How We Roll, Jan. 5: 1.6 billion more reasons to be enthused about the Purple Line project

Art of Transit: 

The towers of Century City will have a front row seat to subway construction on the northeast corner of Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Boulevard. Photo by Juan Ocampo for Metro.

Next phase of the Wilshire subway receives $1.6 billion in federal funds (LAT)

USDOT announces $1.6 billion for subway to Beverly Hills, Century City (Streetsblog LA)

Feds grant $1.6 billion to PLE, which will take it to Century City and beyond (LA Magazine)

As we noted yesterday, the federal funding is being paired with $747 million from Measure R to build the second segment of the project between Wilshire/La Cienega Station and Century City station, including a downtown Beverly Hills station near Wilshire and Rodeo Drive. Booyah, in that the feds likely wouldn’t have coughed up a dime if Metro didn’t have local matching funds from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by L.A. county voters in 2008.

As the stories above note, a big challenge for Metro will be building the second section and the third section of the subway to Westwood by 2024, when the L.A. area may potentially be hosting the Summer Olympics (we’ll know this September). At yesterday’s media event, Metro CEO Phil Washington said that he wants to get the subway to Westwood by 2024 — and if not, he should be fired. It’s always fun to have a quotable boss!

As for the links above, that’s the subhed from the LA Mag story. The actual headline involves the lawsuit brought against the project’s environmental study by the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District. I don’t think that issue needs revisiting but I do think that many residents of Beverly Hills are eager for the subway to be built and will use it — hopefully by 2024!

Quasi-related cultural opinion: the Annenberg Space for Photography will be a medium stone’s throw from the Century City Station, meaning it will probably get more popular than it already is. Given the popularity of photography across the globe and the fact that we have some of the loveliest light in the world in our region, I humbly request that the current museum greatly expands and becomes the world’s foremost center on the art and science of photography.

Public transit in L.A. is growing by leaps and bounds — but where are the riders? (LA Weekly) 

A look at the latest numbers from November. Gist of it: rail is up from this November compared to Nov. 2015, but bus is not. Metro officials told Hillel Aron:

Metro reports that the agency is hard at work trying to improve the bus-riding experience. The agency is slowly adding Wi-Fi to its buses, and the entire fleet should have it in a couple of years. And Metro is taking steps to improve safety on buses, which according to surveys is the number one reason why people stop riding them.

“Enhancing safety and security is really big for our passengers,” says Metro spokesperson Pauletta Tonilas. “Safety is our number one priority at Metro.”

Metro posts its ridership numbers here — and you can slice and dice them in a number of ways — by mode, by line, by period of time.

Long Island Railroad train that crashed was going over twice the speed limit (NYT)

The train hit and went through the bumper at the end of the Atlantic Station in Brooklyn and was going 10 mph instead of the 5 mph that it should have been going when pulling into the station. The train engineer told officials that he did not remember the crash.

A similar crash happened in Hoboken last year involving a New Jersey Transit commuter train. In that case (in which one woman was killed), the engineer also did not recall the crash. His attorney later said that he had severe sleep apnea.

New York MTA officials are working toward implementing positive train control — a device that should prevent trains from these type of collisions. The commuter railroad in Southern California — Metrolink (which is partially funded by Metro) — has PTC in 341 miles of track that it owns and is working with freight railroads to get PTC on the rest of its trackage. More here.

How to predict gentrification: falling crime (NYT Upshot)

A new study finds that falling crime is a good indicator of coming gentrification. I thought this story would interest Source readers who are probably aware of the many media stories over the years warning of gentrification when transit moves into a neighborhood.

The NYT article is silent on that. But the comments from readers are really interesting and reveal something we already know: gentrification remains a deeply controversial topic, with some who defend it and others who fear its impacts on residents priced out of their long-time homes and neighborhoods.

Things to watch whilst transiting: Baby elephant for anyone who needs a pick me up.

Things to read whilst transiting: Who can resist this headline: Teenager buys local newspaper vows to hold politician dad accountable. In the Hollywood adaptation, I bet the teenager will go the microfilm room and find something deeply disturbing about good ol’ Pa. If you don’t know what microfilm is, find an Elder and ask.

Dept. of Loose Ends: I watched the remaining 100 minutes of “Captain America: Civil War” on Netflix. Only slightly better than the first 30 minutes and the whole thing seemed more a mild disagreement than a “civil war.” On the other hand, the first episode of season five of “Nashville” was a pleasant surprise and the new show runners seem intent on removing some of the soapiness that had seeped in. Nice Alison Krauss performance of “Wayfaring Stranger” is here.

For our outdoorsy readers: I recently made my first visit to the excellent Whitewater Preserve in the eastern San Bernardino Mountains. Great scenery and hiking (with access to the Pacific Crest Trail — yes, the one from “Wild”) and there were bighorn sheep on the cliffs near the parking lot. You do need a car to get there and it’s 103 long miles from Union Station via the 10 freeway. There might be a Metrolink plus Zipcar option somewhere in the Inland Empire but I’m not sure. If you can solve this one, please leave a comment. Pro tip: if you do drive, many of the retailers at the Cabazon outlet mall offer discounts to AAA card holders. First time I’ve gotten a AAA discount on relaxed fit jeans!

A female bighorn sheep at Whitewater Preserve. Photo by Steve Hymon.

3 replies

  1. Good stuff! Although I would say the single biggest reason for being enthusiastic about the line is that its fully grade separated and built for speed, something our light rail lines dont seem to get enough of. I know this is HRT but still.

    It’s good that the bus experience will get better, but a huge but seldom mentioned factor in lower ridership I would say is the frequencies. This is something metro needs to improve drastically accross the bus network. Again, nobody wants to wait a half hour at a bus stop off peak, or even 20 minutes despite being a major street. That makes it not a viable option for many and also nakes 1st/last mile(s) rail connections a hassle.