Transportation headlines, Friday, September 19

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: Four swans visiting Union Station last week. Check out Metro's promotion with the Music Center for tickets to "Swan Lake" by clicking on the photo.

ART OF TRANSIT: Four swans visiting Union Station last week. Check out Metro’s promotion with the Music Center for tickets to “Swan Lake” by clicking on the photo. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Metro removes “Red Band Society” ad over offensive language (The Wrap)

Metro staff announced they were pulling the ad on Wednesday after receiving numerous complaints about the way that Octavia Spencer’s character was described in the ad.

Metro officials said that the contractor who sells ad space on buses didn’t properly vet the ad with Metro before it went up. Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti apologized for the ad at a Board committee meeting yesterday and Board Members said there’s a need to better oversee which ads end up on Metro buses. Also, coverage in the L.A. Times.

Who’s on board? (TransitCenter)

Perhaps the most interesting finding of this new survey is:

Americans under 30 are 2.3 times more likely to ride public transit than Americans age 30-60, and 7.2 times more likely than Americans over 60. Even after controlling for other factors, older people are less likely to ride transit than younger people.

That certainly jibes with trends in recent years that have received a lot of media attention — with millennials less interested in driving than their parents and more interested in living in cities. The question: what will transit agencies do about it? The findings certainly suggest, at the least, that transit agencies need to have their act together on social media and that other little thing — offer service that complements the lifestyle of those 30 and under.

How’s Metro doing on that front, people? Comment please.

At continent’s edge, an epic rail ride concludes (Grist)

The concluding post by Heather Smith on her recent cross-country ride on Amtrak. These two graphs are great and relate to the previous item in today’s headlines:

Stories like this, about rehabilitated towns, fascinate me: I spent my teens and early twenties feeling like a member of a subculture of a subculture of subculture, all because I loved walkable cities and hated driving. Where was the place for surly punks who wore all black and read Jane Jacobs? Where was the place, come to think of it, for anyone who read Jane Jacobs?

It’s a surreal feeling to realize how my teenage ideas aren’t that out-there any more, and that a lot of cities in America are places where I’d be happy living. I know from experience that this could all disappear, like the road bike fad of the ’70s, but I hope that it lasts.

Why do planners love charging for parking and not congestion? (Urban theory and practice)

Lisa Schweitzer of USC asks a provocative question and offers an answer: charging for parking is relatively easy and contributes to depleted municipal coffers whereas congestion pricing is a much more difficult sell politically. The discussion continues in the comments.

The post reminded me of something UCLA Brian Taylor said during the Zocalo Public Square forum earlier this year on the SR-710 Study and a possible freeway tunnel for the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena. Brian’s point: congestion in our region could be fixed today if there was congestion pricing that tolled the freeways to discourage everyone from trying to drive somewhere during peak hours. He’s probably right, as is Lisa: that’s like ask our local pols to climb Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen or Sherpas.

Fun video posted last month:

 

 

Metro Board to consider changing official names of two rail stations

I know readers are always interested in station naming news — and there are two station naming motions before the Metro Board of Directors this month:

•To rename the Gold Line’s East Los Angeles Civic Center Station the East Los Angeles Civic Center/Gloria Molina Station.

•To rename the Red Line’s North Hollywood Station the North Hollywood/Zev Yaroslavsky Station.

The motions are posted above. They were authored by Metro Board Members Ara Najarian and Pam O’Connor. The Board’s Construction Committee approved the motions this morning and the full Board will consider them at its Oct. 2 meeting.

Here is Metro’s property naming policy. It’s worth noting that even when station names are named after people, the geographic names are the ones commonly used in announcements on buses and trains and on maps and agency literature.

Staff report on short- and long-term improvements to Orange Line

The Orange Line is Metro’s second-busiest bus line behind only the 720, the Rapid bus service along Wilshire Boulevard. With the Orange Line often crowded at peak hours, the Metro Board in July approved a motion asking Metro to investigate short-term fixes to speed up the Orange Line and add capacity, the feasibility of a possible bus rapid transit line between North Hollywood, Bob Hope Airport and the Gold Line in Pasadena and a possible conversion of the Orange Line to rail.

