How We Roll, August 12: may the force be with us and how to avoid traffic jams

Art of Transit: 


Art of Transit 2: 

Credit: Disney.

Credit: Disney.

May the Force Be With Metro and someday maybe a Star Wars movie can be filmed in our subway.


Court ruling on Purple Line in Maryland could set back construction (Washington Post) 

Court: don’t spend billions on outdated ridership forecasts (Streetsblog LA)

The ruling happened last week. The gist of it: a federal judge threw out the ‘record of decision’ on a light rail line (the Purple Line) that the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is trying to build. The judge’s beef: the ridership projections were from 2009 and may be too optimistic given downward ridership trends in the D.C. area.

Although it involves a very different set of issues, there is this weird coincidence: Metro and the FTA have been sued by the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District over the environmental document for our Purple Line Extension subway project. The particular issue involves seismic studies in the Century City area that were used to justify the subway being routed under a part of the Beverly Hills High School campus. A final ruling in the case has yet to be issued; Metro earlier won in state court.

Obviously, the sooner the case is resolved, the easier it will be for Metro to move forward and get the project fully funded and built. Which would be nice given that Westside traffic isn’t getting any better last time that we checked.

Streetsblog LA looks at the lawsuit involving the Maryland light rail line and takes a different tack that is worth noting: if rail ridership projections are expected to be more current accurate, what about traffic projections used to justify spending on road projects? Excerpt:

Around the nation, state departments of transportation have routinely overestimated the growth of automobile traffic and used these exaggerated projections to justify billions of dollars of new roads. The State Smart Transportation Institute analyzed an aggregation of state traffic forecasts prepared annually by the USDOT. SSTI’s analysis showed that 20-year projections overestimated future traffic volumes in every single year states’ reports could be compared against data on actual miles driven by Americans.

I think that’s a smart point. Of course, the difficulty here is that the vast majority of Americans continue to drive, not just to work but to many other places. And after a few years of a decline in driving, Americans are back on the road in force.

So Cal hit with worst smog in years (LAT)


Ozone, the lung-searing gas in smog that triggers asthma and other health problems, has exceeded federal standards on 91 days so far this year compared to 67 days over the same period last year, according to South Coast Air Quality Management District data through Monday.

No bueno. Interesting, too, because this summer thus far doesn’t seem as hot in my neck of the woods in the SGV as last summer, which was brutal.

What’s the problem? Regulators say a stubborn inversion layer that has trapped smog — not so much increased emissions — and smoke from wildfires.

Driving tips: how you can help avoid traffic jams (NYT)

Avoid excessive brake tapping and learn how to zipper merge at lane closures. See above.

Why is train seat fabric so ugly? (BBC)


No matter how many subway lines, buses, trams, trains, and other public conveyances we ride, we are rarely left with a positive impression of the upholstery. (We typically leave an impression on the upholstery itself, so we suppose that’s fair.) As sure as roses are red and violets blue, transport fabric is a multihued graphic abomination, possibly crawling with pathogens.

Probably more than you want to know about such fabrics. I hear similar gripes from time to time, but for the record I have no beef with the fabric on Metro trains and buses and actually think it looks nice.


1 reply

  1. I went to my niece’s birthday party at a Pump It Up few years back and the carpet is the same pattern as the seats on the older Metro cars.