New station canopy being built at Wilshire/Western Purple Line Station

Subway riders will no doubt notice a brand new subway portal canopy now being built over the Purple Line’s Wilshire/Western Station.

The new canopy will feature new components from Metro’s “kit of parts” station design concepts that’s seeking to keep Metro structures consistent in their appearance and easier and more affordable to maintain. More importantly, the canopy should shield Metro customers from the elements and help prevent weather-related damage to escalators and other station facilities.

Construction of the canopy is expected to be completed by October of this year and will give the Wilshire/Western station a look similar to that of future stations for the Metro Purple Line Extension Project now in pre-construction.

T&Y Bakery opens at Union Station!

coconut thingUnion Station’s has a brand new attraction. T&Y Bakery opened this morning with pastry and cookies and French macaroons and this amazing coconut confection that turned out to be the perfect way to calm a 3 p.m. hunger attack.

T&Y stands for Tbilisi & Yerevan (the capitol cities of Georgia and Armenia) and the bakery selections reflect that heritage. Pierogi, baclava, cannoli, breads, black and white cookies. What more could we want? Well, maybe ice cream but Ben & Jerry’s is just next door and Starbucks is across the concourse.

There are T&Ys in two other L.A. locations, in West Hollywood and at the Farmers Market at Fairfax and 3rd Street.

What with the Japanese convenience store Famima, Wetzel’s Pretzels and this new Russian bakery, Union Station is becoming quite the international destination … just like L.A. itself.

Here’s the T&Y Bakery video from The Farmers Market site.

 

Take Metro’s Dodger Stadium Express to Paul McCartney show Sunday

dodgers_map

And the answer is yes: Metro’s Dodger Stadium Express bus service is running Sunday night to the sold-out Paul McCartney concert at the ballpark. The bus between Union Station and Dodger Stadium is free to those holding a ticket to the show.

This is McCartney’s first show at Dodger Stadium since the Beatles played there August 28, 1966. Expect a huge crowd and the usual parking hassles that go with it.

The basics:

BOARDING LOCATION

  • Board the Dodger Stadium Express at Bus Bay 3 of the Patsaouras Transit Plaza at Union Station.
  • Service leaves Union Station every 5 to 10 minutes, starting at 5 p.m. (the show begins at 8 p.m.). Metro recommends arriving early; crowds will be heavier closer to the concert start time.
  • Your concert ticket is good for the Dodger Stadium Express fare*; otherwise, regular Metro fares apply.
  • You can exit inside Dodger Stadium at one of two stops – behind Center Field and at the Top Deck. Service will pick up at the same stops after the game.
  • Return service runs until 45 minutes after the concert ending.
  • Note: All Dodger Stadium Express vehicles are wheelchair accessible.

Parking at Union Station is $6. Union Station is also served by many Metro and municipal bus lines and Metro Rail’s Red, Purple and Gold lines, as well as Metrolink and Amtrak.

The last Purple Line train from Union Station is 11:47 p.m. Sunday. The last Red Line train from Union Station to North Hollywood leaves at 12:12 a.m.

The last Gold Line train from Union Station to Pasadena leaves at 12:12 a.m. The last Gold Line train from Union Station to East Los Angeles leaves at 12:12 a.m.

To plan the route that’s best for you, use the Trip Planner, Google Transit or call 323.GO.METRO. 

And for those who have never seen footage from the ’66 Beatles show:

That was their second-to-last concert — the last show was in San Francisco — until the Beatles popped up on a London rooftop in Jan. 1969, the year before their formal breakup:

A great one from McCartney’s Wings days (if you grew up in the 1970s, Wings and the Beatles were more or less on the radio constantly), played on Jimmy Kimmel in Hollywood last fall:

 

Transportation headlines, Friday, July 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! 

ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro local bus in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro local bus in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Guest editorial: don’t destroy the Orange Line, improve it (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Annie Weinstock and Stephanie Lotshaw argue that there is no need to convert the Orange Line to light rail. A state bill was signed into law earlier this week that rescinded the ban on light rail in the corridor. As we have posted before, converting the Orange Line to light rail is not in Metro’s long-range plans nor has the agency studied the issue.

Excerpt:

First, simply increasing bus frequency would be an obvious improvement. While there have been concerns that increasing frequency will cause bunching at intersections, this appears to be due to a signal timing issue which favors cross street traffic over public transportation on the Orange Line corridor. Timing traffic signals to favor automobiles shows an outdated mode of thinking. It would take some political will on the part of the city to change the signal timings, but it is a simple solution, far cheaper and faster than upgrading to light railwhich would still be faced with signal timing problems.

