On Transportation column, April 11 edition

WHEN IT COMES TO BUILDING A STADIUM, TIMING IS EVERYTHING: In its $27-million, 10,000-page study of the impact of building Farmers Field, AEG determined there will be traffic impacts in downtown (surprise!) and offered to spend $10 million on a second platform for the Pico station serving the nearby Blue and Expo lines.

AEG also offered to pay for other traffic and pedestrian improvements in downtown L.A. as mitigation for their 72,000-seat football stadium.

Meanwhile, the Dodger Stadium Express bus service between Union Station and the ballpark began running yesterday. The Stadium Express only exists because a state air pollution grant pays for it in an attempt to reduce traffic and auto emissions.

Interesting contrast.

HIGH-SPEED RAIL TO SKIP ANAHEIM: I thought it was a little strange that the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s revised business plan, released last week, didn’t come out and explicitly say that L.A. Union Station-to-Anaheim was no longer part of the bullet train plan.

I’m not sure it’s a huge deal as existing Metrolink and Amtrak service in the L.A.-to-O.C. corridor can probably be improved for a lot less than the $6 billion cost of linking the two areas by high-speed rail. If anything, the move reflects the ever-changing nature of the bullet train plan as the Authority and supporters try to find something that can rise above the opposition.

READER COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Take it away, Connor Gilliland…

The Van Nuys corridor project absolutely needs to be tied in with the Sepulveda pass project and it needs to be in the form of rail transit. That’s how it will get the most usage/ridership and will be fastest transit option (due zero mixed traffic operations). Anything less would be a colossal blunder for what could be one of the greatest metro lines in LA’s history. Also, I would add that it should not end at the purple line but at least continue to expo where a transfer could be made to go to very important points west like Santa Monica. Let’s do it right this time, Metro. We DON’T want a north-south version of the orange line bus or a glorified 761 bus! We want true rapid transit! There is certainly more than enough demand for it.

Interesting and important point about tying the Sepulveda Pass project to Expo. I have no idea if it will happen, but it certainly seems worth discussing.

Planning for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor is underway and a set of three community meetings begins tomorrow night (details here). The project will look at ways to improve transit on Van Nuys or Sepulveda boulevards. Meanwhile, study of the Sepulveda Pass project is just underway and will consider possible transit options over the Sepulveda Pass.

The black bear tranquilized by state Fish and Game wardens on Tuesday. Photo: DFG.

MONTROSE BEAR: Black bears aren’t exactly strangers to San Gabriel Mountain foothill communities. But the most interesting thing about the bear tranquilized in Montrose on Tuesday morning is that the bear actually managed to get south of the 210 freeway, a barrier of sorts between the mountains and the ‘burbs below.

Freeways are, of course, significant barriers to wildlife and a lot has been written about mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains being hemmed in by the 101 and 405 freeways. Conversely, there are no black bears in the Santa Monicas. It’s not because habitat is lacking. More likely it’s because bears can’t get there.

Obviously garbage-munching bears are not a great idea. Yet, despite all the development in our area, it’s interesting to see that some big wildlife in our area has found a way to persist.



14 replies

  1. I would be totally down with Metro going public.

    Mass transit can become a real money maker that can pay out generous dividends with the right business model. Has Metro thought about going public and giving every Angelino shares in Metro stock as a contribution to what they’ve put into taxes?

  2. Meanwhile, the Dodger Stadium Express bus service between Union Station and the ballpark began running yesterday. The Stadium Express only exists because a state air pollution grant pays for it in an attempt to reduce traffic and auto emissions.

    Bless you Steve. The Dodgers appalling view towards transit to their ballpark continues to baffle and astound me.

  3. @David

    “Unfortunately, transit dollars are few and far between and I know stations are very expensive to build.”

    Correction; it’s expensive to build because Metro has no money as it is not a for-profit enterprise. Taxpayers pay for the cost of new stations and tracks here in the US.

    This is why I have been advocating that Metro should stop being so scared of moving toward a more profit-oriented mass transit system like Asia instead of being the tax-payer subsidized transit system pitfalls as the other transit agencies in the US tend to fall into.

    Sooner or later, I foresee LA Metro following the same mistakes like NYMTA and Boston’s MBTA. More expansions and projects sound great in the short term, but the long term costs associated will end up becoming a ball-and-chain to the taxpayers of LA. More projects means more expenses and maintenance costs for the upkeep of stations and tracks, which can never be recovered under this tax-payer subsidized model, leading to higher taxes, higher fares and massive service cuts

    In sharp contrast, there’s the for-profit enterprise Asian model of running mass transit. They’ve figured out long ago that there is nothing wrong with moving a mass transit system to a more profit oriented, self sustaining, over 100% farebox recovery ratio business like model. Heck, transit agencies in Asia are even sell shares on their stock market to attract investors, which in turn they use that capital to make constant improvements and earn profits that go back into the system and pay out generous dividends to their shareholders. No transit agency in America does that.

    Just look at how much transit agencies in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore manages to do all that by moving mass transit system to a for-profit enterprise. Very minimal taxpayer funds are used to maintain and service mass transit systems there; it’s all from profit earned going back to making new projects.

    It doesn’t take a genius to see why transit agencies in Asia are the only ones in the world that have farebox recovery ratios of over 100%, self sustaining on its own with minimal taxpayer subsidies. They run mass transit as a for profit enterprise, they run it like a business; they earn revenue from renting out retail spaces at the stations, they’ve moved toward a more logical distance fare model (shorter distance cheaper fares, longer distance more expensive), and efficiently managing the system with hard data collection. What they get is the best and most advanced transit systems in the world which continues to put them fifty years ahead in terms of knowledge and experience.

