Transportation headlines, Friday, September 21

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.

The Endeavour taking off from Edwards Air Force Base at 8:17 a.m. today for its flight north and then back south to LAX. Photo: NASA.

Transit diaries: riders sound off on L.A. area buses and trains (Neon Tommy)

Reporters from USC hit the streets and rode the rails, talking to three dozen Metro passengers to get the low-down on area transit. There’s some kind words, some not-so-kind words — and many would like to see the bus and train system expanded. The story is actually a Google map that allows users to click on the locations where riders were interviewed. Clever. And here’s our post — in graphical form — from earlier this week on the results of Metro’s own survey of its riders.

High-speed rail on federal fast track (San Francisco Chronicle)

The White House is expected to announce today that it will speed up the permit review for the first segment of the California high-speed rail project between Madera and Bakersfield. This means that construction could begin next year on a 24-mile stretch of track between Fresno and Madera. When actual trains will run on the first segment or any segment is still to be determined.

Cheaper tolls not enough to pay for Seattle tunnel (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

A new tunnel is being built for Route 99 in downtown. The challenge: finding a toll that will help pay for the tunnel’s construction and maintenance without pushing too many drivers seeking to avoid the toll onto downtown streets. The problem, in short, is that the lowest tolls result in more people using the tunnel but revenues are needed to make the project work. The tunnel, btw, is replacing the old Alaskan Way Viaduct that was torn down because it was an eyesore that separated downtown from the Puget Sound waterfront.

Washington Metro’s SmarTrip campaign rolls out slowly (Washington Post)

The agency in D.C. is trying to move all riders over to plastic Smart Cards to pay fares (sound familiar?). As an incentive, they’ve been charging a $1 surcharge to riders who continue to use paper fare cards. Problem is, not all stations have ticket machines issuing the new fare cards because the machines didn’t comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Hmm.

Sermon on the No. 2 train (New York Times)

How to properly respond to annoying preachers on trains. Great punchline.

The future of driving (The Economist)

A slew of statistics in this article, which tries to figure out whether Americans will pile up the miles behind the wheel when the recession is over — or whether current trends of driving less will continue. Smart piece. Hat tip: Carter Rubin.

 

Metro Board committees tackle TAP issues, Expo safety and phone theft

A few notes from today's committee meetings of the Metro Board of Directors:

A contract that would pay Metro with $110 million in exchange for allowing ads from CBS Outdoor to be placed on Metro properties was moved to the full Board of Directors for their consideration at their Sept. 27 meeting. The item was moved without discussion or a recommendation, as frequently occurs.

•Metro TAP officials told the Board that they are working on allowing day passes to be sold online at the taptogo.net website. Currently, TAP card holders have to wait at ticket machines at rail stations to buy a day pass — readers have complained this negates some of the convenience of having a TAP card.

In addition, Board members and TAP officials discussed some of the other issues that have received a lot of attention, including: the appropriateness of charging tourists and others $1 for a TAP card they may only use once or a few times; confusion at ticket machines when customers initially buy a TAP card and want to buy a round-trip (two single rides), and; the need for more signage and possibly staff at times to help riders use the machines.

The takeaway here: the legitimate issues that many readers and riders have raised with TAP cards have not fallen on deaf ears. Metro staff and the Metro Board is aware of it and they are working to resolve some of the issues.

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What are you doing during Carmageddon II?

Carmageddon 2011. Photo by Paul Lovine via Flickr

Tell Zev what you’re doing for Carmageddon II during his live internet chat tomorrow at noon … right here at metro.net. Or send in your great ideas and questions in advance to livechat@metro.net

L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky will be here to talk to you about the 405 Sepulveda Pass closure next weekend, Sept. 29-30, and about plans for the future of the Sepulveda Pass corridor. 

Ask him about the chronic Sunset Bridge traffic backups. Ask him about the Wilshire ramps project. Ask him what he’s doing during Carmageddon. Ask him live during the internet chat from noon to 1 p.m. tomorrow. Or send in a question NOW to livechat@metro.net.

