Transportation headlines, Friday, October 9

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! 

Art of Transit: Latvian bike activists show how much space a bike takes versus that of a car. Clever. Click above for more photos. Photo by Artūrs Pavlovs.

Art of Transit: Latvian bike activists show how much space a bike takes versus that of a car. Clever. Click above for more photos. Photo by Artūrs Pavlovs.

405 speeds little changed (ZevWeb)

The traffic data firm Inrix sampled traffic on the northbound 405 for a couple of weeks last month between the 10 and 101. The finding: it basically takes the same average amount of time to travel between the 10 and 101 in 2014 as it did in 2013 before the NB 405 HOV lane was fully opened.

There are a couple of caveats: Inrix says that the number of cars crossing the pass has increased because of a regional surge in traffic (likely tied to the economy) and that travel times in the last hour of peak travel times is faster than it was before the HOV lane opened.

Excerpt:

The finding that speeds appear to have remained level despite the increase in traffic is a sign of the project’s success, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said. Caltrans, Metro’s partner on the 405 Project, estimates that the carpool lane handles 1,600 cars per hour during peak travel times. “If you didn’t have that extra lane, all those cars would be competing for five lanes instead of six,” Sotero said.

What’s more, the 405 Project’s benefits go beyond traffic speeds, Sotero said. The project enhanced safety by rebuilding three bridges to better withstand earthquakes and by creating additional shoulder space on the freeway, he said, while reconfigured on- and off-ramps have increased capacity and improved traffic flow. Sotero said the project never was expected to be a panacea for rush hour traffic.

“You can’t escape the fact that carpool lanes are going to fill up during peak periods,” Sotero said. “What carpool lanes do is reduce the duration and severity of traffic.”

Two other points worth chewing on: the new Valley-Westside Express Bus will debut Dec. 15 and use the NB HOV lane on the 405 (click here for more info). Also, the Inrix sampling doesn’t consider how many people are in cars crossing the pass. HOV lanes typically carry more people than regular lanes (because those cars are mostly carpooling!) — i.e. meaning a lot more people are probably getting across the Sepulveda Pass in the same amount of time as previous.

Expo construction at 70 percent (Santa Monica Daily Press) 

Canopies on the Westwood Station. Photo courtesy Ron Miller, via Expo Line Fan's construction gallery. Click above to visit the gallery.

Canopies on the Westwood Station. Photo courtesy Ron Miller, via Expo Line Fan’s construction gallery. Click above to visit the gallery.

Expo Line Construction Authority officials say that all bridges are done and construction should be finished by next summer when the process of handing the project over to Metro could begin. That’s not a short or trivial process btw. Metro must inspect the line to make sure that the Authority, an independent agency set up by the state, was built to the agency’s specifications.

Thoughts at a workshop on replacing CA’s gas tax with a mileage fee (Streetsblog LA)

Joe Linton attends a half-day gathering to mull the possibility of taxing motorists by the mile instead of the current scheme which involves a tax applied per gallon; California will soon launch a pilot program to test distance-based taxes. The post does a good job of capturing the nuances of the two taxation systems and concludes that distance-based taxes may work but there are a lot of variables involved. One interesting one: Americans overall are driving less, a trend that seems likely to continue.

Metro fare jumpers explain how they evade fares (LA Weekly)

Although the fare evasion rate remains elusive, L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies issued 35.5 percent more citations (89,535) for fare evasion in 2013 than 2012, according to data from a public records request submitted by LA Weekly. The data also indicates — perhaps not surprisingly — that 19- to 29-year-olds are frequently cited, males are cited three times more often than females and the Red and Blue Lines are where most citations are issued (they are Metro’s two most heavily ridden lines, btw).

The Weekly also made a video showing how turnstiles may be vulnerable to fare evasion although it should be noted: 1) Metro is hardly the only transit system with turnstiles and fare evaders; 2) If you get caught, you’ll be cited at least $75, and; 3) Metro’s bus and rail system is big and expensive to run and fares help pay for it. Not paying hurts our transit system and fellow riders.

Garcetti: NFL team ‘highly likely’ to return to L.A. in next year (L.A. Times)

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti says interest in L.A. by the NFL remains high. It appears three franchises — the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers — are the three most viable candidates and there are two potential locations, a new stadium next to Staples Center or a new stadium near Hollywood Park. From a transit perspective, it’s hard to beat the Staples Center location while Hollywood Park would require a shuttle from the Crenshaw/LAX Line when it’s completed, currently forecast for 2019.

From an aesthetic/competitive point of view, the Raiders are hopeless and belong in Oakland while the Chargers could go deep in the playoffs this season but belong in San Diego. The Rams, however, should have never left L.A., play in an extremely ugly dome in St. Louis and being in L.A. would be a better locale to play their division rivals, the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals. So if the deed must be done, Go Rams!

