Five things I’m thinking about transit, Nov. 23 edition

1. SEARCH YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT HIGH-SPEED RAIL: I’ve searched my feelings and finally figured out exactly how I feel about high-speed rail: the same way I felt about the Westside Subway project between 2005 and 2007 when many, many public officials were talking about it but Metro obviously didn’t have the money to pay for it.

I had little doubt the subway was a good project and there were big obstacles that had to be overcome, such as the Congressional ban on funding. Still, I thought a lot of the talk about the project didn’t amount to much until there was a viable funding plan. That finally happened in 2008 when the Measure R sales tax increase to fund many road and transit projects was proposed, put on the ballot and then approved by 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters.

And that’s the issue I have with high-speed rail. It sounds great, but the funding plan is still very sketchy. And, sadly, the issue of funding from the federal government seems split on party lines. Many Democrats like it but haven’t said much in the way of actual details when it comes to money. And many Republicans dislike it because it would require — gasp! — government funding to get built.


-The line isn’t opening until next year, but I’m curious to hear from readers about how they plan to use the new light rail line and how they see it impacting their commutes. Comment please!

-It’s no secret that some of the Expo Line stations are very close to one another — the Trousdale and Vermont stations are about one-third of a mile apart and the Farmdale and La Brea stations are separated by just one-half mile. Will having stations this close together — resulting in a slower ride — be a turn off for prospective riders? Or will it make the train a more appealing option because stations are easier to reach for commuters, residents and students in those areas?

-I don’t know when it’s opening so please don’t press me for a date or even an approximation of a date. I DON’T KNOW!!! That said, Bruce Springsteen has just announced a new tour for next year (no U.S. dates yet) and he likes to play the Sports Arena because it’s an old-school dump that puts fans close to the stage. So my little transit wish is to take the Expo Line to to see Bruce play and avoid the awful Expo Park event traffic/parking situation.

3. TAILPIPES AND WEATHER. I don’t want to confuse everyday weather for long-term climate. That said, of my 17 years living in Southern California, the last year felt as if it was the coolest — and I live in the San Gabriel Valley where it can get stinky hot. I’ve skied in deep snow the past two Memorial Days at Mammoth and the Eastern Sierra has already been walloped by some decent storms this winter. Just weird variations in the weather or a sign of how greenhouse gases and global weirding/warming may be impacting our state?

4. PROTESTING BY CAMPING: If I go to Yosemite, I have to pay for an official campsite. If I backpack into the Sierra, I have to pay to reserve a permit. But if I’m angry about something, I apparently get to camp for free in many city parks across the nation as long as I want and hold protests that delay traffic, including buses carrying riders just trying to get to and from work and make a living. Doesn’t make sense to me.

5. SAY HELLO TO BROOKLYN FOR ME, FRED: A somewhat belated goodbye and best wishes to Fred Camino, who has moved to Brooklyn and is leading a happy and car-free life there. Fred was invaluable in helping get The Source off the ground in 2009 and had an intuitive sense of the types of issues that readers most cared about — such as TAP.

We have two more posts coming from Fred — the first on how to lead a car-free life in L.A. (I’ll post it Monday) and the second on his early impressions of the transit system in the Big Apple (coming Tuesday).

Until then, have a Happy Thanksgiving and thanks to everyone for taking the time to read the blog, comment, e-mail, tweet and Facebook your transit experiences, failures and fantasies. See you Monday!

14 replies

  1. I am very frustrated waiting for the Expo Line. When I applied to USC for grad school I was under the mistaken impression that it would open Summer 2010. A year and a half later (in a two year program) and I’m still waiting on it.

    The main issue: I detest using the USC shuttles to Union Station. Depending on both traffic and which driver you get, the trip usually takes between 25 and 40 minutes in the evening and the bus stop is far on the other end of campus. I’ve already timed it out and the Trousdale station is a short 5 minute walk from platform to classroom – much closer (whereas the Jefferson and Vermont stations are both very far). While I don’t look forward to the additional transfer at 7th Street, the consistency will make a huge difference. No more stressing about a bad driver or a freeway accident causing me to just miss my Metrolink train (and being forced to wait an hour at Union Station).

    I also work a block away from 7th Street Metro Center and the Expo Line will make it far easier for me do a half-day on campus and a half-day at work. It will also really help me get to campus on weekends (since the shuttles don’t run and the DASH F is horrible).

    Monthly Metrolink Pass (with transfers): $220
    Semester-long Parking Permit at USC: $300
    Getting to and from campus without going crazy: Priceless.


