Transportation headlines, Wednesday, October 22

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.  

Rail to River moves forward (Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas website)

The post concerns a motion by Supervisor and Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas that asks Metro to supply $2.8 million in funding for more planning and design work on a new walking and bike path in South Los Angeles. The motion will be heard at Thursday’s meeting of the Metro Board of Directors.

As envisioned by Ridley-Thomas, the path would convert the old Harbor Subdivision Right-of-Way owned by Metro and convert it to a walking and bike path between the West Boulevard Station of the future LAX/Crenshaw line and the Los Angeles River.

The article and the accompanying video on MRT’s website invokes New York City’s “High Line” as well as the Greenway Trail in Whittier as examples of projects that successfully have converted unused railway to assets that benefit the surrounding communities. Here’s a Source post from earlier this year about the concept.

This item from the Source’s Steve Hymon:

Times, ABC 7 and Metro’s parking stores are wrong and misleading (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Joe Linton responds to stories on parking — and the lack thereof — at some Metro transit stations (L.A. Times and ABC-7). Among his key points: 1) it’s often free parking that is in short supply at some stations stations while paid parking spaces may be available or could be available if managed better, and; 2) there may be other important reasons why people choose not to ride other than parking — such as frequency or quality of transit service.

Whether to include parking at transit stations is a tough piece of public policy, especially given that free parking is subsidized by Metro for better or worse (depending on your point of view). I’ve heard good arguments on all sides of this debate. I’ll offer the same disclosure that I did in yesterday’s headlines: the $2 I pay to sometimes park at the Gold Line’s Del Mar Station makes my transit trip to work a little quicker.

Lyft, Uber secure SFO deal (S.F. Examiner)

The deal means that the three most used app-based rideshare services (or “transportation network companies“) can now legally pick up and drop off passengers at San Francisco International Airport as part of a 90-day pilot program. Sidecar, another popular service, reached an agreement with the airport last week. The terms of the deal will allow the airport to limit the number of vehicles available at the airport at a given time. SFO is the first airport in California and the second in the U.S. to reach an agreement with app-based ride services.

Meanwhile in L.A., Los Angeles World Airports last spring asked for comments on a draft agreement for a potential pilot program to allow transportation network companies at LAX. There’s been little news out of either camp regarding progress on granting permits since then.

In June, the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the fledgling rideshare industry in California, issued cease-and-desist letters to a handful of companies specifically citing unauthorized airport operations. Police at both LAX and SFO were reportedly cracking down on unlicensed drivers throughout the summer. But despite such a rough start, SFO and rideshare companies were still able to strike deals within a few months. So is it only a matter of time before similar agreements will be inked at LAX?

NYC sets one-day subway ridership record (WNYC)

Passengers board the New York subway in September. Photo by Jim Pennucci, via Flickr creative commons.

Passengers board the New York subway in September. Photo by Jim Pennucci, via Flickr creative commons.

There were 6.1 million boardings on Sept. 23, the most since records started being kept in 1985. Officials say the subway was only averaging 3.6 million boardings a day 20 years ago and credit the growth to the New York MTA’s efforts to improve the system’s efficiency and capacity.

Washington State traffic forecast finally recognizes reality (Sightline Daily)

The blog post by Clark Williams-Derry of the Sightline Institute cites a recently published forecast from Washington state that predicts traffic growth in the state will be modest and eventually decline. This trend is a striking change from the same orecast from last year which, like many other traffic growth forecasts across the country, indicated steady traffic growth. Williams-Derry calls the forecast a “refreshing change” because:

First, it reflects the growing empirical evidence of a long-term slowdown in the growth of vehicle travel, evident on major roads in Washington, for Washington State roads as a whole, for the US, and for much of the industrialized world.

Second, even if the forecast is wrong, assuming that traffic won’t grow much is the most fiscally prudent way to plan a transportation budget.

The article goes on to say a consequence of slowed traffic growth combined with unrealistically optimistic traffic forecasts (if more cars on the road is an optimistic prospect to anyone) is reduced revenue from gas tax and tolling, most of which the state of Washington is forced to use on debt repayment instead of much-needed infrastructure improvements.

It will be interesting to see if more agencies use the recent trend in declining traffic growth as a basis for predicting a long-term trend, especially considering per capita vehicle miles of travel in the U.S. declined for the 9th straight year in 2013. Even more interesting: whether funds will shift toward other ways of getting around.

