Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 29

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.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

The Natural Gas Alliance has a new video urging transit agencies to convert their bus fleets from diesel fuel to natural gas. And guess who the group uses as an example? Metro, which has converted its entire fleet of 2,000-plus buses to natural gas, which pollutes far less than diesel.

Who should join Garcetti on the Metro Board of Directors? (L.A. Streetsblog) 

Editor Damien Newton says that Mayor-Elect Garcetti should appoint Los Angeles Councilman-elect Mike Bonin, soon-to-be former Councilwoman Jan Perry and Los Angeles Department of Transportation chief Jaime de la Vegas to the Metro Board. Not exactly a radical selection, but Damien explains that politics, experience and competence were his criteria.

One nitpick: the post says that the battle over the subway route will be a “heated one.” The route for the Purple Line Extension, however, has been selected and finalized. In an attempt to change the route in the Century City area, the Beverly Hills City Council and Beverly Hills Unified School District has filed a total of four lawsuits challenging the project’s environmental studies. But a court victory for them — far from certain — would only mean that Metro may have to re-do part of the environmental document. It doesn’t mean the route would have to change.

Bullet train’s risk of cost over-runs reduced, rail chief says (L.A. Times) 

Dan Richards, the Board Chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, testifies at a hearing by long-time project critic Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Atwater). Richards says he thinks better controls are in place to keep the $68-billion project on budget but can’t guarantee that costs might go up. Meanwhile, local officials in the San Joaquin Valley say that many farmers will refuse to sell land needed to build the first 130-mile segment.

Long Beach’s Blue Line TOD comes with big parking garage (Curbed LA)

The 129-unit apartment and retail project will be five stories tall and adjacent to the Anaheim station. The building also comes with a five-story parking garage that will allow residents to park on the same level as their unit. Interesting.

18 replies

  1. Gate latching won’t be effective unless all the stations are locked up. So far it’s only the Red/Purple Line stations. The rest of the Blue, Expo, Gold, and Green Lines are still free spinning or open fare gates with rarely seeing people TAP as they make their way through the gates or validators. If gate latching is to be done, it has to be done across the system across all the stations.

    However, the difficulty is that our majority of our light rail stations that were already built so far were built based on the honor system. A fully effective locked gate system to these pre-existing stations will be difficult and expensive. Just look at the grade light rail stations, say for example, the Pico Station. All it is a simple street level open-air platform. Fare evaders can just as easily bypass the validators or gates by hopping onto the platform from the rail tracks or from the sidewalks. You see people doing this everyday. Nothing is stopping them from paying. You can’t staff law enforcement there 24/7 and surveillance cameras aren’t effective. Pre-existing stations will have to undergo a complete re-design. It will have to become a station that is enclosed in a building on its own so as to make it difficult for fare evaders to get on a train without going through the validator or gates.

    Years poor planning, building stations too cheap (cheaper to build open-air platforms than a full enclosed station building), and taking the easy way out (easier to do the honor system than a locked gate system) lead to the result that we have today.

    On the bright side, Metro can avoid the same mistakes with the future stations that will be built, including the stations for the Expo Phase II, Crenshaw Line, Regional Connector, Purple Line Extension, and any other future projects. We’ve heard nothing about this from Metro though. Will they continue to build stations in the same way as they’ve done in the past? Or will they start building stations with gates in mind? Metro hasn’t been very clear about this either.

    I hope Mayor-elect Garcetti and his appointees will do the right thing and speed up latching of the gates throughout the system both pre-existing and new stations moving forward. This has to be an all-or-nothing solution, not a some-station-but-not-others solution. Fare evasion is too rampant across the entire Metro Rail system and it’s costing taxpayers a lot of money year after year, and it’s only going to get worse as ridership numbers increase. You ride, you pay. It’s a simple concept. No one should be getting a free ride.

