How We Roll, Wednesday, August 12

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News Flash!: Metro has received $100 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help fund the Purple Line Extension’s first section to Wilshire/La Cienega. This is the second installment of the $1.25-billion federal grant that Metro was awarded for the project. Ching-ching!

ART OF TRANSIT: Waiting and pondering at the Blue Line's Slauson Station. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: Waiting and pondering at the Blue Line’s Slauson Station. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

L.A. will add bike and bus lanes in sweeping policy shift (L.A. Times)

L.A. City Council approves new mobility plan, including Vision Zero (Streetsblog LA)

As expected, the Los Angeles City Council approved a new long-range mobility plan that calls for adding many miles of bus and bike lanes — often at the expense of car traffic lanes — and reducing transportation-related deaths to zero by 2035. The vote was 12 to 2 with members representing the Westwood and Northeast L.A. area voting against, in part because of concerns about the impact of bike lanes on car traffic.

As summed up nicely by David Zahniser in the LAT:

“The plan represents a major departure in transportation policy for a city so closely identified with cars, and reflects the view of many planners that the old way of building more road space to address traffic is no longer a viable option.” 

And as Joe Linton notes at Streetsblog:

Ultimately, it is just a plan. The 1999 plan had similar language about “transit priority streets” and “safe and convenient bicycling” that has, for the most part, failed to materialize. Communities will need to organize and press to translate the Mobility Plan’s multimodal vision into improved safety and broader mobility choices in L.A. neighborhoods.

Joe is correct. One thing important to understand: this is a policy document that lays out the vision. Individual projects are subject to more study, more review and more outreach. Funding, in many cases, will have to be found. And it very much remains to be seen whether merchants and homeowners alike are willing to surrender a traffic lane for transit and/or bikes.

As I noted yesterday, the plan if implemented could certainly impact Metro — after all, this agency’s buses run on the city’s streets and the plan could seemingly speed up some buses and possibly slow others if road diets are enacted. The plan, if enacted, may better connect pedestrians and cyclists to Metro Rail Stations, present and future (the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Purple Line Extension, Expo Line and Regional Connector are partially or entirely in the city of L.A.).

I think the plan has the potential to do some great things for L.A. neighborhoods. If you go to great neighborhoods in many cities — including parts of our region — they often share one attribute: the streets aren’t crazy wide as they are in many parts of L.A. and So Cal. Things are built to a human scale. You don’t feel like you’re walking next to a freeway or through a parking lot. See: Larchmont Village, for example. Or parts of Leimert Park.

I also think the plan works best if there is a robust transit system that people in the city of L.A. are more willing to use. I do think that some of Metro’s projects that are underway or in the planning stages have the potential to lure more people to transit.

As for the inevitable lawsuits against the city’s plan: whatever. That’s the price of doing business these days. One Westside opponent threatening a suit has been at this for years, fighting density and fighting transit and fighting anything that would make L.A. more like Manhattan — a fear that is laughable. The plan isn’t going to turn L.A. into Manhattan any more than it will turn L.A. to a cute Swiss Village. 🙂

Gruyere, Switzerland. Photo by Michalis Fotinakis, via Flickr creative commons.

Gruyere, Switzerland. Photo by Michalis Fotinakis, via Flickr creative commons.

A fun debate about this on Twitter:

Transit: if you build it wrong, they may not come (State Smart Transportation Initiative) 

The article looks at two recent bus rapid transit projects in San Diego and Washington D.C. that have struggled with poor ridership. In San Diego, the bus isn’t that fast — business owners didn’t want to surrender a lane on local streets (see above item!). In D.C., the bus is fast but little was done to better connect bus stops to nearby jobs. Lesson: pay attention to those first mile/last mile concerns, people.

There’s reason to think you can take a fancy train to Vegas this year (LA Magazine) 

All aboard for a Big Mac at the Barstow McDs! Photo by Bradley Park, via Flickr creative commons.

All aboard for a Big Mac at the Barstow McDs! Photo by Bradley Park, via Flickr creative commons.

Sigh. The folks at X Train — the failed bullet train venture between Victorville and Las Vegas — are now apparently offering a special New Year’s Eve train from Fullerton to downtown Vegas. Despite the headline, LA Mag expresses skepticism, perhaps based on the fact that nothing X Train has previously promised has quite panned out.

