Art of Transit:
Newsflash!: The California State Assembly’s Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved SB 767, which would allow Metro to place a sales tax measure on a future ballot. The bill next goes to the full Assembly. It has already been approved by the Assembly’s Transportation Committee and the state Senate.
From the Department of Spoken Like a Public Relations Professional:
— jim (@jamesskeen1) August 20, 2015
From the Department of Getting Ready for a New Transit Line Next Year:
— Irwindale Police Department (@IrwindalePolice) August 20, 2015
From the Department of Polite Suggestions for Doing Things Differently:
One guy on the platform trying frantically to check everyone's TAP cards isn't going to stop any fare evasion. @metrolosangeles
— Steven White (@StevenMWhite) August 20, 2015
From the Department of Great Music Videos Filmed in Union Station’s Fred Harvey Room (which will one day be a bar/restaurant):
The Dustbowl Revival just played Union Station last Friday as part of the Metro Arts Presents series. Check out the pics here. Great show, great band.
In quasi-related news, I asked readers in the column on Tuesday what they thought it would take to increase the percentage of those who commute by transit in Los Angeles County from seven percent to 10 percent. The number has been hovering around seven percent for years. Some answers from our Facebook followers:
Peter Castillo: More rail options to and from the Valley considering how packed the Orange and Red Lines are.
Armando Aparicio: It would be great to have a subway from the valley to the West Side. That 405 is a nightmare.
Hector Maceas: Turn off those dumb Lexus lanes known as FastTrack lanes. That’s how.
Gregory Gilmer: Work on making your buses more reliable. It is unacceptable that late or missing bus operators are allowed. I’m a transit proponent. But if buses aren’t reliable I will not take them for work, only for leisure.
Nina Kin: kind of a chicken or the egg problem… how can the buses be on time if they get stuck in traffic? how do you reduce car traffic and convince people to take the bus if you can’t rely on the bus times? I hope eventually we’ll reach a point where they’re frequent enough we won’t need to know the schedules, but we need more ridership for that to be economically feasible.
Tom Porter: please approve the gold line to whittier i need light rail bad so i can go 2 laker clippers and kings games
Caesar Hernandez: The gold line should be extended from East los angeles to el Monte or azusa
Nevram Norman: Move beyond talking about change and actually change. Pass a ‘Complete Streets’ policy that is actually useful. Invest real money into biking infrastructure, especially to/from rail stations throughout the region.
The Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project is scheduled to receive about $1 billion in Measure R funds. The project would not be complete until the late 2030s under the current long-range plan timeline. Very early studies have looked at the project possibly being an underground rail line or perhaps bus rapid transit using the freeway.
For something like a rail tunnel, the project would need considerably more money.
The Gold Line Foothill Extension is scheduled to open next year with stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and two in Azusa — one downtown, one adjacent to Rosedale and Citrus College and Azusa Pacific University. A separate project — the Eastside Gold Line Transit Corridor Phase 2 — is looking at two possible rail alternatives: extending the Gold Line to South El Monte or Whittier. More studies are being done. The project isn’t scheduled to be complete until the mid-2030s under Metro’s current long-range plan.
Metro is also in the midst of potentially updating its long-range plan along with a potential ballot measure in 2016 to raise funds for projects. It remains to be seen if the ballot measure would raise money to accelerate projects.
Droughts have happened regularly in California over the centuries — and you can blame a stubborn ridge of high pressure for the current one. But new research finds that warmer than usual soil temperatures courtesy of higher temperatures — courtesy of global warming — have exacerbated the drought.
Don’t care for climate change? Want to do something? Try walking, biking or taking transit instead of driving alone all the time! Generally speaking, transit moves people more efficiently than driving alone in traffic.
U.S. on pace for deadliest driving year since 2007 (National Safety Council)
A lot of studies and stats have suggested that overall people are driving less, at least in some places. But it doesn’t appear that the people who do drive are driving any safer.
From January to June, nearly 19,000 people died in traffic crashes across the U.S., and more than 2.2 million were seriously injured[ii], putting the country on pace for its deadliest driving year since 2007. Costs are also up. The six-month estimated bill for traffic deaths, injuries and property damage is $152 billion – 24 percent higher than 2014.
The NSC blames, in part, lower gas prices and higher employment across the U.S. — i.e. people are driving more. Also blamed, not surprisingly: distracted driving. Sigh.
Editorial: build a new Hudson River tunnel (New York Times)
By most accounts, a new train tunnel under the Hudson River is desperately needed to help some 750,000 daily passengers travel between Manhattan and New Jersey. The cost of a new tunnel: about $20 billion, which also includes a new Penn Station on the NYC side and a new bridge on the Jersey side.
How to pay for it? Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cancelled a tunnel project a few years ago, citing the cost. He says he’s open to restarting talks and other pols — i.e. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — have said a huge federal grant would be a good place to start. Nothing against federal grants: Metro is using coupling some with Measure R funds to build the Regional Connector and Purple Line Extension. We ❤️ federal grants!
Key word there: grant. As in something that doesn’t need to be paid back. The significance is that the feds usually don’t dole out that kind of money for a single project, although this is a key rail link. My question: if the feds pay for most of the project, how will that impact federal funding needed to help build transit projects in other parts of the country, by which I mean Los Angeles County.
Straight outta boring (Zocalo Public Square)
From a reporter who actually visited Compton in the wake of the release of the movie! Writes Joe Mathews:
These are merely brief glimpses of the truth: The real Compton does not fit the ghetto cliché—and would surprise rap fans the world over if they were to visit. Yes, Compton is poor and has serious educational challenges (fewer than 60 percent of adults 25 and older are high school graduates). But it’s really a working-class suburb, defined by its single-family homes and neighborhoods like Richland Farms, with lots big enough for elaborate gardens. Only 19 percent of its housing is multi-unit, compared to 31 percent across California. And Compton’s south side, along the 91 Freeway, is a thriving industrial and business district that includes the corporate offices of leading grocer Ralphs.
Compton is easily reached on the Metro Blue Line, btw. It’s about a 28-minute ride from 7th/Metro Center in DTLA and a 22-minute from DTLB. If you ever are assigned jury duty there, be warned: sloooooowest courthouse elevators in the world if nothing has changed in the past few years.
Houston: we have a solution (Smart Growth America)
Not the first time we’ve mentioned this, but the post is a good look at Houston’s revamped bus network that aims to concentrate more frequent buses on key routes along with trimming some routes that are duplicative or less used. The idea is to make buses more useful to those who already ride and more appealing to those who don’t by reducing the time you wait for a bus — and the time it takes the bus to get from Point A to Point B.
I’m hesitant to call this a trend at transit agencies, although Houston is certainly not the only one to try this. Metro is also working on its own frequent bus network although nothing is ready yet to go before the board. A synopsis was posted online earlier this summer and this is something I’ll be writing more about soon.
Things to look at while sitting/standing/stuck on transit: Check out Ashly Stohl’s “Charth Vader” photo gallery. Entertained you will be. Ashly is an Angeleno, btw.
Things to look at while sitting/standing/stuck on transit 2: another entertaining photo gallery, this one at the New Yorker website and titled “The weirder side of convention centers,” with pics coming from the Chicago area.
Categories: Transportation Headlines