New Metro video: TAP the target, sings Steps of Doe

And here is the second of the trio of new videos from Metro’s marketing team, this one featuring the L.A.-based folk duo Steps of Doe with instructions for reloading your TAP card at ticket machines.

The new videos are intended as a fun way to help folks learn to ride the Metro system and remind everyone that taking transit can be fun and/or interesting. Please feel free to share/comment/review on social media using the hashtag #metrorocks. Metro is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The first video, which debuted last week, featured Galactic Flo promoting Metro’s and Google’s trip planner.

One other note: the musicians who appear in the videos (and the firm that made them, Conceptive, Inc.) are entirely local. If you’re a musician and would like to share your song about local transit, you can email us here.

The Metro Trip Planner is on the metro.net homepage. If you prefer, Google Maps can also be used to plan transit trips.

Transportation headlines, Monday, September 22

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: I believe someone on our comment board recently suggested renaming a Gold Line station the "King Taco Station." Almost certainly not going to happen people, but the train is very close to  the Maravilla Station. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: I believe someone on our comment board recently suggested renaming a Gold Line station the “King Taco Station.” Almost certainly not going to happen people, but the train is very close to the Maravilla Station. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Dear MTA: I love your trains…but (Los Angeles Register)

Columnist’s David Medzerian’s not-quite-love-letter to my employer begins:

Before I get into anything else, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I love your trains. I take them several times a week. I can’t remember the last time I drove into Los Angeles from Long Beach. The last two times I flew from LAX, I took the train to the airport (well, almost to the airport).

But, I’m starting to think that – how I can put this nicely? – you have no idea what you are doing.

David levels complaints about the fare increase that took effect last Monday, the subsequent shutting down of four Blue Line stations in downtown Long Beach for refurbishment work, confusing ticket machine screens and prompts and luggage-blocking turnstiles at Willowbrook Station.

Those who follow us on Twitter have certainly seen these complaints echoed by other riders. I’ll certainly send David’s column around.

Semi-related: the Register’s future may be in doubt at the same time there are some big questions hovering over other local papers, according to L.A. Weekly. Our unwavering view here: the most newspapers covering Los Angeles and the surrounding area, the better.

If so many people support mass transit, why do so few ride? (CityLab) 

About five percent of Americans use transit frequently to commute to work. But polls and transit ballot measures over the years have indicated that many more residents are willing to tax themselves to pay for more transit even if they don’t ride it. In this excerpt, Los Angeles County is used as an example of this conundrum:

One of the clearest examples of the disparity comes from Los Angeles County. In 1980, about 7.5 percent of commuters used transit. That year, voters approved a permanent half-cent sales tax increase to pay for transportation initiatives, including lots of transit upgrades, but by 1990, the share of transit commuters had declined to 6.5 percent. That year, voters again approved a half-cent increase by a two-to-one margin, with nearly all the money going to transit. But the transit commute share was still at 7 percent come 2008, when yet another transportation ballot, Measure R, was passed by two-thirds of the vote.

So why do so many people support transit—not just with their voices but their wallets—when they have no intention of using it? The conclusion reached by Manville and Cummins largely echoes that of the Onion: people believe transit has collective benefits that don’t require their personal usage. Maybe voters think transit will reduce traffic congestion, or improve the environment, or help low-income residents, or translate into economic development. So long as someone else uses transit right now, everyone else will win in the end.

The potential problem with all this is what happens when residents tire of paying for transit they don’t use — perhaps because the perceived benefits failed to materialize? The answer: in some places, city bus riders could suffer as the money that does exist is funneled into suburban rail projects. Pretty interesting stuff.

BTW, the most recent Census Bureau American Community Survey numbers show that 6.9 percent of commuters in L.A. County commute to work by transit, down from 7.1 percent in the 2008-2012 average of the roundups. With population growth factored in, 6.9 percent today is more total people than seven percent in 1980 but here’s my question: what would it take to bump that number up? Could it ever get to 10 percent here?

