Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 26

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ART OF TRANSIT: The Green Line heading west from Norwalk Station on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The Green Line heading west from Norwalk Station on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.


Today’s profile of a Metro rider by Zocalo Public Square: What city life is all about, Hilgard Avenue to Madison Avenue

Editorial: L.A. transit officials should support affordable housing near transit lines (L.A. Times) 

The editorial supports a Board motion to be considered at today’s Board meeting that would require 35 percent of units in new developments on Metro-owned land be set aside for affordable housing — about 33 percent thus far have been affordable. The motion also asks Metro to explore setting aside $10 million to help develop affordable housing. Excerpt:

It also makes good business sense for Metro. There is a real concern that ridership will decline if the housing prices around transit stations skyrocket. Why? Because wealthier residents usually own cars and tend to use transit less than other residents. Workers who earn less than $25,000 and live within half a mile of a transit station are three times more likely to take transit than those who earn more than $75,000 and live close to a station. Metro has an interest in ensuring that the people who ride public transportation can afford to live near it.

Of course, Metro, which is already cash-strapped, can’t shoulder the cost of low-income housing alone. The lack of affordable housing is a regional and state issue that requires new policies that make it easier to build market-rate and subsidized homes.

Tough issue, for sure.

Expo is coming Santa Monica, but when will it get here? (Santa Monica Next)

Ponderment about the opening date for the second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and Santa Monica. Answer: it’s not set yet, but expected in the first half of 2016. The story also notes that trains will continue to run every 12 minutes on the Expo Line at peak hours when the line opens due to a shortage of light rail vehicles, although the arrival of new cars will allow more frequent service. Here’s a recent post and Metro staff report about that issue.

Crowds and long delays fray subway system and riders’ nerves (New York Times) 

Crowds in Gotham's subway circa 2012. Photo by John E. Branch Jr. via Flickr creative commons.

Crowds in Gotham’s subway circa 2012. Photo by John E. Branch Jr. via Flickr creative commons.

The story ran last week before the regular fare on the New York subway was increased from $2.50 to $2.75. Riders are complaining they will have to pay more for service that has gotten worse while transit officials say they must find the money somewhere to maintain an aging 110-year-old system that is carrying a record six million boardings a day. The money graphs (literally!):

Transit advocates say that while they understand the angst over another fare increase, they are focused on securing money from state and city officials for the authority’s capital plan, which includes many of the very upgrades that would bring meaningful improvement to commutes. The plan proposes $32 billion in spending over five years, but it is $15 billion short — the largest funding gap ever and a striking sign of the difference between what the system needs and what the authority can afford.

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has called the plan “bloated” and has not addressed the funding gap, instead publicly drawing attention to other infrastructure projects, including a new Tappan Zee Bridge and his proposal for an AirTrain to La Guardia Airport. But the authority’s chairman, Thomas F. Prendergast, has argued that the measures outlined in the capital plan are essential, such as replacing aging cars and tracks, modernizing the signal system so more trains can run and beginning the next phase of the Second Avenue subway.

The article prompted two scathing letters which take opposite tacks in today’s NYT. One thing to note: the New York MTA is a state agency, which is a bit of an oddity given that it serves a particular local area, the New York City metro area.

Downtown Denver loses parking lots, adds vibrancy (Denver Post) 

More than 1,700 spaces have been lost to development since 2010, while the price of the average space has risen from $7 to $9. One local planning expert shrugs it off, saying that’s what happens when you evolve from a “cowtown” to a city with a nice, walkable and enjoyable urban environment.

Google’s driverless car might come with airbags on the outside (CityLab) 

Google is looking at an airbag that would be deployed from a front bumper designed to better absorb impact — apparently as a way to protect pedestrians.

First-0f-its-kind streetcar arrives in Dallas (RailwayAge) 

The streetcar runs on power from an overheard wire but can also run on sections without wires because of an onboard battery.

Watch Caltrans demo the old Bay Bridge (Caltrans)