Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 1

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! 

Boo!

Boo!

Hello Metro riders and readers. I was on vacation for a couple of days, so I’m catching up. As usual, please bear with me.

Train station to connect Metro rail lines with LAX approved (L.A. Times) 

The Times neatly and succinctly summarizes the Metro Board’s decision last Thursday to go forward with environmentally clearing an additional station on the Crenshaw/LAX Line that would connect with a people mover to be built by Los Angeles World Airports. Excerpt:

Officials say the new station will speed up airport access and could include check-in counters, flight information boards and currency exchange locations. The board also asked for a review of baggage check facilities at similar airport transportation hubs in other cities to determine whether that service could be added.

In an early Metro concept sketch, the station is depicted as a glass, multi-story building with covered rail platforms and a passenger drop-off area.

The 96th Street station still must go through a final design process, environmental review and cost analysis. Additions such as ticketing areas and concessions would increase the $200-million cost.

 

MTA predicts less than one percent of LAX passengers will take train to LAX (LA Weekly) 

Gene Maddeus dives into the Metro staff report and focuses on ridership estimates that show that the majority of LAX passengers in the future will likely travel to and from the airport by car — and that the FlyAway bus may attract significantly more passengers than a light rail-people mover connection. Excerpt:

The station approved Thursday is a much cheaper alternative, which probably won’t have all the bells and whistles that Garcetti had envisioned. Nevertheless, it is a rail connection to LAX, and Garcetti heralded it as a key step in the direction of building a world-class airport.

Assuming that LAX and MTA can continue to cooperate on this, the rail link could open around 2022. That leaves one big unanswered question: Will anybody use it?

As the saying goes, predictions are hard, especially about the future. Nevertheless, MTA has made its best effort to guess how many people will take the train to the airport. The answer:

0.8%.

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This is not to say that the train-to-LAX link should not be built. It is to suggest that expectations be kept in check until MTA can plan, fund and build a more comprehensive rail network.

 

The new Aviation/96th station will likely be most convenient to those using the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line. An extension of the Green Line to the south (a Measure R funded project) and extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the north to a connection with the subway (a project in Metro’s long-range plan but without any current funding) would, of course, significantly increase the reach of both lines.

Supervisor Don Knabe on the Aviation/96th station (Supervisor Don Knabe’s website)

LAX is in Don Knabe’s district and the Supervisor and Metro Board Member sent this note to constituents about last week’s vote — the last graph is key:

For years, I’ve said it’s embarrassing that the second largest city in America with the third busiest airport still does not have a direct transit connection. Major airports across the country, as well as internationally, can be accessed by subway, people mover, or air train, yet traveling to LAX requires a car, or a shuttle ride from the Green Line.

We’ve struggled for decades trying to solve this transportation puzzle, but finally, the MTA Board took a giant leap towards creating a solution last week. On a motion by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Mike Bonin, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and me, the Board voted in favor of constructing a rail station at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard as part of the new Crenshaw/LAX rail line. This state-of-the-art station will serve as a “front door” for riders, connecting them to the LAX terminals via airport people mover.

Though this is a major milestone in finally linking the airport to our regional transit system, there are still hurdles to clear. Metro must continue working with Los Angeles World Airports and the Board of Airport Commissioners to ensure that a people mover will be constructed. Without their guarantee, we could end up stuck with a state-of-the-art station to nowhere. As the details surrounding the new rail station and a people mover continue to develop, I will be sure to keep you updated.

 

Metro buses get multi-camera surveillance systems (KABC-7) 

In order to prevent crime and remind riders that law enforcement is watching, Metro is overhauling the video systems on its buses — including monitors showing riders a real-time video feed. The move was prompted, in part, by the 191 assaults on Metro bus operators between 2010 and 2013. “We have every confidence that this is going to increase safety and discourage those who might be inclined to do otherwise,” L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is quoted in the article. Here  is our post from last week announcing the upgrades.

The painful consequences of liking fake subway maps (Los Angeles Review of Books) 

Ben Pack ruminates on transit maps, driving and bike riding in the Los Angeles area, culminating in a cycling accident in Hollywood.

