Transportation headlines, Monday, May 18

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Art of Transit…


Why aren’t we outraged over 90 automobile deaths every day? (Rebuild the Rust Belt) 

Good question and this blog post does a good job answering it while saying those answers are no excuse for the individual trauma and societal costs of vehicular deaths. Good post. But I think everyone has the right to be outraged over other types of transportation-related deaths. Such as…

The wreck of Train 188 (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Amtrak crash raises questions of seatbelts on trains (New York Times) 

The Inquirer gives last week’s horrific Amtrak crash in Philadelphia the narrative and multimedia treatment to good effect. The reaction of the first responders is very powerful — many were shocked to witness such carnage.

The NYT revisits the question of seat belts on trains and reports that most officials don’t think there is sufficient research to show they would help prevent many injuries or deaths. Unlike cars, trains often don’t de-accelerate as quickly, the reason that seatbelts may not be as effective, reports the NYT.

Garcetti overrules his own appointees for Koreatown developer (L.A. Times) 

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti overruled the city’s Planning Commission by approving a 27-story, 269-unit apartment building at Catalina and 8th Street in K-Town. The site is a .5-mile walk from the Wilshire/Vermont Red/Purple Line Station and .6 miles from the Purple Line’s Wilshire/Normandie Station. Mayor Garcetti said the need for more housing and the transit-friendliness of the site were two important considerations. A longtime anti-density activist says it’s not fair to favor one property owner (the developer) over others on the street.

Yellow Line to Skokie out of service indefinitely (Chicago Tribune) 

Our woe-is-our-infrastructure post of the day: an embankment under the tracks slipped, leaving the tracks sitting over a smallish but alarmingish chasm. Not a busy El Line, but still….

I’m the original Laker Girl (Zocalo Public Square)

Christina Blazey. Photo by Zocalo Public Square.

Christina Blazey. Photo by Zocalo Public Square.

The latest in Zocalo’s ongoing series of profiles of Metro riders.

Tactical urbanism in Tampere (Sustainable Cities) 

Don’t let the wonked out headline (which I modified) scare you from the first part of this blog post. Finland’s so-called second city is trying something novel: they’re closing Tampere’s main downtown thorofare to private cars and instead converting it to street only for transit and taxis. Without the need to carry so many cars, there are plans (which are controversial) to narrow the street and widen sidewalks and create more public space. Bold stuff.


Quasi-transit related….

•Things to watch on transit (with a decent internet connection): the Evander Holyfield-Mitt Romney fight.

Three observations:

1. Mitt is in good shape for a 68-year-old guy. I really need to lose some weight.

2. Mitt pulls on an Oxford shirt after the fight. If the idea is to look tough, this doesn’t quite cut it.

3. Mitt made a big strategic blunder: he should have surprised Holyfield and tried to clock him with a big punch instead of taking the I’m-Fighting-With-My-Toy-Poodle approach. What could Holyfield do? He probably wouldn’t want to be known as the guy who knocked out a 68-year-old, so he would have just had to grin and bear it.

Hang on, Indy! Photo: Paramount Pictures.

Hang on, Indy! Photo: Paramount Pictures.

•Source mini-movie review! The new Mad Max movie is fun and pretty good but I’m not sure I would call it great. Tom Hardy was better as Bane than Mad Max — he really underplays the ‘Mad” part — and I found myself kind of missing Mel Gibson. The action scenes and set design are great and better than most of the CGI crud you see on the big screen these days. That said, everyone knows that the two best car chase scenes in a desert of all-time were in Raiders of the Lost Ark and the horse-chasing-a-tank sequence in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

BTW, if you’re into the whole Arclight reserved seat thing, there’s an Arclight now in downtown Culver City and about a 10-minute walk from the Expo Line station.

17 replies

    • Hi Gregario–I believe all agencies are now using TAP.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  1. I had seen video cameras on trains and train platforms here in Los Angeles. I wonder if they all work. Because, every time something happens on either the trains or platforms, such as a fight, someone getting robbed, etc., I do not hear anything about it. Are they working ?

    • Video cameras don’t magically zap people with laser beams.

