Happy Walktober!

It’s that time of year again, when pumpkin spice takes over the land and the air starts to feel just a little bit crisp. Hard pass on the pumpkin spice (eggnog only, thanks!), but I do plan on enjoying the cooling fresh air with a lot more walking…especially as it’s Walktober!

During the month of October, get out and add a few more steps to your day. Not only will it be good for your health, it’s a great way to explore and connect with your neighborhood and other transit options, reduce your carbon footprint…and it could change your daily commute for the better.

Commuter Ryan Long walks to his Metrolink station so early in the morning, it's still dark out!

Commuter Ryan Long walks to his Metrolink station so early in the morning, it’s still dark out!

Don’t take our word for it! Here’s Ryan Long, who commutes via walking and train ride from Lancaster to downtown Los Angeles every day:

“The early morning walk to the train station for me starts at 4:30 a.m. Living in Lancaster, I see rabbits, coyotes, lizards and many other cool walks of life along the way. A short 12-minute walk is a great way to stay fit and clear my mind. I exercise daily, and this is a great jumpstart. I arrive at the station and am greeted by a lovely church group that hands out donuts and coffee for free! How great! The two-hour ride from Lancaster to Union Station provides me with time to sleep. My coworkers poke fun at me, thinking I am greatly inconvenienced by making this trip. They do not know that I get an extra four hours of sleep per day! I can also catch up on my books, movies and television shows! I have met many great people along the way and would not trade this for the stressful car drive ever again.”

Ryan shared his story with us when pledging to share the ride, and you should pledge too, for a chance to have your story featured on The Source (and the chance to win some awesome prizes).

Want to get walking but not sure where to start? CicLAvia is just around the corner, and all walkers are welcome. So as tempting as it is to spend the entire weekend marathoning Gilmore Girls on Netflix…break out the walking shoes and put those feet in gear!

Preview of October Metro Service Council meetings

The San Fernando Valley Service Council leads off Halloween month (how did we get here so quickly?) with the first of our five monthly Service Council meetings beginning tonight. Fortunately, none of the meetings will be held on a Friday the 13th.

All Service Councils are scheduled to receive the monthly Director’s report, which provides statistics on ridership, performance and other measures of Metro service. Two of the Councils — San Fernando Valley and Westside/Central — will receive updates on the implementation plan for Line 788, a new express service scheduled to begin in December that will link the San Fernando Valley and the Westside using the Sepulveda Pass HOV lanes on the I-405.

For more information about each Service Council, click on the name of the Council to view their web page. Meeting topics for Service Council meetings this month also include:

San Fernando Valley (6:30 pm, Wednesday, 10/1) – Recognition of Dr. Richard Arvizu and Kymberleigh Richards for their service to the San Fernando Valley Service Council; Update on Line 788 Implementation.

Westside/Central (5 pm, Wednesday, 10/8) – Swearing in of Maria Sipin as a new Westside/Central Service Council member, Update on Line 788 Implementation, Election of 2015 Chair and Vice-Chair for Westside/Central Service Council.

Gateway Cities (2 pm, Thursday, 10/9) – Presentation on First – Last Mile Connectivity, Report on Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 public hearings.

South Bay (9:30 am, Friday, 10/10) – Recognition of Division 18 Bus Operators Gordon Green and Rickey Griffin; Presentation on Access Services.

San Gabriel Valley (5 pm, Monday, 10/13) – Presentation on Access Services; Report on Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 public hearings.

For a detailed listing of all Service 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.

Ground is broken for Regional Connector project to link Blue, Expo and Gold Lines

RegionalConnectorMap

RegConnectorPlan

The official groundbreaking for the $1.42-billion Regional Connector project is being held this morning in Little Tokyo. The 1.9-mile underground light rail line will link the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines, allowing for faster and more frequent service on Metro’s light rail lines to and through downtown Los Angeles.

The project will also eliminate the need to transfer for many light rail riders. Riders on the Expo and Blue Line will be able to continue north on light rail from 7th/Metro Center to other downtown neighborhoods such as the Financial District, Civic Center and Little Tokyo. Likewise, Gold Line riders will no longer have to transfer to the Red/Purple Line subway at Union Station to reach the heart of downtown.

The project is currently forecast to be completed in 2020. When done, Metro plans to run trains between Long Beach and Azusa on a north-south light rail line and east-west between Santa Monica and East Los Angeles. Metro continues to work on potential naming and color schemes for its light rail lines to be used in the future.

Three other Metro Rail projects are already under construction: the 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line, the six-mile second phase of the Expo Line to downtown Santa Monica and the 11.5-mile Gold Line Foothill Extension to the Azusa/Glendora border. The 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line Extension subway is in pre-construction with utility relocations underway.

The Regional Connector, like those other projects, is receiving funding from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by nearly 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters in November 2008.

Below are a pair of the station renderings. We’ll add more pics to The Source from today’s media event later and will be posting photos to our Twitter and Instagram streams during the event. Media, bloggers, anyone: feel free to use/share any photos or renderings that we post.

And here is video from this morning’s event:

Below is the news release from Metro:

Federal, State & Local Elected Officials Join in Groundbreaking Ceremony

Metro Breaks Ground on New Regional Connector Light Rail Project in Downtown Los Angeles

Metro joined U.S Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx along with state and local elected officials today to officially break ground on the $1.420 billion Regional Connector Light Rail Project in downtown Los Angeles that will better connect the Metro Blue, Gold and Expo lines with the rest of the region.

“This project will mean people can take a one-seat ride through Pasadena, Long Beach, Santa Monica, the Eastside and points in-between,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti. “Bringing our rail lines together and making transfers simpler will make it easier for people to use rail and will help take more cars off the road.”

The Regional Connector Project completes a 1.9-mile segment between the Metro Blue and Expo Lines and the Metro Gold Line by providing a direct connection with three new stations planned for 1st Street/Central Avenue, 2nd Street/Broadway and 2nd Place/Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles.

“The Regional Connector will dramatically improve passengers’ daily commutes,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Gloria Molina.”It will provide them with better connections to the rest of the Metro Rail system without requiring them to transfer from one line to another. The Regional Connector is a major step forward in transforming Los Angeles County’s mass transit network into a truly world-class system.”

The Regional Connector Project is an important rail connection project overwhelmingly approved by the voters and funded by the Measure R half-cent sales tax ordinance for LA County transportation improvements. In addition to Measure R funding, a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the federal government secures $670 million for the project. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation has granted Metro a loan of $160 million for the Regional Connector project from a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan (TIFIA) to complete the project.

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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.