How We Roll, June 27: it’s going to be a balloty autumn

It’s now 11 a.m. In case you’ve exhausted your “Game of Thrones” reading for the day….

Dept. of Reminders: bus and rail service changes went into effect yesterday. Here’s the list.

Dept. of Requests: We’re looking for a few Owl Bus riders who want to share their experiences on a podcast. If interested, please drop us an email.

Art of Transit 1: 

Decking work for the Wilshire/La Brea subway station continued for the third consecutive weekend. Above, an excavator and dump truck loading out asphalt and concrete layers along Wilshire. There will be no work this coming weekend due to the Fourth of July holiday. Photo: Metro.

Decking work for the Wilshire/La Brea subway station continued for the third consecutive weekend. Above, an excavator and dump truck loading out asphalt and concrete layers along Wilshire. There will be no work this coming weekend due to the Fourth of July holiday. Photo: Metro.

Art of Transit 2: 


SANDAG Tax Measure Commits To Early ‘Priority’ Projects (KPBS)

Board approves ST3 plan for November ballot (Sound Transit)

EnVision Silicon Valley (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority)

November 8 is going to be a big day for transit and transportation on the Pacific Rim. As you probably heard, the Metro Board last week put a sales tax measure on the ballot in Los Angeles County to fund dozens of projects and programs.

But we’re hardly alone. Also last Thursday, the board of Sound Transit in the Greater Seattle area put a measure that would increase the local sales tax, property tax and car tax by $200 annually for the average adult in order to build 62 miles of new light in addition to rail and bus and commuter rail projects by 2041.

In San Diego, the half-cent sales tax would fund “more frequent trolley service, several freeway expansions and a new trolley line that would run from the San Ysidro border crossing to Kearny Mesa, branded the Purple Line.”

In the San Francisco Bay Area, a bond measure is going to the ballot to fund $3.5 billion in repairs for the regional heavy rail system that connects San Francisco to the S.F. Peninsula and the East Bay. From BART’s press release:

“BART’s plan is to dedicate funds from the bond measure solely to fixing what we have first – without earmarks, pet projects, or frills.  Estimates show the bond will cost Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco county homeowners less than a pack of gum a week – an investment that will show enormous returns in terms of improved safety, reliability, and decreased traffic.”

And in Santa Clara County — i.e. San Jose and Silicon Valley — a half-cent, 30-year sales tax measure would fund a long-sought BART expansion to Santa Clara and San Jose, as well as bus and highway improvements.

Here’s the full list of transportation measures from the Center for Transportation Excellence. I would try to make some kind of Game of Thrones joke here, except I’ve never really watched it. I prefer “Silicon Valley,” which btw had an excellent season finale last night that I paired with Sam Adam’s surprisingly tasty Summer Ale.


American drivers regain appetite for gas guzzlers (NYT)


The top of the story:

“The single most effective action that most Americans can take to help reduce the dangerous emissions that cause climate change? Buy a more fuel-efficient car. But consumers are heading in the opposite direction…So far this year, nearly 75 percent of the people who have traded in a hybrid or electric car to a dealer have replaced it with an all-gas car, an 18 percent jump from 2015, according to, a car shopping and research site.”

The problem is gas prices. They’ve gone down and in many parts of the U.S. are hovering just over $2 a gallon. The other problem, as the top chart shows, is that Americans are driving more than ever. As the USDOT put it in a recent news release:

“New data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that U.S. driving reached 746 billion miles in the first three months of 2016, beating the previous record of 720.1 billion miles set last year. For a sense of scale, 746 billion miles is roughly 286.9 times as far as the International Space Station (ISS) has traveled since it began orbiting in 1998. In fact, Americans drive twice as far on any given day before noon as the ISS has ever flown.”

What remains to be seen is how the new fuel economy standards that are supposed to be in place in 2025 impact things. At present, the current average fuel economy average for American cars and light trucks is 25.4 mpg. That’s supposed to rise to 54 mpg in just nine years.

That means that cars/light trucks are either going to have to get a lot smaller, lighter or more electric and hybrid. As the NYT says, there’s hope the electric-powered Tesla 3 and next Chevy Bolt — with expanded range — help turn the tide. But we’ll see.

In the meantime, generally speaking taking transit rather than driving alone is usually a good way to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. And how’s transit doing ridership-wise? In the first quarter of 2016, ridership was up .35 percent in the U.S. over the same time period in 2015.

BTW, a new study says that air pollution is responsible for 6.5 million deaths around the world each year.

Chinese developer teams up on big NoHo mixed-use project (LAT)

The Metro Board last week approved negotiating a deal with Trammell Crowe and Greenland USA, which is a subsidiary of a Shanghai Company also building the Metropolis project next to Staples Center and LA Live. One proposal involves 1,500 new residential units on the 16-acre sites, but Metro needs to work with the community to see what’s practical.

Which leads to the last quote of the story from a local who is concerned that not enough people will take transit (NoHo serves as the terminus for both the Orange Line and Red Line) and that traffic will grow worse.