The above Metro staff report explains how the agency plans to go forward.

The gist of it: as for the question of rail conversion and extending bus rapid transit to Burbank and Pasadena, Metro plans to have those issues studied as part of an ongoing “mobility matrices” process. Yes, that’s a mouthful. In plain English, the matrices are evaluating potential transportation projects around Los Angeles County to see which should be included in an update of Metro’s long-range plan.

An update of Metro’s long-range plan, in turn, could be used to select projects to be funded by a possible ballot measure in 2016 that Metro is considering, as this report explains.

The matrixes are currently scheduled to be presented to the Metro Board in April.

The staff report also lists some possible immediate, short-term and long-term improvements that could be made to the Orange Line (see pages 3-4 of the staff report) and are in need of more study and/or work.

Among those: getting bus operators to maintain a more consistent speed to get more green lights, possibly extending peak hour service, possibly adding service between North Hollywood and Reseda stations, possibly increasing bus speeds across intersections from 10 mph to no more than 25 mph, possibly removing some seats on the bus to accommodate more bikes, studying whether buses longer than 60 feet can be used and investigating grade separation of some of the larger Orange Line intersections.

From the Department of From What It’s Worth: I spent the better part of a day in August riding and photographing the Orange Line. I think the bus is a very comfortable way of getting around, but it’s also obvious that the bus has mixed success hitting green lights consistently (some of the red lights did quickly turn green). Some pics I took on one ride between Sepulveda Station and Warner Center:

 

 

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, September 15

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! 

MTA bus and train fares to rise on Monday (L.A. Times)

Transportation reporter Laura Nelson does a good job of breaking down the new fare structure that went into effect earlier today — with the regular fares rising to $1.75 (with two hours of free transfers) and weekly passes now $25 and monthly passes now $100. Please click here for charts showing the new fares as well as a useful Frequently Asked Questions on the fares.

The article also offers useful context about the finances and politics that drove the fare hike. Two key graphs:

Metro staff members estimate that ridership will drop by 3% to 4% during the first six months of the increase, but that fare revenue will grow by $21 million this fiscal year and $28 million in subsequent years.

That will not be enough to correct the agency’s long-term financial problems. Metro analysts have pushed for a series of three fare increases over eight years, saying more income is needed to offset an expected cumulative deficit of $225 million over the next decade. Agency directors approved the fare hike that begins Monday but postponed two subsequent increases proposed for 2017 and 2020, saying they needed more information about the agency’s financial outlook.

The Metro Board earlier this year asked staff to report back on other sources of revenue — so that’s something to keep an eye on. The other question looming over the issue of fares is a possible ballot measure in 2016 and what it may or may not include (no decision has yet been made on the ballot measure or its contents). Measure R did include a temporary fare freeze.

As for the basics on the fare increase, the $1.50 regular fare went up to $1.75 today but now includes two hours of free transfers.

Poll: 68 percent want more transit spending (The Hill)

Speaking of transportation funding, the Mineta Transportation Institute’s poll for the American Public Transportation Assn. shows slightly more Americans want more spent on public transit. Putting aside the not-so-small issue that both groups benefit from more dollars spent on transit, I’m guessing there is significant support in most metropolitan areas in the U.S. for transit. In Los Angeles County, 68 percent is a key number as 66.6 percent of voters are needed to approve transportation ballot measures. Measure R in 2008 was approved with 67.9 percent of the vote and Measure J in 2012 failed with 66.1 percent approval.

LAWA’s Gina Marie Lindsey: investments in LAX continue (The Planning Report) 

The general manager of Los Angeles World Airports — a city of Los Angeles agency — talks about the challenges and difficulties of installing remote baggage check-in at LAX and the automated people mover that will take passengers from the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the airport terminals. While the people mover’s route is pretty much settled outside the terminal horseshoe, Lindsey says the important matter of deciding its route and station locations should be decided within the next few months. Earlier this year, LAX was looking at configurations that included two stations or four stations.

