Go Metro Weekends, May 23 – 25

A Long Beach bound Blue Line train pulls in to Willowbrook Station. Photo by Jon Ross Alexander/Metro.

A Long Beach bound Blue Line train pulls in to Willowbrook Station. Photo by Jon Ross Alexander/Metro.

Friday

Swing by Peddler’s Creamery for some artisan ice cream that is churned by bicycle! Show your valid TAP card to receive one free single scoop with purchase of one single scoop. Peddler’s Creamery is open today from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Metro Red/Purple Line to Pershing Square Station, Metro Bus 92 or Rapid 720 to 5th/Main)

Saturday

Celebrate the 130th birthday of Little Tokyo! The Little Tokyo Historical Society will be discussing the historic and cultural heritage of Little Tokyo at the Central Library in downtown L.A. The event is free and starts at 1 p.m. (Metro Red/Purple Line to Pershing Square Station, then walk west along 5th Street).

Sunday

The Brig’s 1st Annual Crawfest takes place at 11 a.m. and features all the crawfish you can eat. Tickets are $45 at the door. This event is 21+ only. (Metro Rapid 733 to Venice/Abbott Kinney)

Check out the Melting Pot Tours in Old Pasadena! Tours begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays near the corner of Raymond Avenue and Holly Street; each tour lasts about 3.5 hours. Tickets cost $75 for adults and are available online. Save $5 with your valid TAP card! (Metro Gold Line to Memorial Park Station)

All Weekend

The 26th annual UCLA JazzReggae Fest takes place this Sunday and Monday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. both days. This year’s annual Memorial Day festival includes Snoop Dogg, Aloe Blacc and Ky-Mani Marley! General admission is $40 at the door. (Metro Bus 2, 20, 720 or 761 to UCLA)

Spice up your Memorial Day by attending The Salsa Session at Grand Park! The party starts at 2 p.m. and is free to all. Show your TAP card to be entered for a chance to win four passes to the Museum of Latin American Art! (Metro Red/Purple Line to Civic Center/Grand Park Station)

Get some sun and check out Fiesta Hermosa at the Hermosa Beach Pier. The festival takes place Saturday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m each day. There will be art, music, food, a free bike valet and even a petting zoo for kids. Best of all, admission is free! (Metro Bus 130 to Hermosa/11th)

Bikes and walking + transit = lower greenhouse gas emissions

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I thought that posting the above chart would be a nice way to begin Bike Week. As the chart neatly shows, taking transit can be an effective way to reduce greenhouse gases — especially those who bike or walk to and from light rail stations. It makes sense: no fossil fuels are needed to power your legs.

The chart is from Metro’s  First Mile/Last Mile Strategic Plan that was adopted by the Metro Board of Directors in April.

Greenhouse gases, of course, are the primary agents for climate change. As the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases from the burning of fossil fuels increases in our atmosphere, the planet is growing warmer. Here’s a good explanation of the basics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The reduction of important topic given how much climate change has been in the news lately. The White House released a report last week on the ongoing impacts in the United States from climate change, including warmer temperatures, increased rains and flooding in some areas, drought in others and more intense wildfires and tree die-offs due to insects. The report followed one by the United Nations released in March that found the same phenomenon on a global level.

The state of California, too, agrees there are impacts and we’re already seeing them:

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There are some important caveats when it comes to figuring out greenhouse gas emissions from transit. One involves how a project is built. It helps to have a green construction policy to help curtail pollution from trucks and other heavy equipment (and Metro does have such a policy). Even more important: the number of people riding a train or bus. The more people riding, the more efficient buses and trains are. (See this Duke University study comparing passenger per mile emissions from a bus getting 2.33 mpg versus a car that gets 25 mpg).

Metro’s numbers are based on a study looking at the Gold Line and Orange Line published in the academic journal Environmental Research Letters in 2013 by researchers from UCLA, Arizona State University and UC Berkeley. The Federal Transit Administration in 2010 also published a useful guide to comparing greenhouse gas emissions from cars and public transit. The FTA’s work shows that heavy rail transit (typically subways such as Metro’s Red/Purple Line that use bigger, heavier trains) are even more efficient than buses and light rail, due in part to heavier ridership.

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 6

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! 

Here are two plans for an airport people mover (Curbed LA)

The Curbed post is based on tweets from L.A. Times transportation reporter Laura Nelson, who attended the Los Angeles World Airports Board meeting (if you’re not following Laura on Twitter, you should be). As Laura’s tweets show, it appears that LAWA is looking at two alternatives for getting an automated people mover into the terminal area and neither would be a loop.

