Transportation headlines, Monday, March 12

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.

The Metrolink station at Bob Hope Airport. Officials hope to improve transit access to the airport. Photo by Eric Fredericks, via Flickr creative commons.

Tough times at Burbank airport (L.A. Times)

The loss of American Airlines last month is giving Bob Hope Airport budget headaches. The airport has also seen declining parking revenues and passenger numbers. Officials think improving the airport’s connections with the region’s mass transit system will help.

Use of public transit rose in 2011, but agencies not out of the woods yet (New York Times)

Tansit ridership reached 10.4 billion boardings in 2011 — the second-most since 1957 — which the Times attributes to declining unemployment and rising gas prices. Excerpt:

Ridership rose in many parts of the country whose employment pictures brightened, including Miami, Nashville, San Francisco, San Diego and Louisville, Ky. Dallas, which opened a new light-rail line in 2010, saw a large jump in its light-rail ridership last year.

But there are big challenges ahead for transit systems. Many have had to cut service and raise fares since the downturn began, and the trouble is not over for many systems. So while Boston saw record ridership levels last year — the most since the 1940s — it also faces a big deficit in the coming year, brought on by rising operating costs, high debt and sales tax revenues that have failed to meet expectations in recent years. As a result, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has proposed significant fare increases and service reductions, which could deter riders.

 

Here’s the news release about 2011 ridership from the American Public Transportation Assn.

The go-nowhere generation (New York Times)

This provocative essay gives a kick in the hindquarters to teens and young adults for spending too much time on the Internet and not enough time on bikes, the open highway or yearning to leave their hometown for someplace better. Or at least somewhere with a job. As a result, we’re no longer a country where the young are “born to run.” Rather, we’re a country of “born to check my ex-girlfriend’s status update.” Sad, but an excellent excuse to kill time watching Bruce play his anthem in Phoenix in 1978.

10.4 billion trips taken on U.S. public transportation in 2011

Cleveland's RTA trains were among those that saw a nice bump in ridership in 2011. Photo by Matt Johnson, via Flickr creative commons.

Here is the news release from the American Public Transportation Assn:

10.4 Billion Trips Taken On U.S. Public Transportation In 2011

 Second Highest Annual Ridership Since 1957 

According to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation in 2011, the second highest annual ridership since 1957.  Only ridership in 2008, when gas rose to more than $4 a gallon, surpassed last year’s ridership.  With an increase of 2.3 percent over the 2010 ridership, this was the sixth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide.  During 2011, vehicle miles of travel (VMTs) declined by 1.2 percent.

“U.S. public transportation ridership in 2011 is now the second highest ridership since 1957,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “What is exciting is that the uptick in ridership occurred in large, medium and small communities, showing the broad support that public transportation has nationwide.  In fact, the largest rate of growth was in rural communities with populations under 100,000 where public transit use increased by 5.4 percent.”

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Report to Board of Directors on gate locking process

The Metro staff report posted below explains the process that Metro will take in locking the gates at Metro Rail stations. The report is to the Board of Directors on a receive-and-file basis; no action is required. The Board voted in February to begin the gate-locking process this year.

The biggest change which could happen the soonest: the conversion of paper tickets to paper TAP cards this spring. As for the gate locking, the plan is to begin at the Normandie station on the Metro Purple Line subway and then lock the gates at the remaining Red and Purple Line stations over the rest of 2012.

Here’s the report — it’s only two pages.

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Downtown Los Angeles Streetcar Alternatives Analysis to be reviewed by Metro Board

Click above to see a larger image.

The Alternatives Analysis for the downtown Los Angeles streetcar project was released back in January, with the above route chosen as the “locally preferred alternative (LPA).” The study is going to the Metro Board as a “receive-and-file” item this month — meaning that no action is required — and I thought this would be a good time to post it here.

Metro is preparing the environmental studies for the streetcar on behalf of the city of Los Angeles. The above route — one of seven finalists considered — carries an estimated cost of about $106.7 million. The studies are a necessary precursor to getting funding. Among the likely sources will be a variety of federal funds and, in all likelihood, some private money.

