Metro Motion wins Emmy at 66th Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards

Metro has won an Emmy for the Metro Motion Union Station 75th Anniversary TV show, which aired prior to the May 3 Union Station anniversary celebration. The show contains interviews with many key players in the Union Station story, including Metro CEO Art Leahy.

The Emmy award in the public programming category for news was received Saturday night, July 26, at the 66th Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in North Hollywood.

Metro Motion Union Station is the story of the last of the great rail stations: its history, its important role as a transit hub anchoring today’s expanding transit network and its future as the center of mobility for our region.

Since opening festivities in 1939 that attracted half a million spectators to downtown Los Angeles, beautiful Union Station has played many roles throughout its 75 years, including one as Hollywood’s rail station. It has appeared in hundreds of films, TV shows and commercials. Currently it serves 70,000 daily commuters who link through Union Station via Metro rail and bus, Metrolink, Amtrak and municipal carriers.

Metro Motion is co-produced with Santa Monica City TV and runs quarterly on 80 cable stations throughout Los Angeles County and on metro.net.

Here’s the Emmy-winning show:

 

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 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: The Metro 181 on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The Metro 181 on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

It’s now legal to build light rail in the Valley (Curbed LA)

The Valley could get its own Metro light-rail train (LAWeekly)

Light rail in the San Fernando Valley (Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian press release) 

Gov. Brown on Tuesday signed a bill by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian that would make it legal to convert the Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley into light rail. The bill reverses the 1991 “Robbins” bill that outlawed light rail along the old Southern Pacific rail right-of-way that would eventually become the Orange Line.

So that’s interesting. Perhaps mostly because it shows how times have changed in the past 23 years. Whereas neighborhoods once upon a time went to great lengths to keep rail projects at bay — and a few still do — many more are actively lobbying for rail projects in their communities.

From LAWeekly:

Coby King of the Valley Industry & Commerce Association (VICA) says it’s his community’s turn to get a light-rail line that could run north-south from Canoga Park to Chatsworth:

The Metro Orange Line has been a victim of its own success, and is now so overcrowded and slow it has to turn away new passengers. Conversion to light rail is the best option for the Orange Line, with its significantly higher ridership potential and low cost relative to heavy rail and underground subways.

Nazarian himself says that having a train run though the Valley would “lead to greater connectivity to the Red Line and other transportation lines throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.”

There are some mighty tall hurdles to clear for the Orange Line to ever become a rail line. The Metro Board of Directors has not asked for a study of a conversion. Nor is a conversion in Metro’s long-range plan that was adopted by the Metro Board of Directors in 2010. The list of projects in the plan that are both funded and unfunded are below, including the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor and the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor:

LRTP1

LRTP2

All that said, a conversion certainly has its advocates in the Valley, which today boasts a population of 1.77 million, according to the Census Bureau. And the Orange Line has certainly proven popular, with almost 30,000 weekday boardings, according to the latest ridership estimates from Metro. The key questions, however, remain unanswered: how many more people could a train carry? Would a train definitely be faster? (the Orange Line currently takes 55 minutes to travel between NoHo and Chatsworth and 45 minutes between NoHo and Warner Center during the morning rush hour.) What is the cost? Where would the funding come from? Assuming money is in limited supply, what’s more important — this or a transit project connecting the Westside and Valley?

Discuss, please.

Caltrans to place homes in path of 710 freeway for sale (Star News) 

The agency has listed 53 properties purchased decades ago by the state in case a surface extension of the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena was ever built. That possibility is gone: Metro is currently studying five alternatives as part of its SR-710 Study including a freeway tunnel, light rail, bus rapid transit, traffic improvements and the legally-required no-build option. The state owns more than 500 properties in Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles — many of which will be sold after the project’s environmental studies are completed.

Who gets to buy the properties? Excerpt:

According to a draft set of rules Caltrans released last month for the sale of the houses, tenants who owned the house before Caltrans bought it through eminent domain will get the first shot. They will be asked to pay a fair market value.

Next in line will be current tenants who have lived in the house for more than two years and qualify as having low to moderate income. Then come tenants who have lived in the house for five years and do not earn more than 150 percent of the area median income, which is $64,800, according to the federal government.

Both of those situations would have the tenant purchase the home at an affordable rate or the “as is” fair market value, which is derived from the comparative home sales.

