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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed. Have a transportation-related article you want included in headlines? Drop me an email!
The crash five years yesterday in Chatsworth claimed the lives of 25 people aboard a Metrolink train and was the result of a Metrolink engineer who missed a red signal because he was text messaging. The memorial states is simple: “Metrolink 111, September 12, 2008, In memory of those who left us. In honor of those who survived.”
Bergamot area plan approved by Santa Monica City Council (Santa Monica Daily Press)
The plan will re-zone 142 acres of what is currently an industrial zone on the eastern side of the city — and near the future Bergamot station for the Expo Line. Under the plan, taller buildings with residences can be built and there will be more commercial properties as well as some new streets, parks and bike lanes. Critics say the plan allows too much density that will inevitably lead to more traffic while proponents argue the plan will bring much needed housing and help with economic growth — all near the region’s growing transit system.
I think it’s a great move by Santa Monica. Sure, there will be more density — but it’s the kind of mixed density that means residents will likely have to drive less (for those who choose to drive) and they will have more mobility options than their counterparts in the suburbs. Sure, there may be some changes to traffic in the area. But the pros sure seem to outweigh the cons when it comes to livability and Santa Monica has shown it understands one great truth: not to grow is to shrink.
A slice of the MTR’s website that emphasizes the MTR’s shopping destinations.
A nice primer on the corporation that runs transit in Hong Kong and elsewhere and managed to turn a $2-billion profit last year.
Two billion? What the what? Excerpt:
How can Hong Kong afford all of this? The answer is deceptively simple: “Value Capture.”
Like no other system in the world, the MTR understands the monetary value of urban density—in other words, what economists call “agglomeration.” Hong Kong is one of the world’s densest cities, and businesses depend on the metro to ferry customers from one side of the territory to another. As a result, the MTR strikes a bargain with shop owners: In exchange for transporting customers, the transit agency receives a cut of the mall’s profit, signs a co-ownership agreement, or accepts a percentage of property development fees. In many cases, the MTR owns the entire mall itself. The Hong Kong metro essentially functions as part of a vertically integrated business that, through a “rail plus property” model, controls both the means of transit and the places passengers visit upon departure. Two of the tallest skyscrapers in Hong Kong are MTR properties, as are many of the offices, malls, and residences next to every transit station (some of which even have direct underground connections to the train). Not to mention, all of the retail within subway stations, which themselves double as large shopping complexes, is leased from MTR.
The profits from these real estate ventures, as well as that 85 percent farebox surplus, subsidize transit development: proceeds pay for capital expansion as well as upgrades. The MTR’s financial largesse means that the transit system requires less maintenance and service interruptions, which in turn reduces operating costs, streamlines capital investments, and encourages more people to use transit to get around. And more customers means more money, even if fares are relatively cheap: most commutes fall between HK $4 and HK$20 (about 50 cents to $3), depending on distance. (In London, by comparison, a Tube journey can cost as much as $18). Fare increases in Hong Kong are limited by regulations linking fares to inflation and profits, and the territory’s government recently started giving a HK $600-per-month travel stipend to low-income households, defined as those earning less than HK $10,000 a month.
Read the entire article which makes it clear how different the MTR model is from public agencies such as the New York subway or Metro here in L.A. County. One huge difference: MTR gets to be a developer. Metro can work with developers on a few properties it owns but the agency is great curtailed when it comes to real estate activities — which, I’m guessing, many taxpayers prefer.
Categories: Transportation News