Transportation headlines, Thursday, May 17

Photo by Christopher Chan via Flickr

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.

This weekend could be test case for traffic near proposed NFL stadium (Orange County Register)

The jam-packed schedule of events in and around Staples Center on Saturday and Sunday will present a test case on whether the proposed site for Farmers Field will be able to handle NFL-sized crowds, especially on dates when NFL games coincide with other major events, said Los Angeles city councilwoman Jan Perry. Good point and another reminder to leave the car at home and go Metro Expo or Blue.

How far can mass transit carry you 30 minutes? (Atlantic Cities)

It’s an amusing exercise that reveals something of the length and expanse of the systems. How far can you travel in 30 minutes with a bus pass on transit in New York, London, L.A.? Surprisingly far, as it turns out. But not so in Miami.

BART Wi-Fi still lags after 3 years (San Francisco Chronicle)

Love the concept but at least on BART where, after three years, Wi-Fi is described as “spotty” and “unreliable,” it may not be worth the cash. At the moment. The problem for the Bay Area carrier has to do with technology, short money in an ailing economy and priorities. Among the thoughts: What’s more important, new seats or Wi-Fi? (We’re thinking.) The reported cost is $100,000 a mile.

Feeling tired, run down and don’t know who to blame? Maybe it’s your commute (StreetsBlog DC)

A study of Dallas residents found that commute distance correlated with larger waistlines, poorer cardiovascular health and a greater risk for high blood pressure.

Measure R extension discussion on Foothill Extension project

This Metro staff proposal to seek voter approval for an extension of the Measure half-cent sales tax past its 2039 sunset was briefly discussed by the Board of Directors’ Executive Management committee on Thursday morning, including some interesting morsels on the Gold Line Foothill Extension project.

Supervisor and Board Vice Chair Mike Antonovich asked for clarification if the extension, as proposed by staff, would fund the Foothill Extension all the way to Claremont. Measure R is currently providing $735 million to fund the first phase of the Foothill Extension from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border.

Metro CEO Art Leahy responded by saying that the language in the existing Measure R ordinance and funding plan is somewhat ambiguous — on one hand defining the Foothill Extension as a project to Claremont but on the other hand only funding it as far as Azusa.

Ultimately, Leahy said, it would be up to the Board of Directors whether to include the second phase to Claremont as part of a Measure R extension. As proposed by staff, a Measure R extension would be used to expand the agency’s ability to sell bonds to accelerate the building of the transit projects funded by the original Measure R.

The Board is likely to vote on whether to take the issue to voters at their June meeting. Here’s a pdf of the most recent staff report, which is also posted below using Scribd.

Measure R extension report

Mayor calls for working group to advance gate locking in subway stations

A Metro staff report on the plan to lock gates in subway stations beginning this summer was briefly discussed by the Board of Directors’ Executive Management committee on Thursday morning.

The gist of it: two of the Board Members on the committee — Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa and Director Richard Katz — expressed concern over the cost and time involved in finally locking the gates, in particular the possible need for additional staff to help patrons get through the gates.

“After all the money, effort and time and discussion, it’s just not acceptable,” Villaraigosa said at the meeting. The Mayor called for a working group to be formed to figure out how to accelerate gate locking and conversion of fare media to TAP.

The issue of the timeline to lock the gates will likely come back to the Board in June.

The following is the latest Metro staff report on the issue. Here is a pdf version for download.

Gate Locking report


Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition — learning to ride at last

To celebrate Bike Week LA, we’re publishing a Why You Ride series with the winners of the 2012 Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s annual competition for great stories about commuting via bicycle.

Even if you don’t know how to ride a bicycle, cycling can still become a feasible way to get to work! Siobhan Dolan wrote to tell us how, at the age of 30, she learned to ride a bike just so she could commute to work. Now she bikes the 10 miles between Atwater Village and Mid-Wilshire twice a day, in under 45 minutes each way.

Name: Siobhan Dolan
Start: Atwater Village
End: Mid-Wilshire
Distance: 10 miles
Time: 45 minutes

Photo courtesy of Siobhan Dolan.

Siobhan said:

“I am a new bike rider—and when I say new, I mean that you can teach an old dog new tricks, because I just learned how to ride a bike at 30 years old. I learned how to ride because I wanted to commute to work by bicycle. My sole intention was to improve the public welfare by reducing car emissions in our already smoggy city.

“Who knew that I would grow to love it so much? My commute is peaceful. I now see some ‘regulars’ on 4th Street whom I wave to, and my overall quality of life has improved—and all because I chose to ride my bike. It has taught me that I can accomplish anything!”

Thanks, Siobhan, for proving that for those of us who weren’t taught to ride a bike growing up, it’s never too late to learn and even love it. And thank you also for making the air in Los Angeles a little cleaner for everyone! We’ve sent you a box of Clif bars to help you power your commute.

Reminder: free rides for cyclists on Metro today — it's Bike to Work Day

As Metro noted in a recent news release:

On Bike to Work Day, Thursday, May 17, Metro will offer free rides to bicyclists on Metro buses and trains throughout Los Angeles County. Culver CityBus, DowneyLINK, Glendale Beeline, LADOT, Montebello Bus Lines, Norwalk Transit, Pasadena ARTS, Santa Clarita Transit and Torrance Transit will also offer free transit rides to bicyclists who use transit for part of their commute. Patrons just need to board with a bicycle or bicycle helmet to ride for free.

Cyclists may bring their bicycles on Metro trains. Metro has removed its peak-hour restrictions for bicycles on rail, which means cyclists may bring their bicycles onboard Metro Rail during all system hours.

On Bike to Work Day, Metro is co-sponsoring more than 80 bicycle pit stops across Los Angeles County with local organizations. Bicyclists are invited to stop by for refreshments and free giveaways at various times of the day. For locations and times, go to

Metro responds to Beverly Hills Courier story alleging large payment to developer

The Beverly Hills Courier on Friday published a story alleging that Metro is preparing to pay $38.7 million to JMB Realty for land to use as part of the Westside Subway Extension project. The Courier said the information came from a Metro report.

The Courier also alleged that the large payment is much more than the assessed value of the land and implied that the $38.7 million was a payment to a politically-connected developer.

Metro’s response: The story is completely erroneous. 

Metro documents and studies do not in any way detail a $38.7-million payment to JMB, nor is the agency planning a $38.7 million payment to JMB.

In fact, with the Century City station at the proposed Constellation and Avenue of the Stars location, the entire subway project with the station entrance and construction area using JMB property would cost $38.7 million less than another alternative not using JMB property.

Where does the $38.7 million number come from? It appears the Courier made an incorrect assumption and a math error.

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