State bill to authorize vote on Measure R extension approved by Assembly committee

The bill, AB 1446, was approved yesterday by the state Assembly’s Committee on Local Governments. It still must be considered by two other Assembly committees — Transportation and Appropriations — and, of course, would need approval of the state Senate and the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown to become law.

The bill gives the Metro Board of Directors the authority to put a Measure R extension before county voters. That could — emphasize could — happen as soon as this November.

It is important to emphasize that the 13-member Board has not yet made this decision, nor is there a vote yet scheduled. A Metro staff report is expected to be delivered to the Board next week outlining different funding scenarios for a Measure R extension and how revenues may be used to accelerate Metro projects by bonding against future Measure R receipts.

The news release about yesterday’s committee approval from Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), who wrote the bill, is posted after the jump. (Click here for pdf version).

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Expo Line safety news release

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Here’s the news release from Metro:

With Metro Expo Line opening April 28, officials remind everyone to stop, look and listen when approaching and crossing railroad tracks

The Metro Expo light rail line between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City is opening to La Cienega/Jefferson Station on April 28 and will arrive in Culver City this summer, with trains scheduled to run initially every 12 minutes during peak periods. With the new light rail train service up and running, Metro is reminding pedestrians and motorists to be alert, stay updated on safety tips and take advantage of the safety resources offered.

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Metrolink implementing $1.6 million system upgrade to improve communication with customers

Here’s the news release Metrolink, the commuter rail agency partially funded by Metro:

Los Angeles – This month, Metrolink will complete the first phase of implementation of a $1.6 million upgrade to its communication system that will provide passengers with more timely train schedule information and status updates at Metrolink train stations. The new system is now installed and operational on Metrolink’s San Bernardino, Orange County, Inland Empire-Orange County and 91 lines.

“We are making this investment in customer service, so our passengers have more ways to get information when and where they need it most,” said Metrolink Board Chairman Richard Katz. “This upgrade is a response to our customers’ request for more and timelier communication at the stations and during any service interruptions.”

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 12

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.

This is National Library Week. In just the past year, the Metro Transportation Library has rolled out several new tools and services, including:

•HistoryPin, in conjunction with Google, is a new multi-platform technology allowing us (a global launch partner) to map our historic photograph collection in context with images from other collections in the same location or time period
•, our online daily newspaper digest of tweets from leaders in the nation’s transit and transportation community
•California Highways And Public Works, our growing digital collection of publications documenting the state’s road, highway and infrastructure planning and construction from 1924 to 1967 (full-text searchable here). Above, the story of the Coast Highway being built north of Santa Monica in 1924 from California Highways And Public Works.

Downtown L.A. re-use renaissance (The Architect’s Newspaper)

First came a new wave of residents to downtown L.A., thanks in large part to a new city law allowing office buildings to be converted to apartments and condos. Now a second wave of newcomers appears to be taking hold and this time it’s hundreds of new retail shops and restaurants that have opened in downtown to serve new residents.

State senators say they won’t rush bullet train plans (L.A. Times)

The state bullet train authority wants to get construction going in the San Joaquin Valley ASAP but nothing is happening until the Legislature provides its stamp of approval.

Cool on the West Coast, hot almost everywhere else (High Country News Goat blog)

The mountain snowpack across much of the West is depleted — last winter’s monster snows are now just a memory — and the first three months of 2012 were the warmest on record for the contiguous United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (who created the above video). Is climate change to blame? Many climate scientists are reluctant to blame weather in any single year on global warming but many are pondering the link between the wild variations in weather the U.S. has seen in recent years and climate change.

I don’t need to remind you that the burning of fossil fuels and the transportation sector are significant contributors to global warming according to the federal government and that taking transit can reduce your own contribution to greenhouse gases.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

On Transportation column, April 11 edition

WHEN IT COMES TO BUILDING A STADIUM, TIMING IS EVERYTHING: In its $27-million, 10,000-page study of the impact of building Farmers Field, AEG determined there will be traffic impacts in downtown (surprise!) and offered to spend $10 million on a second platform for the Pico station serving the nearby Blue and Expo lines.

