Sneak peek into the artwork for future Downtown Santa Monica Station

Artist Judithe Hernandez in her studio, with two of her original artworks for the Expo Line in the background.

Artist Judithe Hernandez in her studio, with two of her original artworks for the Expo Line in the background.

This is the fourth in a series of Source posts providing a behind-the-scenes look at the artwork fabrication process for each of the seven new Metro Rail stations under construction along the second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica. The artworks will create a welcoming environment for future riders and connect the stations to surrounding neighborhoods. Commissioned artists include Constance Mallinson, Shizu Saldamando, Abel Alejandre, Susan Logoreci, Nzuji de Magalhães, Carmen Argote, and Judithe Hernandez.

This post introduces the artwork of artist Judithe Hernandez, which will be featured at the Downtown Santa Monica Station. Her original artwork, L.A. Sonata, began as chalk and oil pastel drawings on paper.

Artwork Description: L.A. Sonata depicts a composite of global mythologies, a fitting gesture for the terminus station of the Expo Line, located at the very edge of our continent. The artist layers images to create metaphors for day and night as well as the seasons. By weaving cultural identifiers with elements that denote the passage of time, artworks create a sense of shared place and historical significance that honors the heritage of the local, the immigrant and the tourist alike.

In the artist’s own words, “I sought an image palette from the ancient myths and legends of Europe, Mexico, Japan, India, Latin America, Iran, Russia, Native America, Polynesia and Africa. These images became a visual symphony, a magical dreamscape.”

The pastel drawings were translated into glass mosaics from vivid cake glass, handmade by the artwork fabricator. The 24 glass mosaic panels will be placed in steel frames and installed at the Downtown Santa Monica Station in highly visible places for riders and the public.

Hernandez is thoroughly involved in the process to ensure that the glass mosaic is an accurate translation of her original artwork.

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Metro unveils new Kinkisharyo pilot rail car

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Metro unveiled the first of 78 Kinkisharyo P3010 rail cars this morning. The first pilot car will be used for testing to ensure it is fully compatible with Metro’s system and that there are no safety or technical issues before the remaining cars are delivered.

If all goes according to plan, Metro will receive its first production car in the summer of 2015. That car will be used for testing and training on the Metro Expo Line Phase II and Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension, and then placed in service when the two lines open in 2016. All 78 cars are expected to be in service by January 2017.

Take a brief tour on the pilot car with this video:

Source writers Anna and Joe, both transit system connoisseurs, were able to take a tour inside the pilot car this morning. Their thoughts:

Joe: The first thing I noticed when I got on the train were the blue floor decals and blue seat designs that marked the disabled/priority seating areas. I’ve seen the blue seat design on our new buses and they’re hard to miss. There’s no doubt that this area is reserved for passengers with special needs and you should be prepared to move if you’re sitting in one of the seats.

I also see potential for the monitors that were located at the front and rear of the train. If they’re ultimately used for something informational such as digital signage, it would be an excellent and efficient use of the space.

Anna: Love the shiny new yellow, it’s very eye-catching. The seat arrangement also makes the train car feel more spacious, and more similar to the Nippon Sharyo cars on the Blue/Expo Line. I agree with Joe on the designated priority seats and can’t wait to see them in use. Not sure how I feel about the emergency door open handle being lower and located on the car wall behind the priority seating. On the one hand, it’s more accessible, which is good in case of emergency. But on the other, it’s located behind priority seating…which is reserved for those who may have mobility issues.

Thing I love the most? The extra large decal showing where the designated bicycle/luggage/stroller area is. It’s impossible to miss and makes it super easy for bicyclists to know where to go when they bring bikes on board.

Keep reading after the jump for the press release on the pilot car from Metro:

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Transportation headlines, Friday, October 9

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: Latvian bike activists show how much space a bike takes versus that of a car. Clever. Click above for more photos. Photo by Artūrs Pavlovs.

Art of Transit: Latvian bike activists show how much space a bike takes versus that of a car. Clever. Click above for more photos. Photo by Artūrs Pavlovs.