 

 

Video of this morning’s ‘Century Crunch’ media event

Above please find video of the media event held earlier today to announce the closure of the intersection of Aviation and Century boulevards for 57 hours from the night of Friday, July 25, through the early morning of Monday, July 28. If you or someone you know is headed to Los Angeles International Airport that weekend, please take heed — there will be extra traffic in the LAX area due to the closure.

Metro is encouraging LAX-bound motorists to take transit or allow extra time if driving.

The closure is being done in order to demolish an old railroad bridge over Century Boulevard in order to make way for the new Aviation/Century Station that will serve the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Green Line.

Many more details at our earlier post, including a detour map. And, of course, we will be frequently reminding you of the closure between now and July 25.

Metro Board votes to raise most fares in September but postpones further increases in 2017 and 2020

The Metro Board of Directors voted Thursday to raise Metro bus and train fares no earlier than September 1 but declined to impose the agency’s staff recommendation for additional increases in 2017 and 2020. The Board also decided to freeze fares for students.

Under the new fares, the regular fare will rise from $1.50 to $1.75. The cost of a day pass will increase from $5 to $7, the weekly pass from $20 to $25, the 30-day pass from $75 to $100 and the EZ Pass from $84 to $110.

However, the new fares will include free transfers for two hours for those using TAP cards. This is unlike the current base fare which is only good for a single ride on a bus or train, no matter the length of that ride. For example, a rider who currently rides two buses to reach their destination and pays $3 (the cost of two $1.50 fares) would only pay $1.75 under the new fares as long as the second bus ride begins within two hours.

Metro CEO Art Leahy, who began his job in 2009, and many experts outside the agency have said that encouraging transfers is a far wiser and efficient way to run a transit agency, given that about half of Metro’s riders must transfer to complete their trips. The Metro Board voted to drop transfers in 2007 as a way to reduce fraud and raise revenues.

On Sept. 1, the senior/disabled regular peak-hour fare is scheduled to rise from 55 cents to 75 cents, with the non-peak senior/disabled fare rising from 25 cents to 35 cents. (However, the Board will again consider senior/disabled fares at the June meeting.) The day pass will change from $1.80 to $2.50, the 30-day pass from $14 to $20 and the EZ Pass from $35 to $42.

This is the fourth fare increase since 1993, when Metro began operating as a new agency. The last fare increase was in 2010 when the regular single-ride fare was increased from $1.25 to $1.50. Fares for seniors, disabled riders and students have not changed since 2007; the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 froze those fares through mid-2013 and they remain at 2007 levels.

There were two key votes on Thursday.

First, the Board voted 12 to 0 with one abstention (by Board Member Gloria Molina) for a motion by Board Members Mark Ridley-Thomas, Eric Garcetti and Zev Yaroslavsky to postpone the 2017 and 2020 round of fare increases pending further analysis that also asks Metro to identify potential revenues that could offset the need for any more fare hikes.

In the second vote, the Board voted 12 to 1 to accept Metro’s staff proposal for fare increases for 2014. The vote against came from Gloria Molina.

Metro staff have said that fare increases were necessary to keep pace with rising operating costs and to avoid a budget deficit of $36.8 million beginning in 2016 and potentially rising to more than $200 million within a decade because of inflation and the increase cost of operating a transit system with more than 2,000 buses, 87 miles of rail (and many more miles on the way), van pools and other services.

Staff also have repeatedly pointed to two statistics: the average Metro fare — when discounts are factored in — is only 70 cents. And each fare only covers 26 percent of the cost of providing service. Metro officials say that they want that number to reach 33 percent to better cover expenses and to ensure that the agency continues to receive needed federal grants.

Metro currently has three rail lines under construction. Both the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension are scheduled to open in early 2016 while the Crenshaw/LAX Line is forecast to open in 2019. Two other rail lines — the Regional Connector and the Purple Line Extension of the subway — will soon begin construction and are forecast to open in 2019 and 2023, respectively.

Discussion among members of the Metro Board revealed that many were highly uncomfortable with raising fares given the $16,250 median household income of the agency’s bus riders and $20,770 for rail riders. 

