Transportation headlines, Friday, May 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! 

Union Station: L.A.’s nearly perfect time machine (L.A. Times) 

D.J. Waldie has a nice op-ed piece on the eve of Union Station’s 75th anniversary celebration on Saturday. Excerpt:

Those who pause will see a nearly perfect public space meant to be both monumental and deferential, and designed to reassure as much as to impress. In the station’s concrete daydream of Spanish Colonial Revival, Mission, Moorish and Art Deco styles, the city’s imagined past and hoped-for future overlay seamlessly. Those faux wood beams were given a patina to look as if they had been there a century or more. The station’s streamlined details in aluminum and bronze pointed toward a triumphant, machine-age tomorrow. When Union Station was new, everything about it reflected the longing of Los Angeles to be both modern and nostalgic.

Union Station, like few of the city’s other architectural survivals, is a place where it’s possible for the patient sojourner to slip out of now and into an earlier time like a shadow passing.

John and Donald Parkinson, the station’s supervising architects, understood shadows and how pausing in them invites reverie. The station’s shadows are there by design: to give shelter from the Los Angeles sun in the long arcades and add movement through the day to the static surface of its exterior. Inside, transient light patterns the travertine walls and contrasts with the durable patterns laid in the 75,000 square feet of cement, marble, tile and linoleum flooring, as well as on the faience wainscoting and doorway surrounds and the parquetry of the patios’ brick walkways.

In addition, KPCC’s Take Two has a nice eight-minute segment on the station’s history.

And here’s the lineup of events for Saturday’s celebration at Union Station.

Gold Line bill hurt by lack of communication: guest commentary (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) 

The president of the San Bernardino Associated Governments board writes that a bill that would have allowed planning of a Gold Line segment between Montclair and Ontario Airport did not provide enough protections for San Bernardino County taxpayers. At this point it’s a moot point — the bill was withdrawn last week. Construction of the Pasadena-to-Azusa phase of the project continues, as does planning and engineering work for the unfunded segment between Azusa and Montclair.

The huge Obama transportation bill you heard nothing about (Time)

The President released the details of a four-year transportation funding bill earlier this week, a follow-up to a budget released earlier this year. The $300-million, four year bill would greatly include funding for transit and other worthy infrastructure programs, but Time says it’s non-news until the time comes when Republicans may agree to such a bill. Debate over the bill is likely to continue for the remainder of this year.

Madrid’s smart parking meters charge more for most polluting cars (The Guardian)

About one in four motorists — those with the most polluting cars — will pay 20 percent more for parking. Meanwhile, those in the least polluting cars will pay 20 percent less. Great idea!

Want to be more creative? Take a walk (New York Times) 

A new Stanford study aims to show that people who walk show more signs of creative and innovating thinking. Not exactly a surprise — creative types have been singing the praises of going for a stroll for ages. No one is exactly sure the mechanism at work that boosts creativity — one idea is that walking simply puts people in a better mood and good moods translate to more expansive thought.

The train tunnel in this film is now part of PCH (Southland) 

Great footage shot in 1898 of a train rumbling through what is now the McClure Tunnel that connects the Santa Monica Freeway to Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica.


Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 30

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! 

L.A., Central Valley have nation’s worst air (L.A. Times) 

The latest American Lung Assn. rankings show that Los Angeles leads the list of American cities with the worst air when it comes to pollution from ozone and fine particulate matter, according to data from 2010 through 2012. The triumverate of Bakersfield, Visalia and Fresno have the worst spikes in particulate matter in the country — owing to farm work and construction — with L.A. fourth behind them.

Gold Line to Ontario airport off track; bill withdrawn by its author (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) 

Assemblyman Fred Rodriguez withdrew a bill that would have given the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority the authority to begin studies of a third (and currently unfunded) segment running between Montclair and the airport. But officials in San Bernardino County have been lukewarm to the idea, saying there may be other ways to reach the airport via transit — and some officials there want money spent on other projects. Ontario Airport served about four million passengers in 2013 compared to 66.6 million at LAX.

The rise of protected bike lanes in America (people for bikes) 

Nice video showing what bike lanes can and should look like — protected from road traffic by something more than a thin white line of paint.