After that, a public or private affordable housing organization could purchase the home at a reasonable price. Then the current tenant — if they make more than 150 percent of median income or have lived in the house less than 2 years — can buy at fair market value. Last in line are former tenants at fair market value. After that, if the house is still on the market, it will go up for auction for anyone to buy.

 

The draft environmental study for the project is scheduled to be released in February.

Balancing cars, cash and congestion: Metro Silver Line BRT in ExpressLanes (Streetsblog LA)

A good overview of the history of the Silver Line bus service that runs between El Monte Station and Harbor Gateway Station using the ExpressLanes on both the 10 and 110 freeways as well as surface streets in downtown Los Angeles.

The post also looks at the issue of too much traffic in the ExpressLanes on the 10 freeway between Union Station and Cal State L.A. — where there is only one of the tolled lanes in each direction. According to Metro, there has been a marginal reduction in speeds on that segment in recent months (which the agency hopes to correct through by adjusting tolls) although the overall average speed of the ExpressLanes remains above the federally-mandated 45 mph.

Streetsblog also went out and looked at that segment firsthand on several occasions and found:

After hearing from our tipster and from Metro, Streetsblog visited the 10 Freeway ExpressLanes three times. All on rush-hour mornings on weekdays in mid-June 2014. The good news is that there wasn’t any bumper to bumper traffic. The lanes work. Plenty of buses, carpools, and solo drivers were commuting smoothly toward downtown Los Angeles.

The only slowing observed was that transit buses would often develop a “tail” of cars lined up behind them.  It appears that buses, driving the speed limit, marginally reduce the speed of other vehicle in the ExpressLanes.

Most likely, the toll lanes are experiencing the dip in traffic congestion that generally occurs in Los Angeles during summer months. Gas prices are generally higher in the summer. Fewer students are commuting to school. Some residents go on vacation. And, lately, according to Mayor Garcetti’s video here, drivers may be playing hooky to watch World Cup soccer.

The comments include some interesting debate about the Silver Line and the ExpressLanes. I’ll echo Streetsblog’s request for any feedback from readers here who use the bus or drive in the ExpressLanes.

Bicycling can be deadlier in L.A. than in Mumbai, Shanghai and other big traffic cities (LAWeekly)

Writer Chris Walker argues that he felt safer on a bike in the chaos of the aforementioned cities (and many others in Asia) than he does in L.A. He offers some statistics to back up his argument but much of what he says is anecdotal (not that I entirely disagree with his points). His main point: drivers in L.A. have very, very little regard for cyclists.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 2

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! 

Photo: Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Photo: Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Garcetti’s anniversary spin (on Metro) includes World Cup stop (L.A. Times) 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recognized his first anniversary in office by tooling around L.A. on Metro Rail on Tuesday, including a stop at Buffalo Wild Wings in the Crenshaw District to watch the USA-Belgium match. Excerpt:

On the trip, Garcetti lamented getting “stuck in City Hall,” saying quick, unplanned encounters with people help him gauge people’s concerns and can build trust with residents, particularly in his early years as mayor. “Most people don’t want a half-hour meeting with the mayor,” he said.

The mayor will also serve as the Chair of the Metro Board for the next year (the Board Members take turns). It will be interesting to see what kind of agenda he pushes at Metro — and think a good starting place is to talk to folks who ride the system and pay the bills here. Semi-related: a great way to gauge people’s concerns about Metro is to also read our general Twitter feed, including tweets from riders.

Metro commits to deal ensuring subway won’t hurt Disney Hall acoustics (L.A. Times) 

The agency and Disney Hall agree to several mitigations to ensure that the Regional Connector — running 135 deep underground and adjacent the concert venue — won’t cause vibrations that could impact acoustics. Tests last year established the ambient noise in Disney Hall and Metro has agreed to limit vibrations to well under those standards.

Burbank-Palmdale segment added to bullet train timetable (L.A. Times) 

In response to criticism and doubts from state lawmakers, the California High-Speed Rail Authority wants to accelerate construction of a Burbank to Palmdale segment of the bullet train project. Such a segment could reduce travel time for trains from more than an hour to 14 to 16 minutes.

That said, there remains considerable challenges. The first is finding the funding — the L.A. to Palmdale segment is estimated to cost more than $13 billion and that could rise if a more direct tunnel to the Antelope Valley is built under the San Gabriel Mountains. The segment would presumably later connect to Union Station and Bakersfield and the segment being planned between there and Madera.