Then, by raising the boarding platforms at stations to the level of the bus floor, buses could complete the boarding process more quickly, further increasing capacity by allowing more buses to pull into the station more quickly. The system could also phase in more passing lanes at stations, allowing for a quadrupling of capacity and a mix of service types.

In addition, changing the intersection regulations, which currently require buses to slow to 10mph from 25, would increase overall speeds along the corridor. The reduction in speeds was initially implemented because of several accidents which occurred at the start of operations in 2005. But most systems experience problems in the early years, particularly where new signals have been introduced. Now, after almost 10 years of BRT operations as well as extensive signage and education done by Metro, these restrictions are obsolete and only make the system less convenient for passengers.

This is just an excerpt — please read the entire editorial for discussion of other salient points about bus rapid transit in the U.S. and the Orange Line. As for the issue of signal timing, the traffic lights are controlled by the city of Los Angeles.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti supports Gold Line Whittier route, Azusa-to-Claremont extension (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

(UPDATE, JULY 17: Mayor Garcetti told the Metro Board’s Executive Management Committee that the Tribune article was in error and that he did not say which potential alignment he supported at the meeting — and that a tape of the meeting shows that he did not state a preference).

At a transportation forum with San Gabriel Valley and San Bernardino County officials, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that he supports the Gold Line being extended to Whittier and that he would like to see it extended to both Whittier and South El Monte if funding can be found to build both. Metro will soon release the draft environmental study for the project; one alternative extends light rail to Whittier, another to South El Monte. Cities along both routes support the project.

Important note: an extension of the Eastside Gold Line is a project to be funded by Measure R and under the current schedule would be completed in 2035 unless funds are found to accelerate the project.

Garcetti also reiterated that he would like to see the Gold Line Foothill Extension built from Azusa to Montclair (something he said earlier this year) and would like to help find funding for the project whether or not it’s added to Metro’s short-range plan. The Pasadena-to-Azusa segment is under construction (it’s a Measure R-funded project) and scheduled for an early 2016 opening. Funding would need to be found for the Azusa-Montclair segment.

The greater context here is that Metro has been discussing a possible sales tax ballot measure in 2016 that could possibly be used to accelerate current projects or fund new ones. The Metro Board of Directors has not made any decision yet whether to take anything to Los Angeles County voters. But the agency is seeking feedback from cities in the county on what type of projects they would like to see funded. If — and it’s still a big ‘if’ –the agency seeks a ballot measure, the big decision to be made is whether the ballot measure would extend the current Measure R sales tax (which expires in mid-2039) or whether it would add an additional half-cent sales tax.

Work on big Pershing Square mixed-user to begin in mid-2015 (Curbed LA) 

The 600-unit residential building with commercial space would occupy the parking lots on the north side of Pershing Square and help densify a section of downtown L.A. that should be dense. The site, of course, sits adjacent to the Metro Red/Purple Line Pershing Square station and is a short train ride or walk to the 7th/Metro Center station that will eventually host trains headed to Long Beach, Santa Monica, Azusa and East Los Angeles.

Times intern recounts traffic challenges on way to Dodger Stadium (L.A. Times) 

It took Everett Cook 90 minutes to travel the two miles from the Times (at 2nd/Spring) to Dodger Stadium on Thursday thanks to traffic en route. “For what it’s worth, the vast majority of the traffic police and Dodgers employees were as helpful as can be. There might not even be a solution to this — too many cars in too small a stretch will be a problem anywhere,” he writes.

As I’ve written many times before, ballpark traffic is the price everyone pays for the decision in the 1950s to build the stadium atop a hill and away from the city grid — and the transit that goes with it. No one wants to move the ballpark into downtown, so it’s likely that traffic will remain an issue. The Dodger Stadium Express provides bus service between Union Station and the stadium is an alternative to driving. It’s free for those holding game tickets.

ART OF TRANSIT 2: There are many reasons why a train may go out of service, including the planet being taken over by apes. Credit: 20th Century Fox.

ART OF TRANSIT 2: There are many reasons why a train may go out of service, including the planet being taken over by apes. Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Thanks for riding to the L.A. Kings victory parade, hockey fans! A few pics for you…

Thanks everyone for riding Metro today to the victory parade and celebration for the Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup Championship. Looked to me like a big turnout — perhaps more people than for the 2012 parade.