  2. Diesel buses were certainly not the total cause to the pollution that Los Angeles endured in the 1970’s and 1980’s. But the real bonus in having switched to Natural Gas is the price per gallon-equivalent that is hovering around $1.30 as compared to $4 per gallon of Diesel #2

  3. ” Can you imagine the billions of dollars that went uncollected because of this stupid honor system idea?”

    Actually, at current fares, it is only a bit over $2 million a year that is lost to the proof-of-payment system.

    So in the 21 years since the proof-of-payment system was begun (when the Blue Line opened) less than $40 has been “uncollected”

    The original pricetag for the turnstiles, which won’t and can’t ever cover the entire system, was more than that in 2006-dollars.

    • Hi Erik:

      Just wanted to point everyone to a Source post from earlier this year showing the results of gate latching at two subway stations — Normandie and Western. The gist of it: free entries declined dramatically and fare sales went way up.

      I also think there’s another issue here: as far as I know, people have estimated fare evasion rates, but I’ve never seen anything about it that is scientific or conclusive. The fact is we really don’t know. I certainly doubt it has been a static figure.

      One other point I’ll make from the pro gate-latching point of view: There are five rail projects that are scheduled to be completed in the next decade or so. Even if you believe the most conservative ridership estimates, rail boardings are going to go up and the entire system should be busier as the network more fully develops. Running the honor system on that rail network will only get more difficult — it will be harder for officers to stand at stairs and try to check TAP cards or navigate more crowded rail cars.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Thanks David!

      My understanding is that workers today will be connecting the TVMs to the Metro system. Not sure yet exactly what day they will be in service, but barring any issues it looks to be soon. I’ll let you know when I know.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. @Atheistically Yours
    That was suppose to be used for the Bike Hub, don’t know when they are going to start building it though.

  5. I wonder when Metro will FINALLY PUT THAT EMPTY BUILDING TO USE at El Monte Station, that has now sat EMPTY AND UTILIZED since El Monte Station opened nearly 8 MONTHS AGO!

  6. Aeris Gainsborough: wouldn’t you want any new construction to follow contemporary structured wiring standards (e.g. ANSI/TIA-568-C and 570-C) for voice/data/video? Yeah, I’d definitely rather see Cat 6 than MoCA.

  7. But wait, I thought goods movement was NOT a concern for the 710? At least if you believe the Metro fact sheets.

  8. @Tom
    A LRT instead of a highway for the 710 does nothing for truck traffic, which is a major consideration for the 710 coridor.

  9. How many times will whomever the past/current/future Bullet Train, uh, High Speed Rail Directors will say it’s cheaper but ‘might’ cost more later? They color that pig every which way but it still stinks and goes oink, oink.

  10. Ron Galperin, the incoming City Controller should be a top pick as a Metro Board appointee.

    We need someone with a solid background in finances to keep in check that taxes aren’t going to waste like dumb ideas like putting faith in the honor system that Metro has done in the past due to their lack of common financial sense. Can you imagine the billions of dollars that went uncollected because of this stupid honor system idea?

  11. Let’s just hope that new apartment complex MUST include Verizon FiOS prewired (and no, the last length can’t be coaxed, rather use cat5 and/or higher), otherwise, there are better apartment complexes in Long Beach, that are also public transit accessible and have Verizon FiOS prewired.

  12. Someone who actually has visited transit oriented cities all over the world and know how the rest of the world runs and finances transit.

    Better yet, just sell Metro to Asian transit companies. They can run it way better and more efficiently than government running things.

  13. The new mayor should appoint METRO board members that are focused on “green” public transit improvements and against expensive, polluting, old-tech boondoggles like a proposed 710-Tunnel. In it’s place, the new board members should consider extending clean Gold Line or Bus Rapid Transit thru the Alhambra–Pasadena corridor.

  14. Steve you forgot to mention that the El Monte Station is finally getting TVM. Saw them installing the machines this morning.

    • Hi David;

      Thanks for the heads up–I didn’t know that was happening today. I’ll try to find out when they’ll be operational.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source