      Video cameras are for surveillance only and one needs someone to actually view them for it to have any effect. No one is going to be paid just to stare at a camera screen for hours on end so all it does is record remotely. But no one is going to go over hours of tape either.

      Don’t expect places to be safe just because there’s supposedly a camera there. For all intents and purposes it could be just one of these “fake” cameras that were installed so that it looks like Metro is doing their job and asking taxpayers for millions of dollars for it, when they just bought a fake video camera on for less than $20:

  2. “Too bad the reality is that Millennials are now in charge, they tend to vote Democrat, Mayor Garcetti is also a Democrat who were voted in by Millennials (he’s young and tend to see things with Millennial generation perspectives) and Republicans will never win any major office here in CA ever so it seems the realistic outlook is that anti high density activists have no power anymore.”

    Quite the contrary.

    Millennials are highly active in voting process but not all Millennials blindly vote for the candidate that has a (D) behind their name. If the Millennials are in charge now, the fact that we have a GOP controlled Congress shows that Millennials are just as divided upon political views as previous generations and if the old saying holds true, people do tend to become more conservative as they age.

    The oldest Millennials were born in 1980-1981 and they would be 34-35 years old today. They would have over 10 years experience working in the real world and should be feeling the effects of “tax, tax, tax” Democrat policies hurting their own paychecks. And I fall into that group of late Gen-Xers/early Millennials and I too can say that I’ve become a lot more conservative than my years in college. where I used to had liberal idealism.

    OTOH, Millennial “conservatives” are far more libertarian than their older generation counterparts. Religion is not their top priority and they are far more open to the idea of same sex marriage, legalizing marijuana, and even loosening gun control laws. Abortion is still a divisive topic among Millennials as with previous generations. Older Millennials are also against over-reaching goverment, NSA spying, and militarization of the police. We’re very analytical, very pro-technology, not overly jingoistic, do not share the enthusiasm of “American exceptionalism,” and very open to different cultures. Our instinctive response is fact checking on Google and expanding our knowledge.

    I’m more conservative leaning in my years and am contemplating in voting for Rand Paul for President and Rocky Chavez for Senate. But I’m far from the stereotypical image of “angry, old, white male” either. I’m very pro same sex marriage, I’m for legalizing pot, and I think some gun laws here in CA are quite stupid. I’m very pro-transit, but I don’t share the same methodology as Democrats when there are other ways to run them without constantly being on life support by taxpayers. And as you said, I embrace high density lifestyle too.

    Mayor Garcetti got my vote in the mayoral election, and there are many things I agree with him too like helping homeless veterans, focusing on technology for Metro, and fixing our arcane zoning laws. But that doesn’t mean I support him 100%, nor was the reason why I voted him because he was a Democrat either. CA operates under a top-two system now (top two candidates in the open primary advances to the final round in Novermber, regardless of party) so the mayoral race was between two Democrats, Garcetti and Greuel. I picked Garcetti because he has the qualifications to be a good leader, meaning, he has military experience (Navy Reserve). With the two picks being both Democrats, I go with the one who has leadership skills and I look highly on those who served in our military. But I’m also totally against Garcetti’s plan of raising the minimum wage. It sounds good in theory, but the repercussions will be disastrous to small business owners and face it, we’re really not what you call a business friendly environment here. You need businesses to create jobs, but if businesses leave due to the bad business environment, all that will be left will be more unemployment. I fail to see the logic how raising the minimum wage will have a positive effect in LA; it might just do the opposite: raise the wage, more jobs leave LA, many jobs replaced by computers and become automated, and left with more unemployment. More unemployment, more welfare checks, more taxes. No way.

    If there were a candidate running against him in the next election who shares similar views on everything but is more friendly to businesses to bring back jobs to LA and CA rather than having them sent out to TX, for lessening taxes, and reducing wasteful gov’t spending, fixing the inept government bureaucracy, that candidate would get my vote over Garcetti.

  3. Those tracks in Skokie are nearly a hundred years old… Built for a commuter railway that later went bust and resurrected half a century later. I’m sure the construction was state-of-the-art in the WWI days. Being a bit more seismically stable than Los Angeles, you can pretty much build an Earth mound in the Chicago area and it will stay up provided you get the drainage right.