My three cents: I think there are plenty of reasons to remain skeptical about the ability to build a $68-billion project between San Francisco and Los Angeles with the major funding source a $10-billion voter-approved bond. That said, if funding is limited, it sure would be great to see commuter rail get a boost in populated and taxpayer-heavy Southern California, an area where commuters are already riding trains on a daily basis.

Contractor for 405 sues MTA over cost overruns, delays (Daily News) 

Kiewet filed the lawsuit in May, seeking $400 million in costs, according to the Daily News. Excerpt:

In a statement, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said that “Metro does not believe this claim complies with those contract requirements. However, Metro continues to negotiate in good faith with Kiewit to resolve specific outstanding claims under terms of its contract.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents this portion of Los Angeles and has publicly blamed Kiewit for the project’s delays, declined to comment Tuesday.

 

Jenna Hornstock shares refinements to Union Station’s Master Plan (The Planning Report) 

Jenna is heading up Metro’s team of planners working on the Union Station Master Plan. In this interview, she talks about the many details of the emerging plan that were released last month (Here’s a Source post about the plans).

The Planning Report saved perhaps one of the juiciest questions for last, asking Jenna how the Master Plan would be funded and if there could be money available from a potential Measure R 2 sales tax. As Jenna wisely pointed out, the key word with Measure R 2 is “potential” and that it’s impossible at this time to say what will or will not be funded by it. As if often the case at Metro, projects are planned before all the funding is secured — the agency often needs to have firm plans in in order to get money to build them.

Donald Shoup, parking guru, on how L.A. should manage its meters (L.A. Times) 

Interesting interview with the UCLA professor who literally wrote the book on big cities and parking policies (a book highly critical of big cities, that is). There’s nothing fantastically new in the interview but it’s always fun to revisit the question of whether developers should be required to build parking or not (they almost always are for both residential or commercial properties). Parking is very expensive to build and maintain and folks such as Shoup believe it results in a lot of expensive, free and unnecessary parking that consumes a lot of space that could be better used for other purposes.

In other words, if someone in a city wants a car badly enough, they’ll find a parking place and the money to pay for it. Agree or disagree, Angelenos?

 

Metrolink to operate special holiday service on July 4

Reminder: If you’re making travel plans for Friday, July 4, please consider that Metrolink will only be operating two special round-trip trains on the Antelope Valley Line. Regular service will resume on July 5. Here are the details from Metrolink:

In observance of Independence Day, Metrolink will not operate service on Friday, July 4, with the exception of two round-trip trains on the Antelope Valley Line. The special Metrolink service will run from Lancaster to Los Angeles Union Station and back.

Antelope Valley Line train 262 will depart Lancaster at 8:55 a.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 11 a.m., while Antelope Valley Line train 268 will depart Lancaster at 2:25 p.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 4:30 p.m.

Making the return trip to the Antelope Valley will be train 263, departing Los Angeles Union Station at 11:40 a.m., while train 269 will depart LAUS at 5:25 p.m. The trains will reach Lancaster at 1:50 p.m. and 7:25 p.m., respectively.

The four trains will make all stops at the 11 stations along the Antelope Valley Line.

Regular service will resume system-wide on Saturday, July 5.

Northbound HOV lane opened today on 405 over the Sepulveda Pass!

The HOV lane on the northbound 405 opened earlier this morning. A media event has just begun at Getty Center — we’ll have photos and video later today. Here’s the news release from Metro:

Paving the Road to a Better 405

L.A. Metro, Caltrans, Kiewit Open 10-Mile Northbound I-405 Carpool Lane between I-10 and U.S. 101

Los Angeles, Calif. – Just in time for the busy Memorial Day travel weekend, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and contractor Kieiwit Infrastructure West today officially opened the new 10-mile northbound carpool lane between the I-10 and U.S. 101, adding needed capacity to one of the nation’s busiest freeways and closing the last remaining gap in the entire I-405 carpool lane network.

The lane opening is the capstone for the massive $1.141 billion I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project which began construction in 2009. Project partners have committed to opening parts of the project as soon as they’re ready for public use.  The contractor will continue to perform some additional project work and landscaping on the freeway alignment and city streets. Key project deliverables are now open and operational.  

