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!

Metro explores new green energy options: placing a wind turbine in a subway tunnel

Photos: Evan Rosenberg/Metro

You’re standing on a subway station platform, waiting for the train. Suddenly, the wind picks up. You know this means the train is coming. Many of you may also know why there’s wind: it’s displaced air being pushed through the tunnel by the fast moving train. And some of you — including Tom Kefalas, Metro Environmental Compliance and Services Manager — may have wondered if there was a way all that generated wind could be utilized as a renewable energy source.

Thanks to Tom Kefalas and Cris Liban, Director of Metro Environmental Compliance Services, we now know the answer is yes. From August through September 2013, Metro conducted a one-month pilot program to see if wind energy could safely and effectively be captured and used. The project involved working with engineers from WWT Tunnel, LLC, a subcontractor to Arcadis U.S., to create and install a unique 10-foot multi-blade mass airflow collection equipment (MACE) in the Red Line tunnel. To our knowledge, this is the first time a transit agency has tested the effect of having a wind turbine in a subway tunnel.

The MACE was installed between the North Hollywood and Universal City stations, a segment of the tunnel that sees trains reaching speeds of up to 70 mph. Each time a train left the station, the MACE fan blades would start spinning, thus capturing energy up to a minute before the train actually passed by. The blades would continue to spin up to 2 minutes after the train passed, and exceeded 1,070 revolutions per minute (RPM). The amount of electricity produced by these train initiated events was nearly double the amount that had originally been anticipated.

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About 135 trees to eventually be removed for Purple Line Extension

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Mexican fan palms to be removed near the future Wilshire/La Cienega station in Beverly Hills.

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Plane trees in the city of Los Angeles to be removed for subway construction.

As we move deeper into the era of construction for Measure R projects, we’re also going to be writing more about the inevitable work impacts of building transit and road projects.

And thus today’s news: about 135 trees — about 34 in Beverly Hills and 101 in the city of Los Angeles — will eventually have to be removed and later replaced along Wilshire Boulevard to accommodate work on the first phase of the Purple Line Extension subway.

Most of the trees to be removed are in the area where three new stations will be excavated: Wilshire and La Brea, Wilshire and Fairfax and Wilshire and La Cienega. Metro says it will plant two trees for every one that is removed.

The bulk of the tree removals are still about a year away and will be managed by the future contractor. However, in the next month or so, Metro is seeking to remove two Mexican fan palms from the median of Wilshire just east of Detroit (near the Wilshire/La Brea station site) for pre-construction work — specifically, fiber optic utility relocation. The agency has also submitted draft Master Tree Removal Plans to both Beverly Hills and Los Angeles and will work with both cities toward agreement on a final plan.

Of the trees to be removed, many are not in good shape and Metro officials say likely would not survive transplanting. None of the trees are protected, historically significant or belong to threatened species, although some of the Mexican fan palms to be removed are taller than 50 feet (Mexican Fan palms are a very common tree planted in cities in warm weather locales in the U.S.).

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Mayor Garcetti’s news release on $200 million in federal funding in next year’s budget for Metro projects

Here’s a news release from the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on the good news in President Obama’s recently-announced budget for the next fiscal year:

GARCETTI ANNOUNCES FEDERAL FUNDING IN PRESIDENT’S BUDGET; URGES CONGRESS TO PASS MULTI-YEAR FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION BILL

LOS ANGELES–Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today that President Obama’s FY 14-15 budget contains $200 million for critical Los Angeles transportation projects — $100 million each for the Regional Connector and the Westside Subway Extension. He also urged Congress to take immediate action to pass a multi-year Federal surface transportation bill.

“Especially in these tough economic times, you have to prove to Washington that you’re going to deliver real results,” Mayor Garcetti said. “This funding represents the White House’s recognition that our transit program will spend money wisely, create thousands of jobs, and make a real difference for L.A. commuters. Now, it’s time for Congress to act and pass a multi-year Federal surface transportation bill.”

The President’s proposed budget funding follows Los Angeles’ recent win of a $670 million Federal New Starts Full Funding Agreement Grant for the Downtown Regional Connector, which brings together the city’s various rail lines to make transfers convenient, dramatically improving the rider experience.

