Metro Presents is one year old!

Metro Presents—Metro’s program of free arts and cultural events at the iconic Union Station—turns one year old this month! Everyone is invited to experience this stunningly beautiful LA landmark through art, architecture, music, dance and more.

In the coming days and weeks we’ll bring you some tremendous talent, including contemporary jazz by Mark de Clive-Lowe’s CHURCH TONIGHT (7-9pm, Fred Harvey Room), and swing and ragtime by The California Feetwarmers on Friday 8/8 (4-6pm, Waiting Room). And hey, why not come via train, bus or bike? You can even pick up a commemorative Union Station 75th anniversary TAP card!

From music and dance to film screenings and beyond, Metro Presents programs were conceived as a way to creatively activate the station for existing customers, and also as a way to encourage people to try out transit.

We’re so thankful to all the awesome artists, musicians and organizations we’ve had the pleasure of working with* (scroll down for full list). See photos below for a sampling of events we hosted with them over the past year……..

Our very first event took place in the historic ticketing hall—a screening of the neo-noir “Chinatown,” a partnership with the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles.  Photo: LA Observed

Our very first event took place in the historic ticketing hall—a screening of the neo-noir “Chinatown,” a partnership with the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. Photo: LA Observed

G.G. NineNet filled the grand waiting room space with jazz

G.G. NineNet filled the grand waiting room space with jazz

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Updates on Crenshaw/LAX Line construction work near Expo/Crenshaw and Leimert Park

expo pile

Starting now through October, there will be intermittent street closures to Crenshaw Boulevard and Rodeo Place due to construction work related to the Crenshaw/LAX Line. The construction notice is posted above, view it in Spanish here.

Work will also begin on the construction of the underground Leimert Park Station. Most of the work will be conducted underground, but expect long term traffic reconfiguration on Crenshaw Boulevard to support the construction of the station and tunnel. Construction of this station is expected to take four years. You can see the anticipated schedule here or at the Crenshaw/LAX Line project page.

 

Wires up on the Expo Line Phase 2!

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Photo courtesy Ron Miller

Nice view of the new overhead wires that will deliver power to trains along Expo Line Phase 2. The photo was taken on the stretch of track between the 10 freeway and Overland Avenue.

The six-mile rail project will extend the Expo Line from Culver City to downtown Santa Monica with seven new stations. The project is forecast to open in early 2016 and is funded primarily by the Measure R half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

It’s a map! It’s a mug! It’s the Go Metro mug!

"I'm Captain America and I only drink from my Go Metro mug."

“I’m Captain America and I only drink from my Go Metro mug. (P.S. I do not come with the mug, sorry.)”

Combine transit with your morning coffee by drinking it from the new Go Metro mug, now available at the online Metro Store. The mug costs $8.15 and can hold 11 oz. of coffee or the beverage of your choice.

Transit agency funding threatened as Congress continues to bicker over Highway Trust Fund

Below is the latest from Metro’s government relations staff on the ongoing tussle between the House of Representatives and the Senate on keeping the federal Highway Trust Fund funded for the new few months. The news is not good:

U.S. House of Representatives Sends Highway Trust Fund Extension Bill Back to the U.S. Senate

Moments ago, the United States House of Representatives voted (272-150) to reject the U.S. Senate amended bill to fund the Highway Trust Fund and extend authorization and appropriations for highway and transit programs. On July 15, 2014, the House passed H.R. 5021 that extended funding and programs until May 31, 2015. This past Tuesday, the Senate amended the House bill by shortening the extension until December 19, 2014 forcing Congress to deal with a long term surface transportation reauthorization bill and funding this year. With the House rejecting the Senate amended bill and members leaving Washington tonight for a five week recess, the Senate must now decide to pass the House version of H.R. 5021 by tomorrow. If the Senate does not act, the Department of Transportation will implement cash management procedures to distribute less than full transportation funding payments to states. Metro’s Government Relations staff will continue to provide updates on the status of Congress’ actions regarding transportation programs and funding.

Why does this matter? Here’s a staff reporting explaining how Metro could suffer if funds from the Highway Trust Fund to Metro would eventually slow down or be halted. It’s not good: potential long-range impacts — emphasis on ‘long-range’ — could result in service cuts, delays to maintenance projects and delaying capital projects.

The Highway Trust Fund gets its money from the federal gas tax, which is currently 18.3 cents and hasn’t been raised since 1993. Congress has been reluctant over the years to raise the tax or index it to inflation and there’s no majority view of other alternatives to keep the Highway Trust Fund in the black now that vehicles are more fuel efficient and tax revenues are down.

Free shuttle to HARD Summer for Metro riders

artworkHARD Summer is back August 2 and 3 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. both days. The two-day festival is taking place at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in South El Monte and boasts more than fifty live performances and world class DJ sets including Jack U, A$AP Mob, Axwell, and Flosstraddamus performing on five stages. And taking Metro is still the best way to get to HARD Summer! HARD Summer is providing free shuttles to connect Metro riders to the concert.

To get there: hop on the Metro Gold Line to Atlantic Station in East LA and get a free shuttle ride to the concert. Shuttles will be located directly across the street from Atlantic Station, at the intersection of Pomona and Beverly Boulevards. Shuttles to HARD Summer will be running from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

After the concert: follow the festival exit signs to Rosemead Boulevard. The free shuttles will be located just south of the main entrance and will return you to Atlantic Station. Return shuttles will be running from 8 p.m. through 12 a.m. The last shuttle back to Atlantic Station leaves at midnight, so it’s best that you get in line immediately after the concert ends so you don’t miss the last train from Atlantic Station or any connections thereafter. Metro operates late-night rail service until 2 a.m. on Saturdays and will also run late-night rail service on Sunday for HARD Summer.