  4. A “longtime anti-density activist.” I bet these are the same people who block everything new to come to fruition here. Since it’s noted as “longtime” the person must be old. Luckily, they don’t live forever. Millennials actually embrace high density lifestyle and they are the next generation who will be in power. The “longtime” activist is fighting a battle that he/she cannot win. LA is already the most populous county in the nation and population is going to get bigger, high-density is going to be our future.

    Isn’t like Koreatown one of the most densely populated areas of LA anyway? People need to stop being so selfish and start adapting to a new lifestyle. If they don’t like density, they’re free to move elsewhere like Fresno or Bakersfield.

    • To clarify: We certainly don’t wish anyone ill will. I was simply trying to acknowledge there are some people who have been fighting density and/or tall buildings for a long time in our area.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Steve,

        You know that it’s all politics at play here. Those “some people” who are anti-density are typically older generations of Angelenos who grew up in the automobile era and cannot fathom any other lifestyle other than owning a big home and getting around by car.

        Unfortunately, father time reaches to all, no one lives forever (despite Baby Boomers tend to think they want to) and as they head off to the sunset of their lives, their population dwindles and become less vocal in politics as the years progresses.

        Mayor Garcetti sees through that the Millennials are the ones coming into power and they don’t care the least bit about adapting to a high density lifestyle; it’s hardly their top priority. Millennials understand that home ownership is out of reach for them especially in LA. They like having everything close by within walking distance and getting around by mass transit or other ride services like Uber and Lyft. They shun car ownership and they like having people nearby. They dislike the suburban lifestyle and embrace living in the city where all the fun action and activities are.

        Being said that, the Millennials would rather take an affordable condo ownership in the city where all the activity is than chasing the unattainable American Dream of owning a big home out in the suburbs and commuting hours on congested freeways.

        Anti high density activists can whine and complain all they want, they’re not going to get what they want from now on. If they don’t like it, they can vote someone else in, if they think they still have the voting power. Too bad the reality is that Millennials are now in charge, they tend to vote Democrat, Mayor Garcetti is also a Democrat who were voted in by Millennials (he’s young and tend to see things with Millennial generation perspectives) and Republicans will never win any major office here in CA ever so it seems the realistic outlook is that anti high density activists have no power anymore.

    • Sorry, the ‘high density’ life style is not a solution to housing prices. Someone needs to do their homework on cost per square foot in a highrise vs 1/2 story residential construction. These so-called affordable units will be smaller than most two bedroom apartments.

      Millennials need to leave the hipster corridors and discover the wealth of older, small houses in ‘less desirable’ areas. Single story, ‘stick’ built structures aren’t difficult to remodel and expand – just save your money.

      M.T.F.C. – Mike

      • “Millennials need to leave the hipster corridors and discover the wealth of older, small houses in ‘less desirable’ areas. Single story, ‘stick’ built structures aren’t difficult to remodel and expand – just save your money.”

        Your “suggestions” are so out of touch with reality of the housing market in LA today. Ever try checking on Zillow or Trulia on how much those small single story houses go for here in said “less desirable” areas in LA? Reality check: we don’t live in 1950s where you can buy a home for $10,000!

        A single story home in “less desirable areas” built in 1920s, likely built with lead paint and needing lots of repairs cost over $500,000+! What middle class can afford a dinky little home for $500,000 when over in Texas, you can buy a nice two story home for less than half that price?!

        If you don’t think so, please sell me your home for $200,000. Like hell you would, right? You say that already as a homeowner who is lucky to have bought his/her own home when land and housing was cheap. You probably bought your home in the 1950s when LA wasn’t this densely populated and the housing market was still affordable. Nowadays, you practically have to win the lottery just to buy a home here, and you still would have to compete with other prospective buyers, and now even Chinese investors who purchase them in full in cash!

        In LA, the house isn’t worth anything. It’s the land it’s sitting on that’s more valuable! And the middle class can’t afford it! That’s why the vast majority of LA residents are renters. Don’t you get it?

        Home ownership is out of reach for Angelenos. That’s the reality. If that’s the case, I would take PURCHASING a condo unit instead. But a 40 story condo, 10 units each floor with 400 units total, with a construction cost of $80,000,000 to build ($200,000 per unit), each room can be sold for $250,000 to make $20 million in profit for the condo developer and that would be affordable. I would take a smaller two bedroom condo for that I can mortgage for $250,000 than paying over $1,000 in rent with no hopes of ever purchasing a home here in LA.

