How We Roll, Halloween edition: “I can assure that this isn’t the least bit amusing”

Late night Metro Rail & BRT service tonight!: All Metro Rail lines and the Orange Line and Silver Line are running a Friday/Saturday night schedule tonight for you trick-or-treaters (especially if tricking/treating involves drinks), meaning they’ll be in service until 2 a.m. or so. All timetables are here.

Art of Transit 1 — Happy Halloween transit riders! “I can assure you this isn’t the least bit amusing…” 

Art of Transit 2: 


Art of Transit 3: 

Art of Transit 4:

Hmmm. Wonder how that worked out. Photo: AMC.

Hmmm. Wonder how that worked out. Photo: AMC.

Art of Transit 5: 

Michael Myers' place is a transit oriented serial killer crib, btw. If you don't know who Mr. Myers is and you haven't seen 'American Werewolf in London,' then I can't help you.

Michael Myers’ place is a transit oriented serial killer crib, btw. If you don’t know who Mr. Myers is and you haven’t seen ‘American Werewolf in London,’ then I can’t help you.

Photos: the best Halloween costumes on the subway (Gothamist)

Honestly, a pretty snoozeworthy batch of costumes from Gothamites — who have a whole slew of Batman villains to choose from. And, it must be said, the world really can’t have enough Catwoman costumes, IMHO.

Waking up to shorter commutes (NYT)

The NYT’s editorial board looks at why so many local areas have transportation ballot measures going before voters on Nov. 8. That includes Metro, whose Measure M sales tax ballot measure is the largest of the lot in terms of the money it could raise.

Why are so many transit agencies looking for tax increases? Because more people are moving to urban areas, there’s more traffic and federal transportation spending — especially on transit — has been stagnant or declined in recent times. Transit agencies can’t run deficits, so to build big, new projects they usually must raise some of the money themselves.

The editorial concludes with this:

In an ideal world, the federal government would be doing more to support these local initiatives by, for example, providing matching funds. This would help cities like Los Angeles and Seattle and encourage others to expand existing systems. During this campaign season, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and some congressional candidates have talked a lot about improving infrastructure. It will be up to the next president and Congress to make good on those promises.

As the editorial notes, “In 2014, only about 27 percent of the public money spent on highways, mass transit and rail came from Washington, down from a high of 35 percent in 1980, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”

That strikes me as short-sighted in age when so many Americans live in large metro areas and at a time when America keeps saying it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions but continues to produce CO2 levels per capita far above what we see in other countries.

Related: Former County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky argues Measure M is larger than the sum of its parts in a Daily News op-ed.

Measure M 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. To learn more, click here. To see a timeline of projects and programs, click here and scroll down.

Car crazy Los Angeles might have a few things to teach smug Bay Area about mass transit (LAT)

I guess whoever wrote the headline doesn’t much care for the Bay Area, even though they have a more extensive rail transit system between the BART, the San Francisco Muni, Caltrain and others.

Nonetheless, as the story rightly notes, the BART system has been around since the early 1970s and parts of it badly need to be repaired — thus a bond measure that Bay Area voters will consider on Election Day. Surprising quotes:

“I think a lot of folks in the Bay Area look with a lot of envy toward Los Angeles,” said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission. “I mean that seriously: A lot of people here wish we could find that political capital and raise that kind of money to expand the system that we have.”

“We have yet to develop the type of visionary package that L.A. County has,” said Ratna Amin, transportation policy director for the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Assn., “in part because we are nine counties in our region, and no one of them captures a majority of residents or jobs the way L.A. County has.”

Oh it’s not all roses for Metro. As reporter Ron Lin notes, Metro Rail ridership has slightly decreased over the past year. But officials predict that will change as more parts of the rail network are completed and go into service. BART, meanwhile, faces massive maintenance needs.

Bay Area voters approved building BART in 1962, long before L.A. County voters decided in 1980 to get going with the Metro Rail system. The first trains went into operation in 1972 — the Blue Line wouldn’t begin rolling between DTLA and Long Beach until July 1990. Plus, San Francisco Muni began running light rail in 1980 (they lines were previously streetcars). If the Bay Area failed at anything, it’s maintaining something they had the foresight to build long before their brethren in So Cal.



