Transportation headlines, Thursday, Jan. 31

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.

ART OF TRANSIT: Well, I've become what I once beheld, succumbing to the temptation to take photos of escalators in transit stations. This is the Red/Purple Lines Civic Center Station with the nearly completed canopy seen above. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: Well, I’ve become what I once beheld, succumbing to the temptation to take photos of escalators in transit stations. This is the Red/Purple Lines’ Civic Center Station with the nearly completed canopy seen above. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

My apologies for the somewhat sporadic posting in the past few weeks — personal stuff.

FTA to streamline environmental review process (Welcome to the Fast Lane)

Outgoing U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says that for the first time in a quarter century, the Federal Transit Administration is taking steps to speed its review of transportation projects to ensure they comply with federal law. For example, projects in existing transportation corridors will no longer require the same high level of review as projects breaking new ground.

This is welcome news. I hope it works. I’ve certainly chirped in the past about the need to cut red tape and get studies done quicker — proposing to build a busway or light rail line along an existing street should not require five years of study to determine impacts are slight or beneficial. One reason studies take so long is that the FTA, by law, must constantly review them.

Exploring the course of the future Metro Expo Line (KCET) 

Eric Brightwell has a nice write-up with plenty of photos of the stations and surrounding environs of the six-mile second phase that will extend the train from Culver City to Santa Monica. Tip of the cap to Eric for including one of my fave Mexican food joints in the area, Gilbert’s El Indio, which is in Santa Monica at Pico and 26th and is a bike ride or stroll from the future 26th/Olympic Station. Carnitas plate: I salute you!

A tale of competing Century City high-rises (Curbed LA)

JP Morgan Chase has hired a lobbyist to create a group — “Save the Westside” — to prevent a 37-story high-rise office tower from being built next to the future Century City Purple Line subway station. The issue? JP Morgan Chase trying to save its bottom line; the firm is a property owner in Century City and apparently doesn’t welcome any more competition, according to the office of Councilman Paul Koretz.

A subway’s birthday: Happy 20th, Metro Red Line! (Militant Angeleno) 

Great post by the militant one on the subway’s opening in 1993 and what it was like to ride the train back in 1993 — when it was only seven minutes from end to end. He also makes an outstanding point about how dull and lifeless downtown Los Angeles was back in ’93 — and how the subway impacted one business in Westlake:

Within a few months, thousands of Downtown workers suddenly discovered that they were just 25 cents and a couple minutes away from the best pastrami in town, and injected new life into a once-floundering Westlake delicatessen, right across the street from the subway’s western terminus.

He speaks, of course, of Langers. In the spirit of a picture is worth a thousand words:

A Ruben pastrami. Photo by Michael Saechang, via Flickr creative commons.

A Ruben pastrami. Photo by Michael Saechang, via Flickr creative commons.

710 freeway coalition faces growing efforts against linking the route to 210 (Pasadena Sun)

Interesting article looking at groups for and against filling the gap in the 710 with a tunnel. Generally speaking, southern San Gabe Valley cities support the effort while those in the north oppose it. Metro is about to launch a draft environmental study for the project that is considering five alternatives: no-build, transportation systems improvements (i.e. signals and intersections), bus rapid transit, light rail and a freeway tunnel that would directly link the two ends of the 710.

 

CTA website offers ‘why things go wrong’ explanations (Chicago Tribune)

The Chicago Transit Authority has a new feature on its website: a lengthy feature story trying to explain why buses and trains are sometimes delayed. But the Trib’s transportation columnist is not entirely impressed and doesn’t buy the CTA’s assertion that many service delays are entirely beyond its control.

My three cents (inflation!): Explanations are nice but never an excuse for poor service. That said, I thought the CTA page was thoughtful in trying to answer some very common questions about delays and this is something we should probably do here at Metro, where we have another equally important task: improving the speed that service alerts are communicated to riders.