  2. The Expo Line won’t be part of my regular commute, but I will use it to get to Exposition Park. My mom has always enjoyed the rose garden and I like the science museums.

    And Yosemite is a federally-protected natural wildlife preserve, maintained for future generations and meant to be kept wild and natural.
    City Hall lawn is… well, it’s nice but it’s just a lawn. (They ought to replace the grass with native plants). There’s nothing very natural about most city parks as well.

  3. Too many media outlets are getting away with reporting the cost of HSR, while ignoring the cost of the alternative. The cost to expand highways/airports, not to mention the extra carbon emissions, is not trivial. In fact, many studies place that cost at figures well above the cost of building HSR. Without accounting for those alternative costs, HSR will lose the argument every time. And when we are faced with two hypothetical revenue streams– one for a dirty, congestion causing project, and the other for a clean, congestion easing project: the choice should be simple.

  4. When the 2nd phase is done, Expo will be a dramatic help for me, because I live in Jefferson Park and work on the Westside. That commute is terrible, and biking is usually the same speed as driving.

    But for Phase 1, it’ll get me from my place to my two favorite places to have a night out: Downtown Culver City, and Downtown LA. (not exactly all the way to Downtown Culver City, but, close enough.)

    (Expo Line pub crawl! The Edison to Father’s Office.)

    Hope the Expo Line runs at least until midnight.

  5. Is there an alternative under evaluation that spend money on improving existing rail system and increase frequency, travel time and quality of service?

  6. Gary B, I feel your pain about the F DASH (my friends and I call it Fail DASH).

    As for the high speed rail, I just think it’s kind of embarassing that China managed to get theirs built in under 3 years and America has been talking about it for over nearly a decade. Whether or not it will be as effective as some claim remains to be seen, but I wish it would just get built already so we can all move on and argue about something else.

  7. While I don’t live near the expo line and it’s not part of any regular trips I make, I still see the the line as very valuable in being part of an ever growing backbone rail transit network for LA. I will certainly use it if I’m ever going to USC or expo park for any reason. And once the sepulveda pass line is built, I will use that to transfer to expo to get to Santa Monica and the beach.

    On high speed rail: I support full HSR but if it is really not possible funding wise to achieve that at least right now, then we can have an interim solution with Acela-style service between LA and the Bay Area which would still probably be faster than driving not to mention much more comfortable.

  8. An environmental report was done in 2009 for the Los Angeles to San Diego rail corridor. It identified necessary improvements to service including adding another track between Union Station and Irvine, double tunnels under Dana Point/San Clement, Del Mar, and I-5/805 Split To Hwy 5 as well as double track at San Juan Capistrano, Camp Pendleton, Oceanside/Carlsbad, and Hwy 52 To Santa Fe Depot. $21 million in federal funding was just approved for planning for about 10 miles of double track. All that is lacking is hundreds of millions of dollars to plan the other improvements and hundreds of millions more for construction. Federal funding is not forthcoming from the current Congress.

  9. –Expo wish list: increase visits to Expo Park museums from zero now, events @ USC & auditions @ film school, Expo then N to LACMA to avoid the 720 nightmare, wistful looks westward towards Santa Monica “some day soon”, wonderful quirky neighborhood places at all the stops to EXPLORE… YAY!
    –Congrats Fred, ah NY, where I 1st fell in love with mass transit and out of love with cars.
    –Re the storminess, a hotter atmosphere doesn’t just equal hotter days, but wetter air (oceans evaporate faster) with more energy in it and therefore stormier.

  10. As someone who commutes to USC from Koreatown, Expo couldn’t come soon enough! I’ve commuted regularly by the 754 for about a year. Though the trip is always quick and comfortable for morning commutes, the buses are infrequent and jam packed at midday, and extremely slow in evening traffic. I suspect that during those hours, the Red/Purple to Expo Line will be a lot more stress-free, enough to make up for any additional the less direct route might take. Plus, it will be a wonderfully easy way to get to Downtown for drinks at the end of the day.

    Lastly, it’ll be great to have an easy way to get to Culver City. As it is, I absolutely hate transferring between buses at Vermont and Venice.

  11. Indeed, the Occupy movement seems to be following in the steps of the Bus Riders Union, which has used symbolic “occupation” of the MTA building to fight cuts to bus service!

  12. I live in Pasadena. the opening of the expoline will allow me to travel to venice beach and santa monica without fighting traffic on the 10 freeway.