How EZ Pass lanes could make premature births less common (The Atlantic Cities) 

Transponders that enable motorists to travel through toll plazas in New Jersey and Pennsylvania without stopping may have also reduce the number of premature births according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University. The reason: less pollution from idling cars, so says the study. Hmm. I’m not crazy about idling cars — obviously — but not sure I’m buying into this study quite yet.

Semi-related to transit: Tonight we’re all Captain Quints, with the exception of that last scene. Assuming we prevail, go Metro to Game 3 and 4 of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs!




Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 23

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! 

Transit-related note: Thanks to Kings fans for riding the Expo and Blue Lines to last night’s game. Lucky bounce, Sharks. Games four and six will be at Staples Center. 

Gold Line being challenged on possible terminus at Ontario Airport (Los Angeles Newspaper Group)

The San Bernardino Association of Governments is opposing a state bill that would give the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority permission to plan and study a third segment of the project between Claremont and Ontario Airport. SANBAG says it wants to first study other options for connecting transit to the airport, which in recent years has a seen a significant decline in air passenger travel. The airport segment lacks funding at this time. The Construction Authority is an independent agency that is building the Gold Line extension to Azusa with Measure R funds; Metro will operate the line when completed.

Pay lanes have better result on 10 freeway than 110 freeway, report says (Los Angeles Newspaper Group)

A look at the Metro staff report issued earlier this week that offered a preliminary analysis of the performance of the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeways during their one-year pilot period. Excerpt:

For example, on the 11-mile stretch of the 110 Freeway between Adams Street and the 91 Freeway during the morning commute, it took on average 2 minutes longer to travel on the ExpressLanes than when the lanes were regular High Occupancy Vehicle lanes. The evening commute showed no change, the report stated.

On the 14-mile stretch of ExpressLanes installed in February 2013 on the 10 Freeway from the 605 Freeway to Alameda Street in Los Angeles, commuters got where they were going more than 2 minutes faster on average. Even the general-purpose lanes showed a near 2-minute decrease in travel time, compared to before the lanes were implemented.

The analysis, by the Federal Highway Administration, noted that the ExpressLanes have still met many of their goals — for example, ridership on the Silver Line has increased 27 percent and use of the ExpressLanes has increased since they began, resulting in increased revenues.

The Metro Board of Directors on Thursday will consider whether to keep the lanes beyond January 2015.

‘Rail to River’ project envisions greenway along rail tracks (KCET)

A look at the proposal being studied by Metro to use 8.3 miles of the Harbor Subdivision rail right-of-way for a pedestrian and bike path between the Los Angeles River and the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Here’s a recent Source post on Metro’s ongoing study. As noted in the KCET article, one big challenge is that parts of the old rail corridor are narrow and may not be able to accommodate both a future rail or BRT line (although nothing is imminent) and a walking and biking path.

A look at L.A.’s second-year bike lane implementation list (Streetsblog L.A.)

A good look at some of the bike lane projects under consideration by the city of Los Angeles. As Joe Linton notes, some of the current lanes seem more opportunistic than strategic whereas some of the second-year lanes would connect between current bike lanes and help build a true biking network. Looks like several of the projects would intersect or be near future Metro Rail lines, which is important for first- and last-mile connections.


Transportation headlines, Thursday, July 11

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.

High Desert Corridor concepts unveiled (L.A. Daily News)

Transportation officials unveiled Wednesday various concepts for a proposed High Desert Corridor from the Antelope Valley to San Bernardino County that would allow travelers to bypass some of the busiest freeways in Los Angeles County and potentially link with the California High Speed Rail project to Las Vegas.

Alhambra hosts 710 Day (Glendale News Press)

While anti-freeway activists have dominated the dialogue over efforts to extend the Long Beach (710) Freeway northward, the city of Alhambra launched the first salvo on Wednesday in its campaign to drum up support for the extension.

San Bernardino County officials say bus rapid-transit system nearly completed (San Bernardino Sun)

As Metro works on a BRT down massively jammed Wilshire Boulevard, others are doing likewise. Construction of a $192 million rapid-transit bus system through 15 miles from  San Bernardino to Loma Linda may be completed in a couple months, with service beginning in 2014. Metro’s Wilshire Boulevard BRT will stretch from Valencia Street to Centinela Avenue. The first 1.8-mile segment of peak hour bus lanes on Wilshire opened June 5.