The Westside Subway Extension project will extend the subway from the current Wilshire and Western station terminus 3.9 miles to Wilshire and La Cienega. The subway project will create 25,000 jobs.

 

The funding in the budget is from the federal New Starts program, which helps local transit agencies pay for expensive transit projects. The deal for Regional Connector funding from New Starts was finalized last month and the agreement for the Purple Line Extension should be soon completed. New Starts money is awarded by the government over several years, thus the $100 million in next year’s budget for each of the projects.

Photos of the exploratory shaft being dug in preparation of Purple Line Extension construction

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My colleague Dave Sotero and I had a chance today to visit the exploratory shaft being dug as part of the Purple Line Extension subway project. If you’ve been to LACMA recently, you may have noticed the big wall covered with Metro posters across the street. That’s the exploratory shaft.

It’s quite a feat. The shaft is already 65 feet deep and is being dug to learn more about soil conditions in the area and validate what is already known. The work is an important step in preparing for station excavation and tunneling for the subway.

Quite a few fossils have already been found, including clams, sand dollars and parts of the cone and seeds for digger pine trees. While we were there, in fact, a rock was found that appears to have a sea lion skull within it that is perhaps two million years or more old. Metro is working with the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits to identify and preserve the fossils found.

We’ll post lots more about the shaft soon. In the meantime, Channel 7 should have a segment on the work being done as part of tonight’s newscast. See KABC 7′s story here. 

Photo by Dave Sotero/Metro.

Kim Scott, Director of Paleontology for Cogstone, a Metro project consultant, holds a rock that appears to contain the skull of a sea lion, perhaps two million years or more old. It was unearthed Tuesday afternoon during excavation of the exploratory shaft for the Purple Line Extension subway project. Photo by Dave Sotero/Metro.

On Valentine’s Day Metro is pleased to present…Speed Dating on the Red Line!

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All the details are in the above flier and we are certainly glad to help answer any questions for those interested in spicing up their commute, lunch time, rest of their lives, etc.

If you need to see the Code of Conduct, here it is for you ladies and gentlemen out there.

What can happen on the subway romance-wise? Here’s one highly fictionalized account (or maybe not) from a video contest we held a few years back :)

Of course, not our fault if a “Bad Romance” ensues…

At this point I’m obligated to write that the above Metro Code of Conduct prohibits most of what’s in the above video. I’m also guessing I’ll be yelled at for posting that sometime in the next 15 minutes :))

Finally, there’s a rumor that Cupid may be making a live appearance on the Red Line next Friday. This is fine so long as Cupid has a valid Metro fare loaded on his/her TAP card and remembers to tap.

A pair of nice views from Santa Monica Mountains of the route of the future Purple Line Extension along Wilshire Boulevard

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Click on photo see larger. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro.

In an attempt to burn some holiday-induced blubber yesterday, I made the short but scenic hike to Temescal Peak in Topanga State Park from the Palisades Highlands. As it happened, there were pretty nice views of the route the Purple Line Extension subway will take between downtown Los Angeles (left) and Westwood (right).

The above photo almost has the entire route beginning with the Federal Building at the far right of the photo, then extending to Westwood Village and then veering south to Century City. At that point, the subway’s route will rejoin Wilshire Boulevard, which is easily seen in the photo as the developed corridor linking Century City to downtown L.A.

Below is a much wider view that shows the entire route. The subway will actually terminate on the western side of the 405 freeway near Wilshire Boulevard and the front of the VA Hospital. (Here’s a narrower view of Century City and downtown L.A.) The first phase between Wilshire and Western and Wilshire and La Cienega is ramping up for construction and is forecast to open in 2023.

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The Santa Ana Winds were blowing yesterday, contributing to the smog. It was still nice to be able to see three major peaks — from left, San Gorgonio (at 11,503 feet the highest peak in Southern California), San Jacinto (at 10,834 the highest peak in Riverside County) and Santiago Peak (at 5,689 feet the highest point in Orange County). 

Although off-topic, the hike also offered a nice view of Reseda Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley (below). That street is a major transit corridor serviced by two Metro bus lines, the 240 Local and the 741 Rapid.

