How We Roll, Oct. 21: terrifying earthmunchers; traffic vs transit (again); more rail to Burbank?

Hey Dodgers 1: Follow the Sparks lead…

Hey Dodgers 2: 

The Cubs were not meant to play in the evenings. World Series games are at night. They must be stopped. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Cubs were not meant to play in the evenings. World Series games are at night. They must be stopped. Photo: Wikipedia.

If all goes as planned, the Dodger Stadium Express returns to service for Games 3 and 4 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians on Oct. 28 and 29. Game 5, if necessary, would be Oct. 30. As for the Tribe, I’m pleased to say that I had the privilege of witnessing one game in the old dump that was Municipal Stadium before it was leveled with the Indians getting a fancy new ballpark for the Indians and the Browns a new place to torture their fans.

Knowledgable Source readers know that I’m from Ohio — Cincinnati, which is better than Cleveland in every possible way. But still. I am feeling a tug of sympathy for my northeastern Ohio pals who have suffered greatly at the hands of their pro teams.

That said, we can all agree that the Dodgers must defeat the Chicago Cubs in order to save the Cubs for themselves. In days of yore, back in the 1970s and ’80s, the Cubs were sometimes good. But they were mostly an anachronism, playing all day games (usually at 1:20 p.m.) in an awesomely old (and somewhat dumpy) stadium with tickets often easy to come by. There was nothing better than taking a break from work and/or unemployment and heading to the ballpark for a matinee.

Cable television in the 1980s helped change that. WGN was on most cable systems and broadcast all Cubs games and had Harry Caray behind the microphone. So the Cubs became a national team. They had some success and heartbreak in ’84 and by the end of the decade were prepared to begin playing night games, the number of which have increased over time.

I shudder to think what a World Series win would do for Cubs, already insane ticket prices and their mystique of being lovable losers. The Red Sox were once upon a time pretty interesting but 2004 changed that, and not for the better. With that in mind, let’s revisit 1984, the last time the Cubs held a NLCS lead over a West Coast team. Remember Game 4, when the Cubs could have clinched it until a certain ex-Dodger got in the way…

And then this happened in Game 5:

And that led to this:

Good luck tomorrow, Dodger fans!

From the Dept. of Clarification: The question of cleaning seats on buses and trains came up during the reddit AMA earlier this week with Metro CEO Phil Washington — and then got some love on local blogs. To clarify our answer: Buses and trains are cleaned on a daily basis but seats are only steam-cleaned on an as-needed basis. More info here in an earlier Source post.

Art of Transit: 



Metro’s sales tax could reduce your time stuck in traffic — but not until 2057 (LAT)

Transpo reporter Laura Nelson looks at the campaign ads that you may have seen. The campaign team behind the Measure M sales tax ballot measure stands behind them, Metro officials say there are some nuances behind the numbers and an independent traffic engineer has his doubts. Excerpt:

“Transit is trying to achieve a lot of other things other than reducing the hours of delay in traffic,” [Metro’s David] Yale said. “This system will have more options.”

I plucked that quote from the story because it’s something, I think, most people would probably agree on — whether it’s campaign season or not.

Read the story; this is healthy civic conversation to have. The LAT does a nice job pulling together a lot of different threads on the age-old topic of traffic, transit and elections. As for Measure M, I can now type the following when sleeping! The ballot measure would raise the countywide sales tax by a half cent and continue the Measure R half-cent sales tax beyond its 2039 expiration date to fund a number of transit, road, pedestrian and bike projects. I highly recommend checking out the project and program timeline — click here and scroll down.

My reservations about Measure M (I’m sorry, I feel bad,  but I have them. I wish I didn’t. But I do) (Lisa Schweitzer) 

The always readable USC planning professor shares some thoughts on M after leading a roundtable discussion on the sales tax ballot measure. Lisa is still mulling her vote for a handful of reasons, including the impact of a sales tax increase on spending in the county and doubts about a Vermont Avenue bus rapid transit project (she thinks rail is more suitable).

A couple of the doubts involve some numbers/facts that do need some clarification. First, the L.A. Economic Development Corp. in a study for Metro estimated that the cost of the sales tax increase would be $24 annually per person and about $72 per household (not $24 per household as has also been erroneously reported elsewhere).

Also, as Lisa also clarifies, Measure M does not provide funding for the Gold Line to Ontario Airport. Measure M does provide funding to extend the Gold Line from Azusa to Claremont. Metro only funds projects in Los Angeles County (we’re a county agency) and any Gold Line extension beyond Claremont would require funding from San Bernardino County.

The BRT on Vermont is an interesting discussion. Under Measure M, the project “Adds a 12.5-mile high capacity bus rapid transit corridor from Hollywood Bl to 120th St. The project could be converted to a rail service at a later date if ridership demand outgrows the bus rapid service capacity,” according to Metro. The project has an opening date of 2028-30.

Lisa says that the segment between Wilshire Boulevard and the Expo Line — and perhaps south — should be rail based on the heavy ridership and density in that corridor. This is a long conversation that goes back many years as rail on Vermont has been discussed often over the years (the Red Line runs under Vermont between Wilshire and Hollywood Boulevard). Lisa writes:

So LRT is absolutely vital and the best and worth every penny when it comes to voter-rich suburbs, but BRT is a “viable improvement” in the actual urban core of the region.

Where to put rail, I think, has been certainly been one of the biggest sources of tension in transpo planning and funding discussions in our county over the decades. In days of yore — i.e. the streetcar era — rail was everywhere.

In the modern era — beginning with the Blue Line opening in 1990 — I think it’s fair to say that there are folks who argue that rail should be built first in the urban core of our county, and we have folks who argue that in a county of our size, the benefits of rail need to be spread out in fairness to the taxpayers across the county contributing to ballot measures.

