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!

Transportation headlines, Monday, February 3

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!

Super long waits for a train (New York Times)

There was a single New Jersey Transit commuter train line serving the Meadowlands and Super Bowl 48 on Sunday. It worked before the game when 28,000 train-going fans had all afternoon to get there. After the game? Well, there were lines and waits of two hours or more for some. I felt just a little bit sorry for the fans — having to sit through a boring second half after paying all that money, not to mention sitting through endless commercials and then a long wait for a train.

What would the lines be like if the Super Bowl was ever again played at the Coliseum or Rose Bowl? Hard to say. The Expo Line serves the Coliseum for USC football and the Gold Line serves a bus shuttle to the Rose Bowl. But I don’t think either has ever had to serve anywhere close to 28,000 football fans at one game. I think you would need as many trains as could safely run on either line (the Regional Connector will help with number of trains that could run) plus a lot of supplemental bus service. And patience.

As for the next NFL season, I think the 49ers will knock off the ‘Hawks and Saints in the NFC — if San Francisco can overcome its turnover woes in big games. The AFC is a muddier picture but I wouldn’t be shocked if it comes down to the Steelers, Patriots, Colts or Broncos if Denver can manage to protect Peyton Manning. The Bengals have a ton of talent but I could probably find a Nepalese goat herder who could better manage a game than their coaching staff.

Speaking of the NFL, here’s the L.A. Times’ Michael Hiltzik on the news that the owner of the St. Louis Rams has purchased a 60-acre site in Inglewood adjacent to the Forum Hollywood Park. The Rams will likely threaten to move there if St. Louis taxpayers don’t agree to spruce up the Edward Jones Dome to the tune of $700 million. Hiltzik says it’s an empty threat given the NFL’s recent history with L.A. — the league really just wants the threat of teams moving here in order to leverage new stadiums or stadium improvements back in cities already with teams.

In the extremely unlikely event the Rams move there, it looks like the stadium would be a 1.2-mile walk from the future Crenshaw/LAX Line station at La Brea & Florence.

When pedestrians get mixed signals (New York Times) 

Transportation writer Tom Vanderbilt writes about Los Angeles’ recent crackdown on jaywalkers in downtown. Excerpt:

Thus a familiar pattern reasserts itself: The best way to reduce pedestrian deaths is to issue tickets to pedestrians. A similar dynamic can be seen in recent weeks after a spate of pedestrian deaths in New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has endorsed more aggressive enforcement by the New York Police Department against jaywalkers.

Enforcement against jaywalking varies between states, but it is an infraction in most, even a misdemeanor in some. The international picture is mixed: Crossing the road at other than a designated spot is also an offense in Canada, Spain, Poland and Australia, among other countries. Singapore is especially harsh — jaywalking can earn a three-month prison sentence. As you might expect, Scandinavian countries are less punitive. In Britain, the term is rare, and the presumption is that crossing the road safely is a matter of personal responsibility.

But neither enforcement nor education has the effect we like to think it does on safety. Decades of graphic teenage driving safety films did not bring down teenage driving deaths; what did was limiting the age and conditions under which teenagers could begin to drive. Similarly, all the “awareness campaigns” on seatbelt usage have had a fraction of the impact of simply installing that annoying chime that impels drivers to buckle up.

If tough love will not make pedestrians safer, what will? The answer is: better walking infrastructure, slower car speeds and more pedestrians. But it’s easier to write off the problem as one of jaywalkers.

Well put, Tom.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times’ Steve Lopez writes about pedestrians versus the city of Los Angeles’ sidewalks, which has resulted in millions of dollars of legal settlements with people who have been injured in falls due to bad sidewalks in recent years. Excerpt:

A $3-billion bond measure city officials hope to put on the November ballot would pay only for street repairs as currently conceived, though it’s possible sidewalks could be added to the proposal. Either way, the measure, which would add about $200 a year to the property tax bill of a home assessed at $500,000, wouldn’t begin to fix all the city’s streets and sidewalks. Should we be doing more?

Downtown’s huge Metropolis project could start construction next month (Curbed LA)

The project includes five buildings on 6.3 acres, with the owner — the Shanghai-based Greenland Group — wanting to begin work on the first two buildings (19 stories and 38 stories, respectively). Works for me; downtown Los Angeles needs the density and its skyline, while nice, is still on the sparse side.

