Aerial views of the new El Monte Station

Above are a pair of nice aerial photos taken earlier this week of the new El Monte Station, which is scheduled to open this fall.

Big Blue Bus service changes coming next week to better serve Expo Line

The idea is to better connect the Expo Line to both downtown Santa Monica and Westwood and UCLA. Here’s the news from the Big Blue Bus website:

Big News: Fall Service Begins August 26 & 27

Read all about new Rapid 12 and Rapid 20, and changes to Routes 2, 5, 11 and Rapid 10:

New! Starting August 27, use Rapid 20 to ride non-stop between downtown Santa Monica and the Expo Culver City station via the 10 Freeway for only $1 (regular cash fare; $0.50 for S/D/M)! Hop on at one of the three Rapid 20 stops:

Broadway at 6th St.

4th at Santa Monica Place

Robertson between Washington and Venice (just around the corner from the entrance to the Expo Culver City station)

New! Starting August 27, Super 12 becomes Rapid 12 for an even faster ride between Westwood/UCLA and the Expo Culver City station! Some stops are being eliminated (but will still be served by Local 12) and the Culver City stop is being relocated to northbound Robertson between Venice and Washington.

Route 5: Starting August 26, trips to Century City/Expo Culver City will be permanently rerouted in downtown Santa Monica due to Expo rail construction. Please board at either the stop on Arizona at 5th St. or at the stop on Colorado at 7th St. Route 5 will no longer stop on: 4th St. at Broadway, Wilshire or Santa Monica Blvd. or on Colorado at 4th St.

Maps and schedules are coming soon. Have questions in the meantime? Call customer service at (310) 451-5444 or send us an email.

 

Freeway and road signs to begin featuring warnings about Carmageddon II

LOS ANGELES: Over the weekend of August 18-19, 64 Changeable Message Signs (CMS) located on most Los Angeles County freeways will begin displaying information about the upcoming closure of the San Diego Freeway (I-405).

The closure, scheduled over the September 29-30 weekend, is necessary to replace the second half of the Mulholland Bridge as part of the northbound I-405 carpool lane construction project between the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) and the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101). When completed, this project will create a continuous carpool lane in both directions of I-405 in Los Angeles County.

Northbound I-405 will be closed from the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) to the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101). Southbound I-405 will be closed from U.S. 101 to Getty Center Drive. The CMS notices will begin appearing the evening of Friday, August 17 and will be in effect every weekend until two weeks before the closure; at that time, the message will be displayed around the clock.

Continue reading

EZ passes moving to a new home on TAP

Here’s a new Metro release on the move of EZ passes from paper onto TAP. The migration begins Sept. 1 but senior/disabled patrons have until Nov. 1 to apply for and receive their new ID cards. Application forms can be downloaded from the web but also are available at Metro Customer Centers and pass outlets all over the region.

The EZ transit pass — the monthly pass good for travel on 25 different public transit carriers throughout Los Angeles County — will begin the transition from paper to TAP cards Sept. 1, making it easier for customers to travel without transfers, renew their passes each month and replace their cards, should they be lost of stolen. The EZ transit pass is one of the last paper passes to transition to smart card technology.

The EZ transit pass will be electronically loaded onto the familiar blue TAP card for regular riders or the orange Reduced TAP ID card for senior and/or disabled riders.  A stamp with the month, year and zone designation will be affixed to the front of each card so that the card can be visually inspected on non-TAP systems.

To help customers with the transition, the new reusable TAP cards will be free for a limited time with the purchase of an EZ transit pass.

The move from EZ transit pass paper passes to TAP will continue until Nov. 1 for senior and disabled patrons to give them extra time to apply for and receive their new reduced-fare TAP ID cards. Applications can be downloaded from the web at metro.net/riding/fares/senior.  They also are available at all Metro Customer Centers and pass sales outlets.

The new EZ transit passes on TAP will make it easier to renew the passes each month. When an EZ transit pass expires, another pass can be loaded onto the card at a pass sales outlet, or at the official TAP website: taptogo.net. There will be no need to purchase a new TAP card each month because the card can be used again and again for up to three years.  Customers can protect their cards and their pass or stored value balance from loss by requesting balance protection by calling 1.866.TAPTOGO (1.866.827.8646).  The card and balance can be replaced for just $5.

