Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Jan. 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 Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Art of Transit: The 534 bus on Pacific Coast Highway at sunset last Friday. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Art of Transit: A southbound 534 bus on Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica at sunset last Friday. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Lankershim Boulevard rises to prominence in the Valley (L.A. Times) 

Another excellent dispatch in Christopher Hawthorne’s series on the past, present and future of significan streets in Southern California. In this, Hawthorne notes that the stretch of Lankershim that runs above the Red Line subway has become the most vital north-south connection in the San Fernando Valley and that the subway, in turn, has been the primary driver in reviving North Hollywood’s pedestrian-oriented Arts District.

Hawthorne also turns his attention to two projects involving Metro: a pedestrian tunnel under Lankershim to connect the Red Line’s NoHo station to the Orange Line terminus and a pedestrian bridge over the street at Universal City to connect the station entrance to Universal City proper. Hawthorne doesn’t like either project. Excerpt:

Putting pedestrians and drivers into separate silos of space, as the bridge-and-tunnel plan would do, isn’t just a remnant of modernist urban-planning theories that have been widely discredited. It would send drivers a clear message that they’re in control of the boulevard, free to drive even faster than they do now.

Simple and far cheaper solutions at both locations — widen the crosswalks, give people more time to get from one side to the other and ticket drivers who fail to yield — would have the benefit of smoothing the pedestrian flow and making the intersections safer at the same time.

Yet that approach has won little support from Metro, for one basic reason: What’s driving the proposals to remove pedestrians from the boulevard is not just a concern for their safety. It’s also a fear of traffic congestion along Lankershim, a worry that all those people on foot are proving an impediment to the free movement of cars.

I haven’t heard much from readers about the bridge at Universal City.  I have, however, sensed there is considerable reader support for the Red Line-Orange Line tunnel because many people would rather avoid crossing a busy street. I do think there is a very real ongoing conflict in Los Angeles about how much officials are willing to disrupt car traffic for transit, bike and pedestrian projects.

Tunnel beneath the Sepulveda Pass? It could happen quicker with private money (Daily News) 

At last month’s Board of Directors meeting, a motion was passed to consider public-private financing for the Sepulveda Pass transit project. The project is still undefined but among the alternatives considered to date are a bus rapid transit project or possibly a tunnel that could carry both toll lanes and a rail line. In the story, a Metro official says that private financing could speed up the project by years — under Measure R it’s scheduled to be complete by 2039 — and that tolls may be low because of the volume of cars that would use the tunnel.

My two cents: obviously the project has to pencil out before any private firm throws their money into it — they’ll need to know that tolls and/or fares will cover the cost of construction and then some. It will also take a long time to build a tunnel — the Sepulveda Pass project still needs to be defined, environmentally cleared, designed, financed and then built. It’s great that Metro is trying to beat the 2039 Measure R date, but I think we have to still be realistic and realize that such a project is likely not opening in the near term.

How far from the airport should the LAX people mover start? (Curbed LA)

The post is simply a recap of Yonah Freemark’s excellent article at Transport Politic about LAX’s recent offer of land to Metro for a rail station near the airport (he favors a people mover with a station adjacent to the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Aviation/Century station. The comments along with the post are interesting and give you a flavor of what a variety of people want from this project.

We need a new Measure J…are L.A. County’s supes up for it? (CityWatch) 

Ken Alpern poses the hypothetical question to each of the five supervisors (he didn’t literally ask them) and points out that a re-fashioned Measure J could be consistent with each of their stated goals. Specifics are short, but Alpern seems to be thinking along the lines of a measure that would have funding for new transit projects and fully fund others already on the Measure R list. I suspect a lot of water still must pass under the bridge before another measure to extend Measure R goes to voters.


6 replies

  1. I like Lynne’s idea of consolidating the redundant shuttles at LAX into a fixed route. This can be done now while we wait for the Crenshaw Line and the People Mover to get built, if at all.

    Since we all know how slow government moves and how brilliant the geniuses running Metro are (bright enough to make the Green Line the train from nowhere to nowhere!), it’ll be at least two decades off from being operational anyway.

    Might as well do something that can be done now.