Judge the CTA page for yourself. Here’s their take on bus bunching:

We know—bunching is frustrating. It frustrates us too, both as people who are charged with providing service, and people who use that same service to get around town. Bunching is the bane of bus systems around the world and there is no easy fix to it—particularly in places where there’s lots of traffic and where frequent bus service is required.

So how does it happen? Here’s a scenario:

Imagine a busy route that has buses running about every 5 minutes on a busy street, right at the morning peak, and all is right on time. Then, one bus gets delayed—let’s say a minor accident between two cars happens, and a lane is temporarily blocked while drivers exchange info, and this creates a backup that adds just two and a half minutes to the bus’s trip.

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First phase of Metro Red Line celebrates 20-year anniversary

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“This day is here…”

On January 29, 1993, former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley stood among a swarm of public officials and transit agency staffers on the cramped Pershing Square subway platform. Standing shoulders above everyone else, including then-California Gov. Pete Wilson, Bradley proudly inaugurated the opening of the first modern subway in Los Angeles.

“Twenty years is a long time. That’s how long we have been pushing on this dream, this vision of what we should do in Los Angeles County,” Bradley said, referring to the subway’s quixotic path to reality in ‘93. “I made a promise when I ran for mayor in 1973 that in 18 months, we’d deliver by breaking ground for rapid transit. Well, I missed by only a few months…”

Today, Metro marks the 20th anniversary of the Metro Red Line’s first phase from Union Station to MacArthur Park, a nearly 4.5-mile construction milestone that began a brand new chapter in regional rail construction and placing L.A. among other major cities across the globe with high-speed, high-capacity subways.

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Grand opening ceremony held for new TOD at MacArthur Park station

Photos by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

Here’s the new release for the ceremony held this morning in the Westlake district of Los Angeles:

June 14, 2012 –McCormack Baron Salazar and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) are cutting the ribbon on the new MacArthur Park Apartments Phase A Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in the MacArthur Park/Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Grand Opening Ceremony will be held on June 18 at the new development located at 681 South Bonnie Brae Street. With remarks by community leaders, a formal ribbon cutting, and tours of the new sustainable apartments and retail spaces, the event will celebrate the grand opening of the first of two phases that includes 90 affordable apartments, 15,000 square feet of retail, 100 commuter car parking spaces, and 24 bicycle parking spaces. A total of 172 affordable apartments are planned for the two-phase development.

“In a city where the motto once seemed to be ‘Build Now, Plan Later’, we are committed to doing things differently. We are closely linking our ever-expanding transit system with the planning of vibrant, livable neighborhoods,” said Los Angeles Mayor and current MTA chairman Antonio Villaraigosa. “The MacArthur Park Apartments development is a perfect example of how we can become a more livable city by connecting our residents to high-quality affordable housing options and public transit.”

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 2

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 blog.

Angeles Crest Highway reopens on Friday (Monrovia Patch)

Parts of Highway 2 have been closed since late summer 2009 when the Station Fire roared across the San Gabriel Mountains. The reopening of this stretch of road above La Canada provides the easiest access to Mt. Wilson and hiking trails in some of the spectacular high country beyond. A lot of people — I imagine — will be visiting the forest in coming weeks to see firsthand the effects of the fire. The U.S. Forest Service and Caltrans say that much of the road had to be completely rebuilt after hillsides lacking vegetation — it burned — collapsed.

MacArthur Park subway-adjacent residences rising fast (Curbed LA)

The apartment building with affordable units — Metro is a partner in the development — is taking shape next to the subway station. The first phase will have 90 units in a part of town where transit-oriented development hasn’t been happening since the subway opened in 1993. Curbed has a bunch of pics — check it out.

Closeup: April’s tornado outbreaks (New York Times Dot Earth blog)

The big question to which no one has a credible answer yet: has global warming sparked the extreme weather across the U.S. this spring? Andrew Revkin talks to some climate scientists, who say there are still big knowledge gaps to be filled. What’s this have to do with transportation? The transportation sector — including all those cars and trucks on the road — is a significant greenhouse gas contributor in the U.S.