Slow posting today

Hi folks. I’m off the grid for the rest of the day although we’ll have a couple of posts later. Keep cool, thanks for reading and riding and we’ll catch up on Monday.


Metro to Receive $20 Million in Federal Grants from U.S. Department of Transportation

Metro pulled in a couple of nice federal grants on Thursday — including money to help build the pedestrian tunnel under Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood between the Red Line station and Orange Line platform. The Daily News also published a good story with more details. Work is expected to begin on the tunnel in the fall.

Here’s the udate from Metro’s government relations staff:

Members of the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation have been notified that we will be receiving two separate federal transportation grants from the United States Department of Transportation. The first grant, in the amount of $10 million, was provided through the Bus & Bus Facilities Program/State of Good Repair (SGR) Initiative. These funds will help procure Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) 40-foot buses that are needed to replace buses among our fleet that have exceeded, or are about to exceed, the end of their useful service life. The second grant, in the amount $10 million, was provided through the Bus & Bus Facilities Program/Livability Initiative for the Metro Orange Line Bus Enhancement – Pedestrian Connector to North Hollywood Red Line Station. Metro will use these funds to help construct a pedestrian passage (under Lankershim Boulevard) between the platforms of the existing Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) station on the west of Lankershim Boulevard, to the mezzanine level of the existing North Hollywood Red Line subway station at the east of Lankershim Boulevard.

Expo Line delays this afternoon

There are two disabled trains on the tracks between the 23rd Street and Expo Park stations, meaning the tracks are blocked.

As a result, trains are operating between 7th/Metro Center and 23rd Street station with another set of trains running between Vermont station and Culver City station. A bus bridge has been set up between 23rd Street station and Vermont to transport patrons around the blocked tracks.

The best way to get service alerts is to subscribe to Metro’s Twitter feed, check the homepage or install the Metro app on your smartphone.

Reminder: more Metrolink weekend service between L.A. Union Station and Oceanside

A Metrolink train in San Clemente. Photo by Loco Steve, via Flickr creative commons.

With the hot weather, here’s a reminder that Metrolink is running more trains this summer on its Orange County line between Los Angeles Union Station and Oceanside. The second-to-last stop is literally right next to the beach in San Clemente.

Click here for train schedules.

There’s also increased service between the Inland Empire and Orange County.

Here’s the news release from Metrolink that was issued earlier this month:

LOS ANGELES – Metrolink launched an additional round-trip from Riverside to Laguna Niguel and back on the Inland Empire-Orange County line, today. Also, a pair of additional trains began operation between Laguna Niguel and Fullerton on the Orange County Line.

Starting Saturday (July 8), Metrolink will add four round-trip trains on its Orange County Line between Los Angeles Union Station and Oceanside on the weekends. This allows riders from across Southern California to take advantage of the $10 Weekend Pass to visit destinations in Orange County such as Disneyland and the many beautiful beaches.


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On Transportation column, July 19 edition — late night service, Dark Knight Rises at a Metro Rail station near you, bullet train plan

LATE NIGHT SERVICE: In terms of late night train frequency, Los Angeles County is now on par with New York City. Yes, that New York City. The one with the big subway system and superheroes.

As you probably have heard, Metro is planning to run all of its rail lines and the Orange Line until 2 a.m. (the Orange Line will actually run a little later) on Friday and Saturday nights beginning the weekend of July 28-29. The trains will run every 20 minutes during late-night hours.

That’s the same frequency that trains run in New York in the wee hours; as a young pup I can recall waiting for the D or F trains for the long ride home to Brooklyn. Granted, the New York subway runs overnight throughout the week, owing to the fact that the city is densely populated and has low auto ownership rates.

This is still a pretty big step forward for Los Angeles. It means that Metro’s trains are running later than most other rail transit systems in the country on the weekends. It may not be the overnight service that some want, but I suspect there’s a lot of people who don’t need to stay at the bars until the very minute they close.

Then again, I wasn’t always a crusty old grump that nods off in front of the television during “House Hunters.” As a young buck I can recall some long, bone-chilling waits at the Howard Street station in Chicago for the shuttle to Evanston. Not a fun place to be on a January night.

Batman shows one way to exit a train. Please don’t try this on Metro. Photo: Batman Begins, Warner Brothers.

GO METRO TO BATMAN: Speaking of Gotham, “The Dark Knight Rises” will be playing at dozens of theaters across the region this weekend — and many of the theaters are near Metro Rail. This is important if you — like me — would like to avoid repositories for human stupidity that are better known as parking garages. Like the one at the Paseo in Pasadena, where motorists drive as if they’re in a Grateful Dead-sponsored demolition derby.

Here’s a short list of theaters showing “The Dark Knight” and nearby Metro Rail stations — please feel free to add to it in the comments section:

Beach Cities ArcLight — Green Line Rosecrans station

Hollywood ArcLight — Red Line Hollywood & Vine station

Pasadena ArcLight — Gold Line Del Mar station

AMC Universal Citywalk — Red Line Universal City station

Hollywood Vista — Red Line Vermont/Sunset station

I’m planning on seeing the movie Sunday night after hiding in the Eastern Sierra on Friday and Saturday. Anything to avoid a spoiler, you know.