All that said, this gives us the chance to point out that it’s quite nuttyballs that there is no train service between L.A. and Vegas, given the car and air traffic between the two and the sometimes 250-mile traffic jams on the I-15. If not mistaken, the only passenger train car along the way is part of a McDonald’s in Barstow.

It’s not that X Train isn’t barking up the right tree. They just need to learn how to bark.


Things to read on transit: A good photo gallery in the New Yorker titled “Flash Points” with images from protests in Ferguson and Baltimore and street frisks in Newark.

Musical interlude: Belle and Sebastian at KCRW earlier this year. They’re among the many performers at the Expo Line-adjacent FYF Fest on Aug. 22-23 at the Sports Arena and Expo Park. Metro is adding extra service and will be running trains until about 2 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday nights.

I’m also on Twitter, Instagram and have a photo blog where I share my non-transportationy stuff.  

18 replies

    • What can be inferred from the video above is that countries like Japan are capable of bringing in both older generations and younger generations together, embrace both tradition and modernity, and still come to a compromise to make something that benefits everyone.

      Here, it’s just there’s only one way of doing things, I don’t like new technology because it’ll ruin tradition, no compromises, baseless mass hysteria and the inability to see the forest for the trees.

  1. Somehow I doubt people in LA, especially the vast majority of Metro riders who are not well off, will be willing to use a system whose fare structures forces them to pay $3.50 roundtrip (or more as fare increases are inevitable) just to go to the neighborhood grocery store.

    $3.50 round trip to go to the beach? Great deal.
    $3.50 round trip to go buy groceries? Bad deal.

    What’s the likelihood of someone needing to go to the beach everyday? Not so much.
    What’s the likelihood of someone needing to go to the supermarket every now and then? Many.

  2. How about CALTRANS finish adding a lane from Barstow to the Vegas state line? This is the only section that is 2 lanes wide except for the truck uphill slow lanes. This way there would be the possibility of easier traffic flow instead of a bottleneck changing 3 lanes to 2 then back to 3. Just saying..

  3. Why Fullerton to Vegas? Why not Union Station plus a couple of stops traveling east?

    Finally bike lanes being proposed where vehicle traffic/ bike lanes being separated by parked cars instead of a cute little white line.

  4. “As for the inevitable lawsuits against the city’s plan: whatever. That’s the price of doing business these days. ”

    Of course, from the point of view of a taxpayer, the “whatever” attitude of government could be striken as quite questionable and raises eyebrows that the government really doesn’t care because the litigation costs come from taxpayer dollars and that even if the courts decide that the government is the loser, it’s the taxpayers who have to pay out these things. No one is going to get fired, the jobs continue to be secure, the only loser is the taxpayer.

    But hey, “whatever” right?

    • To anonymous commenter, i.e. Different Perspective;

      The “whatever” was a reference to the fact that most EIRs provoke lawsuits no matter how much time and outreach went into the documents and no matter how intensively something is studied. As for the reference to job turnover, there has been plenty of that at Metro lately.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. In regards to the Las Vegas train story, aren’t Xpress West, and Xtrain, completely different companies? Xpress west was going to be a high speed line from Victorville to Las Vegas, and I thought X Train was going to be a conventional train run from Fullerton to Las Vegas? Could someone shed some light on this? Thanks!

    • Yes, you’re correct. Xpress West was previously known as DesertXpress. There always seem to be at least two rail services between Las Vegas and (not quite) Los Angeles on the drawing board and looking for funding. I’m sure Elon Musk will soon be publicizing plans for the first hyperloop system in this corridor.

  6. I should be allowed to take a bat to the windshield of those who: Encroach on the intersection, make a right turn during a walk signal with peds in the crosswalk (encroach), roll through stop signs, drop off in bus lanes (should be a $1k fine if you ask me), cross four lanes to make a stupid left from the far right lane, and people who probably should just stay home during rush hour.

    Has the state given too many licenses away also? Do Traffic Police work at all (not in term of efficacy, but actually working/care)?

    Its been increasingly frustrating to be cut off and almost run over, and then have that person curse you out like you were wrong. Its angering, and makes life in Los Angeles very frustrating.

