Transportation headlines, Monday, September 23

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The Expo Line, from our Instagram stream.

THINGS THAT HAVING NOTHING TO DO WITH TRANSIT BUT I WILL MENTION THEM ANYWAY: “Rush” is one of the better sports movies ever made even if you know nothing about Formula One racing. And Happy Birthday, Bruce Springsteen, who will hopefully bring the E Street Band back to the Expo Line-adjacent Sports Arena next year. The dude is equally awesome in Spanish.

Unauthorized bike lanes created in Midtown (New York Times)

In full view of many pedestrians and motorists, bike activists used paint and stencils on Saturday night and Sunday morning to extend the bike lane on Avenue of the Americas (also known as 6th Avenue) from 42nd Street to 50th Street, the southern boundary of Central Park. My hunch is they won’t last long despite the chutzpah behind the effort.

Bad urban planning is why you’re fat (co.exist)

UC Berkeley researchers found that activity levels of kids in “smart growth” neighborhoods — i.e. where it’s easy to walk and bike — were 46 percent higher than kids from conventional neighborhoods. Of course, the ‘burbs have long been accused of promoting too much sitting and driving. On the other end of the spectrum, there has also been a lot written about the lack of parks, sidewalks, bike lanes and decent food choices in low-income areas in cities.

Portland: TriMet’s mobile ticketing app reviewed (Human Transit)

The smartphone app allows bus and train travelers to purchase tickets with their phones, meaning no more paper tickets. Here’s the top of the review:

For as long as I can remember, every bus trip in Portland has started with the counting and recounting of small bills and change held in a sweaty palm, always with the low-level anxiety from the thought of dropping a quarter and being unable to board. Pay your fare at the farebox, recieve a flimsy newsprint ticket. Secret that ticket in a secure pocket, to prevent it from being carried away by a stray gust of wind. If you have to transfer, check your pocket every 30 seconds to make sure it’s still there.

TriMet, the transit agency here in Portland, finally launched their long-awaitedsmartphone app on Wednesday. I’ve tried it out for most of my trips since, after a summer spent jealously reading tweets from people lucky enough to be invited to the beta test. My first impression: this application suddenly makes using Portland’s bus system much more relevant to me, and I suspect to many others.

 

There aren’t fare cards or turnstiles in Portland, so this is not directly relevant here in L.A. County. The bigger point, I think, is that enabling people to buy fares with smartphones seems like a move that could help boost ridership.

Survey says downtowners have lots of money and are ready to spend (Downtown News)

While it definitely does not sound very scientific, the results seem to indicate that downtown L.A. continues to attract residents with higher incomes that are college educated and mostly employed. And they want more upscale stores, such as the kind found in the ‘burbs. The most requested are Trader Joes and an In-N-Out. The fact that so few local or national chains are downtown shows just how badly the area fared until recently. I always use the Apple store example. No problem finding one in Manhattan or downtown Chicago or San Francisco whereas the closest to DTLA are the Grove or Old Pasadena.

Perhaps the most interesting stats from the survey:

•Twelve percent of downtown residents work on the Westside and six percent in the San Fernando Valley.

•Thirty percent walk to work and 34 percent work at home. In Los Angeles County, only 2.9 percent of people walk to work and 4.7 percent work at home, according to the latest Census Bureau numbers.

It’s great to see all the progress that has been made in DTLA, which remains the number one job center in the region and the area’s transit hub. I think there’s a lot of work still to do to make the area live up to its full potential and there will certainly be challenges — among them preserving and creating affordable housing while hopefully attracting investment in the area, which is a good thing. As the saying goes, if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking.

London Tube station record broken (BBC) 

The two blokes visited all 270 stations in 16 hours, 20 minutes and 27 seconds, thereby shaving eight minutes off the previous record. They say there’s a lot of athleticism involved because of the need to run to catch transfers. And please don’t call them trainspotters, they say. Well, okay. Perhaps they can just be called weird.

