Open during construction: California Ticket Masters

Construction continues along Crenshaw Boulevard for the Crenshaw/LAX Line, which means fencing and blocked lanes in order for work to proceed on the underground portion of the rail line. Though the area around the west side of Crenshaw south of Rodeo Road may be difficult to navigate, the businesses located there are absolutely open during construction and worth visiting.

Some of the businesses in the area have been around for quite some time and provide important services for those in the neighborhood — and many of the merchants also live in the community. The video below features California Ticket Masters, located at 3679 Crenshaw Boulevard.

For motorists traveling on Crenshaw, turn west on Rodeo Road and use the parking lot located in the back of the businesses. You can also get there from the Expo/Crenshaw Station – from the station, walk south on Crenshaw Blvd. It takes about two minutes.

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Women, Infants and Children’s Center 

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, September 17

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! 

Union ploy may throw Kinkisharyo off track (Antelope Valley Press)

The firm hired by Metro to build new rail cars wants to build an assembly plant in Palmdale. This editorial chastises the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 and other Antelope Valley residents for using legal tactics to try to force Kinkisharyo to hire union workers or do a full blown environmental impact report for the facility — which may mean the facility has to be located elsewhere. The new light rail vehicles are needed sooner rather than later for the second phase of the Expo Line, the Gold Line Foothill Extension and as replacement cars for the Blue Line.

Kuehl, Shriver square off in L.A. County Supervisor debate (L.A. Times) 

Coverage of last night’s debate in the race for the third district, currently held by Zev Yaroslavsky. The Purple Line Extension was one issue discussed.

An eye in the sky, accessible to the hobbyist (New York Times)

A new drone with camera attached sells for about $1,300 — meaning these things are just going to get more popular. I recently watched a photographer use a drone at CalTech to photograph wedding pics and I’m curious how long it will be when drones are used to either photograph transit and/or the transportation industry.

On the hunt for fireflies in Utah (High Country News)

Not a transportation article, but a good read for those interested in or fascinated by the American West. Scientists have known for 30 years that fireflies — most often seen in the Midwest — were in Utah, but it wasn’t until recently that they secured proof.

New station canopy being built at Wilshire/Western Purple Line Station

Subway riders will no doubt notice a brand new subway portal canopy now being built over the Purple Line’s Wilshire/Western Station.

The new canopy will feature new components from Metro’s “kit of parts” station design concepts that’s seeking to keep Metro structures consistent in their appearance and easier and more affordable to maintain. More importantly, the canopy should shield Metro customers from the elements and help prevent weather-related damage to escalators and other station facilities.

Construction of the canopy is expected to be completed by October of this year and will give the Wilshire/Western station a look similar to that of future stations for the Metro Purple Line Extension Project now in pre-construction.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Sept. 16

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! 

Metro riders take fare hikes mostly in stride (L.A. Times)

The bright side: most passengers seemed aware that fares were going up. The down side: not as many knew about the new two-hour free transfer policy. There was also this:

Perhaps the largest hiccup happened at the 7th Street / Metro Center rail station, where some ticket scanning machines didn’t honor the new free-transfer policy and charged passengers twice. The software glitch was fixed and those customers will receive automatic refunds within 48 hours, Sotero said.

 

I spent much of the day camped on Metro’s Twitter account and it seemed to me that reaction to the fare hikes was mixed. Some positive, some negative and a lot of questions. Several riders were pleased that Metro was finally offering free transfers, as many other large transit agencies already do.

For those who haven’t seen it before, here is the link to transportation planner Jarrett Walker’s 2009 post on why transferring is good for you and your city.

California’s 3-foot buffer for cyclists takes effect today (L.A. Times)

The Golden State becomes the 24th state to enact a three-foot passing law. Motorists who don’t obey the law can be fined $35 or $220 if they collide with a cyclist. Over at StreetsblogLA, there are some suggestions about how to improve the law. All in all, I thikn the law is a good thing — but it really depends on how vigilant local police are about enforcing it. Police can sit at an intersection and, for example, enforce red light laws — but interactions between cyclists and motorists happen everywhere and often not in any kind of concentration that makes it easy for police to witness. The best hope is that when they see a bad interaction, the motorist (or cyclist if they violate a traffic law) gets pulled over.

