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.
Toll lane transponder fees suspended for L.A. County residents (L.A. Times) and A monthly toll road fee exits early (ZevWeb)
The Metro Board of Directors voted 7 to 4 to approve a motion by Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky to suspend the $3 account maintenance fee for ExpressLanes users who used the lanes three times or less. Metro officials say this may encourage some motorists to use the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 who wanted to get transponders for occasional use but didn’t want to pay the fee.
A lot of people certainly complained about the fee in the comments section of The Source and other publications. We’ll see if losing it for six months makes a difference and, if so, whether it inspires the Board to revisit the issue.
Mapping the screens at 7th/Metro Center (Steven White: The Accidental Urbanist)
Great post by Steven on the location of TV monitors at the intensely busy 7th/Metro station in downtown L.A. that serves the Blue, Expo, Red and Purple lines. The gist of it: Steven believes many of the existing monitors are in places that are difficult to see and that many of them don’t display information useful to riders — i.e. train schedules for people departing the stations.
Even better, Steven took the time to map the station and show where the monitors are versus where he thinks they should be based on the flow of people in the station. It’s obvious he spent quite a bit of time and thought assembling this post and I hope Metro takes a good hard look at it.
Your thoughts, Metro riders?
Will the Casden development be L.A.’s traffic Bermuda triangle? (LA Weekly)
A look at the proposed Casden West development at Sepulved and Pico of a 638-apartment building and retail outlets — including a grocery store and ‘national retailer’ — that will be adjacent to the Expo Line’s Sepulveda station. The site has been a concrete plant for many years.
But residents and even transit advocates say the building is too big and will add too many car trips to streets already clogged, thanks in part to the adjacent 405 freeway. Bolstering their point: the developer’s website says the project will have an underground garage with 1,795 parking spaces, including 1,155 for residents.
On the pro side, the developer and at least one L.A. planning official (among others) say this is the kind of transit-oriented development that the region needs and that new residents will likely use their cars less than existing residents of the area.
Good article. One issue not mentioned that I think is important is the current state of Pico and Sepulveda boulevards in the area. Sepulveda is not what I would describe as pedestrian oriented; Pico has been nudging in that direction for a few years — especially east of Sepulveda. The Little Tokyo West neighborhood along Sawtelle Boulevard is on the other side of the 405, about a half-mile walk from the Expo station.
My long-winded point: I think if the area was more pedestrian-oriented, it would give new residents less reason to drive; having more than 600 parking spaces for retail seemingly gives people plenty of reason to drive to the site. It certainly makes sense to put stores and residences near transit, but the question here: can you really call something with 1,795 parking spaces transit-oriented? I don’t know.
Underground cell service expands but some call for quiet (New York Times)
Those with AT&T or T-Mobile devices can now get service at 36 subway stations in Manhattan and some folks are finding they can even get a signal in the tunnels. Gov. Cuomo says one reason for the expansion of service is safety because it gives subway riders the ability to call 9-1-1 pronto in an emergency. Some customers were ambivalent, telling the Times they enjoyed the time away from their cell devices and one subway musician said that too many customers with cell phones was hurting business.
The Metro Board approved a contract earlier this year with a firm that will be wiring all underground stations for cell service. Metro staff said at the time that it would take two years to install all the equipment in the subway, the challenge being that the subway runs 20 hours a day.
Categories: Transportation Headlines
I just wanted to chime in on your thoughts about Casden’s planned parking spaces. I believe that people choose locations with amenities that suit their needs. People who choose to live at Casden might rely on Metro for commuting and use their vehicles mostly on weeknights and weekends. If I planned to commute daily by car, I would surely not pay a premium to live next to a Metro station with a lot of congestion.
In this context, evaluating the effectiveness of TOD on purely the number of parking spaces is a bit misguided. I think it’s fair to say that L.A. is still a very car-centric city and one would forgo (occasional) access to a vehicle only if he had no other choice. If we build TOD with less parking spaces, it will cause parked cars to spill out onto neighboring streets. We should be thinking about encouraging car-sharing at such locations such as allowing Zip-car to set up shop directly in the garage.