 

Alameda Corridor-East holds groundbreaking for Puente Avenue roadway underpass

Photos: Joe Lemon/Metro

The Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Construction Authority broke ground today on a four-lane roadway underpass of Puente Avenue that will be built beneath a Union Pacific railroad line that runs along Valley Boulevard in the City of Industry. The $99.6-million project will support 1,780 jobs over four years of construction with completion scheduled for early 2018, according to ACE.

The Puente Avenue project will eliminate crossing collisions, vehicle queuing and congestion, train horn noise and reduce emissions from vehicles waiting for trains to pass through the intersection. Metro is the largest single financial contributor to this project, providing more than 50 percent of the program funding through Measure R sales tax and Prop C funds.

Here’s the press release from the ACE Construction Authority:

(City of Industry, CA) – Officials gathered today to kick off construction of a four-lane roadway underpass on Puente Avenue and Workman Mill Road that will be built beneath a Union Pacific Railroad line in the City of Industry. A railroad bridge and loop connector road between Workman Mill Road and Valley Boulevard will also be constructed.  The $99.6 million project will create 1,780 jobs over four years of construction with completion scheduled for early 2018.

“The Puente Avenue project will eliminate crossing collisions, vehicle queuing and congestion and train horn noise and reduce vehicle emissions,” said El Monte Councilwoman Norma Macias, Chair of the Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Construction Authority Board of Directors. “We appreciate the support for this project from our funding partners.”

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Metro participates in Taste of Soul

More than 1,000 people pledged to “Eat, Shop, Play Crenshaw” during the campaign kick off this past weekend at the ninth annual Taste of Soul festival. The campaign seeks to remind residents and visitors to the Crenshaw Corridor that local businesses are open during construction for the Creshaw/LAX Line.

Metro’s “Experience Trailer” also offered the public more information about the agency’s Project Labor Agreement policy to help low-income residents get work on Metro projects. Also on hand were job coordinators for the Regional Connector project, Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Constructors, as well as other smaller Project Labor Agreement contractors. Metro’s information table featured members of Metro’s African American Employees Assn., as well as volunteers who welcomed to our exhibit space.

Sneak peek into the artwork for future Downtown Santa Monica Station

Artist Judithe Hernandez in her studio, with two of her original artworks for the Expo Line in the background.

Artist Judithe Hernandez in her studio, with two of her original artworks for the Expo Line in the background.

This is the fourth in a series of Source posts providing a behind-the-scenes look at the artwork fabrication process for each of the seven new Metro Rail stations under construction along the second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica. The artworks will create a welcoming environment for future riders and connect the stations to surrounding neighborhoods. Commissioned artists include Constance Mallinson, Shizu Saldamando, Abel Alejandre, Susan Logoreci, Nzuji de Magalhães, Carmen Argote, and Judithe Hernandez.

This post introduces the artwork of artist Judithe Hernandez, which will be featured at the Downtown Santa Monica Station. Her original artwork, L.A. Sonata, began as chalk and oil pastel drawings on paper.

Artwork Description: L.A. Sonata depicts a composite of global mythologies, a fitting gesture for the terminus station of the Expo Line, located at the very edge of our continent. The artist layers images to create metaphors for day and night as well as the seasons. By weaving cultural identifiers with elements that denote the passage of time, artworks create a sense of shared place and historical significance that honors the heritage of the local, the immigrant and the tourist alike.

In the artist’s own words, “I sought an image palette from the ancient myths and legends of Europe, Mexico, Japan, India, Latin America, Iran, Russia, Native America, Polynesia and Africa. These images became a visual symphony, a magical dreamscape.”

The pastel drawings were translated into glass mosaics from vivid cake glass, handmade by the artwork fabricator. The 24 glass mosaic panels will be placed in steel frames and installed at the Downtown Santa Monica Station in highly visible places for riders and the public.

Hernandez is thoroughly involved in the process to ensure that the glass mosaic is an accurate translation of her original artwork.

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Oct. 21: to park or not to park at Metro stations?

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.  

Lack of parking drives many away from mass transit (L.A. Times) 

Parking at the Expo Line's Culver City Station. Photo by Metro.

Parking at the Expo Line’s Culver City Station. Photo by Metro.

An updated look at a long-debated issue in transit circles: how much, if any, lack of parking at transit stations. Forty of Metro’s 80 stations have parking — and parking at some of the most popular stations is often gobbled up early on weekday mornings (Norwalk, NoHo, Universal City and Culver City are a few examples).