Below is a photo I took Friday afternoon at sunset. I was planning on taking it from the Los Angeles City Hall observation deck, except after arriving at City Hall I learned the deck is only open on weekdays until 5 p.m. (I shot it from Grand Park instead). That means that Angelenos can’t visit the deck to watch the sunset when sunset occurs after 5 p.m., which happens to be the vast majority of the year. Hmmm. And in case you’re thinking ‘someone should tell Tom LaBonge about this, I already did :)

Photo by Steve Hymon.

Photo by Steve Hymon.

Video of this morning’s groundbreaking event for the Crenshaw/LAX Line

And here is video of this morning’s groundbreaking for the Crenshaw/LAX Line.

There are nice comments about mobility — and the need for more of it — from U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Metro would like to extend a special thank you to Secretary Foxx and Senator Boxer for making the trip to Los Angeles on Tuesday and for their help — and they were both personally involved — in getting this project off the ground.

RELATED POSTS:

And so it begins: ground is broken for the 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line

Social media roundup for Crenshaw/LAX Line groundbreaking

And so it begins: ground is broken for 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line

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The groundbreaking of the Crenshaw/LAX Line was held Tuesday morning adjacent to the Expo Line’s Crenshaw station. Video is coming later today and we posted to our Twitter and Instagram feeds during the event; see this post for social media coverage of the event.

Here is Metro’s news release:

Construction began Tuesday morning on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, an 8.5-mile, $2.058-billion light-rail line that will run between the Metro Expo and Green lines and is expected to open in 2019. The project will also bring Metro Rail closer to Los Angeles International Airport.

The groundbreaking bought together top officials from federal, state and local government, including U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and California Senator Barbara Boxer.

One of the old Yellow Cars at Crenshaw & 54th in 1954. Photo by Alan Weeks via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

One of the old Yellow Cars at Crenshaw & 54th in 1954. Photo by Alan Weeks via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

The event was held at the intersection of Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards, where the first of the project’s three underground stations will be built. Demolition of some existing structures will be among the first work done, with heavy construction expected to begin this spring.

“Thousands of hard-working families and seniors living in Crenshaw depend on public transportation every day to get to work, to school, and to obtain medical care,” said Secretary Foxx.  “Bringing light rail to this community will create jobs, spur local economic development and make it easier than ever for residents to access downtown Los Angeles and beyond.”

The new Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project will be the first rail line to serve Crenshaw Boulevard and the city of Inglewood since the streetcars of the Los Angeles Rail Line (known as the “Yellow Cars”) stopped running in 1955. In some places, the new light rail line will use the old alignment for the streetcars.

“The Crenshaw Line is a top priority for me because it will provide a crucial transportation link, create over 18,000 jobs, help connect communities, reduce air pollution, and provide economic development and economic opportunities,” said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The new light-rail line will serve the Crenshaw Corridor, Inglewood, Westchester and the area around Los Angeles International Airport with eight stations, a maintenance facility and park-and-ride lots.

Continue reading

Art of Transit

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The intersection of La brea, Market and Hawthorne.

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La Brea and Arbor Vitae.

 

Photos by Gerald Hunter, via submission

Street work on La Brea in Inglewood in recent days has churned up the old streetcar tracks that once carried the Number 5 line of the Los Angeles Railway from Hawthorne to Eagle Rock. A portion of the route included the future Crenshaw/LAX Line alignment along Florence Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard.

Many thanks to Gerald for sending us the pics and related information!

RELATED POSTS: 

Two photos of Florence Avenue: a streetcar in 1955 and a bus this afternoon 

Then & Now: streetcars along the Crenshaw/LAX Line alignment in the 1950s and those places today

Inglewood Through the Eyes of Wakana Kimura

Detail of artwork design by Wakana Kimura. The work is part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series, which commissions local artists to create original artworks that express the uniqueness of Los Angeles County neighborhoods, as a way of encouraging people to take Metro to explore new destinations.

Detail of artwork design by Wakana Kimura. The work is part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series, which commissions local artists to create original artworks that express the uniqueness of Los Angeles County neighborhoods, as a way of encouraging people to take Metro to explore new destinations.

Four artists have designed new posters for the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists series highlighting Metro accessible destinations. One of the artists, Wakana Kimura, discusses her original artwork celebrating Inglewood and what she hopes to share with transit riders who see the poster on Metro buses and trains in the coming months.

Inglewood poster spotted on a Red Line train, part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series.

