Metro at Abilities Expo

Note the straps for easy securement on buses.

The Abilities Expo got underway today at the L.A. Convention Center West Hall and will continue through the weekend. Booths and vendors abound, showcasing the latest products and services to help make life easier for those with disabilities, and there are free workshops, events and activities for everyone.

Wheelchair expert Willie Boyd shows a wheelchair securement strap.

Metro is participating with a booth offering information. Americans Disability Act (ADA) Ambassador bus operators can answer any questions you may have, and wheelchair experts are on hand to attach straps and pre-mark wheelchairs for bus securement. This service is free of charge.

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What's happening at other transit agencies?

The Boston Red Line speeds out of Park Street Station, much like it did 100 years ago. Photo by flickr user brentdanley.

This weekly post features news from other transit agencies and planners from around the world. Did we miss a good story? Let us know in the comments.

Boston Red Line’s 100th anniversary

Boston’s venerable Red Line subway is celebrating its 100th year in service in 2012 — and just think the Metro Blue Line is a mere 78 years away from that milestone! What else was happening in 1912 when the line opened, thus connecting the Harvard Square and Park Street Station? For one, the Red Sox auspiciously won the World Series, and somewhat inauspiciously that was the year the Titanic sank. All the while the subway — originally called the Cambridge Main Street Subway — has chugged along to the tune of over 200,000 daily riders. The Boston Globe has a very Art of Transit–worthy collection of historical photos of the line that is definitely worth a click.

In San Bernardino County, Omnitrans’ college student fares arrive at 1 million trips

Omnitrans’ Go Smart student fare program logged its one millionth rider during the one-year pilot program, reports the Riverside Press-Enterprise. That’s an exciting, but not necessarily surprising result. Students at participating colleges get “free” rides on Omnitrans just by swiping their student ID cards. Students actually contribute to funding the student fare program through an additional student fees. The P-E notes that the program has also been “funded by 14 local cities, San Bernardino County” and Omnitrans. A transit agency official told the P-E that the additional student ridership has helped boost overall ridership by nearly nine percent over the course of the year. The trial program will end on June 30 this year; we’ll try to find out what the prospects are for it being re-upped.

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The art of transit

photo by megachannel, via Instagram

Nice shot of the Green Line’s Hawthorne Station along the 105 freeway, taken with the popular iPhone app.

To submit a photo for the Art of Transit, post it to Metro’s Flickr group, email it to sourcemetro@gmail.com or Tweet it to @metrolosangeles with an #artoftransit hashtag. Many of the photos we’ve featured can be seen in these galleries on Flickr.

Go Metro Weekends, March 30 – April 1

For those of you not “prepping” for the first ever L.A. Beerathon this Saturday – which is no longer a Beerathon but more a city-wide bar crawl, check out the event’s Facebook for a map of venues with special food and drink offers – get out and enjoy some of the history and culture Los Angeles has to offer.

Photo by k12istina15 via Flickr

One last reminder: Thai New Year Festival is this Sunday. There will be food, dancing, crafts and a parade, and if you show your valid Metro pass or ticket at the event booth you’ll get a free Thai umbrella. The festival is free and lasts from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Western Station.)

The South Pasadena Library is holding a free, public discussion to celebrate the life of civil rights leader César Chavez on March 30. The event will take place at the community room, which is one block from the library, and starts at 6 p.m. Victor Griego, Jr., who is a founding member of the César E. Chavez Foundation, is the guest speaker and will be moderating. The documentary “Fighting for Our Lives” also will be shown at the event, and there will be refreshments. No reservations are required. (Metro Gold Line to Mission Station or Metro Bus 176 to Mission/Meridian, walk three blocks east to 1115 El Centro Street.)

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Transportation headlines, Friday, March 30

A Pacific Electric Red Car passes over Motor Avenue. Photo by Alan Weeks courtesy of the Metro Transportation Library.

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.

Rail returns to the Westside: The Expo Line’s historical precursors (KCET)

With modern light rail a month from opening along Exposition Boulevard, KCET’s Nathan Masters takes a trip back through time to review all the past iterations of rail service along this corridor. It all started in 1875 with steam trains plying between downtown L.A. and the infant city of Santa Monica. It’s a great read — replete with historic photos like the one above — if you want to get a sense of how Los Angeles is rediscovering its transit roots and to get excited about the latest iteration. When you’re done boning up on Expo history, you can stake out some good places to eat and other places worth visiting along the Expo Line thanks to Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website.

