A new video on Carmageddon II

High school students study Metro

Taylor Shaw with Bruce Shelburne, Metro's Deputy Executive Officer of Operations, and community outreach specialist Jody Litvak. Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

With students heading back to school, it seemed like a good time to let you know about some great high school students I met this last year who focused on Metro. Four of them did so for school projects and one is just really interested in transit. I thought they and their projects were interesting enough to share.

Taylor Shaw – Designing a subway station

Taylor just graduated from Beverly Hills High School where she participated in a very interesting architecture class they offer. As a continuing student in that class, her project for the year was to design a public facility and she chose to tackle the subway station being planned for heart of Beverly Hills.

She reached out to my colleague Bruce Shelburne, our Deputy Executive Officer of Operations, and he reached out to me. One afternoon last fall, we met Taylor and a classmate of hers at the Wilshire/Vermont Station for a behind the scenes tour. We showed them the inner workings of the station including many areas that are not open to the public. Those are where we house equipment for power, communications, ventilation and the like. She was already quite knowledgeable and asked really good questions about the various technical specifications that are required for stations.

Continue reading

Go Metro Weekends, Sept 7 – 9


Apple pie! Get a taste at the Good Food Pie Contest at LACMA this weekend. Photo by Melanie Lukesh via Flickr

This Friday, go Greek at the L.A. Greek Fest. The festival lasts all weekend at the Saint Sophia Cathedral, but everyone gets in free on Friday evening (5 – 11 p.m.). Adult admission is $3 on Saturday (1 – 11 p.m.) and Sunday (12 – 10 p.m.), go Metro and get a discount. There will be music, dancing, shows, games and of course food! And don’t miss celebrity guests Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. (Metro Bus 30 to Normandie/Pico or Metro Rapid 733 to Normandie/Venice)

Visit the land of Oz on Saturday in Culver City. The Helms Bakery Sunset Cinema series continues with The Wizard of Oz, screening for free on Helms Walk. The movie starts around 7:15 p.m. and there are plenty of restaurants nearby (like Father’s Office!) so you can dine before or after the film. (Metro Expo Line to Culver City Station or Metro Bus 33 to Venice/Helms)

Lovers of pie, get thee to LACMA this Saturday for the Good Food Pie Contest. The event lasts from 2 to 4 p.m. and will serve up pies from five categories, one of which is Metropolis II (pies inspired by an art installation? I can’t wait!). The event is free to attend. If you want a taste of pie, get there early – you can get a free pie tasting ticket from the KCRW welcome table in Hancock Park just north of the Ahmanson Building, but tickets are limited to number of pie entries and are first come first served. Oh, and if you wear an apron to the event, you’ll get free admission to the LACMA galleries. (Metro Bus 20 to Wilshire/Ogden)

If you’re in the West L.A.area anyway, you might want to check out Flash Festival at The Page Museum at La Brea Tar Pits. Chalk Repertory Theatre will be performing site-specific, 10-minute plays starts at 8 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Shows are technically free, but there is a $15 suggested donation and reservations are highly recommended. (Metro Bus 20 to Wilshire/Curson)

Transportation headlines, Friday, Sept. 7

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.

Photo: AP/Austin Statesman.

Texas commission approves 85 mph speed limit for toll road (Austin Statesman)

The state Transportation Commission, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, approved an 85 mph speed limit for a new toll road opening this fall between Austin and San Antonio that is intended to be an alternative to crowded I-35. Some critics say that based on prior studies, the change will likely lead to more accidents and deaths on the road. The change also means that the state of Texas will receive a larger share of toll revenues — potentially $33 million more than if the speed limit was 80 or below — per the deal with the contractor that will operate the road.

Waxman on the Westside Subway Extension (Beverly Hills Patch)

In an interview, Rep. Henry Waxman — who has been in Congress since 1975 — answers questions about his views on the Westside Subway Extension and the prospect of tunneling under parts of the Beverly Hills High School campus, which is in his district. Excerpt:

Patch: Do you support or oppose plans to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School as part of the Westside Subway Extension?

Waxman: I wrote the Metropolitan Transportation Authority a letter about Beverly Hills High School and I said that they have to take safety as their No. 1 concern. [The MTA] reported back that they see the risks in tunneling under Beverly Hills High School but they saw greater risks taking an alternative route.

I’ve looked to the experts, again, on the technology and at the MTA. They had a very difficult choice and they made the choice to tunnel under Beverly Hills High School. This will be tested further, the safety questions, in the courts. I want that question exhaustively studied.

I support the system and I’ll continue to fight for funds for the system, but where the system goes is up to the MTA, not Congress.

After 60 years, 710 fight goes on (Pasadena Star News)

Although the SR 710 study has eliminated seven of 12 alternatives for a project to improve traffic in the area around the 710 gap, some longtime freeway opponents say the fight is not over — especially if the project becomes a tunnel. There’s almost nothing in the story about other alternatives still under study, including light rail, bus rapid transit, traffic signal improvements and the no-build option.


The 3.2-magnitude quake in Beverly Hills

The big yellow square shows the location of the earthquake in Beverly Hills on Monday. Source: USGS.


UPDATE: A 3.4-magnitude earthquake occurred in Beverly Hills at 12:03 a.m. Friday, with the epicenter just south of Wilshire Boulevard near Reeves Drive, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That's about one-half mile from Monday's earthquake (more info below). No damage was reported, according to City News Service.

As Metro continues engineering and design work for the Westside Subway Extension, we’ve had a few inquiries from readers about the location of the 3.2-magnitude earthquake that was felt in Beverly Hills early Monday morning. Their question: did the quake occur on one of the fault systems near the future rail line?

The short answer: it’s hard to say for certain at this time. The epicenter of the quake was just east of downtown Beverly Hills, near the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Oakhurst Drive, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Google Earth map (you need Google Earth to view this).

Dr. James Dolan, a Professor of Earth Science at USC and a consultant with the subway project, said that this was “such a small earthquake that it need not have occurred on any major fault.” There are many small faults throughout Southern California, some of which periodically produce little earthquakes, he said.

For more information about building a subway in earthquake country, please see this FAQ (pdf) with answers about geotechnical studies for the project and safety measures that Metro will be taking. In addition, here’s a recent post on The Source about how a subway is designed to withstand an earthquake.


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