Transportation headlines, Monday, September 30

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ART OF TRANSIT: It’s the last day of Rail Safety Month, but this is a 24-7-365 message, people.

33 people taken to hospital after trains collide in Chicago (Chicago Tribune)

An out-of-service train collided head-on with a train parked in the Chicago Transit Authority’s Forest Park station this morning. None of the injuries appear to be serious. The investigation is underway as to why the out-of-service train was on the same track as the train with passengers. CTA trains are heavy rail and run underground, at street level and on elevated structures, thus their nickname — the ‘El.’

Grand Avenue project at a turning point (L.A. Times)

A city-county panel — the Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority — voted 3-0 last week to reject the latest plans for the residential-commercial project that would fill the empty space around Disney Hall in DTLA. Supervisor Gloria Molina said that the latest plans offered little for pedestrians and only contributed to the box-like architecture of the area. A midnight deadline looms to get the developer, Related, and local government on the same page for a project that most people agree is needed to revive the northern part of downtown L.A. Transit-wise, the area is ready with many bus lines, the Red Line’s Civic Center station two blocks away and a future Regional Connector station at 2nd and Flower streets.

Montreal to get more reserved bus lanes (The Gazette)

With traffic in Quebec not getting better, the regional transit agency wants to build 184 kilometers of bus lanes at an expense of $84 million (Canadian dollars, that is.) “I will never convince a guy alone in his car to take the bus if he sees the bus stuck in traffic,” said [Michael] Labreque [head of the Société de Transport de Montréal]. “To convince him, I need to show him efficiency and predictability.” Side note: in L.A., we have to convince her and him!

Why not bus lanes here in So Cal? They’ve never proven very popular among elected officials and some constituents. About 1.8 miles of the Wilshire peak hour bus lanes opened here in the spring — there will eventually be 7.7 miles of the peak hour bus lanes at a cost of about $30 million because of costs involving street widening and street reconstruction.

Fun excerpt from Montreal story:

The announcement was made Sunday afternoon by four PQ Ministers. In addition to Gaudreault, the heavy-duty lineup included Jean-Francois Lisée, the minister responsible for Montreal; Marie Malavoy, minister responsible for the Montérégie region; and Nicole Léger, minister responsible for Laval.

“Traffic congestion is not just a psychological problem,” Lisée said.

“Sometimes it puts us in a bad mood and a bad mood is certainly not the default position for Quebecers. So we have to create the conditions to put people in a good mood. But it’s also an economic problem and an environmental problem.”

Winning a Stanley Cup would probably put folks in Quebec in a good mood again. But that hasn’t happened since the 1970s and the Nordiques are now playing in Denver, Colorado, United States of America. Meanwhile, while traffic here has turned Southern Californians into a bunch of collective sourpusses at times, our mood has certainly been improved by championships by the Kings, Ducks and Puckalolos in recent times.

52 percent want bullet train stopped, poll finds (L.A. Times)

But you should read the fine print! The latest poll of 1,500 people has a maximum sampling error of plus/minus 2.9 percentage points, meaning it’s possible that a majority of those who took the poll could actually support the project.

Of course, the story fails to mention that the project has always been somewhat controversial. Prop 1A, the bond measure that would provide $10 billion for the project, only passed with 52.7 percent of the vote in 2008. The story also quotes former high-speed rail board chief Quentin Kopp criticizing the current effort as nothing but public relations, although he often said the exact same type of things.

Perhaps the more damning number in the poll is that 43 percent of those responded said they don’t want the project to go forward and 70 percent want it placed back on the ballot. I think the bigger point here is that nearly five years after Prop 1A the project doesn’t appear to have gained any real support among the public.

Changing price tags probably hasn’t helped — the cost went from $33 billion to $98 billion back down to $68 billion with some stops in between. That’s a tough nut to overcome. You know how I feel: high-speed rail could certainly work in California, but I’m not entirely persuaded the state needed to go for the most expensive — i.e. 200 mile per hour plus — version of it that ensures it will be very expensive. If someone could put me on an Amtrak train and get me to San Francisco in six hours (the time it takes to drive from L.A.), I’d take the train.

2 replies

  1. High Speed Rail needs to get real. The majority of riders will be between San Francisco and Los Angeles. A Sacramento leg can be added latter. The medium on Interstate 5 is the most reasonable right of way for the majority of the route. No need to go to Palmdale, they could not even support the airport built there.

    Lets start laying track and quit debating the issue. It puts people to work and offers an alternative to car or air travel.

  2. Didn’t you see the follow up question? Of those who responded that were not in favor of the current bullet train development; a far amount would back Elon Musk tube design. That tells me that people want an alternative to driving a car they just don’t know which system to trust.