Just in time for Century Crunch: new FlyAway service between Santa Monica and LAX

Prep work for Century Crunch weekend. Photo: Jose Ubaldo/Metro

Prep work for Century Crunch weekend. Photo: Jose Ubaldo/Metro

Century Boulevard, one of the main access roads to the airport, will be closed to traffic at the Aviation Boulevard intersection beginning 9 p.m. Friday, July 25, through 6 a.m. Monday, July 28 for the demolition of Century Boulevard Bridge. The old railroad bridge needs to be demolished to allow for the future construction of a new Century/Aviation light rail station.

Plan ahead to avoid traffic congestion in the LAX area during the closure. One transit option is to take FlyAway, which will be operating new bus service between Santa Monica and LAX starting tomorrow, Tuesday, July 15. The FlyAway bus stop will be located in front of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1875 Main Street, just north of Pico Boulevard. Bus service will operate hourly from 5:45 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. daily and one-way fare is $8.

Keep reading for the press release from Los Angeles World Airports:

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Countdown clocks now available for Century Crunch July 25-28

LOS ANGELES (July 11, 2014): In efforts to help individuals, businesses, agencies and other organizations count down to the planned closure of the Century/Aviation intersection at a key entrance to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) the weekend of July 25-28, 2014, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has created an official online clock and banner ads that are freely available for public use at metro.net.

The “Century/Aviation Intersection Closed: Plan Ahead to Avoid delays” clock counts down the number of days, hours, and minutes before the planned demolition of the old railroad bridge for 57-hours beginning 9 p.m. Friday, July 25 until 6 a.m. Monday, July 28. An old railroad bridge needs to be demolished to allow for the future construction of a new Century/Aviation light rail station.

Demolition will close a portion of Century Boulevard, a major artery leading into LAX during one of the busiest travel times of the year. It also will restrict traffic on Aviation Boulevard. An estimated 92,800 motorists travel through that intersection on a daily basis.

A selection of countdown clocks and banner ads in various sizes and options are available to help raise public awareness of the operation and resulting closures.  To obtain the Countdown clock and banner ads, visit http://www.metro.net/projects/crenshaw_corridor/webmasters-spread-word-crenshawlax/.

For more information on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, the Century bridge demolition, related street closures and recommended detours go to metro.net/Crenshaw.  Join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CrenshawRail and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/crenshawrail.

Follow LAX on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LAInternationalAirport, Twitter at www.twitter.com/flyLAXairport and www.LAXisHappening.com for airport construction and traffic-related impacts.

The detour map:

map_proj_crenslax_detour_final

About Metro

Metro is a transportation agency that is really three companies in one: a major operator that transports about 1.5 million boarding passengers on an average weekday on a fleet of 2,000 clean air buses and six rail lines; a major construction agency that oversees many bus, rail, highway and other mobility related building projects, and; the lead transportation planning agency for Los Angeles County. Overseeing one of the largest public works programs in America, Metro is, literally, changing the urban landscape of the Los Angeles region. Dozens of transit, highway and other mobility projects largely funded by Measure R are under construction or in the planning stages. These include five new rail lines, the I-5 widening and other major projects.

Stay informed by following Metro on The Source and El Pasajero at metro.net, facebook.com/losangelesmetro, twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.

Transportation headlines, Friday, July 11

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: A Metro local bus in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro local bus in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Guest editorial: don’t destroy the Orange Line, improve it (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Annie Weinstock and Stephanie Lotshaw argue that there is no need to convert the Orange Line to light rail. A state bill was signed into law earlier this week that rescinded the ban on light rail in the corridor. As we have posted before, converting the Orange Line to light rail is not in Metro’s long-range plans nor has the agency studied the issue.

Excerpt:

First, simply increasing bus frequency would be an obvious improvement. While there have been concerns that increasing frequency will cause bunching at intersections, this appears to be due to a signal timing issue which favors cross street traffic over public transportation on the Orange Line corridor. Timing traffic signals to favor automobiles shows an outdated mode of thinking. It would take some political will on the part of the city to change the signal timings, but it is a simple solution, far cheaper and faster than upgrading to light railwhich would still be faced with signal timing problems.