Board Member Eric Garcetti expressed disappointment that many low-income riders do not get discounted fares for low-income riders even though they qualify.

Gloria Molina offered the most pointed criticism of Metro, as she has in the past. Molina said that Metro has far more low-income riders than in other metro areas with vast transit systems. She criticized the agency’s efforts to reduce its subsidies for riders, saying it’s inappropriate in a region with so many low-income riders, many of which are making the minimum wage or less.

Instead, Molina offered a motion asking the agency to trim its operating budget by 1.5 percent, which she said would prevent the need for fare increases. That motion failed to secure a second from other Board Members. However, it was folded into the Ridley-Thomas-Garcetti-Yaroslavsky motion a request for Metro staff to determine what cutting 1.5 percent of the budget would entail and if it could be used to defer any fare increase.

And she said that Metro is not running a bus system effective enough to attract a diverse ridership that would raise more revenues. “You can’t ghettoize our buses,” Molina said.

The Board heard nearly two hours of public testimony before casting their votes. The prevailing sentiment from speakers — many from the Bus Riders Union — ran against raising fares.

One key factor in the fare discussions is a potential ballot measure that Metro is considering taking to Los Angeles County voters in 2016. Such a ballot measure — if approved, which is no easy task — could potentially raise more money for operating buses and trains, which the Ridley-Thomas-Garcetti-Yaroslavsky motion cites as funds that could possibly be used stave off the need for more fare increases.

On the other hand, the same ballot measure could also fund the acceleration and/or construction of more Metro transit projects, which in turn would raise operation costs. And a fare increase in close proximity to a potential ballot measure requiring two-thirds voter approval (under current law) could also be politically tricky.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 21

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! 

Give L.A.’s riders a fare hike that’s fair (L.A. Times) 

The editorial partially backs the Metro staff proposal for fare increases that will be considered Thursday by the Metro Board of Directors.

In particular, the editorial says the first round of changes — which would take effect this September and raise the base fare from $1.50 to $1.75 and include 90 minutes of free transfers. However, the editorial also backs a motion by Board Members Eric Garcetti, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky to postpone increases that would take effect in 2017 and 2020 as part of the proposal. Excerpt:

So far, so good. But Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky and Mayor Eric Garcetti have made a sensible argument for postponing the vote on the second two fare increases, which were proposed for 2017 and 2020. Instead, they say, a task force of transit experts should be appointed to recommend alternative ways to generate operating revenue. This would offer an opportunity to develop a new revenue model for public transit.

The task force should determine what share of operating costs ought to be covered by riders. Those operating costs are only going to increase as Metro opens new rail lines to Santa Monica and Azusa, and eventually builds the Crenshaw Line, the Westside subway extension and the Downtown Regional Connector. As the network expands, there is a public benefit in keeping fares low to encourage the maximum ridership.

So who should be bearing the burden if not riders? To start, Metro should look at ways to shift some transit system costs onto drivers, which may sound unfair until you consider that they’re getting a heavily subsidized ride on publicly built and maintained roads. If added fees make it less appealing for people to drive, that’s a good thing; fewer cars on the road reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Metro should lobby for higher fuel taxes to fund mass transit, look at expanding tolling or congestion pricing to help pay for bus and rail rides, and charge for Metro parking lots.

Of course, all of the above would likely be equally controversial as the fare increases — and would likely impact more of Metro Board Members’ constituents in a county in which 83 percent of commuters are using cars.

The editorial also says that Metro should “look again at a proposal to impose fees on new building development.” It’s worth noting that such a proposal — after a decade of development — was sent back to the drawing board for more study by the Metro Board in June 2013 by a vote of 8 to 0 (Item 71). Here is an update prepared this month by Metro staff on ongoing discussions with stakeholders. The gist of it: the effort to impose development fees is nowhere close to happening.

L.A. County MTA to vote on bus, train fare increases on Thursday (Los Angeles Newspaper Group) 

A news story on the fare increase proposals. Excerpt:

The 13-member Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board is facing what some say is one of the toughest decisions in its history — raising fares on 500,000 riders of which 80 percent are minorities and poor — or drowning the agency in a sea of red ink.

