Art of Transit:
Things to listen to whilst transiting: “The Shattering of an All-American Town” on Fresh Air. Good podcast about Lancaster, Ohio, which was once a major player in the manufacture of glass products. Then came the corporate raiders and other issues and good jobs today are scarce.
Attentive Source readers may recall that Caltrans and Metro are in the midst of the environmental studies for the SR 710 North project, with five alternatives under review to help improve traffic caused by the gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena: a freeway tunnel, light rail, bus rapid transit, street and intersection improvements and the legally-required no bid option.
Holden’s bill, AB 287, would instead create an advisory committee to choose an option from among the Caltrans and Metro studies underway and possibly new options. Pasadena officials applauded the bill while Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina told the Tribune that she felt betrayed by Holden, who she said once supported freeway completion.
Metro’s Measure R half-cent sales tax approved by L.A. County voters in 2008 does supply $750 million for the project — although that’s not nearly enough to build a multibillion tunnel. At this time, there is no other funding available.
Holden was a longtime member of the Pasadena City Council and was first elected to the Assembly in 2012. He was reelected in November and is currently serving his third and final term as he will be termed out in 2018. His district includes Pasadena and South Pasadena — both of which have opposed a prospective tunnel — but not Alhambra, which supports it.
As for the project, the draft environmental study was released in 2015 and responses are still being analyzed. Measure M did not provide any funding for the project.
Why the Vermont BRT should be rail (Urbanize LA)
In this post, Scott Frazier argues that the Measure M project to bring a bus rapid transit project to Vermont Avenue between Hollywood Boulevard and 120th Street would better serve the region as a rail line running south from the Red/Purple Line (which runs under Vermont Avenue between Wilshire and Hollywood boulevards). Steven also argues that in the Measure M process, the city of L.A. should have funded this project instead of others within city boundaries.
A trio of thoughts. One, these kind of questions about which projects to fund were largely settled in the run-up to Measure M. Two, I think bus rapid transit done right could be a boon to Vermont and get a project to a very busy bus corridor a lot sooner than rail. Three, M does supply money for a Vermont rail line, but that doesn’t begin flowing until the late 2060s. As for the streetcar money, that also doesn’t begin flowing until the late 2050s.
Steven raises another interesting point: he would like to see the city of L.A. help fund this, perhaps with money from Measure M’s local return pie. Hmm. Good luck, given the city spreads that money around. Even a short subway on Vermont would be a multibillion dollar project and going forward getting federal funding for even half of a project’s cost will likely be tough. So that’s a challenge.
All that said, this is a good post and it’s great to see our local bloggers digging into the data and kicking the tires on these things while they are still early in the planning process. Once construction begins, substantial changes to projects are rarely made.
P.S.: I’ll post more about the Vermont BRT project next week.
The project is the electrification of the Caltrain corridor in the Bay Area — a key step to allowing high speed rail trains use the Caltrain tracks to reach downtown San Francisco. As part of the Obama Administration, acting FTA Administrator Carolyn Flowers (a former Metro executive, btw) approved the grant in January and then subsequently went to work for AECOM, which won the contract.
Fourteen Republicans are asking the $647-million contract to be delayed until the California High-Speed Rail Authority can be audited. Caltrain says the grant was vetted for two years before it was awarded. It’s a fair article although nothing wrong may have occurred. But, as the LAT notes, there has been no shortage of transportation officials moving between the public and private sectors and that, as reporters like to say “raises questions” about appearances.
Here’s the full Caltrain statement. Excerpt:
The Electrification Project is an opportunity to increase the capacity of the system and transform the way Peninsula residents experience transit. Caltrain is already the mobility option of choice for over 65,000 daily riders. By connecting our communities with more service to more stations and reducing travel times, electrification will make Caltrain even more attractive, equipping the system to accommodate more riders and providing significant relief to drivers on our busy local streets and roads and our increasingly congested freeways.
Attentive Source readers know that some folks on our comment board have over the years said it would be wise to electrify the Metrolink trains to also expand capacity.
Quasi-related: from Caltrain’s Twitter account:
— Caltrain (@Caltrain) February 10, 2017
As a result, these lower-income residents have opted to move to less expensive areas of the country. In some cases, even those able to afford these expensive cities are leaving too.
Maybe one more reason for dips that we’ve seen in transit ridership around the country, including in our region.
The new rail line in Ethiopia will greatly reduce travel times. China Railways built it and, as the NYT notes, this is just one of the rail projects they’re involved with around the globe. Excerpt:
Having constructed one of the world’s most extensive and modern rail networks at home, China is taking its prodigious resources and expertise global. Chinese-built subway cars will soon appear in Chicago and Boston, Beijing is building a $5 billion high-speed rail line in Indonesia, and the Chinese government recently christened new rail freight service between London and Beijing. Another ambitious system in the works, the 2,400-mile Pan-Asia Railway Network, would link China to Laos, Thailand and Singapore.
Los Angeles, too. The Metro Board in December awarded a $178.4-million contract to China Railways to build 64 new subway cars for the Red/Purple Line with options to purchase another 218.
Man in the row behind me wants his seatmate to guess what start-up he works for, and she goes, "No thanks." ?
— Laura J. Nelson (@laura_nelson) February 10, 2017
I can’t wait for screening devices that can reveal damaged souls. Feet apart and hands in the air!
Categories: Transportation Headlines