The art of transit

Photo by txmx2, via Flickr creative commons.

Very cool panorama of a subway train in Hamburg, Germany. There are a bunch of smartphone apps, by the way, that take good panoramas. I’ve had good luck with Microsoft’s Photosynth.

What happens to ridership when rail is built? It goes up

One of the most persistent criticisms of Metro by critics in recent times is that the agency is spending too much money on building new rail lines and that rail lines do nothing to grow public transit ridership. In particular, some people and groups have complained that new rail lines have triggered the elimination or consolidation of certain bus lines.

Over the past few months, Metro Service Planner Scott Page — a 23-year veteran of the agency — combed through dozens of documents in order to better understand the impact of the opening of Metro Rail lines on the agency's ridership. Scott focused on bus lines that ran parallel to rail lines that were either completely discontinued or modified so that the bus line became a feeder line to the rail station.

His conclusion: ridership on Metro Rail lines is considerably higher than on the buses that previously served corridors where rail was built. This suggests that the idea that Metro Rail is harming ridership simply isn't true. If anything, the data suggests the opposite — that rail appeals to and serves a broader spectrum of the taxpaying public and that the rail lines have created an integrated system in which buses are still important and compliment the growing rail system.

Some background: Before the Blue Line opened in 1990, Metro's predecessor agencies only ran buses. Today, Metro operates 183 bus lines serving a 1,433-square-mile area with an average weekday ridership of nearly 1.1 million. Metro's five rail lines have a total of 87.7 miles of track and have an estimated 351,000 or so average weekday boardings.

Below please find a white sheet written by Scott as well as a spreadsheet with bus and rail ridership numbers.

Bus Rail Interface White Paper


Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Sept. 6

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 a sluggish disappointment for commuters (Neon Tommy)

The media finally picked up on some of the issues the Expo Line is having when it comes to being delayed by numerous red lights, particularly between 7th/Metro Center and USC. Here’s the statement the city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation provided Neon Tommy:

“Upon hearing complaints after the Expo Line opened, the Mayor’s Office, Metro and DOT began working on a path forward to better signal timing,” the statement said. “The agencies are piloting new signal phasing on the Expo Line and the Gold Line Eastside to develop a fully implementable plan that will provide faster and more reliable train service. This testing is happening outside of regular service hours so as to not inconvenience riders.”

Metro officials couldn’t say when speeds along the line would improve but did say that safety is the first priority.

Extending Metrolink to downtown San Bernardino (Press-Enterprise)

San Bernardino officials approved environmental studies for a plan to extend Metrolink tracks for one mile to reach a planned transit center in downtown San Bernardino. Trains currently stop at the old Santa Fe depot that is west of the 215 freeway — downtown is on the east side. Two other big projects are in the planning stages in the San Bernardino Valley — a bus rapid transit route between Loma Linda and Cal State S.B. that will stop at the downtown transit center and a possible rail extension to Redlands.

The LYNX in Charlotte. Photo by Atlantiquon, via Flickr creative commons.

Light rail helps Charlotte avoid Tampa’s traffic woes (Tampa Bay Times)

The popular LYNX light rail line in Charlotte is getting a workout this week with the Democratic National Convention in town. In Tampa last week, buses were used to ferry delegates and visitors around the region. One Republican from Florida says that buses are more appropriate for conventions and, besides, sighting a rail line in Tampa would be too difficult.

Community meeting Thursday night to discuss Carmageddon II

Here is the meeting notice:

I-405 Freeway Closure Meeting Notice 9-6-12

@Metrolosangeles Twitter Tuesday, Sept. 5 edition

Well, one day late…I blame the holiday….

Welcome to Twitter Tuesday, our roundup of the latest Metro related tweets. To get our attention, add the #MetroLosAngeles tag to your tweets and subscribe to our feed if you haven’t already. For specific complaints and customer service, please use the Customer Comment Form on

If having trouble reading this post on your browser, please see part one and part two on the Storify website.

Metro staff to visit stations to push rail safety to riders

Here’s the news release from Metro:

To increase rail safety awareness during September, Metro Safety staff will be visiting several rail stations passing out safety information, providing safety tips and discussing safety issues around trains and tracks with Metro Rail patrons.

The effort coincides with Railroad Safety Month in California established to raise awareness about the importance of proper safety around California railroad tracks and highway-rail grade crossings.
The Metro Blue, Red, Purple, Expo, Gold and Green line stations will be visited during rush hours, mostly in the morning hours during September.

“Safety has always been Metro’s top priority,” said Metro Transit Safety Programs Manager Barbara Burns. “Metro has developed a program focused on education, engineering, and enforcement, but we need the public’s cooperation. We need them to pay attention to their surroundings, to listen to the sounds, bells and whistles of trains approaching, to look around when they are near the rail tracks.”

Metro Safety staff will be at different rail stations throughout the month of September passing out safety information, promoting safety to patrons and responding to questions or providing safety tips while patrons wait for their train.

On the Metro Blue Line, Metro Safety staff will be available from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on the sidewalks by the exit at the Vernon Station on Sept. 6, Florence Station on Sept. 7, 103rd/Watts Towers Station on Sept. 10, Willowbrook Station on Sept. 11, upstairs (Green Line) and downstairs (Blue Line), and on Sept. 12 at Artesia Station.

On the Metro Expo Line, Metro Safety staff will be available from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on the sidewalks by the stations at the Expo Park/USC Station on Sept. 13, Vermont Station on Sept. 14, and Western Station on Sept. 17. On the Metro Gold Line Highland Park Station on Sept. 18, Mission Station on Sept. 19, Filmore Station on Sept. 20, Pico/Aliso Station on Sept. 21, Indiana Station on Sept. 24, and E.L.A. Civic Center Station on Sept. 25.

To reach patrons from the Metro Blue, Expo, Purple and Red Lines, Metro Safety staff will be on the Figueroa Street side of the Metro Blue Line escalators at 7th St./Metro Center station on Sept. 26 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sept. 28 from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m..

At Union Station, Metro Safety staff will be at the East Portal area leading to the Metro Red/Purple Lines on Sept. 27 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Metro cautions riders to avoid texting, talking on the phone or listening to music through headphones near the tracks or on station platforms. Remember to always Stop, Listen, Look and Stay Alive around train tracks. For more information on rail safety, visit

About 8,000 people rode Expo Line to USC game on Saturday

Fans en route to the USC game on Saturday on the Expo Line. Photo by Marc Littman/Metro.

The ridership numbers from Metro are in and here’s the skinny: an estimated 8,000 people rode the Expo Line on Saturday to and from USC’s home opener against the University of Hawaii at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In addition, Metro estimates that 4,000 to 6,000 of those fans reached or traveled from the Expo Line via other Metro buses or trains. In total, there were about 22,000 boardings on Metro on Saturday related to the game.

USC is listing the attendance at the game at 93,607, which means that about 8.5 percent of those who went to the game were delivered there by the Expo Line.

The next USC home game is Saturday, Sept. 22, against Cal. The game time has yet to be announced.