“Carpool lanes are a vitally important part of L.A. County’s transportation infrastructure, and nowhere are they needed more than here on the I-405, which suffers from some of the worst traffic congestion in America,” said Diane Dubois, Metro Board Chair and City of Lakewood Council Member.  “While construction has been challenging for both motorists and neighboring communities, we have now successfully paved the road to a better 405.  The northbound 405 will operate more efficiently, will help reduce the duration and severity of congestion, and help us better meet the future vehicle demands within this corridor.”

The project area provides the only direct freeway connection between the San Fernando Valley and Westside. This corridor currently serves major destinations along busy Ventura Boulevard, the Getty Center, Skirball Cultural Center, Westwood, UCLA and Los Angeles International Airport, among others.  Approximately 300,000 vehicles travel on this portion of the I-405 every day,  That number is expected to grow with future vehicle demands.  

“This project is a testament to how Caltrans and Metro worked together to address a critical transportation need. The new carpool lanes on the 405 link more than 70 miles of carpool lanes from Orange County through Los Angeles County,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Instead of being stuck in traffic – burning gasoline and polluting the air – drivers can use the carpool lanes and pocket their savings for more important things.”

Continue reading

Community meeting on June 5 for Union Station Master Plan update

Special Briefing – LA Union Station Master Plan Update

Work continues to chug along on the Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan; please see the above flier for the upcoming meeting on June 5.

The Metro Board last year approved a plan concept that would construct a greatly expanded east-west passenger concourse while relocating the bus plaza to a north-south configuration closer to Alameda Street, allowing the many bus stops around Union Station to be consolidated. 

RELATED:

Union Station Master Plan home page

Master Plan Facebook page

Master Plan Twitter feed

 

Sprinkling of pics from Bike to Work Day, here and around the U.S.

https://twitter.com/StreetsblogSF/status/464889277327753216/photo/1

Union Station: Here’s how Harvey House restaurants helped change the West

This is the third of a series of posts on the history of Union Station that we are running this month. The station celebrates its 75th anniversary on May 3. 

When English immigrant Fred Harvey opened the first of more than 80 restaurants serving rail stops from the Midwest to California, he could not have imagined the contribution he was making to a social movement that would outlive the restaurants themselves. Nor could he have understood how those restaurants would influence the character of the West.

But Harvey waitresses — made famous by the 1946 Judy Garland movie “The Harvey Girls” — contributed more than labor to what some call the first restaurant chain in America. They helped gentrify the West and took part in a movement of young women away from the home and into self-sufficient employment.

“The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound” — a terrific documentary by L.A. filmmaker Katrina Parks — tells the story of the women who worked as wait staff for Harvey House restaurants, including the one at Union Station, beginning in the 1870s.

Unlike other diners near rail, Harvey House restaurants were clean and sold good, reasonably priced food on table linen and china. For 75 cents (in a 1943 menu) customers could dine on broiled fish almandine, potatoes O’Brien and Hawaiian slaw. A slice of apple pie was 15 cents. And the restaurants guaranteed that patrons would complete their meals before their trains — often loading up on water and passengers — were scheduled to depart.

The restored Harvey House restaurant in Kansas City's Union Station. Photo by Kevin C., via Flickr creative commons.

The restored Harvey House restaurant in Kansas City’s Union Station. Photo by Kevin C., via Flickr creative commons.

At first, the Harvey company hired men to serve as waiters, since women were in short supply in the West. But the men — both customers and waiters — could be rowdy. So Harvey began advertising in Eastern and Midwest newspapers, offering employment to clean-cut, well-mannered and attractive women between 18 and 30. The pay was $17.50 a month plus tips. Room and board were free. The Harvey Girls wore distinctive black-and-white uniforms, worked long hours and had to abide by strict rules, including curfews. But for many, it was the first taste of freedom and freedom can be delicious, as the above clip suggests.

For more information about the Harvey Girls, visit the Harvey Girl Historical Society at the Orange Empire Railroad Museum in Perris, Calif. Or watch the Katrina Parks video. The old Harvey House restaurant space at Union Station is currently vacant, but frequently used for special events and filming. Metro, the owner of Union Station, hopes to one day see another restaurant occupy the space although considerable and expensive work will be needed to rebuild the kitchen.

A recent view of the Harvey House restaurant. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

A recent view of the Harvey House restaurant. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

RELATED:

Metro Motion celebrates beautiful Union Station’s 75th anniversary

Union Station’s 75th: Seymour Rosen celebrates the opening

Union Station: a grand opening