As many of you know, Metro’s Airport Metro Connector study is also underway and Metro is working with LAX to identify the best way to connect the Crenshaw/LAX Line with the airport’s people mover and the location for a possible connection between light rail and a people mover. There are several possibilities, including a connection at the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Aviation/Century station or the new transportation hub proposed by the airport that is west of the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Metro staff are expected to give their latest report to the Metro Board of Directors in June.

The L.A. Airspace blog by Brian Sumers that is published by the Los Angeles News Group also has an item on the LAWA Board discussion, as well as the full LAWA report with visuals on everything that is on the table including the people mover, future roadway changes and a consolidated rental car facility.

WeHo to consider efforts to lure a Metro line stop (WEHOville) 

The city of West Hollywood is considering hiring a lobbyist to help secure a Metro Rail line that would stop in West Hollywood. As CurbedLA notes, the timing is obvious as Metro considers pursuing a possible ballot measure in 2016 to raise money to accelerate the construction of transportation projects or perhaps secure funding for projects beyond the Measure R expenditure list.

The Purple Line Extension project did study a subway segment running from Hollywood through WeHo to Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. With funding limited, the Metro Board decided to pursue a subway alignment mostly under Wilshire Boulevard to Westwood that performed better in terms of expected ridership. A northward extension of the Crenshaw/LAX Line is in Metro’s long-range plan as an unfunded project and some activists have proposed that line run all the way to WeHo, Hollywood or both. Metro has not yet drawn up any firm plans for such a project.

Meanwhile, two Los Angeles City Council members — Joe Buscaino and Tom LaBonge — are urging that a light rail line be built that that connects Wilmington and San Pedro to the Blue Line, perhaps via the Harbor Subdivision right-of-way that is owned by Metro, according to Build Los Angeles. That project has been talked up by Move LA, the activist group urging Metro to pursue a “Measure R 2″ in 2016.

The bigger story here — and it’s a good one, reporters — is that with the possibility that Metro will go to the ballot in 2016, many cities and other stakeholders across the region are starting to push for their projects to be included. There is certainly no shortage of projects that have been talked about for years that are not funded. Look at the funded and unfunded list in Metro’s long-range plan (pages 30 and 31). The interesting part, of course, is that the Metro Board has not made any decision yet whether to go forward with a measure, nor do we know what the Board may even pursue or whether there would be any money for projects outside Measure R.

Climate change study finds U.S. is already widely affected (New York Times) 

A wide range of scientists overseen by the federal government developed the report, including representatives from two oil companies. Here’s the first graph:

The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported Tuesday, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects. [snip]

And, more notably, here are the last two graphs — which perhaps are two of the most important graphs in the story:

Historically, the United States — with its large cars, large houses and high per capita consumption of energy — was responsible for more emissions than any other country. Lately, China has become the largest emitter over all, though its emissions per person are still far below those of the United States.

The report pointed out that while the country as a whole still has no comprehensive climate legislation, many states and cities have begun to take steps to limit emissions and to adapt to climatic changes that can no longer be avoided. But the report found that these efforts are inadequate compared with the magnitude of the problems that are coming.

Of course, you don’t have to wait around for the government to do something if this is an issue you care about. Walking and biking are emissions free! And taking transit has been shown as a way to reduce your carbon footprint when compared to driving alone or even with passengers. Please see this UCLA study on how the Gold Line and Orange Line both produce fewer greenhouse gases in the near- and far-term than driving, especially driving alone.

The Federal Transit Administration also published this report in 2010 on public transit’s role in how the country responds to climate change. To quote the report: “National level data show significant greenhouse gas emission savings by use of public transportation, which offers a low emissions alternative to driving.” And a graphic from the report:

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Did Metro build a perpetual motion machine (Streetsblog L.A.) 

And on the subject of clean energy….this is a critical look at the MACE project that we posted about recently. The $600,000 test project aimed to determine if energy could be captured by placing a wind turbine in a Red Line tunnel. The idea is that wind from a passing train would turn the turbine and then create energy.

Experts interviewed by Roger Rudick on Streetsblog, however, are dubious. They say that passing trains likely meet resistance from the new turbine and thus must use more power to maintain their speed — meaning that any energy captured is canceled out by the extra energy needed to push trains down the track.

According to the test, the wind turbine could capture $6,000 in energy annually. Streetsblog says a turbine that could be switched on and off may perform better but that Metro may reap more energy by regenerative braking similar to what hybrid cars use (and this is something Metro is pursuing).

