Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 2

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Today’s profile of a Metro rider by Zocalo Public Square: Now is my chance to grow, Exposition Boulevard to Main Street

Should a 710 freeway tunnel allow trucks and will it be safe? (Pasadena Star News) 

Coverage of a “spirited” forum held Monday night at Cal State L.A. with representatives from several cities about what, if anything, should be done about improving traffic flow caused by the gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. Two participants are also Metro Board Members: Duarte Councilmember John Fasana and Glendale Councilmember Ara Najarian. As the headline accurately describes, the safety of tunnels got some attention from the panelists.

Attentive Source readers know that the draft environmental document for the SR-710 North Study was released last month; here’s the news release, maps and link to the study. There are five alternatives under study: the legally-required no-build option, a freeway tunnel, a light rail line between East L.A. and Pasadena, a bus rapid transit line between East L.A. and Pasadena and intersection, road and traffic signal improvements.

Bikes, trains and automobiles: getting around L.A. then and now (KPCC AirTalk) 

Host Larry Mantle had his 30th anniversary show on Wednesday and devoted 25 minutes to a topic that has come up more than a few times over the years: our region’s War on Traffic. I was one of three panelists, in addition to the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition’s Tamika Butler and Jay Beeber of Safer Streets L.A. and the Reason Foundation.

I thought it was a pretty good — albeit not exactly detailed — conversation about where transportation is going in our region. To repeat myself: I’d be mighty surprised if there isn’t still traffic in our region in 2045 when I’m making another surprisingly youthful and energetic appearance on Mantle’s 60th anniversary show. If there isn’t traffic, I’d be mighty curious where all those people, jobs, stores, schools and other things scampered off to.

One topic of convo: the latest study to determine that L.A. has bad traffic, this one from GPS manufacturer TomTom. In this fun article, not everyone was pleased with Vancouver getting tabbed as the most congested city in Canada, with one person pointing out that TomTom data is perhaps skewed as not everyone has one of their devices and those who do tend to drive a lot and sit in traffic. Sounds about right.

Traffic in Vancouver circa 2005. Photo by Mark Woodbury, via Flickr creative commons.

Traffic in Vancouver circa 2005. Photo by Mark Woodbury, via Flickr creative commons.

Where the transit-build costs are unbelievable (Capital New York) 

The post looks at the accuracy (or lack thereof) of cost estimates of “mega” transit projects in Gotham, the point being that estimates can be manipulated for political purposes — low-balling in order to convince the public to build something or high-balling to convince them to not build something.

I’m not sure I would describe that as a shocker, but buried in the article is this Fun Fact: the Second Avenue Subway is costing $2.7 billion per mile. The entire first phase of the 3.9-mile Purple Line Extension that Metro is building has a budget of $2.82 billion, btw.

L.A. agrees to spend $1.3 billion to fix its broken sidewalks in ADA case (L.A. Times) 

The city would spend the money over the next three decades if the legal settlement comes through.

Low housing supply squeezes affordability (Zillow) 

The real-estate website says that L.A. is one of the least affordable housing markets in the U.S. with homeowners and renters both spending a considerable slice of their monthly incomes on mortgages or rent. Again, not exactly a shocker — although the report suggests that L.A. is even worse than San Francisco. I would think that higher incomes in San Francisco would skew the results, however.

That said, look around the L.A. area — you don’t see a crazy number of new residential buildings going up in a lot of places. And don’t tell me there isn’t room as I can show you transit stations and transit corridors where there’s plenty of room for buildings more than one or two stories high.

Farewell to Milwaukee’s classic, hand-crafted bus passes (CityLab) 

If you’re one of those riders who wants a special edition TAP card adorned with an image or drawing, read this.


Things to listen to on transit: Me. Specifically, I had the great fortune of having my case heard on the Judge John Hodgman podcast this week.

Attentive readers know that Judge Hodgman is a frequent presence on my podcaster when riding transit because his Fake Internet Court is the best and funniest place for friends/lovers/family to settle their often petty but important disputes. In this episode, I sued my friend Scott, seeking a court order that he come out of retirement and join my beer league hockey team. Should Scott get back out on the ice and retire from a life of constant napping? Only one man can decide….

And don’t ask me “Who is John Hodgman?” He’s a writer, comedian, Daily Show correspondent and the PC in those PC versus Mac television commercials that ran a while back. Among other things.

If you prefer not to listen to yours truly because reading yours truly is bad enough, I heartily recommend this other Judge John Hodgman episode that is a great way to pass the time on transit or your car (see above: L.A. has traffic): Gross Misconduct. The case description:

Is it ever OK to clip your fingernails in public? Molly brings the case against her mom Susan. Molly says that Susan has a habit of clipping her fingernails at inappropriate times. Susan says she follows proper etiquette and tries to be discreet. Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

If you can listen to this in public and not laugh out loud, you are a Self Control Gold Medalist.