How We Roll, Monday, August 17

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Important PSA from our friends in WeHo!

Several scenes of buildings or neighborhoods near or along Metro bus or rail lines. Extremely great footage!

Speaking of drones, this apparently can happen — if you watch closely you can see the raptor approaching…

From the Department of Fair is Fair:


Ouchies. But rest assured Dodger fans, the Cardinals won’t roll over that easy! 🙂

DustbowlRevival14Aug2015 (79 of 294)-Edit-2

Speaking of Dodgers, my colleague Anna and I met this nice couple from Wales on Friday evening. They were visiting L.A. from the U.K. and were about to attend their first Major League Baseball game and were taking the Dodger Stadium Express up the hill to avoid the ballpark traffic whose reputation has, apparently, transcended both the Lower 48 and the Atlantic Ocean. Reminder: the Dodger Stadium Express between the ballpark and both Union Station and Harbor Gateway is free — FREE! — for those holding game tickets.

Silver Lake street serves as test run for L.A. traffic overhaul (L.A. Times) 

The L.A. City Council’s passage last week of the city’s new mobility plan — with an emphasis on road diets and new bus and bike lanes — got a lot of news. This smart follow-up by David Zahniser and Laura Nelson takes a look at what the plan looks like in practice by examining what happened when Rowena Avenue in Silver Lake was narrowed from four lanes to two lanes in the wake of a tragic pedestrian death in 2012. At the least, the city hoped to slow car traffic down.

Did that happen? Hard to say. The city has collected extremely limited data suggesting it has a little — but the data is so limited that IMHO it’s basically inconsequential although LADOT officials say data is important. That echoes a sentiment oft-heard from NYC transportation deputy Janette Sadik-Khan, who says that data is the key to selling changes when it comes to road diets and such.

Anecdotally speaking, there are plenty of Silver Lake residents quoted who say the Rowena road diet may have slowed traffic but also caused back-ups. The result, residents say, is that more motorists are seeking shortcuts and other ways to bypass Rowena by using smaller residential streets instead, thereby creating a new set of problems.

Tough, tough issue and one that I think we’ll hear a lot more about as L.A. and other cities in our region seek to provide more room on our streets for pedestrians and cyclists.

2024 Metro Rail maps (transitmaps)

Using info gleamed from Metro, Steve Boland shows what Metro Rail lines will look like in 2024 when the five rail projects currently under construction are all forecast to be open. Remember: the Regional Connector will result in an east-west light rail line from Santa Monica to East L.A. and a north-south light rail from Azusa to Long Beach.

Below is a Metro study from earlier this year that looks at renaming the lines to reflect the way that trains will roll when the Connector is done.

Racial wealth gap persists despite degree, study says (New York Times) 

Not a transit story per se, but an important one IMO. The study says that a wealth gap still persists between whites with college degrees and African Americans and Latinos who also have college degrees. The reason why: well, it’s complicated. Excerpt:

There is not a simple answer to explain why a college degree has failed to help safeguard the assets of many minority families. Persistent discrimination and the types of training and jobs minorities get have played a role. Another central factor is the heavy debt many blacks and Hispanics accumulate to achieve middle-class status.

There are a couple things that I think make this article fair game for this column. The first is that our latest customer survey shows that among our bus riders 63 percent are Latino and 17 percent African American. Among rail riders 53 percent are Latino and 19 percent are African American. Obviously this is an article pertinent to a great many of our riders.

No fish-eye lens, no "ton" in the pic! Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

No fish-eye lens, no “ton” in the pic! Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Also, this: I believe that one key benefit of Metro’s ongoing rail/transit expansion is to better connect all communities to schools and colleges. Since Compton has been in the news lately (well, the entertainment news), let’s use that as an example. At present, 98 percent of Compton residents are either African American or Latino.

Now let’s say someone from Compton wants to reach UCLA for undergraduate, graduate or continuing adult ed classes. At present, it would take one hour and 42 minutes via transit during the day, according to Google Maps. That’s Blue Line Compton Station to 7th/Metro, transfer to the Purple Line to Wilshire/Western and then transfer there to the 720 westbound. Point of emphasis: the 102-minute trip doesn’t include the time it takes to get to the Compton Station or the time it takes to get from the bus stop at Wilshire/Westwood to the UCLA campus.