Focus group says that these redesigned screens on Metro ticket machines are a big step in right direction; what do you think?

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What do you think? Are we on the right track with these new screen designs?

A focus group on Tuesday — the third focus group so far — indicated that ticket vending machine redesigns by Metro’s Creative Services Staff are headed in the right direction.

All of the participants were impressed with the new designs and provided helpful feedback to further refine the screens. They assured Metro that the new screens were a vast improvement over the existing screens and were “very clear and self-explanatory.”  Another participant noted, “I don’t have to concentrate and look for the options. They are very clearly organized.”

One new addition is a more prominent selection screen with 10 different languages, which will make purchases easier for limited-English customers and tourists from abroad. Other improvements include more understandable terminology and less jargon, simpler screens with fewer options and more intuitive selections and more explanations of options — which hopefully will mean less pushing of the ‘help’ button for customers.

The new screens will help all riders purchase and reload TAP cards more quickly and easily, a big help to both rail and bus riders. Bus riders are now using TAP cards more than ever before. Preliminary results from the most recent bus survey conducted by Metro Research show that about seven in 10 bus riders are now using TAP cards to pay for their fares. This is up from about five in 10 in the previous quarter.

What do you think? If you’re leaving a comment, please be as specific as possible about what you like or don’t like or any suggestions that you may have.

New customer survey: what do you want in a bus headway sign?

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Metro manages a fleet with 2,228 buses that averages more than one million weekday boardings. Our buses traveled over 70 million miles in 2012!

It is a big job to make sure everyone knows where all of these buses are headed. We could use your help ensuring that we communicate our bus destinations as clearly as possible.

Just click on the link below to take a short survey about bus headsigns. You could be one of five winners of a monthly TAP card! (You will have to fill out contact information to be eligible for the contest.)

Survey Link

Photo: Metro.

Photo: Metro.

Missed the Green Line to LAX workshops? You can still share your thoughts by taking this survey

Green Line to LAX Community Workshops solicited comments from attendees.

Green Line to LAX Community Workshops solicited comments from attendees.

Yesterday was the last of the first round of community workshops for the the Green Line to LAX extension. According to the project team over 200 people attended the three workshops to learn more about the project and offer their input on how best to connect the Green Line to the airport.

If you weren’t able to attend the meetings, fear not, you can still share your feedback with the project team.

First, I recommend getting some background information on the project. This can be found on the project page on Metro.net, the project’s Facebook page or right here on The Source.

Once you’ve done that there are a number of methods to share your input. First is the LAX User Questionnaire, a 16-question survey about how you currently get to LAX and how you’d prefer to get to LAX. Another option is to use this online comment/feedback form to email the project team specific comments.

Comments are requested by October 1, 2011.

Why I Cycle: The bike-to-transit experience

In celebration of National Bike Month and Bike Week L.A. (this week!) we’ve launched a new survey series entitled ‘Why I Cycle.’ This series spotlights local bicyclists who have made the daring leap from car-dependent to car-free or at least car-light in Los Angeles.

Want to share your story? Point your browser to thesource.metro.net/cyclesurvey

Why I Cycle: Connecting Transit Modes

Of particular interest to Metro is bike-to-transit behavior. The results: 49% of Why I Cycle survey respondents said they bike to fill a commuting gap – the fabled “last mile” dilemma.

We asked “If you ride your bike to transit, what lines do you take?”

Many people use a mix of transit but Metro Rail received the most votes, followed by Metro Rapid and Local buses.

Why I Cycle: Rail Station AccessWe asked Metro Rail riders how they access stations with their bikes. Results: 32% said they use the stairs, 18% use the escalators and 16% use the elevators. The remaining 16% said they don’t take their bikes on the train.

The large percentage of cyclists who access Metro rail stations using the stairs will be happy to hear that thanks to feedback at Metro’s Bicycle Roundtable, special stair channels for bicycles will be considered in the design of new Metro stations. The under construction El Monte Transit Station will be the first station to implement stair channels.