Perris Valley Line taking shape (Press-Enterprise)

Nice to see some progress on the 24-mile extension of the Metrolink line from Riverside into the Perris Valley. Officials say the line is forecast to open near the end of 2015. It’s the first major Metrolink expansion in more than a decade, reports the Press-Enterprise.

Meet Seleta Reynolds, the safe streets advocate running LADOT (Streetsblog LA)

Damien Newton interviews the new general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, which manages traffic signals and the city’s DASH and Commuter Express buses, among other things. A lot of the conversation focuses on bike policy and Reynolds is mindful to (correctly) remind everyone that the City Council has pretty much the final say in everything.

Guest editorial: urban change in L.A., too little too slow (Streetsblog LA)

Thoughtful article by architect and urban designer Gerhard Mayer. His main point: while L.A. is certainly changing, it’s changing a lot more slowly than other cities and far too much of the city is devoted to roads and/or parking lots. The key paragraph:

L.A.’s land use imbalance is acute. In a “normal” city, only approx. one-fifth of the city’s land is dedicated to transportation. Four-fifths of that city is used for buildings that generate revenue – or for open space. Not in LA; here, as much as 60 percent of our land – three-fifths – is used to accommodate our automobiles. Only two-fifths of LA has buildings that generates revenue to maintain, renew and expand our public services.

Of course, it’s hard to come up with averages like that on such a sprawling city but the statistics sound about right for some parts of the city. I just drove to Oregon and back and L.A. is hardly alone. Driving through Klamath Falls I was struck with a downtown that appeared to be on life support while outside of town, the usual shopping malls with the usual big box stores were surrounded by vast parking lots and a lot of traffic.

Coming to the rescue of riders who drop treasures on the tracks (New York Times) 

Interesting article about the transit workers in the New York subway who use a variety of tools to scoop up belongings that riders have dropped on tracks below the platforms. This includes a bag of blood, a variety of artificial limbs, engagement rings and stuffed animals. Of course, we implore all riders to NEVER try to retrieve such items themselves on our transit system or any other. If you drop something valuable, please contact our Customer Relations department.

Regulator slow to respond to deadly vehicle defects (New York Times) 

A long and deeply reported article that is extremely critical of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The nut graphs:

An investigation by The New York Times into the agency’s handling of major safety defects over the past decade found that it frequently has been slow to identify problems, tentative to act and reluctant to employ its full legal powers against companies.

The Times analyzed agency correspondence, regulatory documents and public databases and interviewed congressional and executive branch investigators, former agency employees and auto safety experts. It found that in many of the major vehicle safety issues of recent years — including unintended acceleration in Toyotas, fires in Jeep fuel tanks and air bag ruptures in Hondas, as well as the G.M. ignition defect — the agency did not take a leading role until well after the problems had reached a crisis level, safety advocates had sounded alarms and motorists were injured or died.

Not only does the agency spend about as much money rating new cars — a favorite marketing tool for automakers — as it does investigating potentially deadly manufacturing defects, but it also has been so deferential to automakers that it made a key question it poses about fatal accidents optional — a policy it is only now changing after inquiries from The Times.

 

The article includes many anecdotes and examples. Perhaps the hardest thing to stomach: the agency declines to directly answer many of the Times’ questions, none of which seem unreasonable to ask.

Gastropub proposed for Fred Harvey Room at Los Angeles Union Station!

Some exciting news to pass along this morning: The Metro Board of Directors this month will be considering a lease for a new gastropub to be located in the Fred Harvey Room at Los Angeles Union Station. Here is the Metro staff report on the proposed lease.

The lease is with Cedd Moses and Eric Needleman, who have been very successful with other downtown Los Angeles bars and eateries, including Seven Grand, the Golden Gopher, the Broadway Bar, Coles, Casey’s Irish Pub and several others that have helped fuel DTLA’s revitalization in recent times.