Whaaaaaaaat? Basically you’re looking at a two-hour trip each way.

Enter the Purple Line Extension, a project funded by Measure R. That project eliminates the need to transfer at Wilshire/Western to the 720 bus and the train ride from 7th/Metro to Wilshire/Westwood is estimated to take about 20 to 25 minutes. In other words, the project means that someone going from Compton to Wilshire/Westwood would spend about an hour on the train give or take a few minutes. Yes, that doesn’t include the getting to/from station and transfer time, but it’s a significant improvement over the 102 minutes that trip presently requires.

Back to the NYT article. Of course, it would be just and right if everyone with a college degree was on equal footing pay-wise. But the first step is getting those degrees and I think Metro is in position to help get people to school whether it’s UCLA, USC (three Expo Line stops) or the many other colleges and universities near the Metro system.

Speaking of that, a college/vocational 30-day pass for Metro currently costs $43 — a serious savings over the normal $100 cost of a 30-day pass. Hit the link in the above paragraph to download an application for a college pass.

The WMATA Board blames employees for derailed train instead of looking at its own leadership failures (Greater Greater Washington) 

The blog post takes the chainsaw to the Board that oversees the rail system in the D.C. region, saying it created a culture in which employees failed to report tracks that were known to be out of alignment.

Southern California’s reservoirs are fuller than you think (Zocalo Public Square) 

How California is winning the drought (New York Times) 

The next drought: water managers endorse a less-is-more approach for the next drought (LAT)

The Art of Infrastructure: Castaic Lake near Santa Clarita as seen earlier this month when the reservoir was 39 percent filled. Photo: Steve Hymon.

The Art of Infrastructure: Castaic Lake near Santa Clarita as seen earlier this month when the reservoir was 39 percent filled. Photo: Steve Hymon.

The three articles — I wrote and photographed the one for Zocalo, btw — have a common theme: the ongoing drought is certainly very serious, yet California has in some ways weathered the lack of rain and snow quite well. Whether El Nino saves the day, there are almost certainly changes in store water-wise for many Californians, especially in the population continues to push north toward 40 million and then 50 million from the current 38.8 million.


Things to listen to white sitting/standing/stuck on transit: The Judge John Hodgman podcast takes on the important issue of Crocs and whether they’re too ugly to be worn in public. I hesitate to call into question the Judge’s wisdom and crux-finding abilities, but this is a ruling that demands an appeal. In any event, a very funny episode although not quite as knee-slappingly uproarious as the episode featuring yours truly earlier this year.

Music to listen to white sitting/standing/stuck on transit: “What Part of Me” by Low. What a great song. Headphones please!

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


3 replies

  1. Except that the Flyaway Bus (or a cab, or one of those newfangled pseudo-cabs) is still the only single-seat ride (and indeed, the only luggage-friendly ride) between Union Station and LAX.

    • The flip side is that Flyaway Bus, taxi cabs, and rideshare services will be dependent on street/freeway traffic to get to/from LAX and World Way loop. On a typical day, one could expect to spend 30 minutes stuck in traffic on World Way alone because of all the hotel and rental car shuttles, cars, vans all converging there.

      As a person who uses LAX often, I just tell my Uber driver to drop me off at the arrivals (lower) level instead because that’s less crowded during the mid-day than the departures (upper) level. Much faster to go to arrivals, be dropped off there and take the escalator up than deal with the traffic jams on departures.

      IMO, they really should change LAX’s upper and lower levels as one for regular passenger cars on the upper level and taxi cabs, rideshare services, buses, and shuttles for the lower level instead of just “departures” and “arrivals.” And they can also stand to consolidate some of the redundant hotel, rental car, and parking shuttles into one larger bus. It makes no sense at all to have one shuttle to go to the Airport Hilton and another shuttle to the Parking Spot on Century when they’re right next to each other.

  2. Steve Boland’s map is pretty awesome. If/When the next transportation ballot measure arrives, this is how we can demonstrate the importance of investing in our rail system.