On a related note, the Census Bureau’s news release on L.A. County led with this:

The Los Angeles metro area’s 2013 median household income ($58,869) decreased since 2010, the first full year after the last recession, when it was $60,409 in 2013 dollars, according to new statistics released today from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the nation’s most comprehensive data source on American households.

One Santa Fe and its 438 apartments in the Arts District (Downtown News)

Good look at the 438-apartment development in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District that will also include about 25 retail stores and restaurants and 525 parking spaces for residents — a fair amount of parking, I think, for a downtown development. All in all, I think this is a good development for downtown which should help local businesses prosper.

I also suspect it will increase the demand for building a subway platform in the adjacent maintenance yards for the Red and Purple Line — something Metro has discussed in the past. That would allow Arts District residents to take a fairly quick (albeit circuitous) ride to other downtown destinations and beyond. The new underground light rail station being built in Little Tokyo will also help connect residents to trains running to the San Gabriel Valley, East L.A., Santa Monica and Long Beach.

Reimagining Union Station (Washington Post)

Very thoughtful article on talk and preliminary plans for massive $7 billion expansion of Washington D.C.’s central train terminal — which in recent years (like our Union Station here in L.A.) has grown increasingly crowded.

The article thinks big and looks at the plans through the prism of urban revivals taking place across the United States. Excerpt:

With the era of exurban sprawl having run its course, people and jobs are moving back to more densely populated urban areas. That’s happening not just in Washington, but also in Boston, Austin, Seattle, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. The only way these cities can accommodate such growth, and realize the economic efficiency that it will generate, is to dramatically improve their public transportation infrastructure and increase the density of land use around key public transportation nodes.

I agree. And the best part — as the One Santa Fe development shows — is that there is actually plenty of room in many urban areas for growth. It will be very interesting in the coming years to see what happens with Union Station here, the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco, Penn Station in Gotham and Union Station in our nation’s capitol.

Titus seeks support to revive Amtrak in Las Vegas (Review-Journal)

With the latest plans to build a new rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas now pretty much dead (the Desert XPress high speed rail between Victorville and Vegas), Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) says reviving Amtrak service may be the way to go. Amtrak service between L.A. and Las Vegas and onward to Ogden, Utah, was discontinued in 1997.

I have zero interest in taking a train to Las Vegas — the unhappiest place on Earth, IMHO — but I’d take a train to St. George, Utah, if it could get me there in six to seven hours and there was a convenient shuttle bus to Springdale and Zion National Park.

Chinese city opens phone lane for texting pedestrians (Guardian) 

As far as I’m concerned this is just further proof that the apes will soon rule. And, yes, I thought “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” was the best movie I’ve seen thus far this year. My only criticism: it was a little too plausible.

Hmmm, I don't think he's made because of the lines for the iPhone6. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Cesar probably has even less patience for humans who walk around while staring into their phones and bumping into things. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Sept. 16

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! 

Metro riders take fare hikes mostly in stride (L.A. Times)

The bright side: most passengers seemed aware that fares were going up. The down side: not as many knew about the new two-hour free transfer policy. There was also this:

Perhaps the largest hiccup happened at the 7th Street / Metro Center rail station, where some ticket scanning machines didn’t honor the new free-transfer policy and charged passengers twice. The software glitch was fixed and those customers will receive automatic refunds within 48 hours, Sotero said.

 

I spent much of the day camped on Metro’s Twitter account and it seemed to me that reaction to the fare hikes was mixed. Some positive, some negative and a lot of questions. Several riders were pleased that Metro was finally offering free transfers, as many other large transit agencies already do.

For those who haven’t seen it before, here is the link to transportation planner Jarrett Walker’s 2009 post on why transferring is good for you and your city.