Rail link to Ontario airport studied (Press Enterprise)

San Bernardino County transportation officials agreed Wednesday to spend nearly $600,000 on a study of potential ways to provide rail access to the LA/Ontario International Airport. As most readers know, Ontario has suffered a significant downturn in airline traffic — something a rail link would quite likely positively influence. 

Transportation headlines, Friday, June 21

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: It's a full moon on Sunday night, meaning it's time for another Metro Full Moon Photo Challenge.  Get the full moon in a photo with a Metro bus or train and we'll feature it in this space, earning you great amounts of fame on the World Wide Web. Booya! Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro, taken in February from the Lake Avenue bridge over the Gold Line and the 210 freeway.

ART OF TRANSIT: It’s a full moon on Sunday night, meaning it’s time for another Metro Full Moon Photo Challenge. Get the full moon in a photo with a Metro bus or train and we’ll feature it in this space, earning you great amounts of fame on the World Wide Web. Booya! Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro, taken in February from the Lake Avenue bridge over the Gold Line and the 210 freeway.

Ten minutes with tunnel boring machines that tweet (Engineering News-Record)

There are several projects (including subway projects) around the U.S. using tunnel boring machines at the moment and many of the TBMs have their own Twitter streams. Excerpt:

@MackenzieTBM: I don’t get too wrapped up in follower counts. All I know is I have rock in front of me, concrete behind me, and I’ll be followed by 60 million gallons of stormwater and sewage when my job’s done. You don’t text and drive, do you? Neither can I.

@BerthaDigsSR99: I’m a huge fan of the Mars Curiosity Rover, but I recognize she has more important things to do than follow me. I can only imagine what Martian soil tastes like.    

@BigAlmatheTBM: I have about 300 followers, and Mom Chung has 350. I’d be absolutely thrilled to tweet with Mike Rowe, the star of my favorite TV show, “Dirty Jobs.” I’m a huge fan and really respect his work. Plus I think he’d really “get” me.

Metro will hopefully have some TBMs joining the fray soon as tunneling will be needed on the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Regional Conector and Purple Line Extension.

Here’s a cool video from the Central Subway project team in San Francisco that shows the assembly of the Mom Chung TBM:

Ontario air traffic declines for sixth straight year (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

The main airport serving the Inland Empire is operating at about 25 percent capacity and is on track to handle fewer than four million passengers in 2013. There have been declines at Bob Hope Airport and Long Beach, too, while passenger loads have increased at John Wayne Airport in Orange County and LAX. An aviation consultant blames Ontario’s woes on Los Angeles World Airports, which owns and operates the Ontario facility and says LAWA hasn’t redistributed air traffic as promised.

Sweeping protests in Brazil over array of grievances — among them, fare hikes (New York Times) 

Protests in Divinopolis, Brazil, on Wednesday. Photo by Fernando H. C. Oliveira, via Flickr creative commons.

Protests in Divinopolis, Brazil, on Wednesday. Photo by Fernando H. C. Oliveira, via Flickr creative commons.

Protests that started over a proposed increase in transit fares have escalated to much larger protests across Brazil over a long list of citizen complaints — costly stadiums, corrupt politicians, high taxes and shoddy schools. Officials have made concessions on the fare hikes, but protestors have not been placated.

Editorial: Metro should seek Gold Line funds (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) 

The editorial says that Metro should fulfill the promise of Measure R by seeking more than $900 million in federal funds needed to extend the Gold Line from Azusa to Claremont. Although the editorial doesn’t explain it, this is part of an effort by cities in the San Gabriel Valley to have a Measure R project acceleration plan amended to show the entire cost of extending the Gold Line from Pasadena to Claremont. Excerpt:

Construction is proceeding in a timely manner from Pasadena to Azusa. But the Gold Line Construction Authority also has, unlike virtually any other project in Los Angeles or on the Westside being promoted by Metro, ownership of the right of way and an approved Environmental Impact Report all the way to Claremont. After that, it would be just a short and logical hop to Montclair and then the proposed Ontario Airport Extension that makes all the transit sense in the world.

A couple of notes here.

•Metro has completed the environmental studies for the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Regional Connector and the Purple Line Extension. All three are scheduled to be under construction within two years.  In the mean time, they’re proceeding with securing contractors, relocating utilities and other activities to get ready for construction.

