A look back at some of the year’s most popular and interesting posts on The Source

The demolition of half of the Mulholland Bridge in July. Photo by Peter Watkinson/Metro.

As 2011 winds down, the following is a look back at our more popular posts from the past year. Not surprisingly, many of the posts are from earlier in 2011, which tended to be heavy on big news.

And equally non-shocking, readers showed the most interest in posts about Metro projects either under construction or in the planning pipeline — the Expo Line, Crenshaw/LAX Line, Westside Subway Extension, Gold Line Foothill Extension, Regional Connector, ExpressLanes, Orange Line Extension and the Van Nuys Rapidway, to name a few. Many, of course, are receiving dollars from the Measure R sales tax increase that Los Angeles County voters approved in 2008.

Please feel free to comment if you feel as if the following list doesn’t reflect the big events or the real news of the past year.

The 405 freeway bone dry of cars on Carmageddon weekend. Photo by Dave Sotero/Metro.

Transit guide to Carmageddon (July 15). No surprise here. Before the big tear-down of half the Mulholland Bridge, people were seriously concerned with getting around — especially between the San Fernando Valley and LAX. Several other posts about Carmageddon and feared traffic impacts were also among our most popular posts of the year.

Metrolink adds Angels Express trains (March 29). Metro is one of the five counties that funds the commuter rail agency that aggressively added special service trains in the past year. It’s clear to me that readers want alternative ways to travel to events around So Cal and, thus, no surprise that this post got a lot of attention.

Bus service changes for June approved by Metro Board (March 24). It was a close vote with the Board approving the changes by a 7 to 6 margin. The 300,000 hours of reductions were about 100,000 hours less than agency staff originally proposed.

Metro begins testing real-time bus arrival system (March 2). The Nextrip system gave Metro customers a way to use their computers or cell phones to see when their bus would be arriving. In the months since, most people seem to like Nextrip with some occasional complaints that it’s buggy or not working. I’ve found it works very well. Here’s the desktop version and here’s the mobile version.

Tracks from the old Santa Monica Air Line in an industrial section of Santa Monica. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

Expo Line Phase 2 construction is a “go” (March 18). The news that the Board of the Expo Line Construction Authority approved a construction contract for the Culver City-Santa Monica portion of the light rail was greeted warmly by readers. The first phase of Expo is expected to open in 2012 and phase 2 by 2015. Remembrance of trains past: The Santa Monica Air Line (June 22) was also very popular. Carter’s photos of what remains of the old rail line that followed Exposition Boulevard was a hit for an obvious reason: the old line is about to come back to life as part of the second phase of the Expo Line.

Metro to purchase Los Angeles Union Station (Feb. 24). The agency indeed went ahead and purchased the venerable train station later in the year for $75 million. The sale included 38 acres of land and 5.9-million-square feet of building entitlements. The agency is currently in the process of hiring an architectural firm to draw up a master plan for the station and surrounding land.

Westside Subway Extension receives $640-million federal loan (July 6). The loan comes from the federal TIFIA program that helps lock down good interest rates and other terms. The upfront money will give Metro more flexibility with paying for the subway project since funds from Measure R for the subway come in later years.

Ticket machines that dispense TAP cards and allow users to add stored value are being tested (Jan. 19). Pretty much anything we post on TAP cards generates a big response with Source readers and this news wasn’t an exception. The good news is that the testing went well and it’s possible to get a TAP card at many ticket machines and users can add stored value at machines or online. Another post about TAP — “Answers to your questions about TAP” — was one of our most read items of the year.

Metro responds to call to cut rail service by 48 percent (April 1). We disagreed with the Reason Foundation’s proposal for many reasons, namely that most metropolitan areas around the globe need a bus, rail and road system to get people where they’re going.

High-Speed Rail Authority reviews alternatives for routing in the Los Angeles area (March 3). A look at various options for the bullet train in the L.A. metro area, many of which are controversial. Of course, by fall the estimated cost of the Anaheim-to-San Francisco part of the project had more than doubled to $98.5 billion and it remains unclear where the funding will come from for the north and south parts of the line.

Here are some other posts from the past year that were also popular among readers or I thought represented some of more interesting material:

Study on connecting LAX to Metro Rail to be considered by Metro Board (March 23) — see the below video from Metro staff on the project.

Fun with maps: does L.A.’s size skew perceptions of transit usage? (Aug. 24)

Metro asks Beverly Hills Courier to correct wrong information in story on Westside Subway Extension (April 29)

Our first ride on the Expo Line (Nov. 22)

Videos from The Source’s Expo Line ride (Nov. 22) — One is below.

Metro moves toward “rolling passes” and $5 day pass (May 19)

Board votes to add Leimert Park station to Crenshaw/LAX Line — if funds can be found (May 26)

Statistics on crime on Metro buses and trains (Sept. 21)

Sheriff’s Deputies crack down on illegal vending on Blue and Green lines (April 25)

Metro Board approves 7.7 miles of peak hour bus lanes for Wilshire Boulevard (May 26)

Amtrak to offer express service between San Diego and L.A. (Feb. 10)

Art for the Expo Line: Ephemeral views by Ronald Llanos (Jan. 10)

Experts recommend Constellation station for subway project for safety reasons (Oct. 19)

One of the bridge abutments for the bridge that will carry the Gold Line Foothill Extension over the eastbound 210 freeway in Arcadia. Photo by Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

Iconic bridge takes shape for Gold Line Foothill Extension (Oct. 3)

FTA releases civil rights compliance review of Metro (Dec. 12)

Turnstiles begin closure tests for TAP (Sept. 13)

Metro won an FTA grant to help pay for a new Silver Line platform at Union Station.

Metro wins two FTA grants (Oct. 17) — see above rendering.

Regional Connector studies single-entrance station and knock-out panels (Oct. 5)

Van Nuys Rapidway community presentation now available (Nov. 1)

Orange Line turns six, progress on Chatsworth Extension (Oct. 28)

First look: transponders for Metro’s ExpressLanes project (Dec. 14)

Metrolink introduces 10 bike cars in time for CicLAvia (Oct. 7)