Transportation headlines, Thursday, October 16

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Lovely sunset in #EastLA captured by @ter_renz #MetroGoldLine #MetroRail #palmtrees #LosAngeles #sunset #GoMetro

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Why the 405 isn’t any faster with more lanes (KPCC Take Two)

An economist says expanding a road — 405 over the Sepulveda Pass included — will probably mean an increase in the number of vehicles that use the road. His answer to quickening commutes: congestion pricing, a la the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeway that help discourage everyone from driving at the same peak hours.

Labor dispute kills Kinkisharyo’s AV plant (San Fernando Valley Business Journal)

The rail car manufacturer under contract by Metro to produce new light rail vehicles has decided not to build a $50 million, 400,000-square-foot facility in Palmdale. The firm had said it would build the new facility as part of its contract with Metro. But a labor-supported residents group — specifically the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 — tried to hold up a needed zoning change unless Kinkisharyo agreed to be a “card check” facility. “Card check is a process by which a workplace can unionize if 50 percent or more of workers sign cards stating they want to be represented for collective bargaining,” reports the Business Journal.


Agency spokesman Marc Littman said he was disappointed by the company’s decision but added it would not affect the delivery of Metro’s cars.

“This is a real loss,” Littman said. “We wanted them here to help the local economy but we cannot require Kinkisharyo do (manufacturing) here.”

IBEW Local 11 was in the news in 2013 when it got heavily involved in the campaign for mayor of Los Angeles. It didn’t work. Eric Garcetti, now the chair of the Metro Board of Directors, easily won the election without the union’s support.

Metro moving forward with flawed ‘Complete Streets’ policy (Streetsblog L.A.)

Joe Linton takes a look at the Complete Streets policy being considered this month by the Metro Board of Directors. While parts of it are commendable, he opines, other parts are vague with no assurance that the policies will be enforced to encourage roads where walking and biking are safe and desirable. While street design is usually up to local cities (or the county in unincorporated areas), Metro may have the ability to influence street design in rail corridors or with projects that involve Metro funding.

California high-speed rail wins big round in state Supreme Court (Sacramento Bee)

The California Supreme Court turns away a lawsuit challenging the issuance of state bonds needed to help pay for construction of the first segment of the high-speed rail line that is eventually planned to run between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s good news for the project but there are other remaining legal challenges that assert the project doesn’t live up to what was promised voters in Prop 1A in 2008.

The self-driving Tesla may make us love urban sprawl again (Slate)

The key graph — and something I’ve pondered in this space before:

As driving becomes less onerous and computer-controlled systems reduce traffic, some experts worry that will eliminate a powerful incentive—commuting sucks—for living near cities, where urban density makes for more efficient sharing of resources. In other words, autonomous vehicles could lead to urban sprawl.

In other words, if you can sit in your own car and not have to drive or pay much attention to the road, would your commute seem less onerous? Yes, there still could be a lot of traffic with self-driving cars. But perhaps the door-to-door attractiveness of a car coupled with technology (i.e. playing PacMan, Asteroids or Missile Command) on your tablet will trump the yuckyness of traffic.


8 replies

  1. I used to work for a large liquor store chain and the Retail Clerks wanted to unionize us. Although we had better benefits than Trader Joe’s which were unionized they attempted to sell the idea that we would be better off with what Trader Joe’s employees had.

    When I worked for Yellow Cab we were the only unionized company in L. A. and had the worse deal than the drivers for Red Top and Celebrity which was not in the Teamsters.

  2. Greedy unions killing jobs once again. Palmdale had a chance to employ hundreds of people to help the economy but now they get nothing. Don’t these people know that union membership and support has been an all time low for decades now? They’re not fooling anyone that unions help the people, they’re the cause of all problems in American manufacturing jobs today!

    So where’s the plant gonna go? Arizona? Texas?

    • If unions are greedy, so are businesses? The Japanese company is looking out for itself as well. The travesty is that jobs with fair wages are needed and manufacturing plants in California are needed. Japan has a reputation for caring for its employees to the point of un-American-like parentalism. On the other hand, if a self-centered employer choses not to allow the card-check system, the union has the right to a normal election and should pursue it. Nearly all things that we acquaint with the good-life in the workplace are the results of unionism. What to do? Stop throwing stones and get everybody back in a room and start talking all over again. It is in everybody’s interest to make this wor. And remember it was the Japanese business that pulled out first.

  3. Unions have no right to interfere with such issues as zoning in order to force Union shops on the employer. While the UTU and AFCME were OK in many ways while I was employed at the RTD/MTA I had issues with them especially concerning the leaders racist policies. And it always seemed strange to me that the UTU never attempted to unionize the bus operators working for those companies that provided contract lines. When I inquired about it I was told the contract companies wanted the Teamsters Union.

  4. I imagine the “self-driving” Teslars will be just as viable, just as affordable and just as likely as the helicopters in every garage that were promised by the highway lobby to cure our traffic ills in the 1950-60s. The simple METRO bus and streetcar (ooops light-rail train) is our salvation, even though I may have differences with METRO’s administration.

    • Wait until Uber, Lyft and airbnb lush with billions in venture capital just buys hundreds self driving cars. You don’t even have to own cars in a growing sharing economy, it’ll just come to you when you need it.

    • San Diego’s local transit authority never shied away from the word, “Trolley”; neither do I. San Francisco and New Orleans never shied away from the word, “Streetcar” when referring to its Boeing Vertols or the Bredas that replaced them; indeed, the MUNI runs restored PCCs and Peter Witts in revenue service on the F line, and the NORTA still runs its Perley Thomas cars on the St. Charles line, and runs modern cars built (by their own shops, no less!) to resemble the PTs on its other lines.

      Tell it like it is. I’d use a metaphor involving a small shovel, but there’s too much danger of it being construed as an ethnic slur (even though it predates the ethnic slur by centuries).

      • Both the P. E. and L. A. Railway did extensive upgrades and remodels of their equipment in house. The L. A. Railway in fact constructed duplicates of some of their cars at South Park shops because the bids for new cars were to high.