Then, by raising the boarding platforms at stations to the level of the bus floor, buses could complete the boarding process more quickly, further increasing capacity by allowing more buses to pull into the station more quickly. The system could also phase in more passing lanes at stations, allowing for a quadrupling of capacity and a mix of service types.

In addition, changing the intersection regulations, which currently require buses to slow to 10mph from 25, would increase overall speeds along the corridor. The reduction in speeds was initially implemented because of several accidents which occurred at the start of operations in 2005. But most systems experience problems in the early years, particularly where new signals have been introduced. Now, after almost 10 years of BRT operations as well as extensive signage and education done by Metro, these restrictions are obsolete and only make the system less convenient for passengers.

This is just an excerpt — please read the entire editorial for discussion of other salient points about bus rapid transit in the U.S. and the Orange Line. As for the issue of signal timing, the traffic lights are controlled by the city of Los Angeles.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti supports Gold Line Whittier route, Azusa-to-Claremont extension (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

(UPDATE, JULY 17: Mayor Garcetti told the Metro Board’s Executive Management Committee that the Tribune article was in error and that he did not say which potential alignment he supported at the meeting — and that a tape of the meeting shows that he did not state a preference).

At a transportation forum with San Gabriel Valley and San Bernardino County officials, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that he supports the Gold Line being extended to Whittier and that he would like to see it extended to both Whittier and South El Monte if funding can be found to build both. Metro will soon release the draft environmental study for the project; one alternative extends light rail to Whittier, another to South El Monte. Cities along both routes support the project.

Important note: an extension of the Eastside Gold Line is a project to be funded by Measure R and under the current schedule would be completed in 2035 unless funds are found to accelerate the project.

Garcetti also reiterated that he would like to see the Gold Line Foothill Extension built from Azusa to Montclair (something he said earlier this year) and would like to help find funding for the project whether or not it’s added to Metro’s short-range plan. The Pasadena-to-Azusa segment is under construction (it’s a Measure R-funded project) and scheduled for an early 2016 opening. Funding would need to be found for the Azusa-Montclair segment.

The greater context here is that Metro has been discussing a possible sales tax ballot measure in 2016 that could possibly be used to accelerate current projects or fund new ones. The Metro Board of Directors has not made any decision yet whether to take anything to Los Angeles County voters. But the agency is seeking feedback from cities in the county on what type of projects they would like to see funded. If — and it’s still a big ‘if’ –the agency seeks a ballot measure, the big decision to be made is whether the ballot measure would extend the current Measure R sales tax (which expires in mid-2039) or whether it would add an additional half-cent sales tax.

Work on big Pershing Square mixed-user to begin in mid-2015 (Curbed LA) 

The 600-unit residential building with commercial space would occupy the parking lots on the north side of Pershing Square and help densify a section of downtown L.A. that should be dense. The site, of course, sits adjacent to the Metro Red/Purple Line Pershing Square station and is a short train ride or walk to the 7th/Metro Center station that will eventually host trains headed to Long Beach, Santa Monica, Azusa and East Los Angeles.

Times intern recounts traffic challenges on way to Dodger Stadium (L.A. Times) 

It took Everett Cook 90 minutes to travel the two miles from the Times (at 2nd/Spring) to Dodger Stadium on Thursday thanks to traffic en route. “For what it’s worth, the vast majority of the traffic police and Dodgers employees were as helpful as can be. There might not even be a solution to this — too many cars in too small a stretch will be a problem anywhere,” he writes.

As I’ve written many times before, ballpark traffic is the price everyone pays for the decision in the 1950s to build the stadium atop a hill and away from the city grid — and the transit that goes with it. No one wants to move the ballpark into downtown, so it’s likely that traffic will remain an issue. The Dodger Stadium Express provides bus service between Union Station and the stadium is an alternative to driving. It’s free for those holding game tickets.

ART OF TRANSIT 2: There are many reasons why a train may go out of service, including the planet being taken over by apes. Credit: 20th Century Fox.

ART OF TRANSIT 2: There are many reasons why a train may go out of service, including the planet being taken over by apes. Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Go Metro Weekends, July 11 − 13

Friday

Join Dance Downtown from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. this Friday and be the star of your very own Bollywood routine! Enjoy a short dance lesson followed by spirited dancing and live DJing throughout the night. The evening is free and no experience is required. (Metro Red/Purple Line to Civic Center/Grand Park Station or various Metro Rapid and Local buses serving Grand Avenue, Hill, Temple, or 1st Streets).