Go Metro Weekends, Oct 10 – 12

Bjork, Banh Mi, ballet… I’m starting to sense a theme this weekend…

Friday

Today at Grand Central Market: it’s Banh Mi Day! Participating vendors will sell their own take on the beloved Vietnamese sandwich–how about a smoked pork belly banh mi from Horse Thief BBQ, or an Asian omelet banh mi from EggS***? It all leads up to a free food tasting and recipe showcase with Andrea Nguyen, author of The Banh Mi Handbook, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. (Metro Red/Purple Line to Pershing Square Station, Metro Rapid 745 to Broadway/3rd, or various buses serving Hill Street or Broadway.)

ArtNight Pasadena returns for its fall 2014 iteration. Over 20 of Pasadena’s best art and cultural institutions will keep their doors open late for an evening of free exhibits, music, and entertainment. Go Metro and get great perks with valid TAP card. (Metro Gold Line to Memorial Park Station or various buses serving Old Pasadena.)

And now for a bit of shameless self promotion: Lily Allen brings her cheeky brand of British electro hip-hop pop to the Palladium this Friday at 7 p.m. If you’re planning on going, why not avoid the whole parking-in-Hollywood-on-a-weekend headache and take the Red Line to Hollywood/Vine Station instead?

Saturday

Grab your TAP card and lace up your running shoes this Saturday for the Boyle Heights 5K Run/Walk and the Munchkin Half-Mile! The race begins at Mariachi Plaza, continues down 1st Street to Lorena, then loops back. It’s $25 for adults and $10 for those 13 and under. Race-day registration begins at 6:30 a.m. with the Munchkin run starting at 8 a.m. and the run/walk beginning at 8:45 a.m. (Metro Gold Line to Mariachi Plaza Station or Bus 30 to 1st St/Mariachi Plaza.)

Metro riders save 20% on tickets to the Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner at REDCAT. Various artists led by Jace Clayton perform newly-arranged versions of songs by the mercurial and politically-bold songwriter. (Metro Red/Purple Line to Civic Center/Grand Park Station.)

All Weekend

The Downtown Independent Theater and Cinema is screening Bjork’s Biophilia, her latest concert film, all weekend. Tickets are $11.24 after an online fee. Click here for specific times. (Metro Red/Purple Line to Pershing Square or Little Tokyo/Arts District Stations.)

The Australian Ballet presents Swan Lake at the Dorthy Chandler Pavilion this weekend, and Metro riders can save 20% on select seats to the 1:30 p.m. Saturday matinee. Here’s to being cultured and transit-savvy! (Metro Red/Purple Line to Civic Center/Grand Park Station.)

The first-ever Highland Park Independent Film Festival is happening now through October 11 at…the Highland Theatre of course! Catch short programs and feature films throughout the afternoon and evening. Ticket prices vary. (Metro Gold Line to Highland Park Station, Metro Bus 81 to Figueroa/Avenue 54.)

Why You Share the Ride: bike to rail equals time to read

During Rideshare Week, we’ll be featuring stories submitted by real commuters talking about why they share the ride. Join the conversation and let us know why you share the ride! Tweet us @metrolosangeles using the hashtag #RideshareLA. And don’t forget to pledge online for a chance to win some awesome prizes.

The following rideshare story comes to us from Bond Harper, who commutes from Culver City to Universal City.

BondHarper“I ride my bike to the Culver City Metro Station and take the train to Universal City. I love the consistency of my commute times compared to driving (you never know how traffic will be!). I’ve also realized that I can read a book a week on the train, so I’ve had fun catching up on novels and learning new things with non-fiction. It is so easy to hop off in Hollywood or downtown to meet someone for dinner or attend an event.”

 

Go Metro and save at Taste of Italy this Saturday

The 6th annual Taste of Italy takes place this Saturday, October 11 in Pueblo de Los Angeles in Downtown L.A. Hosted by the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, it’s an evening of Italian culture, entertainment, and of course, food that is easily accessible via Metro Bus or Rail.

Guests will enjoy premier gastronomy from more than 50 Italian and Italian American restaurants, dozens of wineries, and purveyors of culinary specialties. Plus, the celebration takes place at the scenic and historic Pico House–one of the last remaining buildings from the days of Los Angeles’ once sprawling and bustling Little Italy. (Don’t believe we ever had a Little Italy? Click here.)

Go Metro to Taste of Italy! Take the Red, Purple, or Gold Line to Union Station. There’s also Bus 70 or 76 to Spring/Cesar E Chavez, the Silver Line, and a plethora of buses serving Patsaouras Bus Plaza. El Pueblo de Los Angeles is located at 424 N. Main Street, across Alameda Street from Union Station.

Best of all, Taste of Italy is a Destination Discount! This means Metro riders with valid TAP cards will receive $5 off general admission or a premium ticket at event check-in. Now that’s amore!