Tips for riding:

  • The Gold Line ride between Union Station and Atlantic Station takes less than 30 minutes.
  • Use Trip Planner for more routes and connections.
  • Regular Metro Rail fares apply: $1.50 per line / $5 Day Pass (good till 3 a.m.).
  • Each person must have his/her own TAP card. (No sharing of TAP cards)
  • Avoid long return lines at TAP Vending Machines by loading your round trip fare in advance online or on your way in.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, July 31

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Shouldn’t Metro know how many people are riding for free? (L.A. Times) 

The editorial follows the LAT news story earlier this week about fare evasion — rail ridership estimates had 115 million boardings last year while the number of ‘taps’ recorded was 70 million. The difference is made up of people who didn’t pay fares or who had passes on TAP cards but didn’t tap them as required. Excerpt that sums up the issue well:

The amount of money Metro loses to fare evasion is most likely small compared with its operating budget — fares cover only about 26% of the cost of the rides. Officials want to raise ticket prices in the coming years to bring that number up to about 33% of the cost. But the widespread perception of fare evasion undermines public confidence in the agency and makes it harder for Metro to convince riders and taxpayers that it needs more money.

Sharrows: a primer (Orange20Bikes) 

As the headlines suggests, this is a good primer on those lane markings that show cyclists where to ride and inform motorists that bikes are to be expected in a lane. Long-time readers know that I’m not really fond of them as I think they’re mostly a good way to make it look like you’re doing something when you’re doing nothing. This blog post sort of agrees, pointing out that cities like them for that very reason (and they’re cheap) while also pointing out some research shows that sharrows tend to prompt motorists to give cyclists a bit more room and they attract a few more cyclists on roads where they’re present. That hasn’t been my experience when cycling on Lake Avenue in Pasadena, although the sharrows are pretty faded — last time I bothered to notice them.

Speaking of bikes…

LAPD: No public record found that bike lanes delay emergency response times (Streetsblog L.A.)

In response to a public records request, the LAPD found no documents or studies showing that bike lanes slow down police or emergency vehicles. The request stemmed from an ongoing dispute in Northeast L.A. about a city plan to put bike lanes on North Figueroa Street. As it turns out, response times in that part of the city are already slower than elsewhere — but there’s no actual proof that the bike lanes would slow things down any further.

New LADOT G.M. enthusiastically accepts management challenge (The Planning Report) 

Good interview with Seleta Reynolds, the new chief of the city of Los Angeles’ transportation department, which oversees DASH buses, bike lane construction and traffic signals. She worked previously in San Francisco. I thought what she had to say about walking was interesting. Excerpt:

One of the most telling things that I’ve taken away from projects I’ve done was during a study in Spokane Washington. We asked people why they wanted to live in a walkable neighborhood. “Well, I like walking.” You ask them, “Why is that? What is it about walking that’s important?” They would give you answers like, “I might run into my neighbor along the way”; “You don’t know what you’ll see”; “Something unexpected or interesting might happen”; “I don’t experience the city in the same way when I’m in my car”; “It also offers an opportunity to unplug and interact with people in my household.”

Social interactions that strengthen neighborhoods and even can strengthen the resiliency of a community to recover after a disaster are improved if you offer people the opportunity to walk or bike to get around. Making those modes a real option for trips that are less than a mile for walking or one-to-three miles for biking is important for a huge variety of reasons. That’s what I’m interested in from an active transportation perspective. That’s where the opportunities are.

Well put. Everyone I know loves to talk about some city they visited where you could walk everywhere or there were lovely places to walk. Yet, there isn’t as much clamoring for that on the home front. It will be interesting to see what Reynolds can do, especially given that zoning is controlled by the city’s planning department and the City Council has last say on everything — and often exercises that right.

Is Reynolds the antidote to L.A.’s defeatist attitude on transportation? (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Speaking of the new LADOT chief, Damien Newton writes that hiring someone from outside L.A. to run the city’s transportation department was probably a wise move. Damien also says arguments otherwise — that L.A. is too unique and thus needs one of its own — amount to big pile of bunk. Excerpt:

For some reason, people that live and drive in Los Angeles have sat through so many traffic jams that they have come to believe that idling in endless traffic is a natural phenomenon.  They also believe a harmful corollary: that things that have worked in other areas to make people’s commutes better will not work in Los Angeles. Because “this is Los Angeles.”

It’s the reverse of exceptionalism.

Because over the last six and a half years, we’ve heard that Los Angeles, and Angelenos are so enamored with our vehicles that we will never be able to walk, much less ride a bike or ride transit, even though wild dogs can learn to ride transit. Following the passage of Measure R, many are starting to accept that transit is a viable option in Los Angeles, although the anti-transit theory it still pops up in some cities on the Westside.

Nowadays, we hear some mix of theories from “smart growth won’t work in Southern California,” to “road diets won’t work in Southern California” to “people won’t bicycle in Southern California.” These sort of self-defeating prophecies sap the energy out of transportation reformers, jade community activists, and generally have a corrosive impact on those seeking to make our streets safe for everyone.

Concur. The only thing unique about L.A. is that we have better Mexican food and an arguably better climate that some of other sprawling metropolises around the planet.

Motorized roller skates: from fiction to reality (BBC)

Speeds up to 12 miles per hour! They run on electricity and look easy to step in and out of. Tilt foot forward, they go. Tilt foot back, they stop. So says the manufacturer.