Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 20

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! 

Just in case anyone needs help with their bracket, here's mine. Copy at your own risk!

Just in case anyone needs help with their bracket, here’s mine. Copy at your own risk!

Construction concerns over LA subway (NBC 4)

The segment on the Purple Line Extension suggests that Metro is seeking to perform work on the subway 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To clarify: Metro has one application currently before the Los Angeles Police Commission for construction work on the first phase of the Purple Line Extension. It asks for a six month extension of a permit that expires April 17 for utility relocation night work from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. with the stipulation that the noisiest work be performed before 11 p.m. The work would be done five nights at week — Monday through Friday at Wilshire/La Brea and Sunday through Thursday for Wilshire/Fairfax.

Metro has also met with the Police Commission to discuss an upcoming application for station box pile drilling work in 2015, which would be done between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. This work will occur after all the utility relocation has been completed.

UPDATE, MORE INFORMATION: In January, Metro submitted three applications to the Police Commission to allow night-time work involving noise at Wishire and Western, Wilshire and LaBrea and Wilshire and Fairfax that would include pile installation, street decking and yard work at those locations beginning in August 2014. Metro has asked the Commission to not act on that request while the agency worked on providing more details. Metro is currently working on resubmitting these applications.

Interested readers may want to review the project’s Construction Fact Sheet for more information on how this will all occur.

The plan that could finally free New York City from traffic congestion (The Atlantic Cities) 

The group Move New York is proposing a congestion pricing plan for Manhattan that toll all bridges and tunnels (some are and some aren’t currently) and impose a toll on motorists heading into Manhattan south of 60th Street. Traffic is always a big issue in New York, but doing anything about it is politically difficult. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg pursued congestion pricing. When that fell through, a federal grant instead went to Metro, which used the funds to start the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeways.

LAPD seeking suspects in DASH bus shooting (L.A. Times) 

A woman and boy were wounded either when they were grazed by a bullet or by shattered glass at 42nd and Avalon in South L.A. early Wednesday evening. An accompanying photo shows the boy standing and getting treatment for his injuries.

First poll on L.A. sales tax hike for street and sidewalk repairs (KABC 7)

A proposed half-cent sales tax increase in the city of Los Angeles for street and sidewalk repair was supported by 40 percent of those surveyed by Channel 7 while 55 percent said they would against an increase. Such an increase would need two-thirds support for passage. The City Council has until July to decide whether to put a proposed increase to voters on the November ballot.

California still failing to invest in sustainable transportation choices (NRDC)

The environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council takes a closer look at projects to be considered for funding by the California Transportation Commission. And the group doesn’t like what it sees, with the majority of money going to road projects at a time when walking, biking and transit use in the state has increased.


Transportation headlines, Monday, November 4

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison!

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.



Transportation headlines, Monday, August 26

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

ART OF TRANSIT: Somewhere in the night at this gas station in California; looks like the kind of photos found in old Bruce Springsteen albums. The reader who correctly guesses the location will be showered with praise in tomorrow's headlines. Readers who fully understand the

ART OF TRANSIT: Somewhere in the night at this gas station in California; looks like the kind of photos found in old Bruce Springsteen albums. The reader who correctly guesses the location will be showered with praise in tomorrow's headlines. Readers who fully understand the

Metrolink ridership dips (Rail Passenger Assn. of California & Nevada)

The number of boardings has dipped in 2013, although there are gains on routes between Orange County and Inland Empire and weekend boardings are strong. The writer speculates lack of new jobs in downtown L.A., lower gas prices and fare hikes may have something to do with it — and recommends a new $35 weekday day pass to help lure new riders.

Could a 405 subway/freeway tunnel under the 405 dramatically improve traffic? (FoxLA)

A brief look at the Sepulveda Pass Corridor project, which proposes to connect the Westside to the San Fernando Valley via a new transit project. Metro is currently evaluating whether a public-private partnership is feasible for the project — i.e. a private firm(s) fronts the construction money in exchange for receiving tolls and fares from new underground toll lanes and a rail project. That could speed up the project, which currently isn't scheduled to be done until the late 2030s. But construction starting in two to three years — as the article states — is extremely optimistic.

Reshaping New York (New York Times)

In case you missed it, here is an awesome interactive showing some key changes in development and transportation infrastructure that occurred during the tenure of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will soon leave after 12 years on the job. Given New York's reputation as a place in which it's nearly impossible to get anything done…an amazing amount of work has been done with new pedestrian plazas, bike lanes, transit projects underway and one-third of the city rezoned. The question this begs, of course, is whether the nation's second-largest city can (or should) match New York's march forward (assuming you think NY is marching forward. I do.).

Students press schools to drop fossil fuels stocks (L.A. Times)

Activists want the UC system to divest themselves of at least $39 million in investments in fossil fuel firms that are part of the system's general endowment fund. Some smaller colleges around the country have dropped fossil fuel investments, but it's a tougher sell at the big schools which say they need the kind of returns that fossil fuels help generate. My three cents: it's best to keep in mind that fossil fuels still power a lot of transit in the U.S. — in our region, commuter train locomotives and the vast majority of buses, for example.