If the lease is approved by the full Metro Board at its Oct. 2 meeting, the new restaurant would be the first to occupy the Fred Harvey Room at Union Station since the original Harvey House restaurant closed in 1967. The space, which has been very well preserved (see the above photos), has since been used for special events and filming. Fiona Apple’s video for “Paper Bag” does a great job of showing off the Fred Harvey Room:

As for the timeline for a prospective restaurant opening, it will probably take several months to a year. Most notably, the kitchen area needs to be completely redone and the necessary permits secured from the city of Los Angeles. Metro staff say that all renovations and/or restorations will be done under the watchful eye of an architectural historian.

Metro purchased Union Station from a private firm in 2011 and has since been upgrading the station and planning for its future. The Metro Board on Oct. 2 will also consider approving the final version of the Union Station Master Plan, which seeks to preserve the station’s historic nature while expanding the station to handle the growing number of riders using the facility, as well as better connect it to surrounding neighborhoods. We’ll soon post more on the final version of the Master Plan.

The Metro Board earlier this summer also approved a lease for Cafe Crepe, which will occupy the space formerly used by Union Bagel and will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here’s the menu at their Santa Monica location. Of course, Traxx has been open at Union Station since 1997 and continues to be the fine dining venue at LAUS while also operating the Traxx lounge.

The Metro Board this month will also consider leases for two kiosks to be located in the East Portal. One will serve bento boxes and the other kiosk will offer coffee.

New fare charts and FAQ on the fare increases and changes that begin Sept. 15

As many of you likely know, Metro’s fare increases and fare changes that were approved this spring go into effect on September 15.

The charts below outline the new fares, including regular fares and passes, Silver Lane fares and the EZ Pass. I urge everyone to give this a read before Sept. 15 as the new structure — with free transfers for two hours — means that some of you could save on your Metro transit trips while others will be seeing an increase.

I also want to emphasize: please click here to see if you are eligible for Metro’s “Rider Relief” fares that provide up to a $10 discount on transit passes. The Rider Relief coupons for seniors and students provide savings on top of already reduced rates. Eligibility is determined by household income and the number of occupants in a household.

Please, please, please — check to see if you are eligible for a discount. There’s no point in paying more than you should and these discounts are available to enhance everyone’s mobility in our region. If you know of someone who may qualify, please pass along this information!

14-2393_Rider_Relief_Rail_Poster_jp

There is also more information on this page about Metro’s reduced fares, including discounts for students, seniors, the disabled and Medicare recipients.

Here are the new fares that take effect Sept. 15:

fares_English (1)

There is also a comprehensive FAQ that has been posted to metro.net. Please click here to see the entire FAQ.

I have posted some of the questions and answers below that I think will answer many of the questions we’ve been fielding here from readers:

What is the difference between a 1-ride base fare and a 1-way trip?

Both are single fares used to board a Metro Bus. The “1-Ride Base Fare” indicates that the fare is being paid in cash or with a token; no TAP card is required, and no transfers are included. The “1-Way Trip” indicates that the fare is being paid using a TAP card preloaded with a 1-Way Trip product (available at TAP vending machines) or Stored Value on a TAP card. The 1-Way Trip includes transfers to other connecting Metro bus or rail lines for up to two hours to complete a one-way trip; it is not valid for a round-trip. Note that the 1-Ride Base Fare is not available on Metro Rail or the Metro Orange Line; payment of all fares on those lines requires use of a TAP card. (See description of TAP cards below.)

Who is eligible for two hours of free transfers?

Customers are eligible for transfers when enough Stored Value is preloaded on a TAP card and used to pay the applicable 1-Way Trip fare. The 1-Way Trip is available at varying rates to: regular blue TAP card holders; Seniors 62+/Disabled/ Medicare TAP card holders; Students K-12  TAP card holders; and College/Vocational TAP card holders.

How will the free transfers work?

The two-hour period begins upon the first boarding of a trip, when a TAP card is tapped to pay the 1-Way Fare.  The customer must tap their card upon each subsequent boarding during the trip; the TAP system will recognize if the customer is within the two-hour transfer window and is making a valid transfer covered by the 1-Way Trip.

The number of transfers within the two-hour window is not limited; as an example, a customer could transfer from bus line 20 to the Red Line to the Blue Line to the Green Line, all with payment of a 1-Way Trip, as long as the last transfer occurs within two hours of the first tap.