405 speeds little changed (ZevWeb)

The traffic data firm Inrix sampled traffic on the northbound 405 for a couple of weeks last month between the 10 and 101. The finding: it basically takes the same average amount of time to travel between the 10 and 101 in 2014 as it did in 2013 before the NB 405 HOV lane was fully opened.

There are a couple of caveats: Inrix says that the number of cars crossing the pass has increased because of a regional surge in traffic (likely tied to the economy) and that travel times in the last hour of peak travel times is faster than it was before the HOV lane opened.

Excerpt:

The finding that speeds appear to have remained level despite the increase in traffic is a sign of the project’s success, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said. Caltrans, Metro’s partner on the 405 Project, estimates that the carpool lane handles 1,600 cars per hour during peak travel times. “If you didn’t have that extra lane, all those cars would be competing for five lanes instead of six,” Sotero said.

What’s more, the 405 Project’s benefits go beyond traffic speeds, Sotero said. The project enhanced safety by rebuilding three bridges to better withstand earthquakes and by creating additional shoulder space on the freeway, he said, while reconfigured on- and off-ramps have increased capacity and improved traffic flow. Sotero said the project never was expected to be a panacea for rush hour traffic.

“You can’t escape the fact that carpool lanes are going to fill up during peak periods,” Sotero said. “What carpool lanes do is reduce the duration and severity of traffic.”

Two other points worth chewing on: the new Valley-Westside Express Bus will debut Dec. 15 and use the NB HOV lane on the 405 (click here for more info). Also, the Inrix sampling doesn’t consider how many people are in cars crossing the pass. HOV lanes typically carry more people than regular lanes (because those cars are mostly carpooling!) — i.e. meaning a lot more people are probably getting across the Sepulveda Pass in the same amount of time as previous.

Expo construction at 70 percent (Santa Monica Daily Press) 

Canopies on the Westwood Station. Photo courtesy Ron Miller, via Expo Line Fan's construction gallery. Click above to visit the gallery.

Canopies on the Westwood Station. Photo courtesy Ron Miller, via Expo Line Fan’s construction gallery. Click above to visit the gallery.

Expo Line Construction Authority officials say that all bridges are done and construction should be finished by next summer when the process of handing the project over to Metro could begin. That’s not a short or trivial process btw. Metro must inspect the line to make sure that the Authority, an independent agency set up by the state, was built to the agency’s specifications.

Thoughts at a workshop on replacing CA’s gas tax with a mileage fee (Streetsblog LA)

Joe Linton attends a half-day gathering to mull the possibility of taxing motorists by the mile instead of the current scheme which involves a tax applied per gallon; California will soon launch a pilot program to test distance-based taxes. The post does a good job of capturing the nuances of the two taxation systems and concludes that distance-based taxes may work but there are a lot of variables involved. One interesting one: Americans overall are driving less, a trend that seems likely to continue.

Metro fare jumpers explain how they evade fares (LA Weekly)

Although the fare evasion rate remains elusive, L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies issued 35.5 percent more citations (89,535) for fare evasion in 2013 than 2012, according to data from a public records request submitted by LA Weekly. The data also indicates — perhaps not surprisingly — that 19- to 29-year-olds are frequently cited, males are cited three times more often than females and the Red and Blue Lines are where most citations are issued (they are Metro’s two most heavily ridden lines, btw).

The Weekly also made a video showing how turnstiles may be vulnerable to fare evasion although it should be noted: 1) Metro is hardly the only transit system with turnstiles and fare evaders; 2) If you get caught, you’ll be cited at least $75, and; 3) Metro’s bus and rail system is big and expensive to run and fares help pay for it. Not paying hurts our transit system and fellow riders.

Garcetti: NFL team ‘highly likely’ to return to L.A. in next year (L.A. Times)

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti says interest in L.A. by the NFL remains high. It appears three franchises — the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers — are the three most viable candidates and there are two potential locations, a new stadium next to Staples Center or a new stadium near Hollywood Park. From a transit perspective, it’s hard to beat the Staples Center location while Hollywood Park would require a shuttle from the Crenshaw/LAX Line when it’s completed, currently forecast for 2019.