To grab hold of Steven White’s coat tails, I have something to say about the speakers for the Red/Purple at Union Station.
A friend of mine is a professional audio engineer and tech audio engineering and acoustics. I helped him out with some work that he did redoing the sound system for a large public space. It used to have okay sound, then somebody got some good professional speakers and installed them in the wrong location and pointing the wrong way. The sound became horrible. He redesigned a system that uses well placed speakers pointed the proper direction. The sound became wonderful, every syllable is clear.
A while back when I was waiting for the Red line and heard the announcements come across the speakers, it was very difficult to hear. I looked at the speaker locations and the directions that they are pointed. The speakers actually are pointed so that they interfere with each other and get a lot of interfering reflection off the walls. If the speakers were set about 20′ above the platform and centered on the platform (or about 15′ and in 2 rows) and pointed straight down, the sound would be better.
I will now procure a transponder! Thank you, Zev.
We should all give great thanks to Zev Yaroslavsky, Diane DuBois, Jose Huizar, Richard Katz, Ara Najarian, Pam O’Connor and Mel Wilson. These were the seven sitting members of the Metro Board who fought for the people.
@ExpoRider — for now, since there’s no real-time data on the trains, then scheduled times is the best we’ll get. I’ve found that trains are typically on time at 7th Street (more than other stations) because its the beginning of the line for Blue/Expo. And because the Red/Purple lines tend to run on time more than the light rail lines. Real-time data is coming to the Metro Rail system soon, and I assume we’ll get that data pushed to these screens when it does.
@Pat Loeb — Definitely agree with your criticisms of the TAP validator’s placements. In fact, Metro is in the process of getting these moved right now. If you go to the station, you can see they’ve cut up the floor to move the wiring. There’s a recent post from the Source about it here: http://thesource.metro.net/2013/04/12/tap-validators-being-moved-at-7thmetro-station/
So rest assured, this will get better soon!
I agree. Supervisor Zev should be commended for acting in the best interest of the people not recovering “bogus fees” like how the banks do.
Even better would be to have the six months restriction lifted and the no maintenance fee made permanent.
The removal of the fee is a good step….but its only 6 months, and only for county residents.
LA should still look at SF and how carpool users are actually able to use the lanes for free.
Agree w Steven White – in fact, the TAP stations are also easy to miss unless you know where to look. Gotta say, many of those placements are bad – it’s too easy to miss a train while trying to find where the heck to TAP (a program that needs major revision as well). Against the easily congested stairwell railings instead of on the platforms or center at the top of the steps means even those who are not intending to avoid payment often do.
Also, is Metro ever going to correct the schedule information shown on the monitors during commute hours for the Blue Line? The signs show only one Blue Line train to Long Beach every 12 minutes, but don’t show schedule info for the other train to Willow.
The article about signage at 7th/Metro gave some excellent ideas of how to rearrange what to show on each sign. However, my biggest beef with these signs is that they don’t show useful information for commuters. As with most daily commuters, I know what time my train is scheduled to depart, what I want to know is when it is actually going to depart, so I will know whether I need to run down the stairs to make it to the platform in time. “Next Train” information for all routes should be posted at the entrances to the stations. C’mon Metro, this is the 21st Century.
Thanks for sharing my post, I’m very interested to hear what other readers think! Just wanted to note, though, that the title should be “The Accidental Urbanist,” not Accidental Tourist.
Regarding cell service… I know a lot of people see it as a safety need, but it’s so annoying to have people carrying on loud conversations on the Expo Line, I’d hate to have that happen on the even-more-crowded Red Line too!
Can I ask how the $3 account maintenance fee figure was derived from in the first place? What was the basis of $3? Why not $1? Why not $10? There has to be rational way that they arrived with that number right?