But transfers back to the same bus or rail line where the customer’s TAP card was last used are not permitted. For example,  the customer may not,  transfer from the Green Line back to the Green Line, or from bus line 20 back to Line 20; a new 1-Way Fare would be deducted from the Stored Value on the card.

As mentioned, trips lasting longer than two hours can be made on the 1-Way Trip fare, as long as the last transfer is made before the two-hour transfer window expires.

Are all student fares frozen?

No. Only Student K-12 fares are frozen at this time; their single fare price ($1) and 30-Day Pass ($24) will remain the same. Fares for College/Vocational students are not included in the freeze. The College/Vocational fare (1-Ride Base Fare or 1-Way Trip) is now $1.75, and the 30-Day Pass is now $43.

How will transfers work on Metro short lines?

Customers purchasing a 1-Way Trip receive two hours of transfers to complete a one-way trip. If traveling on a bus short line, transfers will be permitted from the bus short line to another bus on the same line to continue a trip in the same direction.

What about transfers between Metro and other municipal operators (Metro-to-Muni)?

Metro fares do not cover other municipal carriers (e.g. Foothill Transit, Torrance Transit, Montebello Bus Lines, etc.), but Metro-to-Muni transfers will still be available. They can be purchased from TAP vending machines or onboard buses, and are valid for two hours after purchase.

 

How will interagency transfers work with the new transfer system? 

A customer transferring from other municipal bus carriers (e.g. Foothill Transit, Torrance Transit, Montebello Bus Lines, etc.) will need to purchase an Interagency transfer onboard that line, and submit it as payment when boarding a Metro bus or train.  Interagency transfers can be issued as paper passes, “Limited Use” paper TAP cards, or loaded directly onto the customer’s plastic TAP card.  Regardless of the form in which the Interagency transfer is issued, it is only good for one transfer from a municipal bus line to a Metro bus or train. Interagency transfers are treated as a 1-Ride Base Fare and are not eligible for the 2 hours of transfers on Metro.  Customers boarding with an Interagency transfer and planning to ride more than one Metro bus or train should purchase another Metro fare to avoid getting a citation or fine.

Do the new fares affect the Metrolink monthly pass?

No. These changes only apply to Metro. They do not affect Metrolink tickets and passes that include transfers to Metro.

Please click here to see the entire Q&A, which also includes information about the Silver to Silver program, how to get a TAP card and

Here are the new Silver Line fares: 

Metro Fares
As of 9/15/14
Regular Senior 62+/
Disabled/
Medicare
College/
Vocational
Student K-12
Silver Line Cash Fares
1-Ride Base Fare
No transfers included.Additional charges apply to ride:
• Metro Express Buses
$2.50 $1.35
Peak
95¢
Off-Peak
$2.50 $2.50
On TAP
1-Way Trip
Includes transfers to other Metro Lines for up to two hours to complete a one-way trip.Additional charges apply to ride:
• Metro Express Buses
$2.50 $1.35
Peak
95¢
Off-Peak
$2.50 $2.50
Premium Charge for 7-Day, 30-Day and EZ transit passAll other Metro passes accepted without premium charge. 75¢
Express Freeway Premium Charge
Express + Zone 1
Premium Charge

Additional fare required only on freeway segments.
75¢ 60¢ 75¢ 75¢

And here are the new EZ Pass fares:

Metro Fares
As of 9/15/14
Regular Senior 62+/
Disabled/
Medicare
College/
Vocational
Student K-12
EZ transit passIncludes:
•All Metro servicesAdditional charges apply to ride:
• Metro Silver Line
• Metro Express Buses
• Non-Metro express buses
$110 $42
EZ transit pass + Zone 1Includes:
• All Metro servicesAdditional charges apply to ride:
• Non-Metro express buses that leave Los Angeles County
$132 $51.50
EZ transit pass + Zone 2 $154       $61
EZ transit pass + Zone 3 $176 $70.50
EZ transit pass + Zone 4 $198 $80
EZ transit pass + Zone 5 $220 $89.50
EZ transit pass + Zone 6 $242 $99
EZ transit pass + Zone 8 $286 $118
EZ transit pass + Zone 9 $308 $127.50
EZ transit pass + Zone 10 $330 $137
EZ transit pass + Zone 11 $352 $146.50

For more information about ordering an EZ Pass, agencies that participate in the pass and discounts, please click here.