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And the sunset view wasn’t shabby either. That’s Santa Barbara Island, one of the Channel Islands. If you look real hard, I think that’s San Nicolas Island on the horizon on the right side of the photo.

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If you want to download full-size versions of any of these photos, please visit our Flickr page. Click on the photo you want, then click on the “…” at bottom right, click “view all sizes” and then choose “original” on the next screen and then download.

Whether you’re rooting for Joe Bruin or Tommy Trojan, it’s all Metro to me

Photo: Neon Tommy, via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo: Neon Tommy, via Flickr Creative Commons

UCLA takes on USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this Saturday at 5 p.m. Metro will be running enhanced service on the Expo Line to make it easy for fans of both teams to get to the game. The Expo Line has three stops near the Coliseum: Jefferson/USC, Expo Park/USC and Expo/Vermont.

The enhanced game day service features more frequently-running Expo Line trains beginning three hours prior to kickoff and lasting until 60-75 minutes after the game ends. The Red/Purple and Blue Lines connect with the Expo Line at 7th Street/Metro Center Station. Gold Line riders can transfer to the Red/Purple Lines at Union Station to reach 7th/Metro Center.

Riders coming from west of USC can leave their cars at the Culver City or La Cienega/Jefferson park and ride facilities and board the Expo Line at those stations.

Note: These park and rides tend to fill up fast, so plan on getting there early. Alternatively, there is also parking available near the Expo/Crenshaw Station. For real-time info on game day parking, follow Metro on Twitter @metrolosangeles or @metrolaalerts.

There is also parking available in downtown Los Angeles near Metro Rail. If you park near a Red/Purple Line subway station, transfer to the Expo Line on the upper platform at 7th/Metro Center. Parking at Union Station is $6 with easy access to the subway; all trains stop at 7th/Metro Center, about a five-minute ride from Union Station.

In addition to more frequent Metro Rail trains, the Metro Silver Line bus service will be augmented to move people from the El Monte and Harbor Gateway Transit Centers to the station at 37th St/USC.

Buy a TAP card to ride on Metro Rail; the reloadable fare cards are available at ticket machines at all Metro Rail stations. The card costs $1 and you can load it with several rides, stored value cash that fares will be deducted from or a daily, weekly or monthly pass. (A single ride on Metro Rail is $1.50. If you need to transfer, the $5 day pass is the best deal. The Silver Line bus has a fare of $2.45 or simply use your day pass. More about Metro fares here.

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Great video of Purple Line Extension….in Moscow

Grab your Troika Card and check out this great video of construction work on the Purple Line Extension in Moscow — only thing missing is “Eye of the Tiger” from the soundtrack. Of course, Metro is gearing up for construction of the 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line Extension between the existing Wilshire/Western station and Wilshire/La Cienega in Beverly Hills.

With car traffic in Moscow having taken a turn for the much, much worse since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Moscow subway is undergoing a tremendous expansion this decade with additional mileage and stations being added to several lines.  Wikipedia (to be taken with an appropriate grain of salt) says there are 15 tunnel boring machines currently at work, which sounds plausible.

Transportation headlines, Friday, October 18

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: A Red/Purple Line subway car in Metro’s maintenance shop. From our Instagram feed.

BART workers go on strike (San Francisco Chronicle) 

After a long negotiation on Thursday, talks broke down and workers walked out at 12:01 a.m. today, leaving tens of thousands of Bay Area workers to find other ways to reach work. While unions representing workers agreed to contribute four percent of their pay toward their pensions and contribute more to their health insurance costs, BART and workers couldn’t agree on a schedule or percentage for pay increases.

Perhaps most interesting, they also couldn’t agree on changes to work rules that BART officials said hindered their ability to run the rail system efficiently and unions said protected their rights. In particular, BART wants station managers to file reports by email, deliver pay stubs electronically and more flexibility to add or reduce service and worker hours. Unions objected to those.

BART connects San Francisco to cities south along the San Francisco Peninsula and to the many communities in the East Bay, including (most prominently) Oakland. Some charter buses are ferrying commuters, but others are out of luck or are driving. Traffic is bad and it doesn’t sound like a deal between BART and its workers is close.

