Transportation headlines, Friday, April 27

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Expo Line’s opening launches rail service push to Westside (L.A. Times)

The Times’ Dan Weikel and Ari Bloomekatz provide a good recap of the significance of the opening of the first phase of the Expo Line. The piece highlights in particular the benefits to USC students, and, I think, gives a fair assessment of what Expo will mean to Los Angeles. Be sure to check out this cool time-lapse video of the Expo Line by Bryan Chan.

Expo’s backstage safety patrol (Zev Web)

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s official blog details the numerous measures Metro has undertaken to ensure that the public knows how to navigate the new Expo Line safely. The story focuses in particular on the efforts of Vijay Khawani, Metro’s Executive Officer of Corporate Safety, and Barbara Burns, manager of Metro’s Transit Safety Education Programs. As the blog notes, Metro has been very proactive in its community outreach on safety issues:

To educate the public about what’s headed their way, Burns’ team has conducted dozens of training sessions at schools, senior centers and libraries and with neighborhood watch and community groups, sent out hundreds of notices about train testing, put up 4,000 safety posters and handed out 60,000 flyers door to door.

The most beautiful train stations in the world (Flavorpill)

Is Los Angeles Union Station one of the 10 most beautiful train stations in the world? Culture blog Flavorpill thinks so and your humble Metro blogger agrees completely. I’m particularly fond of Union Station’s mix of Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco architectural elements — two of my favorites styles, both of which you can see across L.A. Hat tip to LA Observed for the link.

Walk Score’s best cities in America for public transportation (NRDC Switchboard)

Everyone’s favorite mapping tool, Walk Score, has launched a new service called Transit Score and used it to determine what it believes are the best American cities for public transit. The Switchboard blog has a recap and analysis. Los Angeles clocks in at 11, just behind Portland, Ore., and ahead of Denver, Colo. — respectable enough company, I suppose. That said, I do have some constructive criticisms of Transit Score’s methodology.

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Free rides Saturday and Sunday on the Expo Line

Click above for a larger map.

We’ve posted tons on the Expo Line’s opening on Saturday, here’s a brief recap:

•Expo Line trains will be running from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday from 7th/Metro Center station in downtown Los Angeles to the La Cienega/Jefferson station. Two Expo Line stations are not opening tomorrow: Farmdale and Culver City. They should be done by summer.

•There is no charge to ride the Expo Line on Saturday and Sunday. Fares begin with service early Monday morning. Here’s the timetable Expo will use beginning Monday.

•You still must pay regular fares to ride the rest of the Metro system this weekend. A single ride on any bus or rail line is $1.50. A day pass with unlimited transfers is $5. If you don’t yet have a TAP card to pay fares, you can purchase one and load it with passes or cashes at ticket vending machines at all rail stations.

•There are events being held outside four stations on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — 7th/Metro Center, Expo Park/USC, Crenshaw and La Cienega/Jefferson. More details on the entertainment here.

•Metro is expecting big crowds wanting to ride the Expo Line this weekend. There will likely be lines at some stations. Best bet to avoid lines is to ride early in the morning.

 

More info on parking, bike facilities and bus connections for Expo Line

Here’s the news release from Metro:

Commuters who are gearing up to take the Expo Line to work and other destinations have options to park for free at parking facilities located at La Cienega Station (476 spaces), Culver City Station (586 spaces) opening this summer and at the Crenshaw Station, a leased facility owned and operated by the West Angeles Church of God in Christ which will provide 450 spaces Monday through Saturday.

“This new association between West Angeles Church and Metro provides the community with a convenient and familiar place to park and allows West Angeles the opportunity to, once again, serve the South Los Angeles area, as we have done for more than forty years,” said Pastor and Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

The pastor noted the West Angelus parking facility will also allow more pedestrian traffic, thus increasing retail and economic opportunities throughout the Crenshaw corridor.

