End of an era: Metro to retire its last high-floor buses on August 30

This type of high-floor bus, used by the transit industry for more than 100 years, required bus patrons to negotiate several steps before boarding.

This type of high-floor bus, used by the transit industry for more than 100 years, required bus patrons to negotiate steps before boarding.

Today’s Metro buses feature low-floor designs for faster, easier boardings and alightings.

Today’s Metro buses feature low-floor designs for faster, easier boardings and alightings.

Adios bus stairs, here comes the “Low Rider.”

Bus riders in Los Angeles County will no longer have to climb stairs to board a Metro Bus on any of Metro’s 170 bus lines beginning August 30. That’s the date when Metro will be officially retiring its very last high-floor transit buses and replacing them with “low-floor” buses.

That’s a notable milestone in the history of local transit. High-floor buses were employed by transit operators since the inception of motorized transit buses and Metro, as well as its predecessor agencies, have operated high-floor buses for decades. Climbing steps to board a bus has been the common experience of multiple generations of bus riders.

“Los Angeles, as well as most of the world, has had high floor buses for well over 100 years,” said Richard Famighetti, maintenance operations manager for Metro Divisions 6 and 7. “We are marking the end of a significant era that helped characterize public transportation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Retiring these buses is a truly a historic change for Metro.”

(Video after the jump!)

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, August 26

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! 

Jimmy Kimmel wasn’t the only person attending the Emmy Awards on Monday who took Metro to the Nokia Theatre. The above photos were taken at the Pico Station shared by the Blue Line and Expo Line and located one block from Staples Center and L.A. Live. Photos by Josh Southwick/Metro.

Jimmy Kimmel takes the subway to Emmy Awards in downtown L.A. (L.A. Times)

Pretty amazing to see the social media hoo-ha that breaks out when a celeb steps onto mass transit, particularly in a city that (undeservedly, IMO) is not exactly known for its local rail system. That said, it’s a nice shot of free PR for Metro and if Jimmy Kimmel can be an urban pioneer and figure out how to get a TAP card from the ticket machines, so can many others! See our post with his tweets and some reaction from riders.

BART’s early warning earthquake system could have broader applications (San Francisco Appeal)

The system that has been in testing since 2012 provides a 10-second warning that a temblor will occur, which agency officials say is enough time to significantly slow trains to help prevent derailments. Funding a broader system could also help slow motorists, warn surgeons and give just enough time to others to make a difference, say supporters of the system. Seems to me that any kind of warning is better than none.

Reworked projects to bring 320 apartments to the Arts District (Downtown News) 

The development was actually downsized after community members protested that it was too large for the Arts District. If the project near the intersection of Santa Fe Avenue and 7th Street gets built, it’s another big boost in the number of people living in the Arts District — particularly with the large One Santa Fe development nearing completion. Reporter and transit activist Roger Rudick responded to the news on Facebook with this: “If we don’t get that subway station in the Division 20 Yards and 6th Street we’re going to be trapped back here.”

As some folks know, Metro’s subway maintenance yards are along the Los Angeles River in the Arts District — that’s where the trains go when they’re out of service at Union Station. There has been occasional talk over the years about building a platform for the subway in the yards to serve the Arts District. Nothing has happened yet but as the neighborhood grows, I’m guessing there will be more demand for subway service — it could be an easy ride through Union Station to the rest of downtown and beyond — along with some inevitable concerns about the subway bringing too many people into the neighborhood. We’ll see… :)

L.A.’s demand-based parking moving in exactly the right direction (KCET)

City of Los Angeles officials say that their ExpressPark Program in DTLA is resulting in slightly lower average prices and more parking spaces being occupied. There’s some doubt as to whether that’s because of the demand-based system that adjusts meter prices or a reflection of an improving local economy and more people driving downtown. Nonetheless, the system will soon expand to Westwood and it’s the kind of thing that academics such as UCLA’s Donald Shoup have long been advocating.

Lost in America (New York Times)

Columnist Frank Bruni riffs on recent survey results showing that Americans have record low views when it comes to the federal government. More troubling, Bruni writes, is that Americans no longer believe that their children’s generation will fare better than their own, a reversal of a long-held American dream. Excerpt:

And it suggests that this isn’t just about the economy. It’s about fear. It’s about impotence. We can’t calm the world in the way we’d like to, can’t find common ground and peace at home, can’t pass needed laws, can’t build necessary infrastructure, can’t, can’t, can’t.

