Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Feb. 21

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.

High-speed rail plan would electrify Caltrain tracks (San Francisco Chronicle)

The state’s high-speed rail plans continue to be modified to make the bullet train more affordable and practical to build. The latest plan would have the high-speed rail trains running on the tracks that commuter rail currently uses in the Los Angeles and San Francisco metro areas.

In San Francisco, the plan would electrify the tracks that Caltrain uses between San Jose and San Francisco. That would allow electric-powered high-speed rail trains to use the existing tracks on the San Francisco Peninsula rather than building a whole new set of tracks.

In Southern California, the Chronicle reports that a series of improvements would be made to Metrolink tracks to eliminate or improve crossings and add extra track. The plans at this point don’t include electrifying Metrolink’s lines — a very big undertaking as Metrolink covers vastly more territory than Caltrain.

L.A.’s new bus benches look better but don’t serve riders (L.A. Weekly)

The new green benches appearing around the city of L.A. are an improvement on the old brown ones, opines writer Alissa Walker. But many of the benches sit out in the sun with no shade — which means people waiting for the bus are often standing nearby in any shade that can be found. The benches, by the way, are provided by firms that sell outdoor advertising on them as a way to make money.

SGV Board backs completion of Highway 39 to Wrightwood (Whittier Daily News)

The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments voted to oppose Caltrans’ effort to permanently abandon the 4.4 miles of Highway 39 between Crystal Lake and the Angeles Crest Highway. That stretch has been closed since 1978 due to mudslides. My two cents: If 39 was open, it would be used by commuters between the high desert and the San Gabriel Valley and that, I fear, would be chaos and unsafe. This is a narrow, twisty road through the Angeles National Forest and the last thing it needs is more traffic.

7 replies

  1. I agree that it would be nice to turn Metrolink into electrical tracks to turn it from a 9-5 train to something more regular for those of us who are going to school or would need to use Metrolink during the weekends.

    Doing that would greatly boost ridership and it would mirror the old interurban “red cars” of the Pacific Electric since most of the metrolink tracks follow the old Pacific Electric tracks.

  2. I disagree with you, Steve. SR 39 is an important route for emergency evacuation. When a forest fire hits the San Gabriels, the only way out will be south, and not north. The intense windy nature of SR 39 ensures that it will not be used for daily commuting, although it would speed people to the resorts at Wrightwood instead of having to take the circuitous Angeles Crest Highway all the way from La Canada Flintridge. While the Bighorn Sheep is a major concern this could be mitigated through road design features and sensitive construction practices. At the very least this needs to be studied in a comprehensive fashion and not unilaterally terminated by Caltrans.

  3. “The plans at this point don’t include electrifying Metrolink’s lines — a very big undertaking as Metrolink covers vastly more territory than Caltrain.” So what does this this mean for high speed rail? Obviously that part of Metrolink will need to be electrified if it is to run HSR trains. I’d say all of Metrolink should be double tracked and electrified anyways so that it could finally be a real regional rail system (like SEPTA or LIRR and Metro North), as a system that runs frequently and is reliable in providing an alternative to driving for trips other than just to and from 9 to 5 jobs. Also, I wonder what the top speed will be when sharing the commuter tracks. 90? 100? 110? 125? (like the UK trains).

  4. Just a small (but very important correction) under the bus bench headline. The buses are not provided by advertising companies, the benches are. (Wouldn’t that be nice if Metro’s buses were all provided by the ad companies… sure would free up a lot of extra money!)

  5. The new bus stop benches are an improvement over the old gray benches. The problem LA has with covered vs uncovered bus stop benches is that there are two companies with contracts. The company who supplies the covered benches is holding LA hostage with their requirement of positioning large advertising pillars and paks cluttered into a few locations – even Scenic Parkways w/ restrictions for advertising. If they install one covered bus bench they will automatically install multiple additional advertising pillars & paks. The contract has a long duration.