Transportation headlines, Wednesday, June 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.

Expo Line’s Culver City station set to debut (L.A. Times)

Check out the great panorama view from the elevated station platform. Culver City and Farmdale stations open at noon today.

Expo Line’s halting start (L.A. Times)

In an opinion piece, Molly Selvin writes she supported the project but would like to see a better effort by Metro to communicate service alerts and schedule changes to riders.

Metro Board to vote on extension of Measure R (Daily News)

An overview of the proposal by Metro staff to ask Los Angeles County voters to extend Measure R past its 2039 expiration date to accelerate the construction of transit and road projects.

 

Can you park your car in a bike lane?

A car parked on the new Los Angeles St. bike lane. Taken on a Friday morning.

It’s been a little over a week since the installation of the new bike lanes on Los Angeles Street in downtown L.A.

Riding in from Echo Park, I usually take Los Angeles Street to get to work and back home every weekday, and so far the addition of these bike lanes have made my commute slightly more relaxing as I’m not competing for road space with drivers. However, when approaching Union Station before hitting Temple St., there seems to always be a slew of cars parked and stopped right on the bike lane in front of the Police Department building, red curb or not. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this section of the new bike lane clear, as cars are even parked on the lane overnight.

Within the span of three days, I sat in front of the Police Department building for a few hours each day to study how this obstruction was affecting cyclists who were using the new bike lane. During my observation, most cyclists were able to merge back safely into the normal traffic lane with the exception of one cyclist who was almost doored by the owner of one of the parked vehicles, and two cyclists who were almost hit by approaching traffic.

Concerned with cyclists’ safety and frustrated at the parked cars, I had approached an officer a few days ago, who was just walking out from his car to ask why he had parked on a bike lane, to which he responded, “You can go around it. I can park there if I need to.” Was he right? Later that afternoon, I went home to fact-check his statement. According to California’s Department of Motor Vehicle’s website, it states, “You may park in a bicycle lane if your vehicle does not block a bicyclist and/or there is not a “No Parking” sign posted.”

Was the officer in a sense not “blocking” a cyclist from continuing on the bike lane? What exactly is “blocking” a cyclist? Does that mean cars can park in bike lanes as long as they leave space for cyclists to turn and continue ahead?

What do you think readers?


Reminder: Expo Line's Farmdale and Culver City stations open at noon on Wednesday!

Here again is the news release from earlier this month. Those boarding at the Farmdale or Culver City stations will get passes for free rides on the Expo Line all day on Wednesday:

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa announced today that Metro will officially open to the public both the Culver City Station and the Farmdale Station along the recently opened Metro Expo Line on Wednesday, June 20 at 12 noon.

In addition, it was announced that patrons boarding trains at both the Farmdale and Culver City Station will receive free passes to use the Expo Line on June 20.

“The opening of the Culver City and Farmdale stations completes the first phase of the Expo line, connecting Angelenos from the Westside to Downtown and beyond,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “We are answering the call from voters to provide more transit options and creating career opportunities for Angelenos in the process.”

The public opening of the Culver City Station coincides with Downtown Culver City’s Third Wednesday “Summer Solstice” Happy Hour which features special offers and free goodies from over 25 participating businesses throughout the downtown area, as well as outdoor entertainment and activities. The event takes place every third Wednesday of the month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in beautiful downtown Culver City.

The public is encouraged to take advantage of the opening of the Culver City Station and take the Metro Expo Line, in a short walking distance to the event, to sample artisanal cuisine and cocktails, shop at unique boutiques, view art, and enjoy a variety of live music and entertainment. For a complete list of freebies, offers, discounts and entertainment, visit www.downtownculvercity.com.

Continue reading

Metro committee to consider contract for Union Station Master Plan

Union Station’s main hall. Photo via Metro Transportation Library and Archive flickr photostream.

Here’s a quick update on an issue that we know a lot of Source readers are interested in: The Metro Board of Directors Planning & Programming Committee will consider authorizing a contract with L.A.–based design firm Gruen Associates to carry out the Union Station Master Plan. The meeting — details here — will be held tomorrow at 1 p.m at Metro headquarters.

The item will also be considered by the full Metro Board of Directors, which will make the final determination on awarding the contract.