Without the fare hike, the MTA (Metro) will realize a $36.8 million operating deficit within two years that will grow into $225 million in 10 years, according to Metro staff. Without more revenue, Metro predicts it will have to cut bus and rail service and lay off staff.

If approved, the fare hike is scheduled to take effect in September. It would be the first fare hike in four years, and the MTA noted senior and student fares have not been raised in seven years. MTA’s $1.50 base rate is the lowest in the nation, lower than San Francisco’s Muni and Chicago’s transit system, which both charge $2 a ride (CTA charges $2.25 for trains).

While the fare hike is needed to keep the agency operating budget afloat, the notion is somewhat counterintuitive to analysts who point out that county taxpayers pay for transportation in three separate measures, the latest passed by voters in 2008 that raised sales tax one-half cent and totals raises more than $1 billion a year.

 

One observation: I’ve yet to see a news story that interviews riders and asks them whether the level of service they get justifies a fare increase. On social media, I think that has been a large part of the discussion and I’ve seen a lot of different views expressed.

Transit fare hike hurts biggest users: editorial (Los Angeles Newspaper Group)

The Los Angeles Newspaper Group’s editorial board also opines on the fare increase proposal, taking a more rider-oriented tack than the LAT’s editorial. Excerpt:

The Los Angeles bus and rail system exists largely for those struggling to make ends meet. About half of those who use it make less than $15,000 a year, according to the system’s rider survey.

These are the people who sweep and mop homes in the San Fernando Valley, work at the back of restaurants on the Westside, and tidy up offices when the other workers have long gone home. They often live far from their jobs and can’t afford to drive.

Raising fares three times over six years, as the 13-member governing board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will be asked to do on Thursday, will inevitably hurt these mass-transit-dependent workers and their families even as the agency also attempts to fix long-standing problems like eliminating the need to pay fares twice when transferring from bus to rail or vice versa.

That’s why the editorial board backs a different approach by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Supervisors Mark Ridley Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky, all MTA board members, that increases some fares but also creates a panel to look at ways to deal with the agency’s growing operating budget deficit and set fees that don’t hurt the most vulnerable.

Their proposal calls for a riders’ advocate, something sorely missing in the agency, a freeze on fare hikes for students and an expansion of a subsidy program for the poorest.

The editorial concludes by arguing that the Garcetti-Ridley-Thomas-Yaroslavsky motion helps bridge the chasm between Metro and the riders it serves.

New Westwood parking initiatives shift into gear (Neon Tommy) 

Talk about an evergreen story. This is the latest in Westwood’s decades-long effort to improve parking in the community — and cut down on the endless circling by motorists trying to find meters near the UCLA campus. The latest initiative involves creating an online interactive map to show parking options.

Westwood is a case study in a neighborhood whose fortunes are tied to traffic. As the Westside’s congestion has worsened in recent years, Westwood has become increasingly isolated from the region because it’s both difficult to reach and difficult to find parking. I think the neighborhood’s best hope is transit — specifically the Purple Line Extension that is scheduled to stop at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards. That’s part of the third phase of the project, which is scheduled to reach Westwood in 2036 unless funds and political will can be found to accelerate the project.

Of course, today’s news of $2 billion plus in federal funding for the Purple Line Extension’s first phase to Wilshire/La Cienega is good news and means that the subway will soon be getting closer to Westwood.

 

Potential future ballot measure discussed at Move LA conference today

I spent the morning at Move LA’s annual conference, held this year at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. The activist group led by Denny Zane, the former Santa Monica mayor, this year focused on Measure R 2, an interesting choice given that the Metro Board has yet to decide whether to put an extension of the existing Measure R or a new sales tax on any ballot.

That said, some Board members have certainly voiced support and Metro is in the process of collecting transportation wish lists from cities across Los Angeles County for a potential ballot measure that likely wouldn’t happen until November 2016.