Almost every way of getting to work is better than driving (Fast Company)

Is there a link between the overall well-being of a person and the way they commute? British researchers think so. I think there are undoubtedly some great benefits to walking, biking or taking transit to work but studies (or the accompanying media coverage) like these always leave me suspicious of their sweeping generalizations. A few years back, there were a lot of studies linking living in the ‘burbs to obesity. The thinking on that has started to change, with some people saying bad diets and lack of exercise can be found in a lot of different neighborhoods.

A field guide to the future former birds of L.A. (LAObserved) 

Good follow to the recent Audubon study that found that half the birds in the U.S. could be squeezed out of their habitat by climate change. Among the species seen in the L.A. metro area that could be in trouble are Allen hummingbirds, mountain bluebirds, golden eagles, eared grebes, western gulls, red-breasted sapsucker and purple finch. If global warming concerns you, taking transit is one way to reduce your carbon footprint — transit is generally more efficient than driving alone.

Help Metro decide on official station names for Crenshaw/LAX Line

Learn the station names that are being considered for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project and provide feedback at upcoming community meetings taking place September 16, 24 and October 9.
Station Naming Meeting Flyer FINAL Eng.Spa

Here’s Metro’s property naming policy and below is the map for the project that shows the station locations:

crenshaw

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, September 15

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! 

MTA bus and train fares to rise on Monday (L.A. Times)

Transportation reporter Laura Nelson does a good job of breaking down the new fare structure that went into effect earlier today — with the regular fares rising to $1.75 (with two hours of free transfers) and weekly passes now $25 and monthly passes now $100. Please click here for charts showing the new fares as well as a useful Frequently Asked Questions on the fares.

The article also offers useful context about the finances and politics that drove the fare hike. Two key graphs:

Metro staff members estimate that ridership will drop by 3% to 4% during the first six months of the increase, but that fare revenue will grow by $21 million this fiscal year and $28 million in subsequent years.

That will not be enough to correct the agency’s long-term financial problems. Metro analysts have pushed for a series of three fare increases over eight years, saying more income is needed to offset an expected cumulative deficit of $225 million over the next decade. Agency directors approved the fare hike that begins Monday but postponed two subsequent increases proposed for 2017 and 2020, saying they needed more information about the agency’s financial outlook.

The Metro Board earlier this year asked staff to report back on other sources of revenue — so that’s something to keep an eye on. The other question looming over the issue of fares is a possible ballot measure in 2016 and what it may or may not include (no decision has yet been made on the ballot measure or its contents). Measure R did include a temporary fare freeze.

As for the basics on the fare increase, the $1.50 regular fare went up to $1.75 today but now includes two hours of free transfers.

Poll: 68 percent want more transit spending (The Hill)

Speaking of transportation funding, the Mineta Transportation Institute’s poll for the American Public Transportation Assn. shows slightly more Americans want more spent on public transit. Putting aside the not-so-small issue that both groups benefit from more dollars spent on transit, I’m guessing there is significant support in most metropolitan areas in the U.S. for transit. In Los Angeles County, 68 percent is a key number as 66.6 percent of voters are needed to approve transportation ballot measures. Measure R in 2008 was approved with 67.9 percent of the vote and Measure J in 2012 failed with 66.1 percent approval.

LAWA’s Gina Marie Lindsey: investments in LAX continue (The Planning Report) 

The general manager of Los Angeles World Airports — a city of Los Angeles agency — talks about the challenges and difficulties of installing remote baggage check-in at LAX and the automated people mover that will take passengers from the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the airport terminals. While the people mover’s route is pretty much settled outside the terminal horseshoe, Lindsey says the important matter of deciding its route and station locations should be decided within the next few months. Earlier this year, LAX was looking at configurations that included two stations or four stations.

Perris Valley Line taking shape (Press-Enterprise)

Nice to see some progress on the 24-mile extension of the Metrolink line from Riverside into the Perris Valley. Officials say the line is forecast to open near the end of 2015. It’s the first major Metrolink expansion in more than a decade, reports the Press-Enterprise.

