It’s in the neighborhood of 100 degrees today in much of our region, so here’s your reminder to stay hydrated…in the form of the MacArthur Park fountain surrounded by colorful balls. I would not recommend swimming in that water, but it looks nice though, right?
More on the subject of the heat:
Can you imagine sitting in an exhaust-belching bus with no air conditioning on a day like today? I can’t, but I suspect a few of our readers might recall a time when that was the norm.
On to non-weather related topics:
Newsflash: There is a new FTA pilot program for expedited delivery of transit projects.
On Tuesday, Metro submitted documents with info about two agency projects that would qualify under the program’s criteria — the Airport Metro Connector/96th Street Station (i.e. the transfer point between the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the automated people mover to be built by LAX) and the Purple Line Extension. If selected for the pilot, agencies could receive expedited federal grants for chosen projects.
A Planes, Trains and Automobiles Kind of Transit Chief (Zocalo Public Square)
Metro CEO Phil Washington talked candidly in the green room prior to sharing his vision at Zocalo Public Square’s event last month. Among the handful of topics covered in the Q&A, Washington reveals his favorite L.A. basketball team, his favorite transit movie and the best advice he’s ever received. On movies, he chooses one with a title that says it all. Excerpt:
Q: What’s your favorite movie involving transit?
A: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. I like John Candy. And it reminds me of what we’ve been talking about at Metro—the importance of a balanced transportation system. The balance is right there in the title.
A classic and funny film no doubt (and one that takes place partially in Chicago, Washington’s hometown), but it also features a lot of transit misfortune (like a train breaking down) and — spoiler alert — the protagonists making it home in the back of a refrigerated truck. Now that’s multi-model, and maybe not a bad option on a day like today.
Yaroslavsky: 1984 Olympics hold lessons for LA’s 2024 bid (Planning Report)
Now that Los Angeles has officially put in its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, former L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board member Zev Yaroslavsky writes about what the region can take away from its success in hosting the 1984 Olympics.
Providing background on what led L.A. to its profitable Olympics experience in 1984, but also acknowledging the differences between then and now, Zev highlights what L.A.’s current bid has going for it, including existing infrastructure and increased investment in transit. Excerpt:
The Olympics can also be a catalyst for building or accelerating important infrastructure projects. Such was the case with double-decking the LAX roadways in 1984. Today, Los Angeles is expanding its mass transit system and may wish to expedite the completion of certain projects if awarded the 2024 Games—such as finishing the Purple Line to Westwood, where a number of venues are proposed. Investments in projects like these, which are not part of the Games’ budget, can pay huge dividends for generations to come.
However, he also notes some of the changes between 1984 and 2024 may pose challenges to successfully and profitably host the future Olympics and provides recommendations for the 2024 bid. As things stand now, the Purple Line Extension’s third section between Century City and Westwood is due to be completed in the mid-2030s under Metro’s long-range plan. However, the agency is currently looking into an update of that plan and a potential ballot measure in 2016, along with the aforementioned FTA pilot program to possibly speed up the project.
Keeping with the Olympics theme, KPPC briefly looks at the potential for accelerating the completion of Metro’s projects with the 2024 Olympics in mind. The original plan to fast-track Metro projects, the 10-30 plan spearheaded by former L.A. Mayor and Metro Board Member Antonio Villaraigosa, had initial support but is stalled in Congress. The upside: it has good company with many other important things also occupying the Office of Stalled Things.
The first results are unsurprising after new federal regulations enacted last year requiring environmental monitoring near freeways: the breathing ain’t easy. The area near the 60 Freeway in Ontario is the worst in the region for soot pollution, possibly because of higher smog levels in the Inland Empire and traffic emissions. More than 215,000 vehicles traveled past the monitoring site daily in 2013, according to the article, including 25,000 trucks.
Levels of other toxic gases are also elevated near the freeway, but did not violate regulations. Most of the pollutants being measured are fine particles — the type that can be inhaled deep into lungs and cause major health problems.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), the agency responsible for monitoring air quality in the region, says that the drought might be playing a role in slowly allowing pollution to build up, resulting in an increase of bad air days over the past two years. The agency recently announced it would not be able meet a 2015 federal deadline for soot levels.
Go-To cards can now be used for both transit and car-sharing (Star Tribune)
Metro Transit, the public transit agency for the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and a local car-sharing company HourCar have teamed up to enable transit riders to use their transit cards to pay for the car-sharing service. The program gives transit users a way to keep transit costs all in one place and allows seamless transfers between transit and car-share. As an integrated first / last-mile solution, it’s a pretty good idea. It will be interesting to see how often it’s used.
It would also be interesting to know if they’re looking into ways to integrate payment for their popular NiceRide bike share system with their transit cards.
Metro currently has a partnership with the car-sharing service Zipcar to provide discounts to Metro riders and hosts Zipcar vehicles at some stations, however there’s no integrated transit fare payment system. Metro’s future bike share system, however, is exploring ways to integrate payment via TAP card.
8 minutes: the time between a tweet to SEPTA Police Chief and “we got him” (CBS Philadelphia)
An interesting story out of Philadelphia: SEPTA police were able to respond in record time to a tweet their police chief received about a rider injecting drugs on a SEPTA train late Sunday night. Officers were able to intercept the train within eight minutes based on the information provided in the tweet. If anything, the story showcases the power of social media, although clearly some good fortune and timing played a part.
Speaking of good fortune and timing…how about those Dodgers? They defeated the Angels 6-4 last night, making it five wins a row and eight wins in their last 10 games, giving them an eight-and-a-half game lead over their division rivals Giants in the NL West.
At this point, I think it’s safe to say they’ve clinched and it’s really all about who they’ll be playing in the Division Series. The Cubs? Nah. Mets? Don’t make me laugh. Pirates? Arrrrrr maybe. Time will tell though, in the meantime we’ll be prepping our Dodgers Stadium Express for some post-season action. And hopefully our patrons will still be smiling for baseball-related reasons come late October.
Did you knock on wood for me?
Joe is on Twitter @joseph_lem. Follow him for random insights on transit, tech, sports and living car-free.
Categories: Transportation Headlines