California’s 3-foot buffer for cyclists takes effect today (L.A. Times)

The Golden State becomes the 24th state to enact a three-foot passing law. Motorists who don’t obey the law can be fined $35 or $220 if they collide with a cyclist. Over at StreetsblogLA, there are some suggestions about how to improve the law. All in all, I thikn the law is a good thing — but it really depends on how vigilant local police are about enforcing it. Police can sit at an intersection and, for example, enforce red light laws — but interactions between cyclists and motorists happen everywhere and often not in any kind of concentration that makes it easy for police to witness. The best hope is that when they see a bad interaction, the motorist (or cyclist if they violate a traffic law) gets pulled over.

Almost every way of getting to work is better than driving (Fast Company)

Is there a link between the overall well-being of a person and the way they commute? British researchers think so. I think there are undoubtedly some great benefits to walking, biking or taking transit to work but studies (or the accompanying media coverage) like these always leave me suspicious of their sweeping generalizations. A few years back, there were a lot of studies linking living in the ‘burbs to obesity. The thinking on that has started to change, with some people saying bad diets and lack of exercise can be found in a lot of different neighborhoods.

A field guide to the future former birds of L.A. (LAObserved) 

Good follow to the recent Audubon study that found that half the birds in the U.S. could be squeezed out of their habitat by climate change. Among the species seen in the L.A. metro area that could be in trouble are Allen hummingbirds, mountain bluebirds, golden eagles, eared grebes, western gulls, red-breasted sapsucker and purple finch. If global warming concerns you, taking transit is one way to reduce your carbon footprint — transit is generally more efficient than driving alone.

Metro roving sales unit will bring TAP cards to you

Special event staff

In case you haven’t already heard the news, Metro fares are changing starting September 15. The new fares include a free 2-hour transfer to other Metro lines, but you’ll need a TAP card in order to take advantage of the transfers.

Metro is providing a roving sales unit through October 7 that will visit high volume intersections throughout Los Angeles County to sell TAP cards with Metro passes or stored value. The roving sales unit will target morning and evening peak travel times to make TAP cards as accessible as possible to as many riders as possible, particularly those who have been paying with cash.

TAP cards can also be purchased one of four ways: online at taptogo.net, by phone at 866.TAPTOGO, at one of nearly 400 pass sales outlets and at TAP vending machines located at Metro Rail and Metro Orange Line stations.

Click here to see the roving sales unit’s schedule or keep reading after the jump.

Continue reading

TAP cards can now be used on Pasadena ARTS buses!

Some good news: TAP cards can now be used on the Pasadena ARTS bus. This is the twelfth transit agency to join TAP with more on the way soon.

A few details:

  • The ARTS bus will continue to accept cash fares.
  • Board a Pasadena ARTS bus with TAP Stored Value or an EZ transit pass, which can be purchased at one of nearly 400 TAP sales outlets, at taptogo.net or by calling 866.TAPTOGO.
  • Other agencies that accept TAP include:  Antelope Valley Transit Authority, Culver City, Foothill, Gardena, Long Beach, Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Montebello, Norwalk, Santa Clarita, and Torrance Transit (line 4 only).
  • For more information about the ARTS bus, please click here. The bus system map is below.

System Map Print_Layout2013System Map Print_Layout20132

New fare charts and FAQ on the fare increases and changes that begin Sept. 15

As many of you likely know, Metro’s fare increases and fare changes that were approved this spring go into effect on September 15.

The charts below outline the new fares, including regular fares and passes, Silver Lane fares and the EZ Pass. I urge everyone to give this a read before Sept. 15 as the new structure — with free transfers for two hours — means that some of you could save on your Metro transit trips while others will be seeing an increase.

I also want to emphasize: please click here to see if you are eligible for Metro’s “Rider Relief” fares that provide up to a $10 discount on transit passes. The Rider Relief coupons for seniors and students provide savings on top of already reduced rates. Eligibility is determined by household income and the number of occupants in a household.