The Natural History Museum is hosting Summer Nights in the Garden this Friday from 5 p.m. to  9 p.m. The event is free with reservations and features guided tours of the botanical garden, music, performances, botanical inspired drinks, food trucks, and a tutorial on pickling by food writer/cooking instructor Emily Ho. (Metro Expo Line to Expo Park/USC Station, Metro Silver Line to Harbor Transitway/37th or Metro bus 81 or 550 to Figueroa/Exposition).

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai screens for free this Friday at the Inglewood Public Library as a part of a summer movie series co-organized by LACMA and the Inglewood Art + Film Lab. Take Metro bus 115 to Manchster/Grevillea to catch this genre-bending thriller starring Forest Whitaker.

Saturday

Take the Metro Gold Line to the Colorado Street Bridge Party — a celebration of Pasadena’s most iconic span hosted on the bridge itself! Dance, eat, take in the views and receive a free artist’s poster with valid TAP. We’ve got the details here.

If you’re going to the LA Garagiste Festival at Union Station — and are planning on making the most of it — Metro is a great option! The Gold, Red/Purple, and Silver Lines can get you there and back, not to mention the plethora of Rapid and Local buses serving Patsaouras Plaza.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds rock the Theatre at Ace Hotel with Warpaint at 8 p.m. this Saturday. Ticket prices vary. (Metro Blue Line to Pico Station or Metro Red/Purple Line to Pershing Square or 7th/Metro and walk to Broadway/9th).

Sunday

Sundays mean free salsa dancing at Pershing Square this summer! If you missed the Bollywood fun on Friday, this is one more chance to get your groove on before the weekend’s through. Salsa Caliente provides the soundtrack from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Metro Red/Purple Line to Pershing Square or various Rapid and Local buses serving Pershing Square).

All Weekend

Romantics and lovers of musicals take note: It’s the last weekend to catch Ghost The Musical at the Pantages. Go Metro and receive 45 percent on select seats with valid TAP card. Show times are Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and; Sunday 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Ticket prices vary. Don’t forget the tissues. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland Station or Rapid 780 or bus 180/181, 212/312, 217, or 222 to Argyle/Hollywood).

Because Ghost only made you misty-eyed, this Thursday through Sunday, the National Ballet of Canada presents a brand new vision of Romeo and Juliet at the LA Music Center. Ticket prices vary, but Metro riders save 20 percent on select seats and performances with a valid TAP card.

Exciting new video: work on joining Expo Line Phase 1 to Expo Line Phase 2

It may not quite be the Golden Spike, but it’s still a nice sign of progress: above is a short video taken this week from the Culver City Station platform showing welding work where tracks from the existing Expo Line meet tracks from the second phase of the Expo Line. There is a lot more to be done to truly join the two projects — work is expected to be completed late this year — but it’s still exciting to see the present meet the future.

Below are a couple of nice photos in West L.A. of the Expo Line alignment taken by Darrell Clarke (who founded Friends4Expo and currently advocates for transit on behalf of the Sierra Club) from the top of the parking garage for Bed, Bath & Beyond in West L.A. The top photo is looking west toward the Bundy Station and the bottom photo is looking east toward the Expo Line bridge over Pico Boulevard and the undercrossing of the 405 freeway.

bundy-8572-960 pico-8578-960

The second phase of the Expo Line will extend the tracks for six miles from Culver City to downtown Santa Monica with seven new stations. The Measure R-funded project is currently scheduled to open in early 2016.

Many more construction photos can be found on Expo Line Fan’s photo page.

And speaking of photos, an important public service announcement: Metro is very happy folks are excited about the many transportation projects under construction around Los Angeles County. And we’re happy that people want to take photographs. Our one request: please, please, please take those photos from vantage points outside the construction work zone. We don’t want anyone to get hurt and we don’t want to expose contractors and/or Metro to unnecessary litigation that will ultimately cost taxpayers. Work zones are covered by all sorts of laws and rules to keep workers safe. We really appreciate everyone’s cooperation especially with an unprecedented four Metro Rail projects currently under construction and a fifth on its way. Thank you!