EZ transit pass fares are $84 per month, or $35 for senior/disabled patrons. Although there is no extra charge for transfers between participating carriers, in some cases there are zone charges, which will be addressed as they are now, either by paying for a monthly pass with zones, or by paying the zone fare when boarding, either in cash or with stored value loaded onto the TAP card. (Bus operators will notify patrons, should zone charges pertain.)

EZ transit passes are sold at Metro Customer Centers and nearly 600 participating vendors  region-wide, including Nix Check Cashing, Continental Currency Services and selected Ralph’s markets. Search EZ transit pass outlets on taptogo.net to find a convenient location near you.

 

UPDATE: Here are the answers to three questions readers have been asking –

1. The EZ Pass sticker needed for your TAP card will be mailed to those who buy the pass online.

2. Because the EZ Pass needs a sticker, they are not available at Metro ticket machines.

3. The EZ Pass can be loaded onto an existing TAP card. You don’t need to buy a new card to get the pass.

The art of transit

photo by the U.K. Department of Culture, Media and Sport, via Flickr creative commons

Nice photo of a slice of the record crowds that used public transit in London during the recent Olympic Games. And here’s our recent post about how an expanded transit system could serve a future Olympics in the Los Angeles region.

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.

Metro reaches three-year deal with ATU

Here’s the announcement:

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) reached a 3-year contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), representing over 2,300 bus and rail maintenance employees.

“Metro is pleased to announce that it has reached a 3-year agreement with the ATU, which includes a very modest increase in compensation and adjustments to the health and welfare program for union workers,” said Metro General Manager Employee and Labor Relations Richard Hunt.

Metro and ATU reached a tentative agreement last Tuesday. ATU membership ratified the proposed contract Wednesday night and now the contract will be presented to the Metro Board of Directors for its approval at the Thursday, September 27 meeting.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, August 16

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.

L.A.’s first freeways (KCET So Cal Connected)

A nice look at the earliest freeways in the Los Angeles area and the thinking that went into the planning and building of them. A four-mile section of Ramona Boulevard and a 1.5-mile segment of freeway over the Cahuenga Pass were the preludes to the 6.8-mile Arroyo Seco Parkway opening in 1940. It’s still in use today as the Pasadena Freeway, although it looks nowhere near as good as does in some of the many fine photos on this post. A recent attempt to spruce things up doesn’t really work — today the road is lined by a lot of chain-link fencing, suffers too much graffiti and has a lot of trash along its edges.

 

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner in San Diego. Photo by Justin Brown, via Flickr creative commons.

Romney says he would eliminate Amtrak funding (CNNMoney)

Excerpt:

There are three major areas I have focused on for reduction in spending. These are in many cases reductions which become larger and larger over time. So first there are programs I would eliminate. Obamacare being one of them but also various subsidy programs — the Amtrak subsidy, the PBS subsidy, the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to strand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.

A related post on The Hill says that zeroing out Amtrak in the budget would be difficult to do, given the popularity of its Northeast Corridor routes between Washington and New York. If Amtrak shut down those routes, commuters would fly instead, which could create bottlenecks across the country as major airports are overwhelmed trying to handle commuter flights. The federal government provided about $1.5 billion to Amtrak in fiscal year 2011; the total federal budget that year was about $3.63 trillion.

Why should we stop talking about ‘bus stigma’ (The Atlantic Cities)

Transit planner and writer Jarrett Walker takes exception to those who suggest that many people avoid the bus because of the stigma attached to it — as is the bus is only for the poor or minorities. In his view, the problem with buses is that they too often don’t offer the fast and frequent service that people want. Good bus service, he believes, attracts a good number of riders across all spectrums. Excerpt:

Mass transit, even the indispensable bus, will continue on that path to greater relevance to the degree that citizens care about it and demand that it be funded. Right now, many people who don’t use transit are making a rational choice, based on its current usefulness and their alternatives; no stigma is needed to explain that behavior. As transit improves, and especially as other options become more expensive, decisions will continue to change, person by person, family by family, and ridership will grow as a result. At some point in that process, journalists will stop talking about a stigma. But the solution to the “stigma” or “class” problem, all along, was to refuse to define it that way.