How We Roll, Dec. 20: 2nd Ave subway, rail crossings vs mapping apps, 405 project debate

Art of Transit 1: 

Art of Transit 2: 

Rail crossing warnings are sought for mapping apps (NYT)

Tired truck driver blamed for Metrolink crash (LAT)

As a result of the Metrolink crash in Oxnard in early 2015 — in which a train hit a truck that had driven on the tracks and got stuck — the National Transportation Safety Board has asked that mapping apps include more detailed info about railroad crossings. In particular, the NTSB wants the apps to add alerts for railroad crossings.


The Federal Railroad Administration has lobbied technology companies for 18 months to add alerts for grade crossings. The rail agency said it had contacted 11 technology companies, including Apple and Microsoft, to integrate its location data of grade crossings.

In this year’s lineup of GPS devices, Garmin included safety warnings for potential hazards like sharp turns and railroad crossings, the company said, although it does not use the federal rail location data.

Both Google and Apple have said they would add the alerts, but have yet to do so and there’s no firm timeline.

As for the Oxnard crash, the NTSB also found that driver fatigue likely played a factor with the driver having gotten little sleep for the previous 24 hours before the early morning collision occurred, killing the train engineer and injuring 32 passengers. The driver of the truck was not hurt, having fled the truck before the crash occurred.

2nd Avenue Subway to open Jan. 1, MTA says (NYT)

It’s the first major expansion of the subway in Gotham in 50 years, so says our friends at the New York MTA. When the whole project is eventually open, it will be 8.5 miles long and push the tracks all the way to 125th Street in Harlem, meaning there will be a subway connecting East Harlem, the Upper East Side, Midtown, Times Square and lower Manhattan.

Service begins at noon on New Year’s Day with peak hour service every six minutes. Overnight service will begin later in the month. The hope is that the new subway takes some pressure off the 4, 5 and 6 lines that pack the Upper East Siders in like the sardines that they are.

Rail yard improvements could preclude Arts District Station (Urbanize LA)

However, Metro staff says that a project to greatly improve subway turnaround times at Union Station will not preclude an Arts District station, either between 1st and 3rd streets or closer to 6th Street. It’s important to note that either of those have not been funded, environmentally cleared or approved by the Metro Board.

Obviously the stations are a hot topic with the Arts District booming and many projects either underway or proposed. There’s a community meeting at SCI-Arc about the turnback project tomorrow: please see this post for more info.

Los Angeles drivers on the 405 ask: was $1.6 billion worth it? (NYT)

And the debate continues over the project that added a northbound carpool lane between the 10 and 101, rebuilt three bridges and delivered a number of other on- and off-ramp improvements to the 405. Some motorists say the project has improved traffic — if even slightly — while others say the project didn’t make a difference. A report done for Metro after the project was completed indicated that the length of peak hours had declined and the road was safer with smoother traffic flow.

The story was prompted by the Metro Board on Dec. 1 approving a $300-million cost increase in the project. It’s worth checking out the comments by NYT readers, many of whom are Angelenos. Feel free to offer your own opinion in our comments. My three cents: I drive this stretch of road very infrequently but I think the interchanges are much safer and cause fewer tie-ups. The 405, of course, must  handle an insane number of vehicles.

Of course, it would be quite lovely to have a good traffic alternative in the area. And there hopefully will be thanks to funding from Measure R and Measure M, the sales tax increases approved by L.A. County voters in 2008 and ’16, respectively.

The Purple Line Extension will stretch to Westwood and have two stations — one at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards and the other just west of the 405 in front of the VA Hospital — and should offer a fairly short ride to Century City, Beverly Hills, the Miracle Mile, Westlake and DTLA. Measure R and the recently-approved Measure M also provide funding for a Sepulveda Pass rail tunnel with a line eventually stretching from the Orange Line in the SFV to the LAX area.

Three reasons that Uber can’t replace transit (Streetsblog) 

In short, because cars take up a lot of space, whether they are yours, Ubers or driven by a computer/robot.

President Obama bans oil drilling in large parts of Arctic and Atlantic oceans (Washington Post)

Not the Arctic or Atlantic — actually Goleta near Santa Barbara. But you get the idea. Photo by Steve Hymon.

The hundreds of millions of acres are in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the Arctic — difficult and expensive places to drill — and in a variety of places in the Atlantic between Massachusetts and Virginia. The idea is to protect environmentally sensitive areas and prevent damaging oil spills. 

The Canadian government has also announced it would shield large swaths of its Arctic area from future drilling. The new ban doesn’t impact current leases and drilling projects. 

Want to reduce your dependance on domestic/foreign oil? Try taking transit every so often. Another benefit: generally speaking, taking transit results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions than driving alone, one way to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

8 replies

  1. Concerning the extension of the Red/Purple Lines thru the Red Line Yard. Why all the studies? Most likely existing tracks used presently for storage will be used so it’s only a change in usage, not actual new construction except for a boarding platform within the MTA property. And that usage would change from maintenance facility to transit facility.Seems to me that it’s only a way to line the pockets of those involved in the study. But of course, those in leadership rolls at the MTA usually have no actual transit experience but instead rely on text book answers to most decisions.

    • Read the document posted. Land has to be bought. Old buildings demolished (may have lead and asbestos). Digging has to be done (may dig up fossils and artifacts). The state CEQA requires the report given.

      • The entire length of the project is within MTA property, no land has to be acquired. There are no old buildings within the MTA property except those which have already been upgraded. The only new digging could be adjacent to widening the the portal out of the tunnel. A simple report could be created inside the agency. The those doing the study can barrow their childrens BIG BOOK ABOUT FOSSILS if needed.

  2. Concerning these map guides for drivers. How stupid can someone be to drive aimlessly onto railroad tracks or for that matter the wrong way on a road? Last time I used a Super Shuttle van home the driver used one of these devices and took the long way which increased the travel time two fold. Those who have their eyes glued to one of these devices are a hazard and they should be banned as reading text messages are while driving. I don’t have one, I don’t need one. Has anyone heard of a road map? One can stop and note their directions to their destination. If that doesn’t work perhaps the person should not be driving since their memory skills are diminished.

    • The Arts District station? Project hasn’t been studied, funded or authorized by Metro Board. The portal widening and turnback project’s initial study needs to be approved and then a contractor hired before construction. The plan is to have the project done before the Purple Line Extension opens in 2023.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

        • The Purple Line Extension to Wilshire/La Cienega. The goal is to finish the turnback project by then so Metro can run more trains on Red Line and Purple Line.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source