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For those who didn’t go to the Paul McCartney show on Hollywood Boulevard last night or watch it on Jimmy Kimmel. Glad to hear some Wings made it into the set! Justin Timberlake gets his turn tonight. For those headed to the show, use the Red Line’s Hollywood/Highland station.
Blue Line earns deadly reputation for suicides (L.A. Times)
After rash of suicides, MTA asks public for help (Daily News)
With suicide by train up, LA appeals for help (Associated Press)
There was lots of coverage by print and electronic media of Metro’s press event Monday about Metro’s attempts to reduce suicides along the Blue Line. Thirty one of the 120 deaths along the Blue Line since 1990 have been suicides, including seven in the past 15 months. Meanwhile, the rate of accidents along the Blue Line has fallen.
From the Times’ story:
Metro has begun to ask the public to help prevent suicides, a rare move for transit organizations, which typically avoid the issue for fear of prompting copycat suicides. The agency has invested millions of dollars in gates intended to keep back cars and pedestrians at busy rail crossings, and signs with a suicide prevention hotline number were recently posted in every station. Coming into certain stations, operators have reduced their speed from 45 mph to 25 mph.
Accidental deaths have decreased this year, which officials say is a sign that the improvements have helped. But stopping people who want to kill themselves is more complicated.
Experts say that it’s too soon to judge whether Blue Line suicides are more than a statistical fluke. Nationally, subway and light-rail suicides peaked in 2011, when 74 people killed themselves, according to federal data. That declined to 55 people in 2012, five of them in Los Angeles.
But the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health said that although the most recent data on local suicides aren’t yet available, anecdotal evidence suggests the Blue Line matches a rising suicide rate countywide.
Psychologists say that the Blue Line’s suicides could be linked to the economy. The working-class area surrounding much of the Blue Line has seen high unemployment and mass home foreclosures.
“The economy has had an impact,” Department of Mental Health psychologist James Cunningham said, “and the fact that it’s starting to turn around doesn’t necessarily mean it’s reached a lot of folks.”
It’s a very tough situation. I think it’s good that Metro chose to talk publicly and frankly about it on Monday. But I’m afraid there are no easy answers on this one.
Dallas commuters can now download their transit tickets on their phones (Wired)
From the story:
Passes purchased on a smartphone can be saved into a “digital wallet” for up to 60 days. Color coding shows how close the pass is to expiration. Soon, those with corporate and student passes will be able to add them to the app, and riders will also be able to purchase special tickets that include admission to events and museums.
Like TriMet in Portland, DART relies on bus conductors and fare inspectors to enforce payment, rather than turnstiles and gates. That makes smartphone payment a lot easier to implement than with automated fare collection. Once a pass is activated on the GoPass app, it displays a countdown timer showing how much time is left on the fare. Riders and fare inspectors alike can instantly know whether a ticket is valid.
Portland’s regional transit agency also just added an app that allows passengers to buy tickets on their smartphones. Portland, like Dallas, relies on fare inspectors to ensure passengers have purchased tickets.
Study proposes implementing per-mile tolls on U.S. interstate system (Better Roads)
Missed this one last week but worth mentioning: the Reason Foundation has proposed a toll of 3.5 cents per mile for cars and 14 cents per mile for trucks as part of their proposal to better fund and maintain the nation’s 25,000 mile interstate (i.e. freeway) system. The toll would be used instead of the current gas tax, which many people say is unsustainable because of increasing fuel efficiency and Congress’ using the funds for other purposes (such as transit).
The Reason Foundation’s proposal is rooted in some libertarian principals — namely the heaviest users of the interstates would pay the most and the money would only go for interstate upkeep and projects. Tolls would be collected electronically via transponders.
If I’m doing the math right, a drive from L.A. to San Francisco on the interstate would cost about $13. The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents a gallon, meaning a vehicle that gets 25 mpg only pays $2.65 or so in gas taxes.
Understanding the anti-gridlock zone (LADOT)
I think that neatly explains it!