    I learned to love high gas prices because I know less people are on the road, and quite frankly, I don’t think motorist need a break, they’ve got it easy enough. So much to the point that they hardly have to critically think before leaving the house. I think that it is a privilege that should be diminished. Congestion pricing, Gas Taxes, Distance based taxes will achieve all of this. People should learn that you’re atill mobile without your car, you have to use your brain and commit to a destination.

    I’m tired of people parking in my neighborhood at a time when they may not belong due to the sake of efficiency. Drivers just don’t pay enough for jacking up so much public space.

  7. “One Westside opponent threatening a suit has been at this for years, fighting density and fighting transit and fighting anything that would make L.A. more like Manhattan — a fear that is laughable. The plan isn’t going to turn L.A. into Manhattan ”

    In all honesty, even if it did, most Millennials wouldn’t care and would actually embrace high density life styles. Millennials are the most educated generation with large numbers going off to colleges, where they learn to adapt to living in high density areas such as apartment complexes and dorms with roommates near their school campuses, where everything is within walking and biking distance.

    All things considered, LA won’t become like Manhattan, it would become more like London, Tokyo and Seoul where there’s high density pockets spread out over a wide area which we already see it happening today here in LA. We already have high density developments going on in Westside, Santa Monica, Culver City, Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, Mid-Wilshire, Koreatown, DTLA, San Pedro, Long Beach, East LA, Carson, Torrance, Gardena, Burbank, Glendale, along Ventura Blvd., Silverlake, Echo Park, etc. etc.

    People don’t want big homes way out in the suburbs with big front yards and do things like fixing homes and tending their garden anymore. And the fact is, such a lifestyle is becoming unreachable to a majority of Angelenos today due to the outrageous home prices in LA today. Why do you think a large majority of LA residents are renters and not homeowners?

    Anti high density NIMBYs are just people with big mouths with no real general support from the populace. They do not represent the majority of Angelenos views today and the Millennials don’t really care anyway. If politicians can do a simple fact-checking, they’ll learn to stop pandering to these people and do what’s right for LA.

    Besides, nothing is stopping them from moving out of LA and CA if they don’t like the way things are going. They’re free to move over to fly-over country and buy a big plot of land right in the middle of nowhere if they really want peace and tranquility away from other people. Sure would help many in LA if they start doing that because that’ll increase the supply of the housing market to bring housing prices down.

    Then, a smart developer would just knock down that home, build a condo or apartment, open a franchise business on the floor level, live in the top-floor penthouse and live the rest of their lives doing nothing but collecting rent and spending the revenues of his franchise business downstairs.

    • Unfortunately there are those who file endless lawsuits stopping needed progress in Los Angeles. A case in point is the Target Store that was under construction at Sunset and Western. It has sat half finished for about a year. The city Ok’d the plans, it went before the planning commision only to be stopped as the finishing touches were being installed.

      So now those who were against progress and instead embrassed a failed mini mall can enjoy for endless years this eyesore which could be abandoned by Target along with the much needed jobs in Hollywood. What a waste of time.

      Target could have been the stimulus to redevelope the old OSH site and the Food for Less site. But I guess some would rather see another tacky mini mall like the one that sits on the north-east corner.

  8. Honestly, the demand to Las Vegas is too peaky to make running a train seven days a week viable. Sure tickets to Vegas on the weekends are expensive, but Southwest has one way tickets from LAX to Vegas for $39 three weeks in advance midweek, which tells you how much demand there is to go to Vegas on a Tuesday. Everyone remembers the epic eight hour traffic jams and creeping through the desert at 15 mph, but aside from Sundays and major events it isn’t like that. The best transportation improvement would probably be a two lane reversible toll road from Victorville to the Nevada state line, with frequent motorcoach service on it. San Bernardino County is studying a toll lane to US 395 – – and extending this toll lane to the state line could be useful.

    • “but Southwest has one way tickets from LAX to Vegas for $39 three weeks in advance midweek, which tells you how much demand there is to go to Vegas on a Tuesday.”

      OTOH, business travelers, which make up a vast majority of travelers these days, do not buy tickets three weeks in advance like leisure travelers. We get stuff like “oh, we need you to be in Vegas tomorrow” when you come to work on Monday.

      And if you ever taken plane trips to any destination on Tuesdays or any weekday, the planes are always jammed packed, mostly with business travelers, not leisure travelers.