Go Metro to see to what could possibly be the coolest thing ever: the Space Shuttle Endeavour riding piggyback over the L.A. metro area!

Photo: NASA

The above photo was taken in Houston on Wednesday. And that’s what we’re going to be treated to on Friday morning in the L.A. area. From NASA:

Any time after 11:30 a.m., watch for flyovers of Endeavour passing landmarks such as the California Science Center, Columbia Memorial Space Center, Disneyland, The Getty Center, Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles City Hall, the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, Malibu Beach, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Queen Mary, Universal Studios and Venice Beach. Endeavour will land about 12:45 p.m., at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) .

During the four-and-a-half hour flight, social media users are encouraged to share their Endeavour sightings using the hashtags #spottheshuttle and #OV105, Endeavour’s vehicle designation.

Many of these locations are easily accessed on the Metro system — the Expo Line serves the California Science Center, the Red Line stops at Universal City, the Blue Line will take you to downtown Long Beach for views of the waterfront, among others and the Red/Purple Line, Gold Line, Expo and Blue lines all serve downtown L.A. — where tall buildings should provide a view.

Exact details of the flight plan are not being released ahead of time. We do know that the shuttle carrier will be flying low — likely below 2,000 feet. Some other places that could be good viewing spots are elevated rail stations on the Expo Line. The area around the Rose Bowl (a short bike ride from the Gold Line’s Memorial Park station) could also be good for the JPL flyover.

If you get some good photos of the Shuttle from Metro, please email them to us at sourcemetro@gmail.com and we’ll gladly post here. Or tweet them to us at our @metrolosangeles handle. Should be a really great day for the region.

 


Transportation headlines, Thursday, Sept. 20

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.

Bike to the future for Carmageddon II (ZevWeb) 

A good roundup of the bike rides available around town during Carmageddon II weekend on Sept. 29-30, along with all the links. We’ll also post more about some of the rides next week.

710 tunnel could be health hazard (La Canada Valley Sun)

Impacts on air quality are the latest topic of conversation at a community meeting for the SR 710 project. Metro says that any tunnel built would have a ventilation system as well as scrubbers to help remove pollutants — and that a tunnel would likely help remove idling vehicles from local streets and help keep traffic moving.

Fewer Americans commuting solo (USA Today) 

The number of people driving alone to work dropped slightly in 2011 from 2010, likely due to gas prices and a tough economy. Transit use and carpooling rose in about a third of the 342 metro areas analyzed by USA Today, but there’s no mention of the L.A. metro area.


Golden Pylon Awards: Traffic reporters get some love from Southland transit agencies

Winners of the 2012 Golden Pylon Awards: from left, carpooling team of Nora Wells and Sioux-z Jessup report traffic on several radio stations, Total Traffic L.A. powerhouse Nick Pagliochini, Metro's reigning 'Miss Traffic' Sofia Mach, KABC Air Watch Kalyna Astrinos, CHP Officer Juan Galvin, and KFWB veteran Rhonda Kramer.

Winners of the 2012 Golden Pylon Awards: from left, carpooling team of Nora Wells and Sioux-z Jessup report traffic on several radio stations, Total Traffic L.A. powerhouse Nick Pagliochini, Metro’s reigning ‘Miss Traffic’ Sofia Mach, KABC Air Watch Kalyna Astrinos, CHP Officer Juan Galvin, and KFWB veteran Rhonda Kramer.  (Click on images to enlarge view)

16th Annual Golden Pylon Awards spotlight true-grit traffic reporters whose on-air traffic talk keeps rush-hour commuters in the know about alternatives to solo driving. Awards are prelude to Rideshare Week Oct. 1 – 5 when commuters are invited to share the ride.

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Blue and Expo lines resume normal service

Regular service resumed a few minutes ago after an earlier issue involving the overhead wires that power the trains. There will be some residual delays through about 5:30 p.m. this afternoon. Thanks for your patience with the delays.

Service alerts are available through Metro’s primary Twitter feed, the agency’s service alerts Twitter feed, the metro.net homepage, via text message or through the Go Metro smartphone apps.