As many readers know, Metro purchased Union Station last year from a private logistics firm and then invited a number of design firms to convince Metro that they were up to the task of developing a comprehensive vision for Union Station.

In short, the goal is to plan for Union Station’s maturation into a world class transit center. The plan will include consideration of how to improve transit connections at the region’s main transit hub; how to improve bike and pedestrian connections to the station; and how to develop the considerable station-area property that Metro now owns.

More information on the agenda item and background on the master planning process are below:

June 20, 2012 Planning and Programming Committee Meeting Agenda Item 5

U.S. House Appropriations Committee adopts fiscal year 2013 transportation spending bill

More less-than-great news from Washington, although this is just a step in the long process of getting some type of annual bill approved Here’s the update from Metro’s government relations staff:

Moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee adopted the Fiscal Year 2013 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill on a voice vote. The bill provides a total of approximately $51 billion in discretionary spending for the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Departments.

The level of funding provided in the bill is nearly $4 billion less than Fiscal Year 2012 and $1.9 billion less than the Obama Administration’s request. The bill adopted by the Committee provides no money for the TIGER discretionary grant program (the U.S. Senate provided $500 million for this grant program) and only appropriates $1.817 billion for New Starts projects (the Senate allocated $2.044 billion – with funding for our two New Starts projects).

The Fiscal Year 2013 Budget released by President Obama in February of this year included $2.265 billion for New Starts projects and included funding for Metro’s two projects, the Downtown Regional Connector ($31 million) and the Westside Subway Extension ($50 million). The reduced funding for the New Starts program in the draft House transportation appropriations bill means that our Government Relations team and federal advocates will be working with House and Senate offices to ensure that the final transportation appropriations bill adopted by Congress and sent to the President later this year reflects the Board’s priorities.

Reminder: Big Blue Bus shakes up service to connect to Culver City Expo Station

As we mentioned in a post around the time of the Expo Line’s opening to La Cienega, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus has rerouted three of its bus lines to improve service between Culver City Station and major West L.A. destinations. And last week we touched on what changes Culver City Bus lines is making to its service in this post.

In case you need a quick refresher on the Big Blue Bus service changes, here’s a quick rundown:

Big Blue Bus Line 5 — Now connecting Culver City Expo Station to downtown Santa Monica via Century City

Big Blue Bus Route 5. Click the image for a high resolution PDF of the map and timetable.

Formerly this line connected downtown Santa Monica to Rimpau Terminal in Mid City via Century City. Now? Buses on Line 5 heading towards Santa Monica will leave from Culver City Expo Station and jog up towards Century City via Robertson Boulevard.

Big Blue Bus Line 12 – Now connecting Culver City Expo Station to UCLA via Palms and Westwood

Big Blue Bus Route 12 (and Super 12 in pink). Click the image for a high resolution PDF of the map and timetable.

To connect the Expo Line to Westwood and UCLA, Big Blue Bus will change the southern terminus of its popular Route 12 to Culver City Station. Furthermore, the current “Super 12″ service — a rush-hour only service featuring a streamlined route to campus and fewer stops — will be converted to a Rapid 12. Both the “regular” 12 and the Rapid 12 lines will travel from the Culver City station, through Palms and up Westwood Boulevard to the Westwood Village and the UCLA campus.

Good to note: Riding these Big Blue Bus lines requires a separate fare — a $.35 transfer you can buy from a Metro ticket vending machines at any station — and the agency currently does not accept TAP cards. More fare info is available here.

Staff recommends signal priority for Venice Boulevard and 733 Rapid Bus

The 733′s hindside in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by frecamino, via Flickr creative commons.

I thought riders of the 733 Rapid Bus that primarily uses Venice Boulevard during its long journey from downtown Santa Monica to Venice Beach to Los Angeles Union Station would be interested in the following staff report. The gist of it: staff is recommending spending $7 million to install traffic signal priority on Venice Boulevard to speed up the 733.

And let’s face it, the 733 could use some speeding up (timetable here). It often takes nearly an hour to travel between Venice and Lincoln boulevards on the Westside to Venice and Broadway in downtown L.A. The 733 is a key downtown-to-the-beach connection and also has a stop near the Expo Line’s Culver City station that is opening tomorrow.

Continue reading