Transportation headlines, Tuesday, October 7

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 TRANSPO: Yeah, I'm really into black-and-white lately. Pony kegs are unique to Cincy as far as I know--small corner markets that sell, well, you know. I shot this one last night during my ongoing sojourn to the Queen City (it's a help-the-parents thing). Photo by Steve Hymon.

ART OF TRANSPO: Yeah, I’m really into black-and-white lately. Pony kegs are unique to Cincy as far as I know–small corner markets that sell, well, you know. I shot this one last night during my ongoing sojourn to the Queen City (it’s a help-the-parents thing). Photo by Steve Hymon.

Request to the baseball Gods: a true blue Royals-Dodgers World Series please, following a Giants-Dodgers NLCS. I think the last time that the Dodgers-Giants met in the post-season was 1951…

Sure looks like Thomson may have missed third base to me. If you have a DeLorean, please check that out. Whatever happens this season, the Dodger Stadium Express is prepared to roll for Game Five of the Division Series on Thursday, the NLCS and the Fall Classic.

Metro to aid businesses chocked by construction (Intersection South L.A.)

Coverage of the Metro Board of Director’s vote last week to create a $10-million pilot “business interruption fund” program to reimburse small businesses harmed by construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Regional Connector and/or the first phase of the Purple Line Extension. Excerpt:

The pilot program will fund up to 60 percent of potential business revenue loss, as long as the businesses can document to Metro that construction is causing the loss. Since businesses are already suffering from the construction, many board members were ready to help out.

“It certainly is a way to add the most public good and create the least private harm,” said Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, a Metro board member. “Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from a business owner or a non-profit on the Crenshaw/LAX line about the impact that our work is having on them currently.”

Complaints have included blocked parking, accessibility and signage.

 

CicLAvia No. 10: huge, wonderful, happy, but no longer newsworthy? (Streetsblog LA)

Joe Linton looks at the lack of press coverage for Sunday’s “Heart of L.A.” CicLAvia (Metro was an event sponsor) and notes that advance coverage tends to run along the lines of “beware of closed streets!” As far as I can tell, the non-media crowd seems to love the events and treats occasional road closures as something routine and not something potentially catastrophic :)

There’s a brand new vocabulary being heard on the streets, NYC planning rock star says (UCLA news release) 

Former Gotham transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan (an Occidental grad, btw) gave a talk to a packed auditorium at UCLA the other night. She’s best known for turning parts of Broadway in New York into pedestrian plazas, greatly expanding bike lanes across the city (including protected bike lanes) and installing more BRT lanes. Excerpt:

Sadik-Khan concluded the lecture with a word of caution and advice. Recounting the ways the media reported negatively on the changes she implemented in New York City, she explained that, “when you push the status quo, it can push back.” She added: “We are simply not going to create healthier, safer, more sustainable cities with the strategies that we followed up till now, that ignore all the other ways that a street is used.”

Her recommendation to the diverse audience of planners, academics, citizens and those who work daily in city government on these problems was this: “All sorts of new options are taking hold and planners need to adapt to these new changes and understand the way people want to get around. And we’re really just starting to glimpse what this shared economy means for transportation and cities.”

I saw her speak in L.A. a couple of years ago and thought she lived up to the hype. Here’s my write-up of that talk. Obviously, I’m a fan of hers and think it would be great to have someone like her permanently working in our region — she has the rare combination of clout, political and oratory skills to get things done.

High-speed rail line takes first step toward buying trains (Sacramento Business Journal) 

It’s a very preliminary step — asking rail car manufacturers to submit letters of interest. The California High-Speed Rail Authority will eventually ask for formal bids. Whether the cars are eventually ordered likely depends on how much of the line the agency is able to fund and build.

With no new rail tunnel on the horizon, a looming transportation crisis in New York (The Transport Politic) 

Good post by Yonah Freemark on the brewing controversy in New York. Amtrak says its two rail tunnels under the Hudson were damaged by Hurricane Sandy and need to eventually be repaired. Problem is, shutting down one tunnel at a time for repairs would greatly curtail the number of Amtrak trains into and out of Manhattan — the busiest Amtrak hub. One solution is a new set of tunnels, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie canceled that project in 2010 citing cost concerns.

Excerpt:

But the cost of losing the rail link under the Hudson may be larger. Amtrak’s leadership of this project is an acknowledgement of the national importance of this line (is it the nation’s most important transit project?), as it is the essential rail link not only between New York City and points south, but also between all of New England, Long Island, and much of Upstate New York with points south — totaling almost 10 percent of the U.S. population. The next rail connection over the Hudson is more than 140 miles north, just south of Albany. It is also the connection that makes it possible for hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans to work in Manhattan.

Trying to think of something analogous to our region. Perhaps it’s this: imagine what would happen if two of the following — the 10, 60 or 210 — had to be entirely closed for a year?

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, November 4

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ART OF TRANSIT: An Expo Line train with a new paint job at the Exposition Park/USC station. 

Could NYC’s ‘wacko-nutso’ Janette Sadik-Khan be right for L.A.? (L.A. Times) 

Interesting opinion piece by Times staffer Robert Greene. Sadik-Khan is Mayor Bloomberg’s transportation commissioner who has compiled a long list of accomplishments by narrowing streets in the Big Apple, building miles of bike lanes (some protected even) and pushing for more public transit. That has also earned her enemies: the “wacko-nutso’ label comes from the New York Post’s gossip writer Cindy Adams.

