Transportation headlines, Wednesday, February 26

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Nice infographic from Fixr: L.A. has four of the top 10 steepest streets in the country, they say.

Click the image to enlarge
Top 10 US steepest streets
Via fixr structural engineering cost guide

Metro takes aim at Orange Line fare evaders (Daily News)

Coverage of yesterday’s media event as part of an effort to lower fare evasion on the Orange Line. Excerpt:

“LA Metro is one of the best buys around, with one of the lowest fares in North America,” said Art Leahy, chief executive of Metro, at a Tuesday news conference. “But we have to pay the bills … so we need people to pay their fare.”

The two-pronged plan focuses on educating riders on how to pay for their fare through added signs at stations and public service announcements on on-board televisions as well as stepped-up enforcement through hefty $75 citations at each of the 18 stations between North Hollywood and Chatsworth.

The Orange Line is particularly vulnerable to fare evasion because, unlike many underground stations in the Metro system, there are no access gates and money is not collected by drivers when riders board a bus, officials and riders said. Instead, passengers purchase or reload a reusable card at self-service kiosks and then must tap the card at a separate free-standing collection machine that deducts the amount needed for a one-way ride, a process some riders say is confusing.

Bottom line: it’s good to see enforcement stepping up. Running transit is expensive and lost revenue ultimately costs riders the service improvements they would like to see.

Cycling on the edge: dodging cars and potholes (L.A. Times) 

Smart opinion article by Paul Thornton who puts it on the record: many of the bike lanes striped by the city of Los Angeles in recent times are also riddled with potholes. That gives cyclists a not-so-fun choice: slam into a pothole and possibly wreck or veer into adjacent traffic lanes and potentially wreck. The challenge is that another city department — the Bureau of Street Services — are responsible for paving streets. My three cents: a lot of the bike lanes in the city of L.A. were done in a rush in order to reach mileage goals prior to mid-July 2013 — and that means there wasn’t always attention to detail.

A Los Angeles primer: Union Station (KCET)

Nice essay about Union Station includes this paragraph:

For all its timeless appeal and admirably vigorous upkeep, Union Station nevertheless suffers a faint but persistent underlying sense of dereliction, or at least uncleanliness. (Sometimes I visit and feel it has finally gone, but then I enter the restrooms too far between janitorial shifts.) One recently attempted solution to the most visible affliction of this or any public space — that of lingering indigent — involved removing most of the seating and cordoning off the rest for ticketed passengers, a measure desperate enough to signal a potentially unsolvable problem. But do airports do much better? Located so far from their cities’ centers and subject to such complicated entry procedures, most never have to face this sort of challenge in the first place. One trip through LAX, though, makes you realize the great advantage of Union Station and its predecessors across America, no matter how neglected: when you walk out of them, you walk straight into downtown.

I think the station is mostly clean, but I agree the restrooms could see some improvement. The issue there is there are only two sets of them, neither very large for the crowds the station sees. As for “straight into downtown,” well…sort of. It’s more straight into the edge of downtown — one reason I’d love to see more development in the northern part of downtown and especially the Civic Center area.

Also, shout out to post author Colin Marshall for his black-and-white photographs.

Two major transit projects break ground in San Bernardino (San Bernardino Sun) 

One project will extend Metrolink service to the University of Redlands, the other will construct a new transit center in San Bernardino that serves area bus lines and Metrolink. Officials say the projects are badly needed as traffic in the Inland Empire is a complete mess. In other words, officials are now trying to cope with the consequence of all those sprawling housing developments they have approved over the years.

Utah makes Google Glass app for bus riders (Salt Lake City Tribune)

The Utah Transit Authority has made a version of its bus-and-train schedule app that will work with Google Glass, although there are (thankfully) still few people wearing the geekware around. I still have a hard time believing anyone would be so amazingly stupid or addicted to the internet that they would need to have a screen on their glasses and if I have a vote, I say no Metro apps for these folks. They can check their phones like the rest of us!

7 replies

  1. In its current form Google Glass maybe be helpful but looks hopelessly tacky, putting most Bluetooth earpieces to shame. Now, if/when Google Glass becomes a nondescript add-on to an existing pair of prescription glasses or sunglasses (or prescription sunglasses, I suppose), I wouldn’t be surprised if the technology gained more mainstream acceptance.

    • I still don’t get how people can walk along and read a computer screen an inch from their face and actually see where they are going. Call me an old goat, but I think it’s over-kill.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. I think time will tell whether Google Glass takes off or not.

    Everyone scoffed at Steve Jobs and other IT guys in Silicon Valley that no one needed a computer in every home. Now computers have gotten to the point that children in the poorest nations are using laptops through the One Laptop per Child project.

    Everyone scoffed at Jeff Bezos’ idea of Now buying stuff on online with free shipping to your office is more attractive than driving over to a physical store.

    Less than a decade ago, the idea of accessing the internet on a cell phone was considered overkill. Now everyone has a smartphone; you can even buy a prepaid smartphone at 7-Eleven for less than $40.

    • I wouldn’t be shocked if they take off and good point about earlier skepticism. Perhaps it’s because I’m an old goat, but I am interested to see if people really see the need for a computer on their face.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. On the contrary Steve, Google Glass has a big advantage that goes great with public transit use.

    Think of when you’re in a city you’re not familiar with or even in a city where all the signs are in a foreign language.

    Google Glass apps let you translate signs just by looking at them so that you know where to go.

    In a very confusing city like where there are multiple exits from the subway it can tell you which exit is the closest one to get to your destination.

    Or how about cities where transit fares are variable? Google Glass can tell you that where you’re at by the GPS signate and just by speaking where you want to go, it’ll tell you how much it’ll cost to get there without even the need of firing up a smartphone and typing it in a small screen.

    Technology keeps evolving and makes life more better. As more gets mass produced, it becomes cheaper for everybody. Just look at cell phones. Back in the 1980s it was for the super elite and rich. Now everyone has them. Same with Google Glass. It’ll be expensive at first, but in due time, it will be cheap enough for all.

    Los Angeles Metro has a problem with keeping up with technology. They think all new technology is bad and criticize everything without thinking outside the box on what it can do. And when you guys only realize what they are capable of when everyone else started using, we end up playing catch up while everyone else left us in the dust.

    LA Metro should stop being so anti-technology and rather embrace them. I hope our new Mayor Garcetti spearheads that change as a leader who embraces technology instead of shunning them.

    • Hi John;

      Wearing a computer screen an inch from your eyeball seems like over-kill to me. And while I think some technology does improve quality of life, I think there’s also usually a downside. I fail to see a clear reason outside of a science fiction film why someone needs a computer screen on their face.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source