Please, please, please — check to see if you are eligible for a discount. There’s no point in paying more than you should and these discounts are available to enhance everyone’s mobility in our region. If you know of someone who may qualify, please pass along this information!

14-2393_Rider_Relief_Rail_Poster_jp

There is also more information on this page about Metro’s reduced fares, including discounts for students, seniors, the disabled and Medicare recipients.

Here are the new fares that take effect Sept. 15:

fares_English (1)

There is also a comprehensive FAQ that has been posted to metro.net. Please click here to see the entire FAQ.

I have posted some of the questions and answers below that I think will answer many of the questions we’ve been fielding here from readers:

What is the difference between a 1-ride base fare and a 1-way trip?

Both are single fares used to board a Metro Bus. The “1-Ride Base Fare” indicates that the fare is being paid in cash or with a token; no TAP card is required, and no transfers are included. The “1-Way Trip” indicates that the fare is being paid using a TAP card preloaded with a 1-Way Trip product (available at TAP vending machines) or Stored Value on a TAP card. The 1-Way Trip includes transfers to other connecting Metro bus or rail lines for up to two hours to complete a one-way trip; it is not valid for a round-trip. Note that the 1-Ride Base Fare is not available on Metro Rail or the Metro Orange Line; payment of all fares on those lines requires use of a TAP card. (See description of TAP cards below.)

Who is eligible for two hours of free transfers?

Customers are eligible for transfers when enough Stored Value is preloaded on a TAP card and used to pay the applicable 1-Way Trip fare. The 1-Way Trip is available at varying rates to: regular blue TAP card holders; Seniors 62+/Disabled/ Medicare TAP card holders; Students K-12  TAP card holders; and College/Vocational TAP card holders.

How will the free transfers work?

The two-hour period begins upon the first boarding of a trip, when a TAP card is tapped to pay the 1-Way Fare.  The customer must tap their card upon each subsequent boarding during the trip; the TAP system will recognize if the customer is within the two-hour transfer window and is making a valid transfer covered by the 1-Way Trip.

The number of transfers within the two-hour window is not limited; as an example, a customer could transfer from bus line 20 to the Red Line to the Blue Line to the Green Line, all with payment of a 1-Way Trip, as long as the last transfer occurs within two hours of the first tap.

But transfers back to the same bus or rail line where the customer’s TAP card was last used are not permitted. For example,  the customer may not,  transfer from the Green Line back to the Green Line, or from bus line 20 back to Line 20; a new 1-Way Fare would be deducted from the Stored Value on the card.

As mentioned, trips lasting longer than two hours can be made on the 1-Way Trip fare, as long as the last transfer is made before the two-hour transfer window expires.

Are all student fares frozen?

No. Only Student K-12 fares are frozen at this time; their single fare price ($1) and 30-Day Pass ($24) will remain the same. Fares for College/Vocational students are not included in the freeze. The College/Vocational fare (1-Ride Base Fare or 1-Way Trip) is now $1.75, and the 30-Day Pass is now $43.

How will transfers work on Metro short lines?

Customers purchasing a 1-Way Trip receive two hours of transfers to complete a one-way trip. If traveling on a bus short line, transfers will be permitted from the bus short line to another bus on the same line to continue a trip in the same direction.

What about transfers between Metro and other municipal operators (Metro-to-Muni)?

Metro fares do not cover other municipal carriers (e.g. Foothill Transit, Torrance Transit, Montebello Bus Lines, etc.), but Metro-to-Muni transfers will still be available. They can be purchased from TAP vending machines or onboard buses, and are valid for two hours after purchase.

 

How will interagency transfers work with the new transfer system? 

