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.