It’s a tough debate and both sides make good arguments, I think. The other point worth considering: our region really hasn’t tried to put a BRT line on surface streets yet. The Orange Line mostly has its own right-of-way in the San Fernando Valley and the Silver Line relies mostly on ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 and regular traffic lanes through DTLA. My own three cents is that I think BRT has a lot of potential but it really comes down to how it’s designed and the degree to which we’re willing to sacrifice either parking or traffic lanes to speed up buses.

Metro’s pictures of subway tunnler are both terrifying and beautiful (Curbed LA) 

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

First, thank you! Second, I wasn’t really going for terrifying — but standing there yesterday I realized it’s pretty cool and crazy to be looking down the barrel of a 400-foot-plus-long earthmunching machine.

It was also amazing to see the scale of the whole operation in one of these underground station boxes. We certainly get our share of questions along the lines of “why does it take so long to build such-and-such project?” Well, when you see how big the pit is, and the amount of earth that has to be moved, and the support system to hold up the walls, and the relocated utilities hanging from the ceiling, and the amount of concrete to be poured, the project timelines make a lot more sense.

It has been a busy year with the rail extension openings and the ballot measure and such. Once we get past Election Day, I’ll do a better job of getting my butt and my Nikon to the construction sites of our three ongoing rail projects to try to tell the construction story a lot better.

Metro looks to improve rail service between DTLA and Burbank (Urbanize LA)

To print or download the above report, click here.

Attentive Source readers know it’s usually best not to get your pantaloons too puffy over a Board-ordered study, but this one is certainly intriguing.

The gist of it: once upon a time (the mid-1990s) there was an environmental study completed by Metro to build a light rail line between Union Station in DTLA and Burbank. Attentive Source readers also know that was an idea that never quite made the leap to reality but the LAUS-to-Burbank corridor is certainly served by Metrolink, the commuter rail line that is partially funded by Metro (with four other counties picking up the rest of the tab).

Metro owns some additional right-of-way in this corridor although that may be needed in the future by Metrolink and/or the state’s high-speed rail project. As a result, the study calls for adding stations and rail service between LAUS and Burbank and leaves things open-ended as to exactly what could be done. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for the study when it’s completed and share it here.

The report/motion will be considered by the full Metro Board at their meeting next Thursday.

Your thoughts? I know you have them! 🙂

11 replies

  1. I’m really excited about more rail service and more stations being added in the city of Glendale. What a relief this would be for many passengers!

  2. What’s that sound I hear?
    It’s the Rotund Opera Lady singing “BIRRIA for Dinner!” in Chavez Ravine ….

  3. Let’s not forget that LA to Burbank is an active Amtrak and freight rail corridor — freight service exists on the Coast Line, as well as the Antelope Line; Amtrak corridor and long-distance trains use the Coast Line. I think it’s great to have more commuter rail service, but let’s not throw out the freight and Amtrak for catenary.

  4. I have long wanted a sort of Metrolink plus service, operated by Metro, running EMUs or DMUs on tracks owned by Metro, but that could also be used by Metrolink and amtrak trains. Such services might run every 15 minutes from Chatsworth to Claremont, and from Santa Clarita to Norwalk, stopping every one to two miles. Please suggest this concept to Metro planners if you can.

    • Yes, two lines that offer medium frequencies with medium stop spacing. Could you also imagine the green line gap closed and a connection to the future Santa Ana Branch Line…This type of Metrolink+ service (operated by Metro?) could run so well with many more connections. 15 mins headways would make transferring between the two lines and other services possible with a missed connection or not. Transfers could occur between the two lines at most stations in Burbank, Glendale, or LA- Union Station. When new run-through tracks at Union are constructed and land use around stations gets developed these two “super lines” could work more seamlessly with the existing and future Measure M system.

      Perhaps a Burbank Airport to Union Station as a starter line with early extensions south to Norwalk and north to at least Pacoima or Sylmar.

    • Definitely DMU service. Please don’t force everyone onto double decker trains. They could just build small platforms at each new station, similar to the Sprinter platforms. Metrolink trains would not have to stop at the new stations, but if they did only 1-2 cars would need to access those platforms.

  5. I’m rather amused by the discussion on BRT vs rail on Vermont. I remember very well the V streetcar line on Vermont from Monroe St (LA City College) to Vernon Ave, as well as its replacement on 3/31/63, the 95 bus line.

  6. When making a study to determine the best combination of routes, rail, and bus services, there are many more considerations than just population density. One of these is how many people need to regularly get from one place to another. This is mainly determined by which areas are primarily residential and which areas are primarily commercial/industrial. People have to get to work, and the commuter routes should have considerable weight in the decisions. And, it is more complex than that. In time, parts of the commercial/industrial areas and parts of the residential areas change, for many reasons. An important factor is the cost-per-square-foot of the properties in a specific area. And, what changes in products and services are expected for what reasons. Things that did not even make it into the equations just a few years ago are now scale-tipping. When any one product becomes widely used, the whole infrastructure changes. A common example is cellphones, which now affect where people work, live, and where they go, when. A reasonable study will have to take into consideration several factors that have not been considered in the past.

  7. Great! This is long overdue. Both cities have high employment and residential density. Glendale is in a building boom with hundreds of new residences in the downtown core with easy access to a potential station on Broadway. The workers in the many tall office towers on Brand and Central would also be users of new Glendale stations potentially going on Broadway and/or Doran.

  8. The 1992 Burbank LRT study puts a station on the north side of their airport, which is actually pretty close to the new terminal they’ve proposed and will put up for vote next month. I’m guessing the board might reevaluate the location or design of some of the other stops based on how things have changed in the last 24 years. The one at the 134 would be able to connect with your Pasadena/Noho express bus, for example.