    Our method on the other hand, is not much different from how the Pyongyang Metro is run in North Korea.

  4. Papa and Y Fukuzawa: I think in a non-bankrupt city and state, everyone would love to go to a museum for a buck fifty and have as many transit options for destinations as possible. Unfortunately, transit dollars are few and far between and I know stations are very expensive to build. I just don’t think the amount of traffic generated by the Getty justifies a station there. That station would serve ONLY the Getty. There is no other transit-dependent destination or the potential for developing such anywhere close to the Getty. Picking up on what John K said, between Ventura Blvd and Westwood Village, there never will be any walkable stations. That being said, I respect both of your opinions and realize that my opinion is only that…an opinion.

  5. Hopefully, this is a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass. If that is the case, then no Getty stop of course, but it doesn’t have the patronage to justify it anyway.

  6. @David

    On the contrary, adding stations doesn’t necessarily mean trains have to stop there. All you need is express, limited, and local services depending on time of day, something which Metro has yet to do.

    Busy commute hours: no stops along the way from SFV to West LA or LAX
    Other times: limited and local services stopping along the way.

  7. thank you for adding the sylmar metrolink station to the east valley plan. I agree we need light rail on Sepulveda and it needs to connect to orange line and the Sepulveda pass. Sepulveda will prove to haver better development potential and it has some wide sections already. it’s good to see what we wrecked in the 1950s is now being rebuilt.

  8. David: I think that building a station at the Getty is important. A free admission plus the added benefit of having a rail line can be crucial to tourists and locals alike. Who wouldn’t want to visit a museum for just a dollar-fifty?

    As for the Sepulveda Project: I think that the first thing Metro could do to help the Sepulveda Area is to increase bus service, not only there, but in the San Fernando Valley. Bus service is really poor, and there are only two bus lines (excluding the Orange Line) that qualify as having “frequent service,” (eg: in the 15 minute map).

  9. I feel like the line should travel on Van Nuys in the Valley from Sylmar south and go under the hill with a station Ventura/Van Nuys followed by a station at Westwood Village/UCLA before connecting with the purple line at Wilshire/Westwood. Since Sepulveda is ajacent to the 405, it will not create walkable stations.

  10. The “Sepulveda” line should be heavy rail/subway. Build it in phases. Phase 1 from The Orange Line station at Sepulveda where there is a lot of parking to The Expo Line at Sepulveda and Pico. One stop at Ventura Blvd, then hit the Purple Line at the VA, then Pico/Expo. Phase 2 extends to the Green Line/LAX People mover with appropriate stops. Phase 3 heads up to the Metrolink Station at Sylmar with appropriate stops. Please don’t waste money on extra stations like at The Getty. It doesn’t merit enough traffic to justify a station. It really needs to be a line that gets you from Ventura Blvd. to West L.A. as fast as possible.

  11. Thank you Metro for half listening. The new East San Fernando Valley Corridor makes more sense. If only there was no Westside, it would make complete sense. That this corridor and the Sepulveda corridor are separate boggles many people’s minds. Is this how they built the 405, having people on one side of a hill choosing between trains, buses, and cars, while people on the other side did the same? Imagine a life in Los Angeles where 100,000 motorist drive to Sepulveda Dam, park, and transfer to trolleys over the pass, because people 50 years ago cut a corridor in two? Enough already, Metro, who cares about your arbitrary project boundaries anyway? We have only one corridor! Sepulveda Pass? Van Nuys? the 405? They’re the same corridor! Doesn’t anyone notice this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

  12. Combining the Sepulveda Pass Corridor is a must. But I will it a step further. Combine the Crenshaw Corridor into this equation as well. When this project breaks ground. It is likely that revenue service on the Crenshaw Line Would have begun. Their would already be existing track into LAX or nearby LAX plus a possible continuation of the line into Redondo Beach and beyond. This makes the need to connect Crenshaw Line tracks to Expo Line tracks further more needed. The use of existing railway is pivitol in the amount of dollars used to build these projects. Allow the Crenshaw Line to share tracks with the Expo Line until Sepulveda metro can Use either the median of the 405 or Sepulveda Blvd .One Full North/South line from Redondo Beach to Sylmar. Connecting the South Bay, Crenshaw Communities, the Westside and the ESFV. I call it the Metro Brown Line..lol

  13. Los Angeles and Orange County transportation authorities have both called for High Speed Rail to share tracks to Anaheim with existing service. There is no room in the right of way so building two additional dedicated tracks for high speed rail would require very expensive solutions either widening the right of way through eminent domain or building a viaduct the entire length above existing tracks. Shared track would mean high speed trains would travel the same speed as other trains sharing the line.

    Electrifying the line for high speed trains to eliminate the need to change trains at Union Station may be possible at a future date but is not essential to the first phase of a statewide high speed rail system. What is most missing from the state rail system, as Orange County officials have pointed out, is a connection from Bakersfield to Southern California which is exactly what the High Speed Rail business plan provides.

  14. RE: Anaheim:
    A true CA Bullet Train needs to stop there so long as it is a tourist (read: Disney) hub. Ideally, a high-speed train would run from San Diego up through the OC to LA then on to San Fransisco with branches to Sacramento and Las Vegas; getting to these places in under 3 hours from any other is key to getting people off the road.

    RE: SFV/Sepulveda Pass
    I agree 100% with the commenter, we need a rail line running along Sepulveda, preferably underground, that connects to the Getty, Westwood, Olympic/Pico, all the way down to LAX. If I had my way we’d even run express trains from the valley to the airport.