RELATED POSTS

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

Some audio and video from public hearing on fare changes

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, July 28

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! 

And 30 years ago today…

So how many people are paying to ride? (L.A. Times) 

This article about fare evasion, turnstiles and ridership estimates is generating a lot of discussion on our Twitter feed. The story looks at the sometimes wide discrepancy between Metro’s ridership estimates and data from the TAP system. The problem is that ridership is more than the TAP numbers, suggesting that the difference consists of people either not paying to ride and those who have paid but aren’t tapping. But pinpointing the number who are evading fares has proven difficult.

Excerpt:

Reducing fare jumping as much as possible has become increasingly important to Metro, which is under pressure to boost ticket revenue as its rail network rapidly expands. Income from fares covers just 26% of Metro’s bus and rail system operating expenses, one of the lowest rates of any major world city. That ratio must increase in the next few years or the agency risks losing crucial federal funding needed to continue building and operating the train network.

Metro has responded by raising fares, starting in September, with more hikes proposed for coming years.

In addition to fare hikes, some elected officials are asking the agency to examine other ways to bring in more revenue. And they are taking note of the disparities between Metro’s ridership estimates and the numbers of tickets being counted at rail stations.

“They owe it to you and to anybody else who’s interested to explain the difference,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a Metro board member, who says it’s still too easy to get on trains without paying.

 

Those four graphs frame the issue. It’s a considerably longer article accompanied by some interesting graphics. Please read if you’re interested in the issue.

As the article mentions, there is some evidence that increased fare enforcement and latching the turnstiles present in half of the Metro Rail stations might be having an effect. I also think it’s important to remind everyone that paying fares helps keep the system running and that it’s important for everyone to always tap when boarding a Metro bus or train. That will help riders avoid potentially costly citations and also helps Metro because having better ridership data will also help the agency better plan future service and projects.

Metro picks Skanska venture to build first phase of subway extension (L.A. Times) 

A look at some of the issues in play in the Metro Board’s decision last Thursday to award a $1.6-billion construction contract to build the first phase of the Purple Line Extension between Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/La Cienega. Metro did not pick the low-bidder price-wise and instead selected a contractor — in this case, Skanksa, Traylor and Shea — based on a variety of criteria including price, project management and technical approach.

Metro July meeting recap: subway, SRTP, active transpo and more (Streetsblog LA)

A good recap and analysis of the many issues tackled by the Metro Board at their meeting last Thursday. Streetsblog has been keeping an eye on the short-range plan and funding for pedestrian and bike projects. As Joe Linton notes, the short-range plan approved by the Metro Board is being seen by some as a “casting call” for a potential 2016 ballot measure and thus the interest in particular projects.

Gold Line on schedule, on budget for Azusa extension (L.A. Register) 

A progress report on one of the Measure R-funded projects, the 11.5-mile extension of the Gold Line from eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border with six new stations along the way — and considerable development opportunities near the tracks and stations. Construction continues to progress well and is on schedule to be completed by next September, when the process would begin of handing the line over to Metro and testing. Metro is currently forecasting opening the line in early 2016.

Mayor sets out to transform L.A. streets through ‘urban acupuncture’ (L.A. Times) 

A deeper look at Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s initiative to transform sections of 15 streets in the city — one per council district — into more walkable, bike-friendly and transit-friendly streets  to encourage residents to eat, shop and play locally instead of driving to distant points in the L.A. megalopolis.

As the article notes, there will be hurdles to cross and this type of effort has been tried in the past. Most notably, some residents say don’t necessarily want streets that will slow down their journey to the nearest freeway.

My hunch is that zoning regulations spelled out in local community plans will play a big role in this effort in terms of attracting the type of development — commercial and residential — that could help re-establish a Main Street type feel to some streets .