Expo takes trees, gives back double (Santa Monica Daily Press)

Looking ahead to Expo Phase 2: A little over a hundred trees in Santa Monica will have to be relocated or permanently removed to make way for the line. But worry not shade-lovers, the Exposition Authority will replace all those trees and even add additional trees to create a buffer along the line.

Editorial: Don’t let the South Figueroa Corridor Project get lost in the CRA shuffle (L.A. Streetsblog)

With the dissolution of redevelopment agencies statewide, a lot of great projects were left in the lurch. Streetsblog calls on local policy-makers to make sure that the South Figueroa Corridor isn’t kicked to the curb. That’s the project that would transform Figueroa Boulevard between USC and LA Live from an auto thoroughfare into a complete street with wider sidewalks, more trees and dedicated space to bicycles and transit. To this blogger it seems like a key project for better tying the LA Live campus into the South Park neighborhood and increasing the safety and comfort of those not traveling by car.

Google Maps now includes real-time traffic data (Mashable)

Remember how Google Maps driving directions used to have info on how long your trip might take if you hit traffic? But then Google pulled the feature to tweak it? Well it’s now back, and instead of providing a worst-case-scenario estimate based on historic trends, the prediction it now gives is based on real-time traffic conditions. This should be a welcome feature for those who want to know if, say, taking the Metro Red Line or driving the 101 Freeway into downtown is faster — the answer to that question can vary dramatically depending on the time of day. The next feature I’d like to see from Google is one that does a cost comparison between driving, taking transit, biking and walking for a given trip.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 29

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.

 

First Pacific Electric streetcar arrives in Van Nuys, Dec. 16, 1911 /Los Angeles Public Library

Recalling Pacific Electric’s leading role in the Valley (Daily News)

Here’s an interesting story and a bunch of cool photos looking back to the days when streetcars crisscrossed the Valley. Note that some of the photos are of rail running on what is now the popular — and soon expanding to Chatsworth — Orange Line. It’s from a book about Pacific Electric Red Cars by David Coscia, “Pacific Electric and the Growth of the San Fernando Valley.” Looks like fun.

Battling L.A. traffic … and winning. Here’s how: (UCLA Newsroom)

UCLA traffic is the lightest it’s been since the university began measuring, more than 20 years ago. Currently 52.9 percent of employees drive to work alone, compared with nearly 72 percent of Los Angeles County drivers. Only 25 percent of students drive alone. To help achieve this, UCLA offers incentives, including a 50 percent subsidy for transit passes, discounted parking for carpoolers and a partially subsidized vanpool. UCLA is dangerously close to achieving its goal of 50 percent ride sharing, which is part of the campus Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Metro sponsors a partially subsidized vanpool program. Can we interest you?

$7 billion public-private plan in Chicago aims to fix transit, schools and parks (New York Times)

Chicago is embarking on a $7 billion plan to transform the city’s infrastructure. It includes $1 billion for the Chicago Transit Authority to renovate more than 100 stations and eliminate “slow zones” that cost riders an estimated 11,000 hours of delays every day. Funding will come from the newly created Chicago infrastructure Trust, an initiative announced this month by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former President Bill Clinton — a long-time supporter of energy efficiency. The fund, a nonprofit corporation, pools outside investment and applies it to a wide range of possible projects. The city estimates the initiatives will create 30,000 jobs over the next three years, helping to put the city that works back to work. Similarly, Metro’s 30/10 Plan to accelerate construction of Measure R projects could generate tens of thousands of jobs. Could transit projects be the engine that help restart the economy?

 

Go Metro to live music: The All-American Rejects

They’re back. After nearly burning themselves out on their run to the top of the charts the latter half of the previous decade, The All-American Rejects appear fully recovered and are back at it this Friday night (03/30) at The Troubadour. The band’s newest record, Kids In The Street, was released this Monday and is their first release since 2008’s When The World Comes Down.

 

“The All-American Rejects – Beekeeper’s Daughter”

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