Good article and I encourage you to read. I think the question really comes down to whether the wind turbine is something worth pursuing and whether it can be improved to the point where it’s economically useful.

Agenda for Thursday’s Metro Board meeting: it’s going to be a long one, folks

UPDATE: The gavel has dropped on the meeting and it’s now underway.

This is a big meeting, folks, with tons of interestingness (relatively speaking) and a lot of important items. For those attending and media: might be a good idea to have a few Red Bulls along with your coffee for breakfast.

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Three of the tall ones, please!

You can also view the agenda with hyperlinks on metro.net or view or download it as a pdf. The meeting is, as always, open to the public and begins at 9:30 a.m. at Metro headquarters adjacent to Los Angeles Union Station. To listen to the meeting on the phone, please call 213-922-6045.

Some of the more interesting items on the agenda:

•Item 76, asking the Board to set a public hearing on March 29 to review two fare restructuring proposals released by Metro staff on Friday. Important to note: THE BOARD IS ONLY CONSIDERING SETTING A PUBLIC HEARING; THEY ARE NOT VOTING ON THE FARE CHANGES. At this point, the Board is scheduled to vote on the changes at its meeting on May 22. Source post including charts and staff report.

•Item 15, asking the Board to narrow the list of options to four for the Airport Metro Connector, the project that seeks to connect Metro Rail to the airport terminals via a combination of light rail and people mover. A motion by Board Members Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas seeks to restore two options that Metro staff wanted to eliminate that would build light rail directly to the airport terminals. Staff report and earlier Source post with the four proposals favored by Metro staff and another Source post on the Knabe-Ridley-Thomas motion.

•Item 6, a motion by Board Members Paul Krekorian and Zev Yaroslavsky directing Metro to investigate adding gates or partial gates to the Orange Line to reduce fare evasion. Motion and Source post with staff report on two December crackdowns on fare evasion on the Orange Line.

•Item 67, asking the Board to approve the development of two options for ballot measures to take to voters in 2016 to accelerate existing Measure R projects — either an extension of Measure R or a new sales tax, which may also include new projects. Staff report and earlier Source post.

•Item 39, establishing a $33.4-million budget to refurbish Blue Line stations, including new canopies. Staff report.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, November 27

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: Again, from our Instagram feed

Tracking holiday travel misery (FlightAware)

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That’s a screen grab from 8:55 a.m. Looks like a good day to avoid Atlanta. Then again, it’s always a good day to avoid Atlanta, right? :)

LAX and Metro call for minor changes to future light rail station (Daily Breeze)

Forgot to post this one earlier in the week. Airport and Metro officials are working to make some minor changes to the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Aviation/Century station that would make it easier in the future to connect the platform to future airport facilities at Manchester Square and to extend 98th Street across Aviation Boulevard. The Metro Board will consider an MOU with the airport at its meeting on Dec. 5.

Denver’s East Corridor rail line to leave Crenshaw to near LAX project in its prairie dust (L.A. Streetsblog)

A look at the 22-mile commuter rail line under construction that will link downtown Denver to Denver International Airport. The writer Roger Rudick compares the new line to the Crenshaw/LAX Line, pointing out that Denver is building a one-seat ride to its airport from downtown, whereas the trip from downtown L.A. to LAX will require more time and more transfers. He would have rather seen a project built from downtown to LAX using the old Harbor Subdivision rail right-of-way.

One quick note: Denver’s FasTraks program, funded by a sales tax increase in 2004, is a great transit program — but it has suffered cost over-runs and delays. And one quick thought: the Crenshaw/LAX Line will probably also serve a lot of people not going to the airport.

And one addendum: Denver’s airport line is using a public-private partnership to help fund part of the project. I’ve read various things about it — both good and bad — but something must be working because the project is aiming for completion in 2016.

Campus tracks cycling with first digital bike counter at a university (UCLA) 

The digital bike counter — working from sensors embedded in the roadway — allows everyone to see how many bikes are using the Strathmore Place bike lane. Very cool. The counter is apparently the first of its kind in Southern California. Might be fun to put one of these on one of the region’s new bike lanes to see how they’re doing! :)

Brisbane rail tunnel all show and no substance, says rail expert (Brisbane Times) 

Transportation officials want to build a massive tunnel under the Brisbane River that includes a rail line and roadway for buses. This article finds a skeptic to rail extensively against that plan. On our side of the Pacific, it’s interesting because one of the early options that has been explored for the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project is a tunnel that would have both a rail line and tolled lanes. That project is still in its initial planning stages with public-private financing being looked at to supplement seed money from Measure R.