Study recommends paid parking on PCH in Malibu (Santa Monica Daily Press)

Adding paid parking, bike lanes and safer and ADA-accessible bus stops are among the recommendations in a report commissioned by the city of Malibu on improving safety along the PCH corridor. At present, PCH along the coast is mostly the domain of the private automobile, with cyclists risking their necks in busy traffic and narrow medians and bus patrons sometimes having to reach stops not easily reachable by sidewalk.


Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 28

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 Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Out for a spin: New York City’s bike sharing program begins (New York Times)

A bike sharing station on (I think) Eighth Avenue in Manhattan in my old 'hood. Photo by ccho, via Flickr creative commons.

A bike sharing station on (I think) Eighth Avenue in Manhattan in my old ‘hood. Photo by ccho, via Flickr creative commons.

Monday was Day One after a lot of talk, arguing and delays getting the program on two wheels. Take it away, NYT:

By midafternoon, the passing flickers of blue were already ubiquitous — negotiating light taxi traffic in the West Village, hurtling through the protected lanes of Midtown, drifting toward the Brooklyn waterfront.

For the first time, under cooperatively clear skies, New Yorkers sat astride the city’s first new wide-scale public transportation in more than 75 years: a fleet of 6,000 bicycles, part of a system known as Citi Bike, scattered across more than 300 stations in Manhattan below 59th Street and parts of Brooklyn.

Here’s an article that the Times ran the day before the program launched, speculating on whether the gamble by Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be worth it. Of course, bike sharing is coming to Los Angeles with one of the stations at Union Station. What’cha think, Source readers? Will it work here? Will it work in New York?

In L.A., polishing up the pedways (L.A. Times) 

This editorial calls for cleaning up the elevated pedways in downtown L.A. that were built with the intention of keeping pedestrians off city streets where they may annoy/mix/get-in-the-way of auto traffic. Graffiti has become a problem on the pedways and security cameras may be one way to help solve the problem.

Lines in the sand (New Yorker) 

Climate change specialist Elizabeth Kolbert comments on President Obama’s upcoming decision whether to allow the Keystone Pipeline to be built to carry oil from Canada’s tar sands fields to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an enormously controversial issue, pitting those who believe that oil is a better source for oil for the U.S. against those who believe the pipeline would only further our dependence on the fossil fuels that are also fueling climate change.

Kolbert and the New Yorker come out against; Mauna Loa is where the readings were taken showing that carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere have reached levels that are believed to be a high for the past three million years. Excerpt:

Were we to burn through all known fossil-fuel reserves, the results would be unimaginably bleak: major cities would be flooded out, a large portion of the world’s arable land would be transformed into deserts, and the oceans would be turned into liquid dead zones. If we take the future at all seriously, which is to say as a time period that someone is going to have to live in, then we need to leave a big percentage of the planet’s coal and oil and natural gas in the ground. These basic facts have been established for decades, and every President since George Bush senior has vowed to do something to avert catastrophe. The numbers from Mauna Loa show that they have failed.

In rejecting Keystone, President Obama would not solve the underlying problem, which, as pipeline proponents correctly point out, is consumption. Nor would he halt exploitation of the tar sands. But he would put a brake on the process. After all, if getting tar-sands oil to China were easy, the Canadians wouldn’t be applying so much pressure on the White House. Once Keystone is built, there will be no putting the tar back in the sands. The pipeline isn’t inevitable, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s just another step on the march to disaster.

I include these articles in our headlines because while they may not be directly related to transit, there is a growing body of work that shows that taking transit is often an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. To the best of my knowledge, there are no transit agencies that really promote this — at least directly. If I was the king, they would.


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. 

Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Monday, October 1

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 Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

It’s called “Dynamics of the Subway.” You’ll want headphones if at work. Explanation here at The Atlantic Cities. It’s way cool.

Los Angeles: restart your engines (L.A. Times)

Carmageddon II comes to a close uneventfully. The article looks at some of the work done over the weekend — paving and tree trimming were part of the mix — and the demolition of the four support structures. That had to be done carefully to avoid damaging the new columns for the new Mulholland Bridge.

Metro to apply to become managing agency for Surfliner (L.A. Streetsblog)

Bottom line here: a new state bill should lead to improvements in Amtrak in Southern California. In this post and a related one, Dana Gabbard provides a good and thorough explanation of the bill and its history and explains why Metro would be interested in overseeing Amtrak’s popular Surfliner service.

Bloomberg: transit should be free (Streetsblog)

He was just talking off the cuff, but New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a reporter that if starting from scratch, the way to design a great transit system would be make it free and charge motorists to use roads. He hasn’t gone that far in his administration, but has certainly tried to provide more amenities for transit riders (bus lanes), cyclists (bike lanes) and pedestrians (more sidewalks, plazas) while pushing for a congestion pricing project in Manhattan that failed.