 

Transportation headlines, Thursday, July 10

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: Nice colors in DTLA. As for the movie ad, I know who I'm rooting for. #ApesTogetherStrong

ART OF TRANSIT: Nice colors in DTLA. As for the movie ad, I know who I’m rooting for. #ApesTogetherStrong

Dueling highway funding plans moving ahead in Congress (Bloomberg) 

Both the House and Senate plans would shore up the Highway Trust Fund through next May; the Senate plan includes some changes to the tax code that could generate revenue for the plan. It doesn’t appear that any kind of long-term plan is on the horizon and House Speaker Rep. John Boehner said as much today. In other words, we can probably look forward to more “woe the withering Highway Trust Fund” stories next spring. Bon appetit!

More here on why the Highway Trust Fund is important to Metro and other transit agencies.

Voices of public transit systems (Not Of It) 

Nice post revealing the voices being train, station and public service announcements at some large transit systems and airports in the U.S. The post includes video snippets from various media about the voices.

And what about the voice you hear on Metro trains and buses? Stephen Tu, in Metro operations, answers:

The announcements are pre-recorded and automated based on vehicle progress. Back in 2004, as the article notes, there was a hodgepodge of automated and manual announcements, are some of our trains had the capability and others did not.

It mentions the Gold and Green Lines in 2004 and that is because those were the newest (at the time) Siemens P2000 vehicles. We did not have the Breda P2550’s (Gold Line stainless steel cars) until 2009. The old Nippon Sharyo (Blue Line) and Breda A650 (Red Line) were from the early 1990s and never had automated announcements, until Rail Fleet Services engineered an in-house automated system that queues announcements by distance.

There is literally a sensor that detects wheel revolutions to determine when to play “Next Stop” and “Now Arriving” station announcements. They are all now standardized with the same voice from a professional studio we send the script to. It’s the same voice you hear when you’re placed on hold on the Metro telephone network or PSA announcements in stations. However, this voice is not used on bus announcements — there is a different person for that.

However as you can see, while the voice is now standardized, each announcement package is slightly different because of the limitations/nuances each vehicle has.  For example, P2000 can only make an eight second announcement. So we have to be very quick in calling out stations and transfer connections, whereas we have much more time on our in-house system. The P2550s can only make a “Now Arriving” station announcement when the doors actually open at the station, which means we have replaced it with “This is… (South Pasadena Station)” because you are already there.

LACMA, Metro discussing new tower across from LACMA (L.A. Times) 

LACMA is exploring building a new high-rise adjacent to the Purple Line Extension’s future station entrance at Wilshire and Orange Grove. It might include galleries, condos and a hotel, according to museum officials. In a statement, Metro’s chief planner Martha Welborne said: “We are continuing to negotiate with the individual property owners to acquire or lease property needed for the Fairfax subway station, and we are also exploring, with the property owners, the possibility of a large mixed-use project above the station.”

Excerpt:

[LACMA Director Michael] Govan declined to say how tall the tower might be, admitting that any talk of high-rise development in the area might worry nearby residents who are already girding themselves for a decade of construction as the subway is extended west along Wilshire and LACMA builds the 410,000-square-foot Zumthor building.

The question of height, he said, “is where you get neighbors all charged up. So I don’t go out there and say I want the biggest, tallest skyscraper. But we know that density is the key to urban living and to the maximization of mass transit — and key to the environment. And so for all the right reasons, this is the right place” for a high-rise.

Big Blue Bus fixing the fancy stops that riders hated (Curbed LA)

The headline may be a little strong, but it looks like Big Blue Bus may be adjusting the new stop designs it recently rolled out to provide more comfortable seats and more shade at some stops. Curbed has renderings and photos. I was in SaMo over the weekend and it struck me that the shade shields (for lack of better term) would work best if either the sun, Earth or both stopped moving.

The California High-Speed Rail debate: kicking things off (The Atlantic) 

This is the first in a series of posts by James Fallow in which he will argue that California should — and needs to — build the bullet train as planned to secure a better economic future. In this post, Fallows takes a look at some historic infrastructure upgrades that he thinks proved to be good investments, including the Panama Canal, the transcontinental railroad, the interstate highway system and the U.S. aviation system.

