How We Roll, Aug. 31: tough commutes, Golden State vs greenhouse gases

Yes, I know it was a tough commute on the Blue Line and Expo Line for yesterday’s p.m. commute and on the Gold Line this a.m. due to a pair of delays — from a car-train incident at the California Avenue crossing in Pasadena and later a train with mechanical issues at Heritage Square Station. Our apologies for any inconvenience and, if it helps, a big thanks to everyone for riding. We know many of you don’t have a choice and many of you do. Either way, it doesn’t matter — and we don’t take anyone’s patronage for granted. Even if you’re not into Twitter, I do encourage everyone to check our general Twitter stream for frequent service alerts and to connect to the agency and other riders and taxpayers. 

Things to read whilst transiting: How to use the internet on the summit of Mt. Everest. It’s now possible to get a 3G signal at 29,029 feet — assuming you’re not dead from exposure or lack of oxygen. In addition, the area around Everest has been extensively wired for wifi and helicopters are being used more than ever to deliver supplies to climbers — and rescue them. Daniel Oberhaus does a great job explaining how this changed the Everest experience.

Photo by Huai-Chun Hsu, via Flickr creative commons.

Photo by Huai-Chun Hsu, via Flickr creative commons.

Art of Transit: 

Adams bus Southbound on  Hill St. near 6th St.

BTW, Metro’s Transportation Library and Archives posts photos every day on their great Tumblr stream.

Los Angeles Rams cause Metro ridership to surge (Daily News) 

The agency says about 10,000 fans took the Expo Line to each of the Rams pre-season games. The Expo Line ran more frequent service for the games and will continue to do so for the regular season. Metrolink is also expected to add a few Sunday trains — more details soon.

The Rams have seven home games this season; the eighth is in London as part of the NFL’s overseas efforts. All games are scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m. or 1:25 p.m. unless the Rams play well enough to have a late season game moved into the Sunday prime-time slot.

California is about to find out what a radical climate policy looks like (Vox)

A long and excellent look at SB 32, recently approved by the state Assembly and Senate. It calls for a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 over 1990 levels — a potentially Herculean effort. Excerpt:

Add it up and scenario S3 is serious business. We’re talking about a world where California gets more than 50 percent of its electricity from renewables in 2030 (up from 25 percent today), where zero-emissions vehicles are 25 percent of the fleet by 2035 (up from about 1 percent today), where high-speed rail is displacing car travel, where biodiesel has mostly replaced diesel in heavy-duty trucks, where pastures are getting converted to forests, where electricity replaces natural gas in heating, and on and on.

Possible? Sure. Easy? Hardly. The level of effort is just orders of magnitude different from anything California has done so far.

And no one’s sure what it would cost, since it depends on how clean tech progresses and how much innovation kicks in. If costs go too high, the plan risks a massive backlash. (Note that state Democrats are already starting to fracture over the issue.)

I’d switch one phrase above. Yes, high-speed rail may displace some car travel between California cities (well, assuming the bullet train project is funded and built). But I think there are also even greater gains by expanding transit so daily commuters can more often leave their cars behind.

Of course, that takes a forest of money trees, too. And most of the trees will have to be grown by cities and/or metro areas because transit projects only get state and/or federal dollars if there are local dollars available.

Here’s the federal budget and how transpo spending compares to other categories. Keep in mind that only a small portion of those transpo funds go to new transit projects around the U.S. each year.


And here’s the $98-billion U.S. Department of Transportation budget. About $3.5 billion are funded for transit capital programs. If I’m doing my math correctly that comes to .00084 percent of the federal budget!


Border Grill in Santa Monica closing (LAObserved)

Haven’t eaten at this one in years — but used to frequent the place in the late ’90s. Weird to see some of the mainstays in SaMo closing — i.e. the Omelet Parlor on Main Street. Glad to see the Galley, Main Street Tavern, Holy Guacamole, Fritto Misto and Gilbert’s have stuck around, among others. Fritto Misto is two blocks from the Downtown Santa Monica Station on the Expo Line — it’s well worth a visit unless you don’t like high quality food in big portions at cheap prices.

Maglev train to link Baltimore and Washington gets a boost (Wall Street Journal)

Credit: Northeast Maglev.

Credit: Northeast Maglev.

Some federal dollars have been coughed up for further studies of the technology that proponents say would chop a long train ride down to 15 minutes. The only maglev in operation is in China; there is a 26-mile test track in Japan.

Will it ever happen? Maybe many, many, many, many moons from now. Also, despite highly-suspect guitar playing skills, I’ve been invited to join the E Street Band.





7 replies

  1. I found the picture of Pico / Rimpau loop loading PCC cars very interesting and informative. The loop had been remodeled after that photo in I believe 1987 but the over all design remained the same. There were three lanes in the terminal with two loading platforms. The middle lane was used by the MTA to discharge patrons from westbound Line 30 (31) buses and to load in the opposite direction eastbound Line 30 (31) buses. The Eastbound Santa Monica Blue Buses would pull into the East outside lane and Discharge their passengers while the Westbound Santa Monica Buses would board on the West outside Lane. The entire loading and discharging area was covered with a roof that protected the passengers from the elements. So a patron alighting a east bound Santa Monica bus only had to walk across the platform to board a MTA bus and those MTA passengers on westbound buses had to cross the platform to board a Santa Monica bus. Buses were parked in a simi circle beyond the platform awaiting their departure time. The terminal was never over crowded forcing buses to lay over on the street.

    This terminal was replaced by a poorly designed terminal to the immediate west. Passenger must now stand out in the sun or rain and run in some instances from the MTA discharge area to the Santa Monica loading area at the other end of the terminal. There is insufficient spaces to accommodate all the buses scheduled there and articulated buses can not maneuver nor park in the terminal. In addition if a bus breaks down the terminal is blocked when a service truck arrives in many instances.

    It was obviously recognized how poorly the new terminal was designed and built since they had most of the old terminal demolished by noon the first day the new terminal was open.

  2. Please give more information about the photo of downtown LA in the 50s. It looks like Hill St looking N from between 5th & 6th, with the ramp of the Pershing Square garage at left.

  3. Steve: Can you confirm whether the 10,000 Rams fans riding the Expo Line are actually 5,000 fans making round trips? The transit mode share mentioned in the Daily News article implies that there were actually 10,000 Rams fans making round trips on the Expo Line, which would account for 20,000 boardings.

    • I don’t know. They told us 11 to 15 percent of the fans attending the games used Expo. Attendance for two games combined was about 140K, I think.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. Too bad Rams fans won’t have the same transit options when their stadium is complete (2018?).

    As far as Metrolink service, the constituent counties still can’t figure out how to use it for something other than ‘commuting’. A very good concept 25 years ago before corporations started moving Out Of DTLA.

    Thanks for the Metro Transpo library tumblr link, wasn’t aware of it. I was hoping they’d find a more customizable venue than Flickr rather than a serial blog, oh well.

  5. It sure would be nice if Metrolink provided evening and weekend service so their riders could get home from a game at the Coliseum, Dodger Stadium or Staples Center.

  6. Nice to see the Rams fans using Metro to get to the game. Maybe Metro and the Rams can get together to offer something like a free beer or two for using Metro to increase the ridership numbers.