        Now I can look for a

  5. “Why aren’t we outraged over 90 automobile deaths every day?”

    Quoting The Joker (Heath Ledger):

    “Nobody panics when the expected people get killed. Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plans are horrifying. If I say 90 people die in an automobile accident everyday, nobody panics. But when 7 die in a train derailment, everyone loses their minds!”

    It’s actually quite the truth. The US is so automobile centric, that the train isn’t the top of their list of getting around. Travel by train is a novelty in most parts of the US whereas the car is king. And naturally, the car is prone to accidents and people die in auto accidents. It’s pretty much to be expected. Sad, but death due to auto accidents is “according to plan” as the Joker would say it. Cars are so tied to American culture that people will accept 90 deaths per day than give it up.

    BTW, on average 87 people die each day by guns in the US with over 19,000 of them being suicides. You don’t see the Second Amendment going away anytime soon either and will never will. Same thing here, the right to keep and bear arms is so intertwined to our culture that people will accept 87 deaths per day than give up the Second Amendment.

  6. “seatbelts on trains”

    Just when you didn’t think Murica could get any dumber. What country does this? NO ONE!

  7. From the article “It also may signal how Garcetti, who hopes to add 100,000 housing units in the city by 2021, will approach other development projects enmeshed in controversy.”

    Good call on Mayor Garcetti to understanding the facts that we need more taller, higher residential buildings in LA. The only way LA will be able to make housing affordable for the middle class again is to do exactly that: build more taller residential buildings en masse. I would say adding in 100,000 units by 2021 is still not enough when 60% of the population are renters. People don’t want to be renters forever, they want a place of their own. They need to own their residences, and that’s the key for the middle class in America. We need more aggressive construction of many condos with units FOR SALE (NOT FOR RENT!).

    “A longtime anti-density activist says it’s not fair”

    These activists need a serious lesson that LA today isn’t the same as LA of the 1950s. LA can’t be anti-density forever with the hard reality that our county’s population surpassed 10 million with land space that is severely limited. Factoring areas that cannot be developed (water between mainland and Catalina Island, Angeles National Forest, Santa Monica Mountains, etc.) our area size is only 2,500 square miles and at 10 million residents, our density is reaching London levels, with more population growth expected.

    • great, residents of koreatown, the densest LA neighborhood and one of the densest in the nation are NIMBYs just for wanting to preserve local businesses and turn empty lots into much needed parks. Instead of converting k town to hong kong density, turn the rest of the city to k town density (please spare me the “but koreatown is near the purple line! transit oriented development!” Rancho park is near the new expo line. most of the west valley is near the orange line). But then we hear horror stories of 3 story buildings creating “so much traffic.” How very convenient to raze our densest neighborhood to meet our housing needs, to preserve the “southern california lifestyle” on the westside and in the valley. who’s the real NIMBY here

      • “Instead of converting k town to hong kong density, turn the rest of the city to k town density”

        If you read my post, that is exactly what I support. There is no more room to build new homes here in LA. The housing market in LA is the worst in the nation for the middle class. The vast majority of LA residents are renters with no hopes of achieving the American Dream of owning a home, lest they live 100 miles away in a different county and commute hours in gridlocked freeway traffic jams.

        LA needs a new direction. LA’s population isn’t getting any smaller, land space is limited, we need to face reality that high density lifestyle is our future.

        Whether it’s K-Town, Miracle Mile, South LA, West LA, or SFV, we need to start developing taller, higher condos. Metro can have a part in that. They’re worried about first mile/last mile problems, they’re sitting on plently of land space that are highly underutilized and just used for parking lots, Metro can just as easily become a condo developer themselves.

        Why waste perfectly good parking space for free right next to their stations when they can build a $80 million, 40 story condo with 400 units in it and sell each unit for $250,000 and make $20 million in profit that they can use to fund transit projects with? They can build a shopping center/condo multi-use complex as well so that they can collect rent from retailers and businesses who would love to have consumers living right above them.