New UCLA study finds Gold Line and Orange Line produce less smog and fewer greenhouse gases in both near- and far-term

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One of the arguments frequently made for building more mass transit — in particular rail projects — is that it will help reduce pollution and, as a byproduct, greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change. The above chart comes from a Federal Transit Administration report updated in 2010 that considers the impacts of cars versus transit. Although in some circles this remains a disputed issue (mostly by critics of rail transit), the FTA finds transit is the clear winner.

Comparing the emissions of cars versus transit is not always a clear-cut issue because of the number of variables involved. Which brings us to a new study by several UCLA researchers that drills down deeper on the subject by comparing the Orange Line, Gold Line and average automobile in Southern California. The study was published in Environmental Research Letters and is posted below.

The study found that in both the near term and long-term, the Orange Line and the Gold Line produced less smog and greenhouse gases than the average auto driven in L.A. County. In addition, the Orange Line and Gold Line used less overall energy than cars and will create less particulate matter than cars in the long-term, although the Gold Line currently produces about the same as cars, due mostly to its electricity coming from coal-fired power plants used by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Four key points from the new study:

•Both cars and transit are expected to get cleaner over time as fuel mileage increases for cars and transit relies on cleaner energy sources, i.e. solar, wind, thermal and natural gas.

•Construction remains a big challenge for transit projects because things such as pouring concrete and the use of heavy equipment tends to result in high emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollution — and it can take years, if not decades, for transit to make up for the big cost in terms of greenhouse gases made up front.

•Transit vehicles spend far less  of their time parked than cars, which spend 95 percent of the time sitting around. That means that the energy and emissions needed to manufacture, transport, and park transit vehicles are spread over a lot more passenger miles and hours of operation.

•Transit needs to shift 20 percent to 30 percent of its riders from cars to transit order to have less impacts than cars and, as the study says, “the larger the shift, the quicker the payback” when it comes to meeting environmental goals.

Getting people out of their cars onto trains is crucial to improve efficiency of transit. Photo of Expo Line by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Getting people out of their cars onto trains is crucial to improve efficiency of transit. Photo of Expo Line by Steve Hymon/Metro.

I think that last point is crucial for policymakers. To put it another way: if transit agencies and politicians want transit projects that truly improve air quality and such, they have to build projects that will appeal to motorists and pry them out of their cars.

It’s always difficult to compete with the door-to-door convenience of the automobile, but I think it’s do-able but it means building projects that stop where people want to go, making it easy to get to and from stations by car, foot or bike and either designing projects that are fast and/or operate frequently enough to reduce the time-munch that is standing around and waiting at a station.

One other point: earlier this month, it was reported that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere probably haven’t been this high in the past three million years. Carbon dioxide is a primary greenhouse gas and it’s a byproduct of burning fossil fuels for things such as transportation, heating, construction etcetera. Seems to me that transit agencies across the world — many of which shun being political — could market transit as a way to help people perhaps make a difference when it comes to climate change.

Sermon over. The study is below. Kudos to Mikhail Chester, Stephanie Pincetl, Zoe Elizabeth, William Eisenstein and Juan Matute for putting this together. Finally, Metro issues an annual sustainability report that details its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases used by the agency’s transit vehicles and facilities. In fact, Metro cut its greenhouse gas emissions five percent between 2007 and 2011, the last year numbers are publicly available. 

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Transportation headlines, Friday, April 5

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

There’s finally light at end of Expo Line Phase 2 legal battle (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The California Supreme Court has set a May 7 hearing date to consider the long-running lawsuit filed by Neighbors for Smart Rail against the Expo Line Construction Authority. The group alleges that environmental documents for the second phase of the project are flawed because they considered future traffic conditions when analyzing rail crossings instead of current conditions. There has been conflicting rulings on similar cases in other courts, thereby earning the interest of the state Supreme Court.

The bus lane en route to Dodger Stadium. Photo: Metro.

The bus lane en route to Dodger Stadium. Photo: Metro.

Trying to beat Dodger traffic blues (ZevWeb) 

A good look at the 1.5-mile bus lane on Sunset Boulevard being used by the Dodger Stadium Express this season. The lane comes courtesy of the city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation, which admits that traffic hasn’t been peachy in downtown on game days. LADOT also says it is considering allowing carpools of four or more to use the lane.