A customer transferring from other municipal bus carriers (e.g. Foothill Transit, Torrance Transit, Montebello Bus Lines, etc.) will need to purchase an Interagency transfer onboard that line, and submit it as payment when boarding a Metro bus or train.  Interagency transfers can be issued as paper passes, “Limited Use” paper TAP cards, or loaded directly onto the customer’s plastic TAP card.  Regardless of the form in which the Interagency transfer is issued, it is only good for one transfer from a municipal bus line to a Metro bus or train. Interagency transfers are treated as a 1-Ride Base Fare and are not eligible for the 2 hours of transfers on Metro.  Customers boarding with an Interagency transfer and planning to ride more than one Metro bus or train should purchase another Metro fare to avoid getting a citation or fine.

Do the new fares affect the Metrolink monthly pass?

No. These changes only apply to Metro. They do not affect Metrolink tickets and passes that include transfers to Metro.

Please click here to see the entire Q&A, which also includes information about the Silver to Silver program, how to get a TAP card and

Here are the new Silver Line fares: 

Metro Fares
As of 9/15/14
Regular Senior 62+/
Disabled/
Medicare
College/
Vocational
Student K-12
Silver Line Cash Fares
1-Ride Base Fare
No transfers included.Additional charges apply to ride:
• Metro Express Buses
$2.50 $1.35
Peak
95¢
Off-Peak
$2.50 $2.50
On TAP
1-Way Trip
Includes transfers to other Metro Lines for up to two hours to complete a one-way trip.Additional charges apply to ride:
• Metro Express Buses
$2.50 $1.35
Peak
95¢
Off-Peak
$2.50 $2.50
Premium Charge for 7-Day, 30-Day and EZ transit passAll other Metro passes accepted without premium charge. 75¢
Express Freeway Premium Charge
Express + Zone 1
Premium Charge

Additional fare required only on freeway segments.
75¢ 60¢ 75¢ 75¢

And here are the new EZ Pass fares:

Metro Fares
As of 9/15/14
Regular Senior 62+/
Disabled/
Medicare
College/
Vocational
Student K-12
EZ transit passIncludes:
•All Metro servicesAdditional charges apply to ride:
• Metro Silver Line
• Metro Express Buses
• Non-Metro express buses
$110 $42
EZ transit pass + Zone 1Includes:
• All Metro servicesAdditional charges apply to ride:
• Non-Metro express buses that leave Los Angeles County
$132 $51.50
EZ transit pass + Zone 2 $154       $61
EZ transit pass + Zone 3 $176 $70.50
EZ transit pass + Zone 4 $198 $80
EZ transit pass + Zone 5 $220 $89.50
EZ transit pass + Zone 6 $242 $99
EZ transit pass + Zone 8 $286 $118
EZ transit pass + Zone 9 $308 $127.50
EZ transit pass + Zone 10 $330 $137
EZ transit pass + Zone 11 $352 $146.50

For more information about ordering an EZ Pass, agencies that participate in the pass and discounts, please click here.

RELATED POSTS

Metro Board votes to raise most fares in September but postpones increases in 2017 and 2020

Some audio and video from public hearing on fare changes

 

Transportation headlines, Thursday, July 31

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! 

Shouldn’t Metro know how many people are riding for free? (L.A. Times) 

The editorial follows the LAT news story earlier this week about fare evasion — rail ridership estimates had 115 million boardings last year while the number of ‘taps’ recorded was 70 million. The difference is made up of people who didn’t pay fares or who had passes on TAP cards but didn’t tap them as required. Excerpt that sums up the issue well:

The amount of money Metro loses to fare evasion is most likely small compared with its operating budget — fares cover only about 26% of the cost of the rides. Officials want to raise ticket prices in the coming years to bring that number up to about 33% of the cost. But the widespread perception of fare evasion undermines public confidence in the agency and makes it harder for Metro to convince riders and taxpayers that it needs more money.

Sharrows: a primer (Orange20Bikes) 

As the headlines suggests, this is a good primer on those lane markings that show cyclists where to ride and inform motorists that bikes are to be expected in a lane. Long-time readers know that I’m not really fond of them as I think they’re mostly a good way to make it look like you’re doing something when you’re doing nothing. This blog post sort of agrees, pointing out that cities like them for that very reason (and they’re cheap) while also pointing out some research shows that sharrows tend to prompt motorists to give cyclists a bit more room and they attract a few more cyclists on roads where they’re present. That hasn’t been my experience when cycling on Lake Avenue in Pasadena, although the sharrows are pretty faded — last time I bothered to notice them.