HIGH-SPEED RAIL: Getting a handle on the construction timeline for the Anaheim-to-San Francisco part of the project is not an easy thing. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill to allow the state to sell bonds to pay for the first segment of construction in the San Joaquin Valley on Wednesday, but details about when bullet trains may actually roll into Union Station were not exactly in large supply.

I’ll do my best to explain the current plan, as I understand it.

State officials say the first order of business is to break ground next year on building tracks in the first 130 mile segment between Madera and Bakersfield.

The next phase of the project would involve building high-speed rail tracks between Bakersfield and Palmdale in the Antelope Valley. That’s significant because Metrolink runs between L.A. Union Station and Palmdale.

The next phase would be to build high-speed rail tracks south from Palmdale into the San Fernando Valley, with Burbank a possible target destination. That would allow high-speed rail trains to actually serve the L.A. area proper while the next phase is built between the San Fernando Valley and Union Station.

Finally, high-speed rail trains would share tracks with Metrolink and Amtrak between Union Station and Anaheim. Plans to build separate tracks — a $6-billion proposition — were scrapped because it would cost a lot and only save 10 minutes or so of travel time.

The issue with all of this, of course, is that persistent question about money, or lack thereof. The segment between Bakersfield and Palmdale is fantastically expensive due to several tunnels that would need to be built in the Tehachapi Mountains.

The state has a total of $9 billion to spend on the project, about half of which will go to the Madera-to-Bakersfield segment. Whether the federal government will continue to help fund the project beyond that is uncertain and likely depends on whether President Obama is re-elected in November and whether he can get Congress to go along with his funding requests.

Questions aside, there are certainly reasons to be happy about the bill signing by Gov. Brown. As I wrote yesterday, there’s $350 million now available for fly-through tracks at Union Station (a project environmentally cleared in 2002 but the document will need to be updated), $88.7 million for Metrolink fleet upgrades and grade separations and $115 million for the Regional Connector.

There’s also money available to electrify the Caltrain corridor between San Jose and San Francisco.

These are all good projects that will serve the daily needs of commuters — where the demand for rail travel is still the greatest.

CARMAGEDDON II ANNOUNCED: Well, I suppose I should say something. So here are two bold predictions: the Los Angeles region will live to see October and having the Expo Line now open will help with transit travel on the Westside, unlike the first apocalyptic shutdown of the 405.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, July 19

Photo by Christopher Chan/Flickr

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.

High-speed rail and a changing Union Station (KCRW “Which Way LA?”)

At Union Station yesterday Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill authorizing billions of dollars for the state’s high-speed rail system. Metro has plans to make Union Station a hub for high-speed rail and other transit systems, but its plans go well beyond Union Station itself. Metro CEO Art Leahy discusses some of the possibilities for the beautiful, iconic structure and adjacent area with KCRW. Just listen.

It’s not just a bus line. Streetsblog explores Orange Line Extension art pieces (Streetsblog)

Metro commissioned twenty five pieces of art at four new Orange Line Extension stations and the new platform at Canoga Station. Streetsblog takes a look and likes what it sees. (It also shares photos.)

Anaheim to launch first city bicycle sharing program in California (KCET)

Bicycle sharing has been talked about so much in the last few years that you would think there are systems up and running all over the place. While there are a handful of programs in California, they mostly are found on college campuses or in hybrid forms. But this week Anaheim will become the first city in the state with a bike sharing system.

Copenhagen commuters pedal to work on their very own superhighway (New York Times)

Picture 11 miles of smoothly paved bike path meandering through the countryside. Largely uninterrupted by roads or intersections, it passes fields, backyards, chirping birds, a lake, some ducks and, at every mile, an air pump. For some Danes this is the morning commute.

Carmageddon II announced for Sept. 29-30

Rubble on the 405 freeway being cleaned up during Carmageddon I in July, 2011. Photo by Gary Leonard for Metro.

Here’s the news release:

LOS ANGELES (July 19, 2012): The second 10-mile closure of both directions of the I-405 over the Sepulveda Pass, popularly known as “Carmageddon,” has now been scheduled for Sept. 29-30, 2012 when contractors will demolish the remaining side of the Mulholland Bridge.  Motorists throughout the State of California are advised to “Plan Ahead, Avoid the Area, or Eat, Shop and Play Locally” to avoid generating extreme auto congestion in the project area and throughout the greater Los Angeles region.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Metrolink, Los Angeles Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Los Angeles Fire Department are giving the public advance notice to enable everyone to make all necessary advance travel arrangements to avoid the closure area that weekend.

The I-405 is the nation’s busiest freeway and will be closed in both directions for 53 consecutive hours between the I-10 and U.S. 101.  Half a million motorists drive this portion of the I-405 over a typical weekend.

“This closure will surely impact the nearly 250,000 motorists from all over the county that travel the Sepulveda Pass each day on the weekend,” said Metro Board Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.  “Law enforcement, transportation and emergency response agencies strongly advise that county residents make plans in advance to use an alternate route or transit.”

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