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?