  2. Eric P. Scott,

    The examples you outlined are great examples of why when it comes to mass transit, Americans fail completely at it.

    When you compare LAX to say Tokyo-Haneda which has a direct monorail line to it, the difference is night and day. Perhaps we do need to kick the bums out at Metro and the politicians that run the board and replace them with the Japanese transit officials.

    After years of stupid decisions and idiotic mistakes, I’m thinking that’s a far more cheaper option than continued years of wasteful tax spending for paying the salaries of the people running Metro.

  3. Who decided the Green Line should go nowhere near LAX? The taxi lobby and other private interests who don’t want the competition.

    You’d do well to learn from SFO’s mistakes. But, BART goes into the airport, you say. Yes, but. It’s not the fastest way into San Francisco, nor is it the cheapest. BART from SFO to Civic Center is scheduled at 27 minutes, with a regular fare of $8.25. The SamTrans KX Express Bus is scheduled at as little as 24 minutes, with a regular fare of $5. But that’s a little deceptive, since the bus makes four stops at the airport, and the timepoint is at the first, while the BART station is nearest the last. So the truly comparable transit time is more like 19-20 minutes. Barring serious congestion on the 101, the bus always wins. So, why doesn’t everyone take the bus? Because a private operator couldn’t stand seeing a publicly-owned transit agency doing something right, and managed to sabotage it.

    That private operator — SFO Airporter — which operated a motor coach service similar to the LAX FlyAway, has been gone since 2006. Even so, the ridiculous luggage restriction remains.

    There is a local bus, the 292, but it takes closer to an hour to make the same trip, making it the slowest alternative.

    BART, which does allow luggage, comes with not one, but two disincentives. As if the roundabout route and multiple intermediate stops weren’t bad enough, BART fares also include a $4 airport surcharge.

    So, you have three public transit options, all of which are suboptimal.

    The people who want to torpedo decent LAX connections aren’t afraid to flex their money and political influence. Not so the general public, who despite numerous opportunities, continually fail to stand up for their own best interests.

    Maybe Sacramento will do better with their Green Line. Maybe.

  4. A sky bridge for a subway is for the convenience of cars at the detriment to transit users. A tunnel at universal city makes much more sense but metro says the 4 million extra it will cost to build it is too expensive. It is irrational that metro can spend a billion on an airport connector that will serve 4-6 thousand, but wants to save money by building a bridge that inconveniences riders at an already constructed stop that serves more people then the airport connector will.

    The Lankershim tunnel is a good idea. Most of the bus riders ride the bus to catch the train, not to get to NoHo. So separating them from traffic is a good idea.

    I disagree with calling the Orange Line a success. That description forgets that the Orange Line has been essentially obsolete since it exceeded capacity a few months after opening. One can call that being an unanticipated success, if it weren’t already known before it’s construction that a bus could not meet demand. Planned obsolescence is bad urban planning.

  5. What LAX and Metro can do now is to consolidate all those LAX Terminal connections, G Shuttle, rental car buses, parking lot shuttles and hotel vans into one route. They contribute to the majority of the traffic jams at LAX.

    All of them follow the same route along Century Blvd. to the World Way loop, but you have one bus for Avis, another bus for Hertz, another bus for Wally Park, another bus for Parking Spot, another bus for the Airport Hilton, and another bus for the Crowne Plaza.

    It’s like “sorry you can’t ride this bus to go from Terminal 1 to Terminal 6 because it’s solely for Avis customers” or “sorry you can’t use this bus to go to the Hilton because this van is solely for Parking Spot customers even though the Hilton is right next door to it.”

    It makes no sense at all, very inefficient, and contributes to a lot of traffic jams. Just have one big long bus instead of all these shuttle vans and buses doing things on their own serving only one purpose.

  6. Whomever thought it was a brilliant idea to have the Green Line nowhere near LAX needs to have his brain examined. “Oh we’ll have a shuttle bus.” NO ONE IS GOING TO USE A SHUTTLE BUS!

    Seriously, people running mass transit in LA need to be all fired and replaced with more competent folk from abroad. I betcha if the people running the London Underground or Tokyo Metro were at the helm, we’d already have all the projects done and up and running by now under budget.