If you would to download full resolution versions of any of the above photos of the Kings, they’re available on Metro’s Flickr page. To download, click on the “….” on the right side of the screen and then choose “download/all sizes” and then select the size.

See you in September, hockey fans!

Transportation headlines, Monday, April 7

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: Looking north to the San Gabriel Mountains from the bridge that will carry the Gold Line Foothill Extension over Foothill Boulevard in Azusa. Awesome photo by Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

ART OF TRANSIT: Looking north to the San Gabriel Mountains from the bridge that will carry the Gold Line Foothill Extension over Foothill Boulevard in Azusa. Awesome photo by Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

Move LA’s Measure R 2 proposal, including their rail fantasy map (Streetsblog L.A.) 

A look at the activist group’s “strawman proposal” for a half-cent sales tax increase they would like to see on the Nov. 2016 ballot; please note that Metro hasn’t decided to pursue such a tax yet although is surveying cities about their own desired projects. In any case, Move LA wants to see a 45-year sales tax increase with 30 percent of the funds dedicated to new rail and bus rapid transit projects — which they say would raise $27 billion over the life of the tax.

As Streetsblog notes, Move LA says their proposal is intended only to spur discussion and they include some projects for potential funding. Some are projects receiving seed money from the present Measure R (Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor, South Bay Green Line Extension) while others are new such as converting the Orange Line to a rail line, extending the Green Line to a junction with Metrolink in Norwalk, extending the Gold Line to San Bernardino County, extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line to Wilshire Boulevard, extending the Purple Line to Santa Monica from its future terminus at the West LA VA Hospital and extending the Eastside Gold Line Extension to both South El Monte and Whittier instead of just one of those.

If such a tax goes forward it will certainly be interesting to see how much is allocated to paying for new transit projects and which projects. As Move LA’s list shows, there are certainly some worthy candidates out there that would travel through many different parts of the county. And there are certainly parts of the transit network with holes in it. Stay tuned!

The real reason that mass transit fares are rising across the U.S. (The Atlantic Cities) 

Writer Eric Jaffe points out that several large agencies in the U.S. are currently pursuing fare increases (including Metro). And that’s not surprising: using data from a new federal report, Jaffe says that most agencies have seen the cost of providing bus and rail service rise substantially since 2000 while allowing fares to lag behind — often for good reasons (affordability, mobility, etc.). A lot of the cost appears not to come from employee salaries but rather the cost of employee benefits, which I’m guessing really means health care. It’s a national problem, Jaffe writes, and there doesn’t appear to be a neat solution on the near horizon outside of fare increases.

Dan Walters: bullet train faces withering set of issues (Sacramento Bee)

The political columnist concludes his column by asking whether construction should even begin on a project this year that may never have the funds to complete a link between L.A. and San Francisco or even the San Joaquin Valley. He also neatly lays out some of the current issues on the table, many involving legal challenges as to whether the project fulfills requirements in a 2008 bill that allowed the bond measure to go to state voters. Obviously this bears watching with one interesting but little publicized side issue: if the bullet train project hits more obstacles what happens to the part of the state bonds to help local projects connect with the bullet train? Both L.A. and San Francisco are using some of that money to fund local projects (the Regional Connector, to be specific).

What the Internet thinks of the world’s subways (Mashable) 

Fun pros and cons of 10 big subway systems around the globe (Los Angeles’ is not included) as gleamed from online reviews. Warning: the language used is not always delicate.

Musicians to celebrate Bach’s birthday March 21 with free public performances

Musicians around the world will be celebrating Johann Sebastian Bach’s 329th birthday this Friday, March 21, with free performances in subways and other public spaces. The idea is to bring a little music into people’s daily lives and hopefully inspire some future classical music lovers!

Several performances will be taking place near the plaza entrances of the following Metro Rail line stations.

  • Universal City, 7:30 – 8:30 a.m.
  • Civic Center/Grand Park , 11 a.m. – Noon
  • Civic Center/Grand Park, 1 – 2 p.m.
  • Civic Center/Grand Park, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.  
  • Universal City, 6 – 7 p.m.
  • Civic Center/Grand Park, 7 – 8 p.m.  

These performances are free and open to the public. At this time, event organizers are no longer accepting performer submissions. Those who would like to stay and listen, please be mindful of the pedestrian traffic around you. Also, please be reminded that musical performances are not allowed inside Metro stations.