Critics sue over UCLA’s hotel plans (L.A. Times) 

The plan to build a 250 room hotel and conference on the site of an existing parking garage on campus results in a lawsuit from the group Save Westwood Village, a group that includes nearby homeowners. The suit alleges that UCLA should have to occupancy taxes — the school says it should be exempt — and financing for the structure is illegal due to the use of tax-exempt bonds. The suit is further proof that it’s difficult to build anything of any size in Los Angeles without it resulting in a lawsuit.

UCLA continues to make progress in reducing car trips to Westwood campus

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UCLA recently released its annual State of the Commute report. The gist of it: even as enrollment has climbed in the past 20-plus years, the number of car trips to and from campus has fallen. The folks at UCLA credit this drop to several factors, most notably policies to encourage students and staff to take transit to campus or to carpool or vanpool.

I’ve plucked a few graphics from it that I think are interesting; the ones above and the nifty info-graphic posted after the jump that sums up the report’s major findings.

The campus population at UCLA is about 68,000 people — about 41,000 students and almost 27,000 faculty and staff. About 56,000 students and staff commute to the campus on a regular basis. The nearest rail stations at present aren’t so near: the Culver City Expo Line station (eight-plus miles by the most direct route) and the Purple Line’s station at Wilshire/Western (11 miles from campus).

Of course, rail transit is on the way to UCLA. The Westside Subway Extension will stop at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards, albeit that won’t happen until — gulp — 2036 under the current funding scenario. Unless, of course, Metro can find a way to accelerate the project.

In addition, the second phase of the Expo Line will have a station at Westwood Boulevard, just south of Pico Boulevard. It’s a 2.2-mile walk between the station and the intersection of Westwood and Le Conte (the south side of the UCLA campus) or, at present, a 15 to 16 minute bus ride on the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus’ 8 or 12 lines. In the future, let’s hope that there’s speedier bus service between Expo, the Westside Subway and UCLA’s campus, not to mention safe and fast bike routes.

Big, entertaining graphic after the jump — please check it out!

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New York City’s transportation boss offers a few lessons on making the big changes actually happen

Janette Sadik-Khan at last night's event. Photo by Juan Matute/UCLA.

Janette Sadik-Khan at last night’s event talking about closing parts of Times Square to traffic in favor of pedestrian plazas. Photo by Juan Matute/UCLA.

I had the good fortune of attending a forum last night with Janette Sadik-Khan, the innovative Transportation Commissioner for New York City. She was the featured speaker at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs Complete Streets Initiative, an effort to make local streets more user-friendly for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and motorists.

New York has taken a number of bold steps since Sadik-Khan began working for Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2007: building new public plazas in places that were once streets (including parts of Times Square), creating new bus rapid transit lines with the New York MTA, adding 300 miles of bike lanes and implementing traffic calming measures to reduce fatalities and injuries caused by motor vehicles in New York City’s five boroughs. The New York MTA is also building a new subway line and extending another.

In other words, New York City made a lot of significant changes quickly, not letting distractors or controversy get in the way even when things didn’t break their way (such as a plan to implement congestion pricing in Manhattan). I think most of what she discussed is highly relevant here, given that some big changes are underway in L.A. County courtesy of Metro’s Measure R program along with many other local initiatives and projects that are either being discussed, studied or implemented across the county.

I few things I heard that I really liked:

•”Just remember the headlines don’t always translate into the opinions of actual people,” said Sadik-Khan. Couldn’t agree more. It’s difficult in some media reports to gauge the degree of opposition or support for a particular projects and many media outlets either don’t offer the context or disclosed they rely on the same people for years for quotes.

•”Safety and sustainability go hand in hand,” she said. “You won’t get more people walking or biking if they don’t feel safe.” Several cities in L.A. County are quickly putting in new bikes but I haven’t seen a lot of data about which are being used and which are not — and why not. For example, there are new bike lanes directly next to three lanes of freeway-like traffic on Huntington Boulevard in El Sereno. It’s great to have the lanes, but I have seen very few people actually using them and non-productive lanes could harm the overall program. 

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New UCLA video targets new commuters to Westwood campus

Here’s a new video from UCLA that school officials say is specifically aimed at new employees to familiarize them with alternative transportation options available at UCLA before their first day of work. The video will be incorporated into the new employee orientation process campus-wide.

Of course, at some future juncture, the video will need a big update when the Westside/Purple Line Extension’s Wilshire/Westwood Station opens. The station will be a short walk into the heart of Westwood Village and/or a nice walk, bike or short bus ride into the heart of UCLA’s campus.

The news release is after the jump.

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