Four Metro Board Members spoke at the conference:

•Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that he wants to pursue more regional transportation solutions and that he wants to lead a more humble city of Los Angeles that can work with other cities, both following their advice and taking the lead when appropriate (perhaps in that spirit he indicated his support earlier this week for extending the Gold Line to Claremont). He indicated he was open to a ballot measure but didn’t dwell on it.

Garcetti also said he wants to get a rail connection in our lifetimes to Los Angeles International Airport and that he supports the LAX Connect proposal by the airport to bring Metro Rail into a facility where passengers could check their bags and then transfer to a people mover that would run every two minutes and stop at each terminal. 

•Metro Board Chair and Lakewood Councilmember Diane DuBois said any new ballot measure would be on the 2016 ballot in order to give time to build a consensus across the country. She said she wanted a process that was transparent, inclusive and followed a bottoms-up approach focusing on the needs of neighborhoods. Any potential measure, she said, must include subregional mobility projects.

Chairwoman DuBois also urged a note of caution, saying it’s appropriate to consider the impact of higher sales taxes and how they might impact retail sales and where businesses decide to locate. “Please don’t get me wrong,” she said. “I’m not opposed to asking if the voters of L.A. County to decide. However, I do believe that we should fully consider the impacts of increased taxation.”

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How Metro is studying the Rail-to-River proposal

In 2013, Supervisors and Metro Board Members Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina began promoting a proposal to build an 8.3-mile pedestrian and bike path that would connect the future Crenshaw/LAX Line to the Los Angeles River.

The path would follow the old Harbor Subdivision rail right-of-way that Metro owns and that runs through Vernon and then along Slauson Avenue.

It’s certainly a very interesting proposal similar in some respects to other urban rails-to-trails that have been built across the United States. Such a path would serve an area where bikes are commonly used to reach jobs and run errands and the path would connect the existing Blue Line, Silver Line and future Crenhsaw/LAX Line — all important north-south corridors.

Because this is an issue that involves Metro, I wanted to explain the process involved in evaluating the proposal:

•Prompted by a motion by Board Members Molina and Ridley-Thomas, Metro last year initiated a feasibility study of building an intermediate “active transportation corridor” along the eastern portion of the Harbor Subdivision. The study is expected to be presented to the Metro Board of Directors this September. The above fact sheet explains the scope of the feasibility study.

•Depending on the results of the Study the Metro Board will ultimately decide whether to initiate a project. The Board would also have to decide how such a project would be funded.

•Metro purchased the Harbor Subdivision ROW in the early 1990s and does own the land along the tracks. However, as part of the purchase deal, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad owns easements that allow it to run trains along the eastern portion of the Harbor Subdivision.

BNSF rarely runs trains on that section of tracks. But Metro would have to deal with those easements in order to make any improvements to the existing transportation corridor, whether it be for an intermediate active transportation use, or to facilitate major transit such as Bus Rapid or Light Rail Transit along the tracks.

•Metro owns several old rights-of-way (ROW) in Los Angeles County that could one day be used for rail or busway projects. Metro also has a policy about altering rail right-of-ways that it owns; the policy is posted below. The policy seeks to find a balance between allowing some uses of the ROWs while preserving them for future transportation needs.

To help give you a better idea of the lay of the land, here is a video that shows the right-of-way between its intersection with 25th Street running for 8.3 miles to Crenshaw Boulevard and 67th Street. The video was made by Metro using a shoulder mounted boom with camera attached and walking the entire 8.3 miles followed by editing to speed up the footage and give one the feeling of traveling at a higher speed.

Finally, there is a meeting for stakeholders on Feb. 26 at the Los Angeles Academy Middle School’s multi-purpose room, 644 E. 56th Street, Los Angeles, CA, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The meeting notice is below:

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Agenda for Thursday’s Metro Board meeting: it’s going to be a long one, folks

UPDATE: The gavel has dropped on the meeting and it’s now underway.

This is a big meeting, folks, with tons of interestingness (relatively speaking) and a lot of important items. For those attending and media: might be a good idea to have a few Red Bulls along with your coffee for breakfast.

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Three of the tall ones, please!

You can also view the agenda with hyperlinks on metro.net or view or download it as a pdf. The meeting is, as always, open to the public and begins at 9:30 a.m. at Metro headquarters adjacent to Los Angeles Union Station. To listen to the meeting on the phone, please call 213-922-6045.