I think there are a lot of people, including me, who agree the bullet train can do great things for the state. The skepticism tends to come from those (including me) who are troubled by the lack of a dedicated funding source that can cover the expense of what is currently estimated to be a $68-billion project for the L.A.-to-S.F. leg.

Transportation projects don’t need to take as long as they do (Atlantic CityLab) 

The post asks a perfectly good question but doesn’t really provide an answer about ways to speed up the really big transpo projects (the post includes some persuasive arguments about dealing with smaller but important projects such as bus routing).

As I tell folks often, one issue with big transit projects is the long ramp up time. It usually takes three to five years to complete the necessary environmental studies and another year in procurement to vet and select contractor. Construction, too, often has to be staggered for both logistical, safety and practical reasons, not to mention financial ones — for example, federal funds for construction are granted on a yearly basis and don’t all flow to agencies such as Metro at the beginning of construction.

Reflections on Union Station: an essay by D. J. Waldie

waldie_ceiling
On the occasion of Union Station’s 75th anniversary, Metro created a special commemorative publication, Union Station: 75 Years in the Heart of LA, featuring eight written and five photographic essays that celebrate the station by authors John C. Arroyo, William D. Estrada, Stephen Fried, Rafer Guzman, David Kipen, Marisela Norte, D. J. Waldie, and Alissa Walker. The book is on sale now at the online Metro Store. All essays are posted on The Source. The series was edited by Linda Theung, an editor and writer based in Los Angeles.

Union Station: Time and Again
by D. J. Waldie

If it’s possible for a place to have memories of its own, then Union Station in Los Angeles is such a place. It’s also the hub of Metro’s regional transit system and a railroad terminal—people hustle through Union Station for those reasons—but the patient sojourner who sits in one of the throne-like chairs in the waiting room or steps into the adjacent patios inevitably slips out of the everyday and into the station’s own time.

Time was when a giant sycamore shaded native Tongva elders debating village disputes a few hundred feet from where the station’s tracks would be laid. The arrival of Spanish colonists from Sonora and Sinaloa in 1781 swept aside the elders and the village. The sycamore lived on—more than sixty feet high, spreading nearly two hundred feet—until it was felled in 1892.

Later still, the neighborhood that grew up around the sycamore was so culturally diverse that Chinese herbalists dealt from clapboard shops next to tenements occupied by exiled pacifist Russian Molokans and refugees from Mexico’s revolutions. The shops and the tenements were razed by 1936 for the building of Union Station.

Some of the Mexican refugees had already become vendors on Olvera Street. Some of the Chinese moved to New Chinatown not far away. By design, the builders of Union Station reframed the image of Los Angeles for tourists. Some of their first sights would be fantasies of exoticism.

To arrive at the station most travelers would have passed through the San Fernando Valley, quartered into orchards and ranches in the 1940s and subdivided into suburban house lots in the 1950s. As they neared the station, their train would have followed the trace of the Los Angeles River, an open wash in 1939, but by 1945, already a concrete-lined channel in the making.

Arriving passengers in those years would have stepped down from their Pullman car, walked the echoing tunnel beneath the tracks, and entered the station—a space both monumental and deferential, designed to impress and reassure. Outside, Los Angeles sprawled and brawled and offered the traveler the option, if he was willing to pay the price, to endlessly reinvent himself.

Inside, in the minute or two it took to walk beneath the painted ceilings and past the waves of colored tile on the walls, Union Station would have had just enough time to say to the new arrivals, “You’ve come to Los Angeles where brilliant light is dominant, but see how it’s tempered by this space, these fountains, and these flowering trees.” The travelers’ first experience of Los Angeles would have been that transformed brightness.

North Patio

North Patio

South Patio

South Patio

Commuters arriving at Union Station today aboard the Metro Red and Purple Lines or Metrolink and Amtrak trains pass through that same light, unchanged in seventy-five years. Marble blocks in the floor are grooved from the tread of vacationers, aspiring starlets, and the unremarked mass of those embracing or abandoning Los Angeles—and, if you cannot put yourself in their shoes, you can put yourself in the light they encountered. It puts you outside of ordinary time. It’s still the light of nowhere else but Union Station.

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