In the Journal/NBC poll, 60 percent of Americans said that we were a nation in decline. How sad. Sadder still was this: Nowhere in the survey was there any indication that they saw a method or a messenger poised to arrest it.

It’s a tough one. I’m 48 and feels to me that the world has been in some type of turmoil at very regular intervals throughout my life. On the home front, feels to me that most people I know have very little interest or enthusiasm when it comes to Washington D.C.

Jimmy Kimmel Goes Metro to Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre

It was a fun afternoon on social media when Jimmy Kimmel tweeted that he was pondering taking the Metro to the Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre — and then actually did it, riding the Red Line from Hollywood to downtown Los Angeles. His tweets and some of the reaction are below.

ABC News, Variety and People, among others, were media outlets that picked up the story.

 

And some of the reaction:

 

 

 

 

Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – Kasia Bohos finds happiness in bicycling

We are collecting nominations for the Year-Round Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a monthly Why you Ride series because for many Angelenos, Bike Week never ends!

  • Name: Kasia Bohos
  • Origin and destination: From West Hollywood to Culver City
  • Distance: Long commute (5 miles or more)
  • Type of commute: Traffic-congested commute
  • The commuter: Converted commuter (for new riders); chic commuter (riding with flair); and zealous commuter (encouraging others to try pedaling to school or work)

Thank you, Anna Martin of LA Brakeless bike shop, for nominating Kasia for the Golden Pedal Awards! Your participation is important!

Kasia seems to be having a fun time on the bike!

Kasia seems to be having a fun time on her bicycle… Go Kasia!

When Kasia entered LA Brakeless about six months ago, she admitted to being a bike novice and was shy about her lack of knowledge. The bike shop staff set her up with an entry-level bicycle and the necessary accessories. A few weeks later, Kasia bounced back in and told them that she had started biking to and from work every day and was now barely using her car. Kasia said she had never felt better and was seeing things on her way to work that she had not noticed when she was driving.

Kasia was so excited about her new-found love of biking that she sent countless co-workers to the store and prompted her employer to put up a bicycle rack for employees in the parking lot. The staff at LA Brakeless nominated Kasia for a Golden Pedal because they love to see the lives of people in their community touched by cycling in such a positive way. In their own words, “Kasia was touched by cycling and spread that love to many, many people.”

With help from our generous Bike Week LA sponsors, Kasia will receive a Bike Week LA T-shirt, bike patch kits, ankle straps, bike maps, Metro Bike Guides, and “Every Lane is a Bike Lane” bumper stickers.

Click here to read more about Kasia’s cycling experience!

T&Y Bakery opens at Union Station!

coconut thingUnion Station’s has a brand new attraction. T&Y Bakery opened this morning with pastry and cookies and French macaroons and this amazing coconut confection that turned out to be the perfect way to calm a 3 p.m. hunger attack.

T&Y stands for Tbilisi & Yerevan (the capitol cities of Georgia and Armenia) and the bakery selections reflect that heritage. Pierogi, baclava, cannoli, breads, black and white cookies. What more could we want? Well, maybe ice cream but Ben & Jerry’s is just next door and Starbucks is across the concourse.

There are T&Ys in two other L.A. locations, in West Hollywood and at the Farmers Market at Fairfax and 3rd Street.

What with the Japanese convenience store Famima, Wetzel’s Pretzels and this new Russian bakery, Union Station is becoming quite the international destination … just like L.A. itself.

Here’s the T&Y Bakery video from The Farmers Market site.

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, August 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: The Blue Line headed south toward Compton. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The Blue Line headed south toward Compton. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Gold Line Eastside project environmental document released (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Coverage of the release on Friday of the Eastside Gold Line Phase 2 environmental study.  As the article notes, the two light rail alternatives would extend the Eastside Gold Line from East L.A. to either South El Monte or Whittier. Metro staff at this time has not selected a preferred alternative — that will happen in November. Under Measure R, the project is not scheduled to be complete until 2035, but Metro is trying to accelerate funding for the project, including possibly through a sales tax ballot measure in 2016. Here’s our post about the study, with links to the document.