Some of the more interesting items on the agenda:

•Item 76, asking the Board to set a public hearing on March 29 to review two fare restructuring proposals released by Metro staff on Friday. Important to note: THE BOARD IS ONLY CONSIDERING SETTING A PUBLIC HEARING; THEY ARE NOT VOTING ON THE FARE CHANGES. At this point, the Board is scheduled to vote on the changes at its meeting on May 22. Source post including charts and staff report.

•Item 15, asking the Board to narrow the list of options to four for the Airport Metro Connector, the project that seeks to connect Metro Rail to the airport terminals via a combination of light rail and people mover. A motion by Board Members Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas seeks to restore two options that Metro staff wanted to eliminate that would build light rail directly to the airport terminals. Staff report and earlier Source post with the four proposals favored by Metro staff and another Source post on the Knabe-Ridley-Thomas motion.

•Item 6, a motion by Board Members Paul Krekorian and Zev Yaroslavsky directing Metro to investigate adding gates or partial gates to the Orange Line to reduce fare evasion. Motion and Source post with staff report on two December crackdowns on fare evasion on the Orange Line.

•Item 67, asking the Board to approve the development of two options for ballot measures to take to voters in 2016 to accelerate existing Measure R projects — either an extension of Measure R or a new sales tax, which may also include new projects. Staff report and earlier Source post.

•Item 39, establishing a $33.4-million budget to refurbish Blue Line stations, including new canopies. Staff report.

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Motion seeks to restore two Airport Metro Connector alternatives that would bring light rail into LAX terminal area

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We posted earlier about a new Metro staff report that narrows down the alternatives to be further studied for the Airport Metro Connector. Specifically, the report proposes eliminating alternatives that would build light rail directly to the LAX terminals in favor of four alternatives that would connect the Crenshaw/LAX and/or Green Line to a people mover east of the terminals.

However, in the Metro Board’s Construction Committee this morning, a motion from Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe seeks to restore two of those alternatives, shown above, for further analysis as part of a draft environmental study.

The five members of the Construction Committee moved the motion to the full Board of Directors without recommendation. The full Board will likely take up the issue at their meeting on Thursday, Jan. 23. Board Member Pam O’Connor objected to the motion, saying it was time to eliminate the above alternatives because of their expense and complexity and the difficulty in accessing all the terminals from rail stations.

In remarks, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the region deserves a world-class transit system and that it was too early in the Airport Metro Connector to eliminate options that would bring rail directly into the terminal area. Metro staff said there are several issues with those options, including a cost of $3 billion or more, a complex tangle of utilities under the terminals and runway areas and concerns from LAX about tunneling under critical facilities.

Here is the motion:

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Transportation headlines, Monday, the 6th of January

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!

Hello and a belated Happy New Years to everyone. We took some time off during the holiday and also worked on some longer-term things, so we’re still in a bit of catch-up mode. And into 2014 we go….

Review: Tentative signs of progress in Metro’s transit network design (L.A. Times) 

Over the holidays, the Times published a news story on Metro’s new “kit of parts” approach to designing Metro Rail stations. The idea is to standardize station design to help provide the future system with a more consistent look, make it easier to maintain and help control costs. (The Gold Line Foothill Extension and the Expo Line Phase 2 will have station designs consistent with both lines’ current look).

Following on the news story, Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne’s well-written review can be boiled down to three words: be bold, Metro. Excerpt:

Meanwhile, the kit of parts has already faced enough challenges inside Metro to suggest how politically complicated it can be to pursue bold design at an agency of its size. To pick just one example, Sussman/Prejza suggested giant Ms, appearing to be partially sunk into the pavement, to mark the entrance to every station.

The letter would have been split into two parts, allowing it to operate as a sort of alphabetical gate. But some Metro officials balked, according to Welborne, fearing exiting passengers might have their view of cars and moving trains blocked by the giant signs.

The loss of the oversized M is emblematic of the various ways in which the kit-of-parts design risks being diluted before we see it in built form. The new stations, after all, don’t need less color or verve. They need a good deal more.

