The art of transit

photo by, 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 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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Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 15

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.

Senate OKs transportation bill with help for L.A. County (Los Angeles Times)

As The Source reported yesterday, the U.S. Senate — lead by California Sen. Barbara Boxer — has passed a massive transportation bill that would make needed investments in roads, bridges and mass transit. The Senate bill isn’t just a good thing for the nation. It could be a great thing for Los Angeles. The $109 billion bill would expand a federal loan program that could help Metro’s and Mayor Villaraigosa’s America Fast Forward (aka 30/10) plan to speed expansion of L.A’s bus and rail system. But one tiny hurdle remains: to get the House to agree. In the meantime the current transportation bill is set to expire March 31, which could bring highway projects to a screaming halt … which, in turn, increases pressure on the House to pass a bill quickly.

Hope for a good transportation bill (New York Times)

A New York Times editorial applauds the Senate bill saying: “Against heavy odds, Congress may yet produce a decent national transportation bill ….” But, it added, [House] Speaker John Boehner said last week that he was ready to take up the Senate measure, or something close to it. That could be a tactic to spur his colleagues to devise their own alternative. But accepting the Senate bill would be exactly the right thing to do.”

Major changes for Wilshire Grand project (Downtown News)

Korean Air is considering major changes to its $1-billion plan to replace the aged Wilshire Grand Hotel. Instead of building a 45-story tower with 560 hotel rooms and a second-phase 60-story office complex, the company instead is looking at erecting a single tower with 900 hotel rooms and a diminished office component. At 900 rooms the hotel — which does not yet have an operator — would be among downtown’s largest. It’s also within walking distance of the Metro 7th Street/Metro Station.

Trade in your car for a bicycle at bike shop in Woodland Hills (PRWeb)

In response to high gas prices, a Woodland Hills bike shop is generously offering to take cars as trade-ins against the purchase of a new bike. “I’ve heard it said that cars run on money and make you fat — and bicycles run on fat and save you money. That’s never been more true,” said David Kooi, owner of the Santa Monica Mountains Cyclery shop in Woodland Hills. But hurry! This offer expires March 25. Wonder if they’ll get any takers.