•Measure R is funding the extension of the Gold Line from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border and an extension of the Eastside Gold Line to either South El Monte or Whittier in the San Gabriel Valley. Whether or not the full Metro Board amends the acceleration plan to show the cost of going to Claremont, the fact remains that not every Measure R project is fully funded by Measure R, the reason the subway isn’t making it to the sea, the Connector isn’t stopping at 5th/Flower and the Crenshaw/LAX Line isn’t going north of Exposition Boulevard. As for the bit about the Ontario Airport, perhaps the Los Angeles Newspaper Group’s editorial board should read the story it just published in one of its newspapers about declining use of the facility. See the above story.


Transportation headlines, Monday, May 20

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.

Mayor candidates on transportation: innovation versus tried and true (L.A. Times)

With Election Day tomorrow in Los Angeles, the Times tries to tease apart the differences on transportation policy between Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel. If not much difference on the issues, there may be an issue in style, says one of the academics who is quoted.

As the article points out, the biggest source of influence for the next mayor will be the four seats on the Metro Board of Directors directly under their control (the mayor gets one seat and then can appoint three others). I think perhaps the most interesting revelation, however, was this:

Among likely L.A. city voters in Tuesday’s election, nearly half said they thought policymakers should focus on public transportation, compared with 35% who favored spending on roads and freeways, according to a new poll by the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and the Los Angeles Times.


I think that’s pretty interesting given the car-centric reputation of the area and, of course, interesting if there’s another Measure R or Measure J down the road.

 L.A.’s next mayor to have a regional impact (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) 

Of course, you can say that about any mayoral election in Los Angeles because of the mayor’s voting bloc on the Metro Board. This article makes two points pertinent to the San Gabriel Valley: the next mayor could play a big role in deciding who manages Ontario’s airport in the future (it’s currently run by L.A. but locals want control) and the next mayor plays a big role in decisions made by the Port of Los Angeles, a major driver of freight traffic on roads and rails in the region.
The most provocative part of the article — at least the part in which my coffee almost ended up in my lap — comes from a Montclair council member who says that money for the Purple Line Extension would be better spent on a Gold Line extension to Montclair, a small city in western San Bernardino County. I think a smarter quote would have been to argue that L.A. County needs a transit network that spans almost the entire width of the county; I think that’s something voters get while pols tend to focus only on projects in their district. Shocking, I know.
The Los Angeles Mayor says he has worked closely with the City Council to find $40 million the city could contribute toward a Leimert Park station for the Crenshaw/LAX Line, although it will cost more than that. As part of the bidding process, Metro is seeking a construction firm that can build the optional station within the project’s $1.76-billion budget.
The Metro staff recommendation is supposed to be released soon and the contract could possibly be voted on at the June meeting of the Metro Board — which will also be Villaraigosa’s last Metro Board meeting as mayor. If a vote occurs, it’s a pretty dramatic way for Mayor V to end his eight-year tenure in office. If the issue isn’t decided in June, then Eric Garcetti or Wendy Greuel will confront a big vote early in their term — and they’ve also made some interesting statements about not just adding a station, but also undergrounding the line through Park Mesa Heights, an expensive proposition.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Jan. 24

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.

Ciclavia. Photo by Davey Gonzalez/Flickr

Ciclavia. Photo by Davey Gonzalez/Flickr

I blocked off Wilshire and Angelenos loved it (Zocolo Public Square)

Aaron Paley, co-founder and executive director of CicLAvia, talks about the birth of L.A.’s day-long bike ride celebration through closed city streets (the next one is April 21) and how its growing popularity speaks to our need to connect and engage. And the news is good: This year for the first time there will be three events, rather than two. Hooray!

Does a Metrolink connection to Ontario Airport make sense? (Daily News)

Want to get from LA/Ontario International Airport to downtown L.A. in 20 minutes on Metrolink? L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl likes the idea. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that it currently takes about an hour to travel the airport-adjacent East Ontario Metrolink Station and downtown L.A. — so there’s some work to do to shave that time in more than half.

Downtown L.A.’s edgy arts district is neighborhood in transition (Los Angeles Times)

The Gold-Line adjacent arts district is drawing comparisons to New York’s meatpacking district, where trendy shops, restaurants and offices have taken over industrial buildings. But the concern is that gentrification will drive out low-paid artists who can no longer afford to live there.