We also asked for specific ideas on how to improve bike-to-transit connections. Many said they’d like to see rail cars added that are solely dedicated for bicycles. Others complained that turnstiles made it difficult to enter stations and that wider gates should be installed. Bus racks capable of holding three bikes was another common suggestion.

After the jump, more thoughts from survey respondents on how to improve the bike-to-transit experience. Continue reading

Why I Cycle: Joseph, Long Beach

In celebration of National Bike Month and in anticipation of Bike Week L.A. (May 16-20) we’ve launched a new survey series entitled ‘Why I Cycle’. This series spotlights local bicyclists who have made the daring leap from car-dependent to car-free or at least car-light in Los Angeles.

Want to share your story? Point your browser to thesource.metro.net/cyclesurvey

Name: Joseph
Location: Long Beach

What’s the No. 1 reason you bicycle?

It’s fastest, cheapest and most fun way to get exercise. Going to the gym would waste more time (I have to get places anyone), it is boring, and expensive. My bike is cheaper than driving, heck it’s cheaper than an Easy Pass or LB Transit pass, and it is faster than driving to work and then driving to the gym 3 times a week.

What bike paths, routes or lanes do you take?

I don’t have any on my current route to work. :-(
But I do take bike lanes to church, to the beach or Belmont Shore, and to restaurants in Downtown Long Beach.

If you could make one change to improve your biking experience in Los Angeles County, what would it be?

Bike lanes or cycletracks on all major streets, especial the streets that intersect with every rail and rapid transit line. May more people would bike for transportation if they felt safe and if it was a pleasant experience, not dodging traffic or dealing with winding side streets.

What specific improvements would you recommend to improve bike-to-transit trips?

Increase bike parking at all rapid transit stations, and add bike racks at EVERY bus stop. Make sure there are safe ways (protected or buffered bike lanes, cycletracks, or bike boulevards) to get to every bus stop or transit station. And make it possible to rent bikes at major stations, so people can leave a bike at one station and then pick up another when they get to their destination, without having to cram the bike onto the train. Washington DC’s bike sharing system is a great example.

How would you encourage others to bicycle?

Los Angeles is beautiful and it has the best weather and some of the best terrain for bike riding in the whole world. Why stay stuck in traffic, in your car, when you can get exercise, save money, have fun, and even save time by riding a bike and taking transit?

Briefly, how would you describe your typical biking experience?

I love it!

Why I Cycle: Describe your typical biking experience?

In celebration of National Bike Month and in anticipation of Bike Week L.A. (May 16-20) we’ve launched a new survey series entitled ‘Why I Cycle’. This series spotlights local bicyclists who have made the daring leap from car-dependent to car-free or at least car-light in Los Angeles.

Want to share your story? Point your browser to thesource.metro.net/cyclesurvey

Why I Cycle: Describe your typical biking experience

The people have spoken and they love biking.

When asked, “How would you describe your typical biking experience?,” 69% of Why I Cycle survey respondents said “I love it!

Twenty five percent said “I deal with it.” and only 2% said “I hate it. There has to be a better way.

It’s interesting to compare these results to the answers to a similar question on our Why You Ride (or Don’t) surveys. In response to the question, “How would you describe your typical transit experience?, 48% responded with “I love it!,”  42% said “I deal with it,” and 11% said “I hate it.” On the driving side, only 15% said they “love” their car commute, while 56% said “I deal with it.” And 26% said “I hate it.

One reason for this outpouring of cycle love could come down to simple economics. To wit:

Why I Cycle: how much do yu spend each month traveling by bicycle

Seventy eight percent of respondents say they spend less than $25. Meanwhile, 7% say they spend $25-$50, 10% spend $50-$100 and 0% report spending more than $100 per month on bike travel.

Compare that to our Why You Ride (or Don’t) results in which most transit users said they spend $50 to $100 each month and most drivers report spending between $100 and $300 on monthly transportation costs.