Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 8

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Photo of Metro buses at Grand Park in DTLA. (Photo via Instagram @alexhes_)

Photo of Metro buses at Grand Park in DTLA. (Photo via Instagram @alexhes_)

Today’s profile of a Metro rider by Zocalo Public Square: It’s calming to watch the city go by, Pacific Avenue to Flower Street

Five new miles of Wilshire peak-hour buses opened today (Streetsblog L.A.)

A quick brief on the opening of the new stretch of Wilshire Boulevard peak hour bus lanes that were put in service for the first time this morning. The article notes that one of the key issues for making the bus lanes work as well as intended will be the enforcement of the bus lane restrictions. San Francisco and New York City for example, have used cameras onboard buses to catch drivers illegally using the bus lanes.

So a friendly reminder for the drivers out there as enforcement begins today: only buses are allowed in the Wilshire lanes between the weekday hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. However, you can use the lane to make a right turn by entering through the striped lane markers as you approach the intersection.

But really, you should consider taking the bus…

Why your commute is bad for you (CNN)

Though I think a little clarification is needed to fully understand the findings of some of the studies cited in this article, the main takeaway is clear: if you have to commute, walking, biking or taking public transit are across the board much healthier options than driving.

BART announces rate of planned 2016 fare increase (SFGate)

The fare increase of 3.4 percent will be implemented in 2016 as part of BART’s seven year fare increase plan approved by the agency’s board in 2013. Fare increases are based on inflation and are implemented every even-numbered year. The additional revenue from the increased fares can only be used for capital improvements such as fleet replacement and maintenance. BART tends to be pricey because of the long distances it covers.

This simple technology could greatly increase subway capacity at little cost (Vox)

This article makes a compelling case that allowing passengers to use gangways, the space between two connected train cars, could be a simple solution for increasing capacity on U.S. mass transit systems.

The practice, which is common internationally but virtually non-existent in the U.S., could increase capacity by making more space available on each train and allow passengers to better use the space by moving from a crowded train car to a less crowded train car. The article uses New York as an example:

In New York right now, about 9 percent of the length of Lexington Avenue trains is the space between the cars where nobody can ride. The increase in capacity due to improving the rolling stock is almost equal to the 14 percent reduction in crowding promised by the [under construction] Second Avenue subway.

The article makes a call for American mass transit agencies to embrace this, capacity-enhancing strategy not only when replacing their older trains, but also implementing it where available now. It’s an interesting concept that on the face of it makes sense.

Metro’s trains currently do not use gangways (nor do they all have the capability to or necessarily need to). However, the agency is in the beginning stages of acquiring new subway cars.