Go Metro Weekends, March 16-18

Photo from Casey's Irish Pub Facebook Page.

Get ready to party this weekend. St. Patrick’s Day is Saturday and that’s just one of many events in the area.

Escape on Friday to the all-new Infusion Lounge at Universal CityWalk. Happy hour runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and special guest DJ HEM will be providing the dance beats. The lounge enforces a dress code so wear something nice. By the way, if you visit CityWalk on Saturday you’ll be able to meet Dr. Seuss’ Lorax! (Metro Red Line to Universal City Station or Metro Bus 156 to Cahuenga/Universal Studios and take the free shuttle up to CityWalk.)

For those of you who want nothing more from this Saturday other than green beer, you have plenty of options to get it from. Discover L.A.has put together a St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl with Metro guide, featuring some of L.A.’s best Irish pubs that are accessible by Metro. My personal pick is Casey’s Irish Pub. The festivities, which takes over two city blocks, start at 6 a.m. and features live music and great food until 2 a.m. The outdoor area will be tented so there’s no need to worry about bad weather. Admission is free. Don’t get there too late or you’ll be waiting in line for awhile. (Metro Red/Purple Line to 7th/Metro Station, walk east down 7th Street and turn left on Grand. Metro Bus 14, 96 to Grand/6th.)

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The art of transit

photo by NedSMI.ru, via English Russia

Great photo essay at the English Russia website on the new Metro system in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Click above to see the full photo essay.

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 to the Los Angeles Marathon

Last year's rainy L.A. Marathon. Photo by Calvin Fleming, via Flickr creative commons.

Metro Rail is a great way for spectators to view thousands of runners during the 27th annual Los Angeles Marathon set for Sunday, March 18.

SPECTATORS: Eight Metro Rail stations are within walking distance of the race course: the Chinatown and Little Tokyo/Arts District Gold Line stations and Union Station, Civic Center, Vermont/Sunset, Hollywood/Western, Hollywood/Vine and Hollywood/Highland Red Line subway stations.

RACE DAY DETOURS: Metro Bus service will be diverted to bypass the 26-mile ‘Stadium to the Sea’ marathon race course. Here is the service advisory for the detours.

SPECIAL RAIL SERVICE: Metro to operate six-car trains on the Red and Purple subway lines and two-car trains on  the Gold Line. Purchase a day pass to avoid lines after event. Staff will assist customers transferring to and from bus service at Vermont/Santa Monica Red Line station and where needed.

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Rail car contract moved to full Board of Directors

The Metro Board’s Systems Safety and Operations committee on Thursday moved a $299-million contract for 78 new light rail vehicles with Kinkisharyo International LLC to the full Metro Board for their consideration. The committee, as is often the case, declined to make a recommendation on the item.

The contract includes four options for the purchase of 157 additional light rail vehicles for $591 million. Here’s a post about the contract from last week that includes renderings of the new vehicles.

What's happening at other transit agencies?

Here's an iconic piece of transit in Wellington, New Zealand, but it's the buses that do the heavy lifting. Photo by flickr user aa440.


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.

Wellington, New Zealand, transit network gets a makeover from Jarrett Walker

Friend of the blog and Human Transit writer Jarrett Walker has helped New Zealand’s capital reconfigure its bus network so that transit riders can use it more freely and spontaneously. Previously the system had a lot of lines running “from everywhere to everywhere,” but they’re weren’t frequent enough that you could free yourself from the schedule. The new approach? Service has been concentrated along a core network of very frequent lines, emphasizing connections much in the same way the Metro Rapid bus system works. The Wellingtonista blog has its take on the changes here.

Next target: Extending BART under downtown San Jose

As Joel mentioned in yesterday’s headlines, BART got the all clear to start construction on an extension towards — but not quite all the way to — San Jose. The phase that takes the train underground through downtown San Jose and out to Santa Clara looks to be a more complicated and pricey endeavor. The Mercury News reports that there’s an estimated price tag of $4 billion, with only half of that already secured.

Virginia Beach, Va., weighs options on light rail

“Public private partnerships” are all the buzz with transit agencies, but there aren’t a ton of examples of it in practice. However, Virginia Beach officials are exploring ways to make the private sector a partner in investing in the city’s planned light rail line. One proposition being considered, according to the Virginian-Pilot: Offer development rights to property developers in exchange for them building the stations and additional amenities.

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Study looks at ways to improve Metrolink's Antelope Valley Line

Looking toward the mountains from Metrolink's Antelope Valley Line. Photo by Spokker Jones, via Flickr creative commons.

Below is a fascinating report below by Metro’s staff on improving Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line that serves Burbank, Sylmar, Sun Valley, Santa Clarita, Palmdale and Lancaster. Metro is a major funder of Metrolink.

The report is in response to a motion last year by Supervisor and Metro Board Member and First Vice Chair Mike Antonovich, who has been seeking ways to improve travel times on the line. It’s up to a two-hour trip between Lancaster and downtown Los Angeles on the train, with speeds averaging 40 mph — owing to steep mountain grades, tight turns, single track sections and numerous at-grade crossings along the route.

The Metro report focuses on a variety of improvements that could be made along the line to cut some travel time and improve capacity along the route, which is shared by freight traffic and Amtrak. Parts of the corridor may also be served by high-speed rail, which in its new “blended” approach will depend on Metrolink to connect to Union Station from the bullet train’s Palmdale station.

Metro staff are now going to flesh out a plan to move forward on some of the more affordable upgrades, with Measure R and high-speed rail bonds two possible funding sources. Director Antonovich on Wednesday introduced a motion seeking to speed that process and asking for further information about potential Metrolink upgrades, including a Bob Hope Airport station for the Antelope Valley Line, seamless train travel between the Antelope Valley and San Diego and Ventura and Indio. The motion is posted after the jump.

Here’s the report:

Antelope Valley Line

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What makes this Westside Subway proposal different from all the others?

A proposal from 1961 would have linked El Monte to Westwood via downtown. The threat of a Soviet nuclear attack meant planners could pitch subway stations as fallout shelters too.

It’s a simple idea: Connect the jobs-rich and traffic-choked Westside of Los Angeles County to downtown L.A., the heart of the region’s economy and public transit network. Yet, as of this moment, I can’t hop on the subway in Westwood and make it to downtown in about 25 minutes — though that’s the future when the current Westside Subway Extension comes to fruition.

It’s well known — part of the city’s legend, really — that there have been seemingly a dozen proposals for such a transit line, many dating back to the middle of the last century. With such an illustrious history, I’m sure many of you are wondering skeptically: What makes this Westside Subway proposal different from all those others?

That’s a fair question. Before traipsing back in time through the various iterations of the Westside subway concept, we’d like to highlight a key difference between then and now: The current Westside Subway Plan has funding both through the Measure R sales tax increase approved by voters in 2008, as well as federal dollars. The Metro Board of Director’s vote on the final environmental study for the project later this year will clear the way for finalizing the engineering and then putting actual shovels in the ground.

All other subway plans for the Wilshire Boulevard have died on the vine at various phases. So I sat down with Metro Librarian Matthew Barrett to get the story on each of the erstwhile proposals that have paved the way for the Westside Subway Extension.

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