Christopher also touches on an interesting subject by suggesting that stations should reflect local architecture. The question is this: what exactly is L.A. architecture? There’s such a mishmash out here ranging from adobe houses to art deco to Craftsman.

If I was the king — and judging by my cubicle, I’m clearly not — I think rail stations deeply reminiscent of the old Spanish missions would be kind of cool.

A greenbelt future for South L.A. (L.A. Times) 

The Times’ editorial board looks at a proposal by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina: to transform 8.3 miles of the old Harbor Subdivision rail right-of-way into a pedestrian and bike path between the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Los Angeles River.

The editorial praises the idea while noting that a lot of work remains to be done — among them securing funding. Metro currently has a feasibility study underway of the proposal. The study is scheduled to be released this spring.

Bringing the underworld to light (New York Times)

A photo of work on the Second Avenue Subway from 2009. Photo by Patrick Cashin/MTA.

A photo of work on the Second Avenue Subway from 2009. Photo by Patrick Cashin/MTA.

Nice photo essay on New York MTA photographer Patrick Cashin, who has been chronicling the agency’s projects, including construction of the Second Avenue Subway.

The photos are just a small slice of the images that the New York MTA publishes on its excellent Flickr page.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, October 31

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: Nice throwback costume!

More transportation fixes in the works for Southern California (Daily News) 

Missed this one yesterday. The article reports on Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s video at the Mobility 21 conference and his statement that another transportation ballot measure for the county may be in the works. The key excerpt:

Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb said the mayor’s remarks at the Mobility conference were not an indication of support for an extension of Measure R, the voter-approved half-cent sales tax that’s currently paying for an array of rail, bus and highway projects.

[snip]

Robb said Garcetti was simply referencing recent actions taken by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who also sits on the MTA board. Antonovich has been talking to local communities about what projects they want to see built under another ballot initiative. Antonovich, along with County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky also authored a motion approved by the MTA board on Tuesday to allocate $500,000 to help the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments develop a “Mobility Matrix” that would identify some of the Valley’s transportation needs.

“Cutting traffic is a priority for Mayor Garcetti and he is currently exploring all options to ease congestion for Angelenos,” Robb said.

MTA Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy, who also attended the conference, struck a skeptical tone when addressing a possible extension. “We will evaluate whether we do a Measure J again,” Leahy told the Daily News. “I don’t know if we will. It’s possible that would happen in either 2014 or 2016.”

As we wrote the other day, nothing is currently on the table. But there certainly seems to be discussions on how projects could be accelerated or new projects funded.

Metro construction boom brings opportunities (Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ website) 

A look at the business opportunity summit held at the African-American Museum on Monday. As the article shows, there is clearly an appetite for jobs among those who live near the upcoming Crenshaw/LAX Line. Excerpt:

Opportunity is exactly what Erika Bennett is seeking. She is hoping her company, Total Transportation Services Inc., a trucking company that transports cement and dirt to construction sites, will become one of the sub-consultants for the large firm that was awarded the Crenshaw contract, Walsh Shea Corridor Constructors.

“This is a good meet and greet,” she said, as she walked up to the Walsh Shea table and introduced herself to the executives for the company.

Other attendees, such as Matsimela McMorris, were simply looking for a job. McMorris, who has been unemployed for more than a year, applied for a position as a custodian with Metro. But at the event, McMorris saw other possibilities, including becoming a bus operator.

“It is really good to be able to come here and meet people,” he said. “Online, you can’t really tell people your story.”

 

Mayor’s office: top transportation department executive to resign (L.A. Times) 

The city’s Department of Transportation will be getting a new general manager. LADOT runs a large bus system and, of course, manages the thousands of miles of roadway (including the traffic signals) in the city of L.A.

It’s time to treat bike share as mass transit (The Atlantic Cities) 

The blog post argues that bike share fees should be tax deductible in the same way that commuter fringe benefits are.

Expo Line Phase 2 reaches the halfway point (Culver City Observer) 

A look at the announcement earlier this month that the six-mile extension between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica is halfway done. Next up: more track work!