The parking facilities are located at:

Expo/Crenshaw Station
3428 Exposition Bl, Los Angeles 90018
Nearby Free Parking (Independent) Monday through Saturday, excluding Sunday
5 Bike Rack Spaces

La Cienega/Jefferson Station
5664 W Jefferson Bl, Los Angeles 90016
Free On-site Parking – 476 Spaces
12 Bike Rack Spaces

Culver City Station (opening early summer)
8804 Washington Bl, Culver City 90232
Free On-site Parking – 586 Spaces
Bike Racks Available
8 Bike Lockers

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The Expo Line's earlier days — recalled by men who worked it

Freight trains on the old Expo Line right-of-way in the early 1950s. Photo by Alan Weeks, via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

The Expo Line may be brand new, but passenger rail service to the Westside is nothing Los Angeles hasn’t seen before – it’s just been a long time as in half a century ago. The path taken by Phase I of the Expo Line to Culver City and Phase II to Santa Monica was traveled by Pacific Electric’s Santa Monica Air Line, a passenger and freight rail service that ran on the same right-of-way. Passenger rail service carried passengers down to Santa Monica until 1953 and freight trains also used the tracks until the late 1980s.

The Air Line was a coveted track to work because it was an easy local run from downtown Los Angeles to the ocean. Only the highest seniority Pacific Electric rail men got the chance to work the Air Line – just ask Larry Fredeen, a former P.E. conductor.

“I was lucky to work the line at all,” said Fredeen, who worked the Air Line as a brakeman in the late 1970s. “I was so sad when I heard it was abandoned due to lack of business. I had a lot of good experiences working that track. I’m glad it’s returning, although in a different form.”

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In case you missed it: recapping our Expo Line coverage

An Expo train at La Cienega/Jefferson station with the downtown L.A. skyline in the distance. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

First, a plug: If you’re planning to attend this weekend’s Expo Line festivities, go ahead and subscribe to Metro on Twitter at @MetroLosAngeles, so you can follow our coverage in real time and share with us all your Expo thoughts and photos.

Now, business: We’ll be the first to admit that we’ve published a whole bunch of posts about the Expo Line lately — about how Expo will work, its history, who was instrumental in making it a reality. So much so that a couple of great stories got pushed off the front page before many folks probably had a chance to read them.

So, without further ado here’s a recap of our Expo Line stories from the past month or so:

Resources

Beyond phase one: making connections to the Expo Line

More info on parking, biking and bus connections to the Expo Line

Expo Line timetable is here!

Riding safely on new Expo Line bike lanes

Expo Line map, destinations guide and art guide

Go Expo this weekend

Free rides on new Expo light-rail line during opening weekend celebration, April 28-29

Expo opening day celebrations

Go Expo to Everychild Playground Play Day

History

Photos of the Expo Line through history

The Expo Line’s earlier days: recalled by the men who worked it

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Metro Board certifies final environmental study for Regional Connector

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The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors today certified the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/EIR) for the $1.37- billion Regional Connector Transit Corridor Project that will connect three light rail lines through downtown Los Angeles and greatly improve connectivity for the entire L.A. County transportation network.

The project could begin construction next year and is scheduled to be complete in 2019.

“Today’s approval by the Board represents a major milestone in Metro’s ongoing efforts to deliver on the promise it made to Measure R voters for greater regional mobility,” said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also serves as Metro Board Chair. “The Regional Connector project is one of the most important transit improvements we can build to make the entire Metro Rail system function more efficiently. Its construction will quicken transit travel times, provide more reliable service, create thousands of jobs and bring billions of dollars of economic benefits to our county.”

In certifying the EIS/EIR, the Board also adopted Metro’s Locally Preferred Alternative, a 1.9-mile fully underground light rail line that includes three new stations at 1st/Central, 2nd/Broadway, and 2nd/Hope. The board also approved the following design refinements:

•Relocating the Little Tokyo/Arts District underground station to minimize property required and eliminate the cut-and-cover segment on 2nd Street in Little Tokyo originally required for construction.

•Launching a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) from the northeast corner of 1st and Alameda Streets, the property formerly known as the Nikkei development, instead of 2nd Street.

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