From an aesthetic/competitive point of view, the Raiders are hopeless and belong in Oakland while the Chargers could go deep in the playoffs this season but belong in San Diego. The Rams, however, should have never left L.A., play in an extremely ugly dome in St. Louis and being in L.A. would be a better locale to play their division rivals, the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals. So if the deed must be done, Go Rams!

Sneak peek into fabrication process for artwork at future Palms Station

Artist Shizu Saldamando in her studio, with one of her original artworks in the background.

Artist Shizu Saldamando in her studio, with one of her original artworks in the background.

This is the second in a series of Source posts providing a behind-the-scenes look at the artwork  fabrication process for each of the seven new Metro Rail stations under construction along the second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica.

The artworks will create a welcoming environment for future riders and connect the stations to surrounding neighborhoods. Commissioned artists include Constance Mallinson, Shizu Saldamando, Abel Alejandre, Susan Logoreci, Nzuji de Magalhães, Carmen Argote, and Judithe Hernandez.

This post introduces the artwork of Los Angeles-based artist Shizu Saldamando, which will be featured at Palms Station. Saldamando’s original artwork, Artist Educators, uses wood, graphite pencil and Japanese washi paper. It consists of 10 large scale overhead panels and was translated in a variety of mediums, including ceramic tiles that are fired in a kiln using different techniques. The 10 panels will be located in overhead structures at Palms Station entries and throughout the platform, highly visible to transit customers and the general public.

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, Sept. 11

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! 

Gov. Brown signs bills allowing three-bike racks on transit buses (StreetsblogLA) 

“This new law allows 40-foot-long buses to be equipped with folding bike racks that can carry up to three bikes,” reports Streetsblog, in a bit of good news for some Metro bus riders. A few agencies had previously been using the triple racks due either to loopholes or exemptions in the law.

Efforts to change the law, however, had run into various roadblocks in recent years — including resistance from unions representing bus operators. The bill was authored by Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) and pushed heavily by Metro.

About half of Metro’s bus fleet is comprised of 40-foot buses, so hopefully this will help accommodate cyclists using those buses. As the article explains, there are still hurdles to converting to triple racks on longer buses.

Santa Monica Council picks Worthe as developer for Bergamot Station (Santa Monica Daily Press) 

The City Council on a 5 to 1 vote on Tuesday night selected the developer to pursue adding 44,000-square-feet of “creative space” and possibly a boutique hotel to the Bergamot Station arts complex in Santa Monica. The vote followed four hours of public comment that made it clear there was still considerable opposition from gallery owners and residents to further developing the site, where an Expo Line station is under construction (the line is forecast to open in early 2016).

I caught some of the meeting on KCRW on Tuesday night and among the concerns I heard were lack of parking, traffic and rising rents that could eventually squeeze out the galleries. It’s certainly an interesting story, given that the arts complex will include an Expo Line station with relatively easy connections to downtown Santa Monica and points east. The current complex is a very nice public space, although I’ve never been crazy about the big parking lot in the middle of the complex that occupies about half the space.

Bill Boyarsky also offers commentary on the Council vote at LAObserved.

Metrolink goes for animal attraction (L.A. Register) 

Why four farm animals took a ride from Union Station to the Los Angeles County Fair. Hint: it was a promotion to boost ridership! As promotions go, I like it.

Major changes discusses to expand, renew Union Station (Chicago Sun Times)

Chicago's Union Station is a little more workmanlike than Union Station here in L.A. Photo by Jeramey Jannene, via Flickr creative commons.

Chicago’s Union Station is a little more workmanlike than Union Station here in L.A. Photo by Jeramey Jannene, via Flickr creative commons.

I didn’t realize the Sun Times was still around (I worked at the rival Trib many, many moons ago)! Chicago is looking at big changes to its primary downtown rail station — expanding platforms, public space, etc. Denver already updated its Union Station and, of course, Metro is putting the finishing touches on its Union Station Master Plan. I believe there are some other similar efforts underway around the country — nice to see train stations being revived and prepped for a hopefully busy future.

 

Upcoming construction closure: 19th Street at Expo Line intersection in Santa Monica

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Above is the good word from the Expo Line Construction Authority, the agency building the six-mile project that will extend tracks from Culver City to downtown Santa Monica with seven new stations.

