Transportation headlines, Tuesday, December 17

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ART OF TRANSIT: Sea gull-like view of a Metro bus, courtesy of our Instagram feed.

Residents living near Expo Line reduce car use, study says (L.A. Times) 

The article builds on the USC study released Monday that found that among a sampling of households within a half-mile of the Expo Line, use of the new rail line has tripled and car use has fallen by 40 percent. Excerpt:

The Expo Line’s second phase will open to the Westside in 2016. When that happens, attorney Aryan Shommetoub expects to take the train and the Big Blue Bus from his home in Baldwin Hills to a branch courthouse in Westwood.

“It’s a treat to be able to take the line to work, when I can,” Shommetoub said. He still often drives, but takes the section of the Expo Line that opened last year when he has meetings or court appearances near downtown.

After the Expo Line opened, households living within a half-mile of the stations saw a 30% reduction in their carbon emissions, the study said. Although some people had purchased more fuel-efficient cars, Boarnet said, researchers chalked up the difference to people driving less.

It’s an interesting study, for sure — and not entirely surprising. As reporter Laura Nelson notes, perhaps the study’s most relevant findings are that stations near bus stops with frequent service and roads that aren’t overly wide also are key factors in encouraging ridership.

The first phase of the Expo Line is interesting for another reason. Many of the stations — particularly west of USC — are not in areas that are big commercial centers. A lot of the stations sit amid neighborhoods with a lot of homes and apartments, making it pretty easy for residents to reach stations.

All in all, some pretty good positives although I think there’s still room for improvement when it comes to ridership. The second phase will certainly boost those numbers — as will (hopefully) more north-south bus connections from the line.

Click here to see the entire study and the accompanying news release from USC.

Foes of bullet train are gaining momentum (L.A. Times) 

The story looks at the recent Superior Court rulings that could jeopardize the issuing of state bonds needed to fund the bullet train project’s initial segment in the San Joaquin Valley. While long-time critics of the project get their shots in (surprise!), the story also notes a potential consequence for Southern California. Excerpt:

The increased uncertainty over state funding is causing jitters among some transportation planners working on major bullet-train-related projects.

The rail authority has signed agreements with the Bay Area and Southern California agencies promising more than $1 billion for local rail improvements, to be drawn from the bond money now frozen by Kenny’s ruling.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority had planned to tap those funds to help pay for $350 million in improvements to tracks at downtown’s Union Station that could be shared by high-speed and Metrolink commuter trains.

“We have to come up with a Plan B,” said Don Sepulveda, MTA’s executive officer for regional rail.

Preserving the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (Urban Land Institute Los Angeles) 

ULI’s study on behalf of the city of Santa Monica on how best to save the old Civic Auditorium. Their recommendation: upgrade the building and develop some of the surrounding parking lots with residences, businesses, pedestrian space and other interesting uses. Sounds great — all this stuff would be near the future Expo Line station in downtown Santa Monica, the northern part of the Main Street business district, the ocean and the new and awesome Tongva Park.

Huizar plan could help activate Broadway vacancies (Downtown News)

Important story on the new city of Los Angeles planning rules announced by downtown Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar last Friday. The idea is to make it a lot easier and less expensive for businesses to redevelop the more than one million square feet in vacant space in old buildings along Broadway. This stuff is wonky but important; there’s simply no excuse for a major thoroughfare such as Broadway to look the way it does, something which Huizar recognized early in his tenure and has been trying to fix.

And remember: the Regional Connector will have a station at 2nd and Broadway!

How to screw up a street grid, Atlanta style (ATL Urbanist) 

Nice visuals show how Atlanta over the past century has made it more difficult to get around. Not a surprise. Atlanta is unofficially one of our least favorite big cities.


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