As it happens, Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure in New York is about to end (his replacement will be elected tomorrow) and it’s questionable whether the next chief of Gotham will want to keep her around. As it also happens, the city of Los Angeles has a vacancy for general manager for its Department of Transportation. And there’s this: Sadik-Khan went to Occidental, while Mayor Garcetti has taught there.

Here’s a Source post from earlier this year on a talk Sadik-Khan gave while in town. And below is a TED Talks appearance by her:

If she leaves NYC, her timing is good: Looks like Chicago is also looking for a chief for its transportation department, Streetsblog reports.

Winnetka residents say lack of toilets along Orange Line a problem (Daily News) 

Some residents complain that an alley near the Pierce College stop has turned into an impromptu restroom. The Community College District says the problem belongs to Metro. Metro says the problem is on college-owned land and that Metro has only installed restrooms (as do most transit agencies) at major hubs, i.e. Union Station.

FigAt7th plans to open new stores next year (Brigham Yen) 

It’s about time; the quasi-underground mall has been getting a makeover for some time and it now appears that boarded up windows will become actual stores by mid-2014. I think there’s a Loteria in the works; they have tasty tacos, me thinks. The mall is across the street from the busy 7th/Metro Center that serves the Red Line, Purple Line, Blue Line and Expo Line.

Rail to Redlands project update shows increased costs (San Bernardino Sun) 

The San Bernardino Association of Governments wants to extend the San Bernardino Metrolink line east to Redlands, adding three additional stations. A previous cost estimate was $156 million; the revised one is that such a project would cost $200 million to $300 million. The hope is that a rail extension could also link up with a bus rapid transit project that would run from Redlands to downtown San Bernardino to Loma Linda.

 

 

New York City’s transportation boss offers a few lessons on making the big changes actually happen

Janette Sadik-Khan at last night's event. Photo by Juan Matute/UCLA.

Janette Sadik-Khan at last night’s event talking about closing parts of Times Square to traffic in favor of pedestrian plazas. Photo by Juan Matute/UCLA.

I had the good fortune of attending a forum last night with Janette Sadik-Khan, the innovative Transportation Commissioner for New York City. She was the featured speaker at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs Complete Streets Initiative, an effort to make local streets more user-friendly for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and motorists.

New York has taken a number of bold steps since Sadik-Khan began working for Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2007: building new public plazas in places that were once streets (including parts of Times Square), creating new bus rapid transit lines with the New York MTA, adding 300 miles of bike lanes and implementing traffic calming measures to reduce fatalities and injuries caused by motor vehicles in New York City’s five boroughs. The New York MTA is also building a new subway line and extending another.

In other words, New York City made a lot of significant changes quickly, not letting distractors or controversy get in the way even when things didn’t break their way (such as a plan to implement congestion pricing in Manhattan). I think most of what she discussed is highly relevant here, given that some big changes are underway in L.A. County courtesy of Metro’s Measure R program along with many other local initiatives and projects that are either being discussed, studied or implemented across the county.

I few things I heard that I really liked:

•”Just remember the headlines don’t always translate into the opinions of actual people,” said Sadik-Khan. Couldn’t agree more. It’s difficult in some media reports to gauge the degree of opposition or support for a particular projects and many media outlets either don’t offer the context or disclosed they rely on the same people for years for quotes.

•”Safety and sustainability go hand in hand,” she said. “You won’t get more people walking or biking if they don’t feel safe.” Several cities in L.A. County are quickly putting in new bikes but I haven’t seen a lot of data about which are being used and which are not — and why not. For example, there are new bike lanes directly next to three lanes of freeway-like traffic on Huntington Boulevard in El Sereno. It’s great to have the lanes, but I have seen very few people actually using them and non-productive lanes could harm the overall program. 

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Dec. 7

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

The future of transit: it’s frequency (Halifax Magazine)

Reporter Tom Mason looks at transit around Halifax, a city that has sprawled into suburbs in recent times. Relying heavily on an interview with transit planner and writer Jarrett Walker, the article concludes that simplifying the bus system and concentrating on frequent service on fewer lines would probably make transit a more reliable option for many more people. Good article.

Gingrich on climate — the 2007 version (New York Times Dot Earth blog)

Former House speaker and Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has a long record of talking about climate change — and many criticize his shifting positions from supporting a bill to clamp down on greenhouse gases (1989) to saying he’s not sure global warming is occurring (2011). The Dot Earth blog has a video interview from 2007 in which Gingrich talks about global warming and the environment in a nuanced way, something missing from presidential campaigns these days.

LaHood defends high-speed rail program (D.C. Streetsblog)

Interesting back-and-forth between U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and fellow Republicans on the House’s Transportation Committee. The gist of it is that LaHood says that many states want high-speed rail while House Republicans say it’s not really all that high-speed, it’s too expensive and should be confined to the Northeast Corridor of the U.S., where there is demand. I would call the pseudo-debate a draw.

Untangling New York City traffic (MSNBC)

A good and short video segment on Janette Sadik-Khan, the well-known transportation chief in New York City who hasn’t been shy about giving preference to pedestrians and cyclists in parts of the Big Apple. And not without some controversy. Of course, to watch the video I first had to sit through a 15-second ad for Chevrolet.