L.A. County Supervisor’s alternate bullet train route gaining traction (L.A. Times)

The California High-Speed Rail Authority seems to be considering a tunnel under the San Gabriel Mountains on equal footing with two earlier proposed routes along the 14 freeway — neither of which is very popular with communities such as Action, Agua Ducle and Santa Clarita. Bullet train officials say the tunnel-only option advocated by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich — which would require 18 to 20 miles — of tunnels may actually prove cheaper than the 14 freeway routes, which also require extensive tunneling anyway. If you want to dream about traveling from Palmdale to Burbank in 15 minutes, read the article. The usual bullet train caveat: securing funding for the project — which aims to eventually connect L.A. and San Francisco — remains a huge hurdle.

Fault lines in L.A. over new subway construction (Breitbart News) 

The city and school district in Beverly Hills are touting a new study from their consultants that claims that there are not any earthquake faults that would prohibit a subway station under Santa Monica Boulevard. Metro is sticking by its stance that active faults make building a station under Santa Monica Boulevard unsafe and it’s better from a safety and planning viewpoint to put the Purple Line Extension station in the center of Century City, under the intersection of Avenue of the Stars and Constellation boulevard. Beverly Hills officials want the station under Santa Monica Boulevard because it would not require tunneling under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus. As you likely know, Beverly Hills has challenged the project’s environmental studies with a pair of state and federal lawsuits. The Superior Courts ruled in favor of Metro in the state case and Beverly Hills appealed. The federal suit is ongoing.

After earthquake near Napa, up to 100 homes labeled as unfit to enter (L.A. Times) 

The 6.0-magnitude temblor that struck early Sunday didn’t do much damage to major transportation infrastructure throughout the Bay Area — although there was certainly damage to homes and businesses and other key infrastructure.

Damage at the Lucero store in Napa. Photo by Matthew Keys via Flickr creative commons.

Damage at the Lucero store in Napa. Photo by Matthew Keys via Flickr creative commons.

Have Americans really fallen out of love with driving? (Fortune)

Consumer spending has risen steadily over most of the last decade — with a brief dip due to the Great Recession. But the number of miles driven by Americans has remained flat since late 2007 — even as the number of those with jobs has increased in recent years. What gives? The independent research firm Behind the Numbers suggests that driving less is a trend here to stay and is a combination of several factors including high gas prices, baby boomers growing older, millennials gaining in numbers (millennials are less interested in driving), more interest in transit and more desire by many to live in urban settings. Fortune is a little skeptical, saying that gas prices adjusted for inflation are not outrageous and millennials still don’t play much of a role in the overall economy.

My three cents: I’m certainly not a millennial (I’m 48) but I certainly don’t want to drive more or purchase more gasoline than is absolutely necessary. Nor do I like spending money on cars, which notoriously lose value very quickly. I think with good transit, biking and housing options in cities with good public spaces, driving will remain flat in America as along as it remains relatively expensive.

Here’s how easy it is to hack a traffic light with a laptop (Vox)

With permission from local authorities, hackers in Michigan were able to disrupt timing of traffic lights in an un-named city rather easily. Vox suggests that this is a security concern — and it is certainly illegal to tamper with lights. That said, in my neck of the woods (Pasadena), I’m not sure that the timing of traffic lights could be much worse, the reason other computer hacker targets inspire a little more fear.

 

Get on the move with the Transit Trailblazers

Public transportation plays a large role in helping older adults stay mobile. But as much as many of them want to ride buses or trains, trying to figure out routes, times and fares can sometimes be a little intimidating. That’s where On the Move Riders Club comes in.

On the Move Riders Club is part of Metro’s outreach to older adults. Project Manager Lilly Ortiz visits senior citizen centers around Los Angeles County to teach older adults about the benefits of public transit and familiarize them with local transportation options. Find out how to get a Senior TAP card and stay updated on fun events and transit outings!

The video above features the Transit Trailblazers, one of the On the Move Riders groups based in Burbank. On the Move Riders Club has groups throughout Los Angeles County. For more information or to start a club, call 213.922.2299 or email onthemove@metro.net.

Riders who are 62 and older are eligible for heavily discounted Metro fares if using a senior TAP. Please click here for information about how to apply. Below is the chart showing the new fares that take effect on Sept. 15:

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