On the other hand, Metro has thousands of free spaces — as well as some paid ones — and I can definitely point to places where parking is relatively easy. This interactive map gives you an idea where the parking is located.

Excerpt from the Times article:

“Today I got lucky,” said Ashley Scott, 30, as she waited for her train to Hollywood on a recent Thursday morning. “I was this close to just getting on the 101.”

Scott’s daily dilemma illustrates an often overlooked but significant choke point in the ambitious growth of L.A.’s light-rail system. Metro’s six-line network, which has seen steady ridership gains over the last five years, now carries about 350,000 people on work days. Parking shortages could complicate Metro’s goal of shifting hundreds of thousands more drivers to public transit in coming decades.

Planners say it’s impractical, perhaps impossible, to build enough free parking. Train station lots have low turnover because most commuters leave their cars all day. To meet demand, Metro lots would have to sprawl far beyond the station—or, in dense urban areas, rise several stories.

It’s a tough issue as many planners believe that it’s far wiser in the long-term to build developments with more jobs and/or residences near transit. Their belief is that promoting density near transit will ultimately produce more riders than sprawling parking lots and also lead to building cities with a higher quality-of-life.

On the other hand, it’s undeniable that — at least for now — parking is the carrot that makes taking transit possible for some of our riders.

And then there’s the issue of expense and space. For example, there is no parking planned along the Purple Line Extension subway, which largely follows densely developed Wilshire Boulevard. On the other hand, the Gold Line Foothill Extension — in the more suburban San Gabriel Valley — will eventually have parking at each of its six new stations.

As it happens, I just got off the phone with Andrew Young, who recently co-authored a study with David Levinson at the University of Minnesota that ranked Metro areas according to their transit accessibility to jobs. The Los Angeles area ranked third, so I asked Andrew what he thought about the parking conundrum.

“You can build parking lots that makes transit useful to those who live some distance away from stations or you can build housing and destination adjacent to that station that will be used by those in future who will work and live there,” he said. “The question is: do you want to build for an existing constituency or do you want to build for a currently nonexistent constituency that one day will live next to the station. In many places, building for the future is hard for current politicians….people like the status quo and people in the status quo are the ones who vote and it’s always hard to change that.”

Well said.

Of course, there’s a related issue here, too — whether parking, where it exists, should be free? Streetsblog L.A. has written about that, criticizing Metro for offering free subsidies for auto users that it doesn’t necessarily offer for those who get to stations on foot, bikes or even transit.

Personal disclosure on this item: I often pay $2 to park at the Gold Line’s Del Mar station, where there is always plenty of parking to be had. I could ride my bike, walk or try to snare a ride from the Domestic Partner (when not working herself), but I’ve found driving to be quicker.

More headline funtivitity after the jump! 

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Go Metro to LA Dance Project and you could save on meals in DTLA’s Historic Core

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L.A. Dance Project returns to its home of choice, The Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, for three performances this fall. The program features a new work by Benjamin Millepied with music by Phillip Glass, and there are shows on Friday, Oct. 24, Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26.

Plan a night on the town by combining dinner with a show. You’ll be able to save on meals with your TAP card at the following venues near the theatre:

  • Umami Burger – Receive free Thin Fries or Sweet Potato Fries with purchase of a burger
  • Terroni – Save 10% on your bill
  • Peking Tavern – Save 15% on your bill

To get to Ace Hotel, take Metro Bus 30/33035/38 or 40 to Broadway/Olympic. You can also take the Metro Red or Purple Line to Pershing Square Station, then walk four short blocks south on Broadway.

Go Metro to Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon & 5k

Rock out at the world’s largest Halloween Half Marathon and 5K!

Want to get a head start on your Halloween festivities? Wear your favorite costume this Sunday, October 26 and run in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon and 5k. Those with valid TAP cards can save $10 on registration when using promo code LAMETRO14 online.

Participants will run a loop cruise at 7:30 a.m. starting and ending at L.A. LIVE in Downtown L.A. Live bands and cheer teams will be encouraging runners at every mile! Bring your friends and celebrate your accomplishments at the free finish line concert and festival. To get to L.A. LIVE, take the Metro Expo or Blue Line to Pico Station and walk toward Figueroa Street.

For the costume contest, staff members will select finalists in the categories best overall, best rock star, best superhero, scariest and most original costume. Winners will be announced at the end for a chance to win awesome prizes!