Metro locks in more revenue (ZevWeb) 

Good article on the impact of gate latching on the Red/Purple Lines. The upshot: revenues from fares on the subway increased in September by 40 percent over last May before the gates were latched. If that pattern holds — key word ‘if’ — Metro could see a gain of $6 million in revenues annually from the subway. Of course, revenues are not the same as profit.

Excerpt:

Fare evaders are now unable to freely enter the system and, for the most part, have moved on to other modes of travel, Sutton said, giving paying customers a better ride by improving their security and safety—and by opening up a little more elbow room.

Even with the gates latched, some committed scofflaws will always find ways to game the system, Sutton said. About 19,000 people entered the subway without paying in September, using a variety of tricks or blatantly jumping the gates. Metro is in the process of tweaking the new system to make fare evasion more difficult, and the Sheriff’s Department is issuing citations to catch those who squeeze through.

Nonetheless,  in most places the system is working well. During one morning rush hour this week, transit patrons streamed through the gates at the North Hollywood station, tapping in succession as they rushed to catch the next train. At ticket vending machines, fare purchases were made swiftly, with no long lines forming.

Overall, I think this is a positive for the agency. Metro is hardly alone among agencies battling fare evasion; it’s good to see progress here is being made.

Suggestions for Metro: TVM software updates (Steven White: The Accidental Urbanist) 

Steven follows up on his post earlier this month about Metro’s ongoing efforts to make instructions easier to understand on ticket vending machines. This time around, Steven shows some ideas that he thinks would make instructions explicitly clear — and finally terminate the confusion over which (if any) buttons patrons are supposed to press.

He also has a few other ideas on how to make information clear to everyone:

Also, on the printed banner for the top of the machine, Metro could clarify the text and fare explanations. The design they’re currently working on says “Stored Value: Metro 1-Ride, $1.50″ which is a strange way of saying “the fare is $1.50 every time you board.” It would be much clearer to write

METRO FARES
Standard: $1.50 per boarding (no transfers included).
Reduced Fare (Seniors, Disabled & Medicare): Peak Hours $0.55 per boarding, Off-Peak Hours $0.25 per boarding
Valid passes also accepted.

STORED VALUE
Available in amounts $1.50 and higher

METRO PASSES
1-Day Pass: $5
7-Day Pass: $20
30-Day Pass: $75

With these clarifications of both text and design, I think the new TVM updates will make a huge positive difference. Buying a pass is often the most confusing step for Metro riders, and this will help ease that process greatly. Of course, feel free to leave additional comments or suggestions below.

Kudos for Steven to take the time to mull over this stuff. It may not be the most fascinating thing in the world, but ticket machines are the first point of contact for thousands of people new to the Metro system. And that first contact should be as good as possible; not a War of the Worlds type scenario.

Streetsblog LA’s Damien Newton: Everyone on the road breaks the law (L.A. Times)

Damien ventures into the belly of the beast — i.e. the Times newsroom — for a video interview with editorial writer and avowed motorist Carla Hall over biking in L.A. Damien is both predictably articulate and well dressed as Carla asks him questions about the cyclist/motorist conflicts. From the accompanying article:

He doesn’t care if you’re on a bike; he cares that you stop thinking of bicyclists as an odd nuisance — and stop framing the debate as “drivers vs. bicyclists”:

“The subtext is ‘We need to get along with these weirdos, because they’re out there.’ ”

It helps his message that he’s not particularly weird himself. He’s 36, married to an engineer and a father of two small children. He cheers the new state law requiring drivers to stay three feet away from bicyclists, but he’s not going to be the purist with a yardstick attached to his bike to make sure motorists are observing the law.

My three cents: sure, there are cyclists who break the law or do stupid things. But….please. Motorists literally get away with murder or almost murder every single day in this region. Cars running red lights, not stopping for crosswalks, tailgating, speeding, weaving, driving drunk — these are all things that are commonplace because enforcement is light or non-existent. Meanwhile, over the past century, the L.A. region was paved nearly from head-to-toe often with only regard to the car and not the pedestrian or the cyclist. And thus my response when I hear someone in a car complain that a cyclist or walker is slowing them down: BOO HOO!

TODAY’S TIMEWASTER: 

The L.A. Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals play at the L.A. Coliseum in 1959. There’s about an hour of footage starting with the beginning of the game.