Speaking of bikes…

LAPD: No public record found that bike lanes delay emergency response times (Streetsblog L.A.)

In response to a public records request, the LAPD found no documents or studies showing that bike lanes slow down police or emergency vehicles. The request stemmed from an ongoing dispute in Northeast L.A. about a city plan to put bike lanes on North Figueroa Street. As it turns out, response times in that part of the city are already slower than elsewhere — but there’s no actual proof that the bike lanes would slow things down any further.

New LADOT G.M. enthusiastically accepts management challenge (The Planning Report) 

Good interview with Seleta Reynolds, the new chief of the city of Los Angeles’ transportation department, which oversees DASH buses, bike lane construction and traffic signals. She worked previously in San Francisco. I thought what she had to say about walking was interesting. Excerpt:

One of the most telling things that I’ve taken away from projects I’ve done was during a study in Spokane Washington. We asked people why they wanted to live in a walkable neighborhood. “Well, I like walking.” You ask them, “Why is that? What is it about walking that’s important?” They would give you answers like, “I might run into my neighbor along the way”; “You don’t know what you’ll see”; “Something unexpected or interesting might happen”; “I don’t experience the city in the same way when I’m in my car”; “It also offers an opportunity to unplug and interact with people in my household.”

Social interactions that strengthen neighborhoods and even can strengthen the resiliency of a community to recover after a disaster are improved if you offer people the opportunity to walk or bike to get around. Making those modes a real option for trips that are less than a mile for walking or one-to-three miles for biking is important for a huge variety of reasons. That’s what I’m interested in from an active transportation perspective. That’s where the opportunities are.

Well put. Everyone I know loves to talk about some city they visited where you could walk everywhere or there were lovely places to walk. Yet, there isn’t as much clamoring for that on the home front. It will be interesting to see what Reynolds can do, especially given that zoning is controlled by the city’s planning department and the City Council has last say on everything — and often exercises that right.

Is Reynolds the antidote to L.A.’s defeatist attitude on transportation? (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Speaking of the new LADOT chief, Damien Newton writes that hiring someone from outside L.A. to run the city’s transportation department was probably a wise move. Damien also says arguments otherwise — that L.A. is too unique and thus needs one of its own — amount to big pile of bunk. Excerpt:

For some reason, people that live and drive in Los Angeles have sat through so many traffic jams that they have come to believe that idling in endless traffic is a natural phenomenon.  They also believe a harmful corollary: that things that have worked in other areas to make people’s commutes better will not work in Los Angeles. Because “this is Los Angeles.”

It’s the reverse of exceptionalism.

Because over the last six and a half years, we’ve heard that Los Angeles, and Angelenos are so enamored with our vehicles that we will never be able to walk, much less ride a bike or ride transit, even though wild dogs can learn to ride transit. Following the passage of Measure R, many are starting to accept that transit is a viable option in Los Angeles, although the anti-transit theory it still pops up in some cities on the Westside.

Nowadays, we hear some mix of theories from “smart growth won’t work in Southern California,” to “road diets won’t work in Southern California” to “people won’t bicycle in Southern California.” These sort of self-defeating prophecies sap the energy out of transportation reformers, jade community activists, and generally have a corrosive impact on those seeking to make our streets safe for everyone.

Concur. The only thing unique about L.A. is that we have better Mexican food and an arguably better climate that some of other sprawling metropolises around the planet.

Motorized roller skates: from fiction to reality (BBC)

Speeds up to 12 miles per hour! They run on electricity and look easy to step in and out of. Tilt foot forward, they go. Tilt foot back, they stop. So says the manufacturer.