6 replies

  1. I don’t know if this is typical of any or all of the trains in the Bay area, but about 10 years ago I was visiting the San Jose region, and rode the light rail. I was impressed at that time by how relatively smooth and quiet the (above ground) rail system was. Part of this may have been due to the sound being partially dissipated by the open air (tunnels reflect sound back to the train). However, by comparison the Metro underground system (specifically, the Red Line) seems quite a bit more noisy and bumpy. In fact, at times the noise level even drowns out the very loud announcements on the loudspeaker system. Part of this, of course, is due to the higher noise level when the train is on a curve in the tracks, but even the general overall noise level on straight sections seems to be much higher than I recall it was up North. Yes, memory of such things over such a long period of time can exaggerate differences, but the difference here seemed to me, at least, to be significant. Might this be due to a different type of tracks (or track bed), or a different type of suspension system on the undercarriages? Have there ever been any SPL (sound pressure level) measurements made of either the San Jose Light Rail or the Metro Red Line (or any of the Metro underground rail lines)?

    • It’s not just the car noise that the tunnels amplify – it’s the wind produced by the trains rushing through them at high speeds. The only light rail line down here that gets fast enough to generate that much wind is the Green Line, since it doesn’t stop for any cross traffic, but of course there are no tunnels to act as echo chambers. Most of the VTA light rail up in San Jose area probably runs at the same slow speeds (except maybe the line in the middle of 85), so it would be just as quiet as the Blue, Gold, or Expo lines.

    • As Pat says, San Jose’s system is much slower than the Red Line and speed is what creates most of the noise.

  2. To add to the last paragraph. If Los Angeles and the old MTA had the foresight they would have converted the streetcars and former Pacific Electric rail car lines into Light Rail. In addition if the current MTA had someone with any guts they would unearth the former streetcar tracks and resume service on them with light rail or modern streetcars.

    • Yes, some people at the time wanted to improve rather than abandon the Red Car system. In hindsight that would have been a good idea. Leaving the Red Car system as was though was not an option. Without signal priority and some grade separation the Red Cars would be slower than the Blue line is on Washington Blvd today. In addition the Red Car system needed electrical upgrades to run at a modern frequency.

      The tracks are just small part of the system. If LA Metro wanted to re open the Red Car line on Santa Monica blvd from DTLA to Century City for instance, they would need to lay tracks, build power substations, build ADA compliant stations, build a downtown terminus, build a maintenance facility, acquire more train cars, provide bridges or underpasses for Wilshire, Rodeo, Beverly, San Vicente, La Cinega, Fairfax, Labrea, Highland, Vine, Western, Vermont, Silver Lake, and Glendale Blvds plus crossing gates for all other street crossings. Even if the political will was there, that is a massive undertaking.

      • Richard, Actually the former Pacific Electric’s running time was better than the Blue Line today running over much of the same right of way.

        Concerning track work. Much of it is still in place from both the Pacific Electric and L.A. Railway (LATL). As far as I understand the former Gold Line Yard sits empty today on the edge of Downtown Los Angeles. And I’m not even sure if many of the former P.E. power stations are in use. There is one adjacent to Sunset and Silverlake. I know it there because as a small child it scared the hell out of me walking past it because it made so much noise.

        The biggest problem with the MTA and former LACTC which built the Blue Line before the merger and then had to turn to the RTD to run it is they they design and put out contracts that do not have a high priority as to finishing them as quickly as possible. A prime example is the Blue Line. It took the LACTC three years to build the line over much of the same right of way the P.E. used to Long Beach. But the P.E. built the double track which was latter converted to four tracks in six months from Downtown L.A. to their Long Beach Fairbanks rail yard. Instead of starting at one end and working as the LACTC did, the P.E. employed multiple crews working each end and midway along the line. And they did this with primitive equipment including horses. And it was built so well one never heard of the system shut down for maintenance or down power lines.

        You easily can see the former tracks while driving down many streets in the Los Angeles area and other areas served by the P.E. and L.A. railway. Pico Bl. is a good example. Those tracks are sitting there most likely in serviceable condition until new wielded rail could replace them. What are they waiting for. As far as rail equipment, San Diego is currently replacing their oldest cars and from what I have seen are in great condition. And maybe they don’t have all the bells and whistles but why not run them using that old fashion visual operation like they do in San Francisco with the “F” line.

        I’m a former employee of the RTD/MTA. These great modern CNG buses might seem like the best thing to hit Los Angeles and the transit industry but they are not. Besides only having a twelve year life span they break down and require tow much more frequently than the old diesels we had when I was first employed in 1980. There were buses on the property that dated back to the Pacific Electric which was sold in 1953 to the Metropolitan Coach Lines. That’s bus lasting three times longer than the current fleet. Sure, they didn’t have a/c, power steering and electric fare boxes. Now if a computer goes down so does the bus. Manual fare boxes never became unable to accept fares. Yes, the bus operators had to know how to count money and had to be able to maneuver the large buses through traffic but the buses really broke down. My point is, sometimes all the bells and whistles seem grand but when one of those bells and whistles breaks down, passengers are stuck waiting for the next bus if lucky.