On this day Arthur Winston joined the Los Angeles Railway (Metro Transportation Library Primary Resources blog)

The Metro Library blog points out that on this day in 1924, 18-year-old Arthur Winston began working for the Los Angeles Railway and continued working until the day before his 100th birthday in 2006. He was named “Employee of the Century” because he was never late for work and only took one day off during his entire career. A man of distinction by any measure. But is this old-fashioned work ethic still alive?

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Nov. 7

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Measure J, L.A. County transportation tax measure, fails (L.A. Times)

The proposal to accelerate transportation projects by extending the Measure R sales tax for 30 more years received 64.72 percent of the vote — a nice show of support. But J needed a super-majority of two-thirds of the vote to pass and came up a little less than two percentage points shy of that. In the Times, an organizer for the Bus Riders Union says that she’s very happy about the result. Turnout may have been an issue. When Measure R was approved with 67.92 percent of the vote in 2008, about 889,000 more people voted. There are still some votes to be counted so the final J tally may change a little, but it’s unlikely the result will.

Here’s an interesting discussion about J on Twitter this morning, led by Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne:

The Vote 2012 (Transport Politic)

Scroll down this post for some key transportation-related elections around the country. Perhaps the one most relevant here is that a proposal to extend an existing sales tax for 30 years in Alameda County failed with 65.5 percent of the vote.

A good night for Honolulu light rail (Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

Kirk Caldwell won election last night; his opponent had been threatening to shut down construction of a federally-funded light rail project, saying it was a waste of money and buses could better do the job. Caldwell is a key supporter of light rail.

Ontario Airport will lose more flights in 2013 (LA Observed)

The outlook for next year is not promising and the bottom line is this: LAX keeps growing while second tier airports such as Ontario are losing business. Something perhaps for supporters of extending the Gold Line to Ontario to think about.

Greyhound launches non-stop service between Las Vegas and L.A. (L.A. Times)

The five-hour trip is part of the carrier’s “express” brand service and includes plush seats and free wi-fi.

Review of today's Metro Board meeting

•The Board approved a motion by Board Chair and Supervisor Mike Antonovich that Metro take a position of support for a federal loan application for Desert Xpress project, which proposes to connect Las Vegas, Victorville and Palmdale by high-speed rail. The motion does not involve any financial support for the project from Metro. California’s high-speed rail project is also planned to have a station in Palmdale, which could allow for transfers between the two rail systems. At this point, federal officials are still reviewing the loan application from Desert Xpress.

•The Board also approved a motion by Antonovich that calls for Metro to develop a plan to improve transfers and schedule coordination with other transit agencies — for example, between Metrolink and local bus service. Another motion by Antonovich, also approved by the Board, requires Metro to develop a regional airport connectivity plan to connect Metrolink and Metro to LAX, Bob Hope Airport, Ontario Airport and Palmdale and Long Beach airports

•The Board approved a plan to proceed with the construction methods on Flower Street for the Regional Connector that was approved as part of the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report. That would involve using a tunnel machine north of 4th Street and cut-and-cover method to dig the tunnel for the train between 4th and south of 6th.

The general manager for the Westin Bonaventure hotel, which has filed a lawsuit challenging the project’s environmental studies, said that his client would drop its suit if tunneling extends past 5th Street on Flower. Otherwise, the attorney said that the hotel could lose over half of its business and half the staff could lose its jobs.

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Transportation headlines, Monday, October 31

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

Pass this bill: Why Congress must put people back to work rebuilding our country (U.S. DOT Fast Lane Blog)

This week, the U.S. Senate will have the opportunity to vote on the transportation component of President Obama’s American Jobs Act. If Congress passes the president’s transportation plan, the United States will make an immediate investment in construction jobs upgrading 150,000 miles of road, laying or maintaining 4,000 miles of track and restoring 150 miles of runways. If they don’t, we won’t.

New California bullet train plan to be released tomorrow (San Francisco Business Times)

California’s bullet train architects will release an updated business plan tomorrow that they say “comprehensively addresses the future of this project.” The Nov. 1 publication starts a 60-day public comment period, which includes public meetings to be scheduled in November and December.

As use dwindles, calls grow for local control of Ontario Airport (Los Angeles Times)

After three decades of steady growth, L.A./Ontario International Airport lost a third of its 7.2 million annual passengers between 2007 and 2010. Can local control help shore up sagging revenue?