The project is funded mostly by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008. It is currently forecast to open in early 2016.

Transportation headlines, Monday, August 25

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: The Blue Line headed south toward Compton. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The Blue Line headed south toward Compton. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Gold Line Eastside project environmental document released (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Coverage of the release on Friday of the Eastside Gold Line Phase 2 environmental study.  As the article notes, the two light rail alternatives would extend the Eastside Gold Line from East L.A. to either South El Monte or Whittier. Metro staff at this time has not selected a preferred alternative — that will happen in November. Under Measure R, the project is not scheduled to be complete until 2035, but Metro is trying to accelerate funding for the project, including possibly through a sales tax ballot measure in 2016. Here’s our post about the study, with links to the document.

L.A. County Supervisor’s alternate bullet train route gaining traction (L.A. Times)

The California High-Speed Rail Authority seems to be considering a tunnel under the San Gabriel Mountains on equal footing with two earlier proposed routes along the 14 freeway — neither of which is very popular with communities such as Action, Agua Ducle and Santa Clarita. Bullet train officials say the tunnel-only option advocated by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich — which would require 18 to 20 miles — of tunnels may actually prove cheaper than the 14 freeway routes, which also require extensive tunneling anyway. If you want to dream about traveling from Palmdale to Burbank in 15 minutes, read the article. The usual bullet train caveat: securing funding for the project — which aims to eventually connect L.A. and San Francisco — remains a huge hurdle.

Fault lines in L.A. over new subway construction (Breitbart News) 

The city and school district in Beverly Hills are touting a new study from their consultants that claims that there are not any earthquake faults that would prohibit a subway station under Santa Monica Boulevard. Metro is sticking by its stance that active faults make building a station under Santa Monica Boulevard unsafe and it’s better from a safety and planning viewpoint to put the Purple Line Extension station in the center of Century City, under the intersection of Avenue of the Stars and Constellation boulevard. Beverly Hills officials want the station under Santa Monica Boulevard because it would not require tunneling under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus. As you likely know, Beverly Hills has challenged the project’s environmental studies with a pair of state and federal lawsuits. The Superior Courts ruled in favor of Metro in the state case and Beverly Hills appealed. The federal suit is ongoing.

After earthquake near Napa, up to 100 homes labeled as unfit to enter (L.A. Times) 

The 6.0-magnitude temblor that struck early Sunday didn’t do much damage to major transportation infrastructure throughout the Bay Area — although there was certainly damage to homes and businesses and other key infrastructure.

Damage at the Lucero store in Napa. Photo by Matthew Keys via Flickr creative commons.

Damage at the Lucero store in Napa. Photo by Matthew Keys via Flickr creative commons.

Have Americans really fallen out of love with driving? (Fortune)

Consumer spending has risen steadily over most of the last decade — with a brief dip due to the Great Recession. But the number of miles driven by Americans has remained flat since late 2007 — even as the number of those with jobs has increased in recent years. What gives? The independent research firm Behind the Numbers suggests that driving less is a trend here to stay and is a combination of several factors including high gas prices, baby boomers growing older, millennials gaining in numbers (millennials are less interested in driving), more interest in transit and more desire by many to live in urban settings. Fortune is a little skeptical, saying that gas prices adjusted for inflation are not outrageous and millennials still don’t play much of a role in the overall economy.

My three cents: I’m certainly not a millennial (I’m 48) but I certainly don’t want to drive more or purchase more gasoline than is absolutely necessary. Nor do I like spending money on cars, which notoriously lose value very quickly. I think with good transit, biking and housing options in cities with good public spaces, driving will remain flat in America as along as it remains relatively expensive.

Here’s how easy it is to hack a traffic light with a laptop (Vox)

With permission from local authorities, hackers in Michigan were able to disrupt timing of traffic lights in an un-named city rather easily. Vox suggests that this is a security concern — and it is certainly illegal to tamper with lights. That said, in my neck of the woods (Pasadena), I’m not sure that the timing of traffic lights could be much worse, the reason other computer hacker targets inspire a little more fear.