AEG also offered to pay for other traffic and pedestrian improvements in downtown L.A. as mitigation for their 72,000-seat football stadium.

Meanwhile, the Dodger Stadium Express bus service between Union Station and the ballpark began running yesterday. The Stadium Express only exists because a state air pollution grant pays for it in an attempt to reduce traffic and auto emissions.

Interesting contrast.

HIGH-SPEED RAIL TO SKIP ANAHEIM: I thought it was a little strange that the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s revised business plan, released last week, didn’t come out and explicitly say that L.A. Union Station-to-Anaheim was no longer part of the bullet train plan.

I’m not sure it’s a huge deal as existing Metrolink and Amtrak service in the L.A.-to-O.C. corridor can probably be improved for a lot less than the $6 billion cost of linking the two areas by high-speed rail. If anything, the move reflects the ever-changing nature of the bullet train plan as the Authority and supporters try to find something that can rise above the opposition.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 11

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.

It’s National Library Week. The Metro Transportation Library’s YouTube Channel features topical playlists of more than 200 films and videos related to the past, present and future of transit and transportation in Los Angeles — everything from a 1914 Pacific Electric training film to a 1991 promotional video for building the Metro Red Line. Part 3 of this 1947 film, “It’s A Big Job,” details what it’s like for the first day of a Los Angeles Transit Lines operator. (Part 1 and Part 2 of the training film)

Ridership on New York subway soars (New York MTA)

There were about 1.64 billion boardings in 2011, the highest number since 1950. Here’s a cool list from the New York MTA:

Annual Subway Ridership

1. Tokyo
3.151 billion (2010)
2. Moscow
2.389 billion (2011)
3. Beijing
2.180 billion (2011)
4. Shanghai
1.884 billion (2010)
5. Seoul
1.769 billion (2010)
6. Guangzhou
1.640 billion (2011)
7. New York City
1.640 billion (2011)
8. Paris
1.506 billion (2010)
9. Mexico City
1.410 billion (2010)
10. Hong Kong
1.378 billion (2011)


Planning L.A., a history (The Atlantic Cities)

An interview with David Sloane, who wrote a book titled “Planning Los Angeles” that takes a look — as the name implies — at the role urban planners have taken over the decades in shaping the region. In Sloane’s view, much of the L.A. area was built according to plans that were on the books.

A Carmageddon baby boom? (KNBC)

Is there a baby boom because all those people stayed home during Carmageddon last July? Probably not, but KNBC manages to get one couple to ‘fess up and one local hospital to say ‘maybe’ and that’s enough for this story. Plus, we all know that everyone who stayed home was doing yard chores.

No time for midlife crisis: Innovative rail maintenance shop keeps Blue Line rail cars in shape

Rail Fleet Services team oversee the rail car overhaul program at the Metro Blue Line maintenance facility. From left, Brian Rydell, Nick Madanat, Russell Homan. Photos by Gary Leonard.

Rail Fleet Services team oversee the rail car overhaul program at the Metro Blue Line maintenance facility. From left, Brian Rydell, Nick Madanat, Russell Homan. Photos by Gary Leonard.

The hefty Metro Blue Line rail cars make a hard day’s run between Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles, running the 22-mile stop-and-go course to the tune of 87,000 trips a year, 1.7 million service miles and 26 million boardings. Although the rail cars of the Blue Line’s original fleet are not slowing down — some have been running for two decades now – the cars are in the midst of a comprehensive overhaul of rail car components and systems that impact safety and reliability and appearance.

In the works for more than a year now, the $30-million rail car overhaul program will enhance and extend the revenue service life through the projected 30-year life span of the cars.

Fresh out of the paint shop, this rail car is refurbished inside and out.

Fresh out of the paint shop, this rail car is refurbished inside and out.

The work is being done in the cavernous vehicle maintenance buildings of the Blue Line rail yard in Long Beach. Scores of maintenance specialists are poring over rail cars that pull in and out of the rail yard pit stops. With only six years to accomplish the overhaul, the tasks are handled one set of components at a time — in a fashion that keeps the overhaul process moving while providing cars for service each day.

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