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Oct. 9

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! 

Art of Transit: My colleague Anna Chen collecting footage on the Expo Line for a video to promote ride sharing. Click above for recent posts on Rideshare Week. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Art of Transit: My colleague Anna Chen collecting footage on the Expo Line for a video to promote ride sharing. Click above for recent posts on Rideshare Week. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Eliminate some parking requirements to spur use of transit (Miami Herald) 

A couple of self-professed millennials penned this op-ed supporting a new zoning rule in Miami that would eliminate parking requirements for buildings of 10,000 square feet and under that are near transit. Excerpt:

What baffles us most is why housing targeted to our generation should be required to have parking at all. Our grandparents’ love affair with the car is outdated. We don’t want to spend all our money buying and maintaining a car. We don’t want the guilt of contributing to air pollution and energy consumption. We don’t want to worry about having a designated driver. And we definitely don’t want to grow old waiting in traffic.

Look at the cities that are attracting young, brilliant minds: New York, San Francisco, Chicago. None require owning a car. With such limited parking requirements, the hip neighborhoods of these cities are typified by brownstones and compact apartment buildings. The results of such density are quiet streets with gardens, cafes and cyclists riding past. Meanwhile, the street views of Brickell and downtown are dominated by faceless parking garages immersed in a sea of angry drivers. Who would pay extra for that?

Pretty forceful argument that, I think, reflects the sea change going on in some cities, parts of L.A. included. I think the real public policy question here is whether building parking lots/garages near transit stops is a good use of space or not — given that most planners agree that the best place to bump up density is near transit.

As trains move oil bonanza, delays increase for passengers and other goods (New York Times) 

Amazing stat: in 2008 there were 8,500 rail cars that rolled through America carrying crude oil. That number was 415,000 in 2013, the reason that delays have increased substantially on some Amtrak long-distance lines. Excerpt:

On the long-distance routes, aging tracks and a shortage of train cars, locomotives and crews have also caused delays, rail officials said. In addition, an improving economy has meant more goods shipped by rail over all. Rail accounts for 40 percent of all goods moved in the country as measured in ton-miles, derived by multiplying a cargo’s weight by the distance shipped. Trucks are second at 28 percent. [snip]

The problems are only expected to get worse. American coal exports to countries like China, which are picking up as domestic demand falls, will also compete for space on trains, as new coal export terminals are planned at several ports in the Pacific Northwest. (Increased Asian demand for coal reached record levels in 2012 and continues to be high.) In the United States, a record harvest of corn, soybeans and wheat is expected this year, adding to the stress on the nation’s rail network.

“It’s like having a fire hydrant hooked up to a garden hose,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soybean Transportation Coalition in Iowa.

In other words, the country is using a lot of fossil fuels to move around a lot more fossil fuels as the oil boom continues in places such as North Dakota, Montana and the tar sands fields in Alberta in Canada. If there’s a plus side, our reliance on foreign oil has decreased since 2005 according the the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

petro_other_liquids_line

According to the latest statistics (from 2012), the U.S. imports about 40 percent of the petroleum products and crude oil that it consumes. Click here for more stats from the EIA. Those looking to reduce their own oil needs do have options: even if you can’t or don’t want to buy a more fuel-efficient car, you can walk, bike and take transit (even occasionally) to reduce your oil needs. And if you’re from the East Coast and such, the fact that you live here now means your heating needs are probably drastically reduced.

More headlines and commentary after the jump! 

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Look awesome in a Metro Beanie when the cold weather finally gets here

It’s still fairly mild out, but temperatures will really dip any day now…and when they do, you’ll want a Metro Beanie so you can look good while keeping your head warm.

Beanie_Large

The Metro Beanie is available now at the online Metro Store for $9.65.

Sneak peek into fabrication process for artwork at future Palms Station

Artist Shizu Saldamando in her studio, with one of her original artworks in the background.

Artist Shizu Saldamando in her studio, with one of her original artworks in the background.

This is the second in a series of Source posts providing a behind-the-scenes look at the artwork  fabrication process for each of the seven new Metro Rail stations under construction along the second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica.

The artworks will create a welcoming environment for future riders and connect the stations to surrounding neighborhoods. Commissioned artists include Constance Mallinson, Shizu Saldamando, Abel Alejandre, Susan Logoreci, Nzuji de Magalhães, Carmen Argote, and Judithe Hernandez.

This post introduces the artwork of Los Angeles-based artist Shizu Saldamando, which will be featured at Palms Station. Saldamando’s original artwork, Artist Educators, uses wood, graphite pencil and Japanese washi paper. It consists of 10 large scale overhead panels and was translated in a variety of mediums, including ceramic tiles that are fired in a kiln using different techniques. The 10 panels will be located in overhead structures at Palms Station entries and throughout the platform, highly visible to transit customers and the general public.

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