Transportation headlines, Monday, March 23

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Today’s Zocalo Public Square profile of a Metro rider: Please don’t pet my hair, Colorado Avenue to Washington Boulevard.

Metro installing polycarbonate shields to protect bus operators (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Joe Linton deftly captures the rub of the media event held by Metro on Friday:

Numerous speakers at Metro’s press conference this morning went to great length to assure the public that “the Metro system is safe.” Nonetheless, the speakers focused on the number of crimes, foremost including assaults on bus operators, that take place on transit in Los Angeles. Metro reports that operators were assaulted by passengers 138 times in 2014.

I think the message that Metro has settled on goes like this: the bus and train system as a whole is safer than surrounding areas but is not free of crime unfortunately (you can peruse the latest crime stats here). Holding a media event to promote bus operator safety is probably in the PR playbook — but I’m glad Metro acknowledged that it’s an ongoing issue.

CicLAvia fever takes hold at inaugural San Fernando Valley event (Daily News)

Thousands of cyclists enjoy CicLAvia in its Valley debut (L.A. Times) 


Looks like pretty positive reviews from cyclists on the first CicLAvia to be held in the Valley. A couple of pols say they are hoping to hold a CicLAvia in the northeast Valley in the future. My three cents: I really liked the route –access to the subway in NoHo and University City really helps — and hope in the future it can go even further down Ventura Boulevard. One issue likely to get some discussion: how to handle the number of cyclists who wanted to take the Orange Line. Bikes aren’t allowed inside the bus and the racks on the front of each bus only hold three bikes.

Golden Valley Road bridge widening begins this month (Santa Clarita Valley Signal) 

The city of Santa Clarita — with funding from Metro — is widening the bridge over the 14 freeway to make entering and exiting earlier. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held last week (two more shovels please!):

GVR Bridge GB 2015

Is BART’s second bay crossing at a tipping point? (San Francisco Chronicle) 

In this op-ed, a former BART Board member writes that there’s increasing support for building a second tunnel across San Francisco Bay for BART trains to better meet demand. It will be interesting to see if this really happens — specifically, how much it costs, who is going to pay for it, how much federal support would be needed and what that does to other agencies seeking federal help, which is somewhat limited even in the best of times.

Viva gentrification! (New York Times) 

Former L.A. Times columnist had a super interesting op-ed in the NYT on Sunday about gentrification in the Mount Washington and Highland Park area. Yes, he worries about people being priced out of their neighborhoods. But there’s also this: L.A. has long been one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. and gentrification in Highland Park, Tobar writes, is bringing diversity to an area that until recently had been largely Latino.


“I saw them all move out,” my wife said one day, referring to the neighborhood’s white residents. “And now I’m watching them move back in.”


For all the fortitude and pride you’ll find in Latino barrios, no one wants to live in a racially segregated community or attend a racially segregated school. The impact of segregation on the self-image of the segregated has been amply documented, most famously by the psychologists who helped persuade the United States Supreme Court to rule for the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education.

Black and Latino segregated communities have more potholes and fewer reliable services, and their schools offer less opportunity. “California has had an extremely dramatic increase in the segregation of Latinos, who on average attended schools that were 54 percent white in 1970, but now attend schools that are 84 percent nonwhite,” a study by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, found last year.

The op-ed doesn’t mention transit (nor does it need to) but it’s hard to ignore that the increasing interest in Highland Park roughly coincides with the Gold Line opening in 2003. A big driver, too, is that real estate prices are leading an increasing number of people to look in neighborhoods that they may not have in the past. Transit and real estate prices together? Pretty good ingredients for gentrification, I think.


Non-transity things….

•The Metro Official Unofficial bracket is surprisingly intact headed into the Sweet Sixteen. That said, I will surely be punished for failing to guess UCLA would advance (all my picks were wild guesses made in approximately two-and-a-half Gold Line stops).

ESPN - Tournament Challenge - puckalolos 1

•If you’re interested in journalism (and more particularly, the future of it), here’s a good read while riding transit from NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan: The headline is The Curious (and Vital) Power of Print. The gist of it: about 70 percent of the New York Times’ revenues still come from the print paper, even though the number of people purchasing the print version has fallen in recent years. That said, the numbers who still read the printed version are considerable and, among them, are younger readers.

And the median age of digital subscribers? 54. Median age of print subscribers? 60. Hmmm.

Still, the thinking from everyone is that newspapers’ future is in the digital realm. No one really knows exactly when that is. I’m getting to be an Old Goat and have now been around long enough to see newspapers hire a lot of people who will supposedly deliver the industry to the promised land of profitability in the digital age. Hasn’t happened. Apparently it isn’t even close to happening — and that’s scary.

Look, folks. I’m super happy you’re reading this government blog — we try to inform taxpayers and customers what’s happening here, as we should. But as I’ve said many times before, getting all your news about government from the government strikes me as a Really Bad Idea if you’re into the democracy thing.

So we need newspapers to stick around. And we need newspapers to figure this stuff out, preferably sooner than later.

•I love getting the Sunday NYT, but I probably read more of the paper online. And the NYT’s Instagram feed is beyond terrific.