How We Roll, May 18: Expo, Expo and a little non-Expo

And from the Department of Expo: For those who have asked, the new Expo timetable goes into effect on Sunday. On Friday and Saturday there will be extra trains out there to help handle the expected crowds.

Op-Ed: Has the new Expo Line been doomed to slow, mediocre service before it even opens? (LAT)

Trains are controlled by traffic signals when crossing Jefferson Boulevard near USC. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Trains are controlled by traffic signals when crossing Jefferson Boulevard near USC. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Well, that’s one way to write a provocative headline. The article looks at an issue raised last month by the LA Weekly: should trains get priority at traffic signals controlled by the city of Los Angeles? As Kerry Cavanaugh notes, this has been somewhat of an issue along the street-running segment on the eastern side of the Expo Line’s first phase.

The conclusion: officials with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Metro say that perhaps some improvements may be possible but they must strike a balance between trains, vehicle traffic and pedestrians. Excerpt:

But signal preemption in and around downtown may be difficult, if not impossible. The Expo Line merges with the Blue Line and there are intersections where trains pass through about every three minutes. Preemption would mean practically shutting down those intersections, Metro and LADOT officials said.

The Expo and Blue Line share a stretch of track where they hit traffic lights between Pico Station and the intersection of Washington/Flower. The Expo Line then continues to be controlled entirely by traffic signals through Western Avenue (and also at Crenshaw Boulevard).

Kerry says there’s one way to avoid conflicts: build transit projects in the future that are entirely separated from streets. She concludes the op-ed with:

But as L.A.’s rail system expands in an increasingly dense, traffic-clogged urban area, it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish to build lines that have to stop at red lights and share the road with cars.

The good news is that Angelenos are demanding better, faster public transit from their elected officials. As of Friday, the petition for preemption had about 1,160 signatures, and public awareness will likely increase after the extension opens next week. In years past, folks might have been content to accept red lights and long travel times because, hey, slow light rail is better than no light rail. But the bar should be higher, and fast, convenient service should be the priority — especially if voters are expected to pass another half-cent sales tax in November to build even more rail.  

Game changer? Metro Board to consider funding first/last mile improvements? (Investing in Place) 

The Metro Board is considering a strategic plan to make improvements for walkers and bikers to help them reach transit stations/stop. The plan is wonky but important. Think of it this way: the plan seeks to end the silliness of spending hundreds of millions on a transit line and then having the cities they serve ignore or have no money to help nearby residents walk and bike to stations.

As noted, the Metro Board will also consider a motion to identify potential funding for 100 such projects near transit stops. That could lead to some improvements actually getting done and not just written about.

Azusa opts for downtown bowling alley, rejecting Laemmle movie theater (SGV Tribune) 

The development is near the Downtown Azusa Gold Line station and will include residential units. Azusa’s mayor said he picked kegling over cinema because he feared that the Laemmle could rob business from a nearby movie house.

Pasadena mayor pursues ballot measure to help fight 710 completion (Star News) 

The ballot measure would ask voters to overturn a 2001 ordinance that supports completing the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena. The mayor says that would allow the city to legally fight the alternative in the ongoing SR 710 North environmental studies that proposes a freeway tunnel to fill that gap.

The draft environmental studies propose five alternatives for improving traffic in the area: freeway tunnel, light rail, bus rapid transit, traffic signal/intersection improvements and the legally-required no build option. The public comment period for the draft studies closed in summer 2015 and staff are working on analyzing and responding to comments before the issue returns to the Metro Board at a future date.

County seeks state approval on millionaires income tax for homeless programs (LAT)

With state approval, the issue could go to voters in November. The idea is to impose a new income tax on those with a million dollars or more income to help pay for more homeless programs.

Except at CicLAvia, L.A.’s streets are no work of art (Huffington Post) 

Trash on sidewalk near 103rd Street in Watts with chicken crossing road. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Trash on sidewalk near 103rd Street in Watts with chicken crossing road. Photo by Steve Hymon.

A look at the sometimes hefty amount of trash that sits and sits and sits some more on local sidewalks.

Roman barracks unearthed during Rome Metro dig (BBC)

Perhaps more exciting than a bison bone. Although the bison bone was kinda cool.

6 replies

  1. How about starting to seek fund for full grade-separation for blue and expo lines (and later the gold line). We may do it segment by segment, and the whole process may take another 30 – 50 years, but it will definitely bring real effective urban rail transportation to LA.

    • How about this simple experiment – Temporarily shut down 30th, 28th, and/or 23rd and see if it actually matters.

      I just don’t get it – if you leave Jefferson, Adams, and Washington open, aren’t there enough options? This is not that radical an idea. This happens all the time when they build freeways. It’s like when you are in neighborhoods in Westwood and you need to cross the 405 – you know you need to take either Wilshire, Ohio, or Santa Monica to get through. Most non-locals stay on the big streets, and only the locals knows that Ohio goes through.

  2. Shutting down all streets is too radical. How about experimenting by giving trains priority during rush hours and measuring the results.

  3. While I agree that it may be all but impossible to give signal preemption on the share Blue/Expo track, that is really only a short section. It seems like trains I am on hit reds on places like Watt Way (which isn’t even really an intersection) and I have only been on a few trains that ever made a green at Jefferson.

    • Shut down all streets that intersect Flower in that area except for Jefferson and Washington. Drivers will get used to it.