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Go Metro Weekends, March 9-11

The star this weekend is once again Pasadena. Head to ArtNight on Friday and enjoy a free evening of art, music and entertainment. Twelve of Pasadena’s most prominent arts and cultural institutions will open their doors from 6 to 10 p.m. ArtNight also features pop-up galleries, paint-spewing army ducks and food trucks, including ice cream sandwich truck Cool Haus (try the balsamic fig & mascarpone ice cream with an oatmeal cookie, weird but delicious!). Free shuttles will loop the area throughout the evening with stops at each venue, and a bike tour is available as well. Show your valid Metro ticket or pass at participating venues and receive special discounts, including 10 percent off store merchandise at the Pasadena Museum of California Art or 10 percent off exhibition catalogs at the Armory Center for the Arts. (Metro Gold Line to Memorial Park Station, depending on which venue you’d like to visit first different buses will serve your needs, check Metro Trip Planner.)

If you’re into acoustic music, visit the Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday. String Theory, an all day acoustic music event, starts at 11 a.m. The event features musicians and dancers who put on a unique show using invented instruments and large-scale performance installations. Over 30 artists and special guests will be taking the stage. (Metro Red Line to Pershing Square Station, walk east on 5th St. to Spring St. Metro Bus Lines 16, 55, 62 to 5th/Spring.)

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Art for the Expo Line: LA Metro Lotería by Jose Lozano

Jose Lozano standing in front of an art panel before it’s installed

Jose Lozano presents a series of Lotería cards, based on a Mexican game of chance, in his artwork for Expo/La Brea Station.

Similar to Bingo, Lotería uses images on a deck of cards instead of numbers. In text at the bottom of the cards, Lozano plays with the station name “La Brea,” keeping the Spanish language prefixes “La,” “El,” or “Los,” and substituting “Brea” with passenger interactions commonly encountered while riding Metro.

Each of the eight art panels portrays a different scene: “El Luggage” shows a smiling man surrounded by overstuffed luggage, “La Prisa” (the hurry) shows a mother and child walking quickly across a platform. (Here’s a link to more information about Lozano’s work for Expo/La Brea Station.)

Original design for one of the 8 art panels (seen above with the artist) comprising LA Metro Lotería at Expo/La Brea Station

Detail of LA Metro Lotería, displaying “Los Stairs” and “La Nurse,” at the artwork fabricator, Winsor Fireform.

Detail of LA Metro Lotería, displaying “Los Romantics” and “Los Metro Guys,” at the artwork fabricator, Winsor Fireform.

More photos of the artwork being installed at the station are after the jump.

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Transportation headlines, Friday, March 9

The Expo Line right-of-way just south (right) of Olympic Blvd. at Cloverfield Blvd. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

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.

Fifty-two trees to be moved for Expo Line in Santa Monica (Santa Monica Mirror)

Before Expo Phase 2 construction begins along the right-of-way, the city of Santa Monica will remove 52 trees from the southern edge of Olympic Boulevard between Stewart Street and Cloverfield Boulevard. Fear not, 38 of them — palms, ficuses and others — will be finding a new home nearby. The Mirror cites a Santa Monica staff report stating that the city may use some of the trees to create a “buffer” between the new Expo maintenance facility and surrounding homes. Note: The coral trees in the center median of Olympic are not the trees being moved.

U.S. Conference of Mayors report: nation’s transportation infrastructure needs to keep pace with growing exports (Progressive Railroading)

U.S. exports are on the rise and that’s good news for the local economy. After all, the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach combined handle more cargo than any other port in the country. But that also means more freight moving on our local rails and roads, and more congestion as a result. That has Antonio Villaraigosa — in his capacity as L.A Mayor, Metro Board Chair and U.S. Conference of Mayors head — championing more federal investment in the infrastructure that helps move freight from ports to local warehouses and those throughout the country.

Report from last week’s DTLA bike sting (L.A. Streetsblog)

How effective has the new bright green Spring Street bike lane been at keeping bikes and cars at a safe distance? The LAPD sought to determine that last week through an enforcement operation against rule breakers. Streetsblog writer Carlos Morales checked in on the “sting” and found some clueless drivers, obstructing film crews and the occasional confused cyclists — on top of everyone else who was getting along well enough. My thought: If the bike lanes were physically separated from traffic — a la those in Long Beach, Montreal, New York — a lot of these problems would be engineered away.