. He is also a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Follow him at @frozenroyalty. Check out his recent series on how Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi built a team that has won the Stanley Cup twice in the past three seasons (part one and part two). Short answer: draft young talent and develop them, something I think works at non-sports organizations, too.

Steven White is the Content and Media Manager for Bounce AEG. He manages digital media and social media projects for live events. A graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Steve lives in Downtown Los Angeles and regularly rides Metro for all of his transportation needs. Follow him at @stevenmwhite. Steve provided valuable input to Metro’s TAP team earlier this year when they were designing new screen prompts for the agency’s ticket machines (the prompts are due to debut later this year, btw).

Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro. If you need a Metro-related pic to use on the web, these are available for download at a variety of sizes at our Flickr page — along with a variety of other images.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, September 25

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! 

Global shift to mass transit could save more than $100 trillion and 1,700 megatons of CO2 (UC Davis)

Infographic_HighShift_ITS

Interesting new study from UC Davis that concludes that a massive expansion of mass transit could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by getting people to switch from driving alone to taking transit. As we’ve posted before, transit tends to burn fewer greenhouse gases because it’s more efficient than driving alone.

The report says bus rapid transit is likely the best way for the nation to greatly expand transit because buses are the dominant type of transit in the U.S. and BRT is generally far less expensive to build than new rail lines.

I think there’s certainly room for transit to grow in the U.S. and attract more riders. The key question is whether that would reduce car trips enough to make an impact on emissions. I’m not sure about that. The following item is also quasi-related.

Of course, greatly expanding transit, BRT or otherwise, requires funding. And this chart from a new report on transportation funding by Pew Charitable Trusts shows that spending on highways still outpaces spending on transit at every level of government in the U.S.

HighwayvsTransit

Flat fare no longer fair? Agency studies distance-based fares (Salt Lake City Tribune)

Posting by popular demand. The Utah Transit Authority — which has long been charging a flat fare to ride its buses and trains (like most agencies, including Metro — says it has the technological ability to charge less for short rides and more for long rides. So it will study distance-base fares to see if they can be implemented without losing ridership or revenue.

Distance-based fares have been discussed frequently over the years on our comment board and there’s a segment of our readership who feel they should be implemented here. Among their arguments: Smaller fares for short rides would greatly encourage ridership for those who want to make short trips but don’t want to pay the full fare and may even help reduce traffic in congested parts of town. They also argue that it’s not fair that some Metro riders can ride long distances for the same flat fare and should pay their fair share.

As I’ve written in the past on the comment board, distance-based fares don’t really turn my turnstile, so to speak. I think getting everyone to tap in and tap out is a big hurdle (just getting people to tap in has been a challenge, as we know) and I’m not convinced fares for short trips would ever shrink that much given Metro’s financial challenges. I also think hitting long-distance riders with higher fares would hurt those who depend on Metro the most for their mobility — i.e. low-income workers and residents who must travel great distances from their neighborhoods to jobs. Finally, I don’t think any fare system is going to impact traffic given the convenience and affordability of privately-owned cars. Transit provides an alternative to traffic and perhaps helps it from growing worse. Transit doesn’t fix traffic. If it did, there would be more of it in L.A. and elsewhere.

Washington Metro CEO to step down (Washington Post) 

Richard Sarles took the job in the aftermath of a subway crash that killed nine people in 2009. The Washington Metro is the second-busiest subway system in the country behind New York and Sarles in 2013 put the agency on a path to rebuild and greatly expand the system if funding can be found. Officials were surprised by the announcement.