Meet Seleta Reynolds, the safe streets advocate running LADOT (Streetsblog LA)

Damien Newton interviews the new general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, which manages traffic signals and the city’s DASH and Commuter Express buses, among other things. A lot of the conversation focuses on bike policy and Reynolds is mindful to (correctly) remind everyone that the City Council has pretty much the final say in everything.

Guest editorial: urban change in L.A., too little too slow (Streetsblog LA)

Thoughtful article by architect and urban designer Gerhard Mayer. His main point: while L.A. is certainly changing, it’s changing a lot more slowly than other cities and far too much of the city is devoted to roads and/or parking lots. The key paragraph:

L.A.’s land use imbalance is acute. In a “normal” city, only approx. one-fifth of the city’s land is dedicated to transportation. Four-fifths of that city is used for buildings that generate revenue – or for open space. Not in LA; here, as much as 60 percent of our land – three-fifths – is used to accommodate our automobiles. Only two-fifths of LA has buildings that generates revenue to maintain, renew and expand our public services.

Of course, it’s hard to come up with averages like that on such a sprawling city but the statistics sound about right for some parts of the city. I just drove to Oregon and back and L.A. is hardly alone. Driving through Klamath Falls I was struck with a downtown that appeared to be on life support while outside of town, the usual shopping malls with the usual big box stores were surrounded by vast parking lots and a lot of traffic.

Coming to the rescue of riders who drop treasures on the tracks (New York Times) 

Interesting article about the transit workers in the New York subway who use a variety of tools to scoop up belongings that riders have dropped on tracks below the platforms. This includes a bag of blood, a variety of artificial limbs, engagement rings and stuffed animals. Of course, we implore all riders to NEVER try to retrieve such items themselves on our transit system or any other. If you drop something valuable, please contact our Customer Relations department.

Regulator slow to respond to deadly vehicle defects (New York Times) 

A long and deeply reported article that is extremely critical of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The nut graphs:

An investigation by The New York Times into the agency’s handling of major safety defects over the past decade found that it frequently has been slow to identify problems, tentative to act and reluctant to employ its full legal powers against companies.

The Times analyzed agency correspondence, regulatory documents and public databases and interviewed congressional and executive branch investigators, former agency employees and auto safety experts. It found that in many of the major vehicle safety issues of recent years — including unintended acceleration in Toyotas, fires in Jeep fuel tanks and air bag ruptures in Hondas, as well as the G.M. ignition defect — the agency did not take a leading role until well after the problems had reached a crisis level, safety advocates had sounded alarms and motorists were injured or died.

Not only does the agency spend about as much money rating new cars — a favorite marketing tool for automakers — as it does investigating potentially deadly manufacturing defects, but it also has been so deferential to automakers that it made a key question it poses about fatal accidents optional — a policy it is only now changing after inquiries from The Times.

 

The article includes many anecdotes and examples. Perhaps the hardest thing to stomach: the agency declines to directly answer many of the Times’ questions, none of which seem unreasonable to ask.

Tour Metro electric bus at AltCar Expo, September 19-20

One of five new electric buses ordered by Metro and build by BYD will be on display at Altcar Expo. Photo Credit: BYD

One of the five new electric buses ordered by Metro and manufactured by BYD will be on display at the AltCar Expo. Photo Credit: BYD

The 9th Annual AltCar Expo will be taking place Friday and Saturday, September 19 and 20 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Admission is free and the expo runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The expo features presentations and demonstrations of the latest advancements in alternative technology vehicles, transportation, and energy efficiency. Don’t miss out on a tour of the all-new electric bus on display presented by Metro!

As an added bonus for Metro riders, those who show their valid TAP cards at the AltCar info booth will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win a free Nissan LEAF rental! The winner will be announced after the event, and you must be present at the time of the raffle to claim the prize.

To get to the auditorium, take Metro Bus 534 to Olympic/5th and walk south on 4th Street. Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus is another option; for more routes and connections use the Trip Planner. Free bike valet will also be offered at the event.