Inglewood poster spotted on a Red Line train, part of the Metro Through the Eyes of Artists poster series.

Now in its tenth year, the Through the Eyes of Artists poster series commissions local artists to create original artworks that express the uniqueness of Los Angeles County neighborhoods, as a way of encouraging people to take Metro to explore destinations served by the agency.

The four new posters will bring the series to a total of 29 neighborhoods featured. Explore Through the Eyes of Artists posters.

Wakana Kimura in her Inglewood studio.

Wakana Kimura in her Inglewood studio.

What is your connection with Inglewood and how did you choose this imagery to represent the city?  

I had my studio in Inglewood while I was a student at the nearby Otis College of Art and Design. For this project I wanted to translate the environment of Inglewood, the experience of the place. I felt a circular energy there and wanted to capture that.

You were inspired by the circle form as you approached your poster design. Can you elaborate on that?

Circles and dots permeate my work. After I was awarded the poster project I began my research and drove around the area.

One day last year I was visiting the Hollywood Park race track and parked so I could make some notes. I had just stopped by Randy’s Donuts—next door to my former studio—and was sitting in my car, donut in hand, when there was a solar eclipse! Earlier, from my vantage point underneath the LAX Airport flight path, it appeared that planes were flying through the big donut (Randy’s). The cycle of planes taking off and landing was itself a form of circle.

So the circle became a dominant motif in my design for the poster. Also, LAX was my entry point into LA so I wanted to include that imagery. When I see planes landing I wonder where they’re coming from. Maybe from Japan.

I wrote a poem about Inglewood as I was developing the concept and imagery for the poster:

Inglewood:  a myriad of activities. I see an excitement in the city. When I ordered a donut, it became my megaphone, amplifying variations of sound that reflected the oval racetrack, the flight path of the airplane above and transcended to the eclipse and then bounced back to me, my shadow and the oval shadow of the donut in my hand.

Tell me about your artistic practice more generally (materials, themes, ideas).

In my artwork my tools are ink, brush, pen, sharpie, my fingers, the edge of a piece of paper. I studied oil painting on canvas in Japan but now I prefer working on paper. With paper I have to take responsibility for every mark I make. Paper is less forgiving than other surfaces. But I view all marks as adding to the harmony of an artwork.

I desperately try to create beautiful objects. I try to draw something beautiful again and again every moment, but my sense of beauty is always changing. I try to craw something beautiful; however, I realize that it is impossible to make something permanently attractive. Every day I draw till I feel satisfied, but it looks totally different the day after. I learned my feelings and sense of value were not concrete and I myself cannot trust my own sense of beauty. I critique my sense of beauty in the moment. Thus, my pursuit of beauty and in the moment started, and this pursuit will keep me creating forever.

How do you feel about having your work seen in the public realm of transit?

I’ve never had a painting move around. I wanted to translate the energy of Inglewood onto paper and now the poster is literally moving around! It was important to include literal and abstract elements, and for the imagery to remain accessible to anyone looking at it. I see myself as an interpreter through color. Language isn’t stable anyway. Painting can express more than my words.

Construction 101: The path to a career in construction trades

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More than 100 community members interested in construction careers attended the “Construction 101” workshop put on by Metro, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and other community partners at Inglewood City Hall on Saturday, Jan. 29.

The workshops put eager residents on the career path by covering the basics and putting first things first. Interested participants learn how to find out about construction projects, where to apply, where to get training, how to get union certification and how to acquire the required level of skills.

The workshops also bring together resources for pre-apprenticeship, life skills and professional development.

“It’s a college prep for the construction trade,” said Metro’s Construction Careers outreach coordinator Miriam Scott Long. “I was grateful to hear from two young men attending the workshop who told me they were tired of street life and wanted to have a career.”

The Construction Carreers Policy (CCP) is part of the transportation agency’s Project Labor Agreement (PLA)

The nationwide program aims to encourage construction employment and training opportunities on Metro construction projects to those who reside in economically disadvantaged areas.

The City of Inglewood hosted the confab and the program’s mentors. They are: Metro, LAANE, Trade Union Apprenticeship Coordinators, Black Worker’s Center, 2nd Call, WINTER (Women in Non-Traditional Employment Roles), YouthBuild , Workforce Investment Board representatives, WE Build and Southeast LA Worksource Center.

The Inglewood workshop was fourth in an ongoing series on construction careers preparation. Similar workshops will be offered throughout Los Angeles County in the coming year.