How We Roll, May 23: bus restructuring, Eastside Gold Line, U2, Kung Fu vs Star Wars

Purple Line Extension progress: 

Good news about the street and another sign of progress for the subway extension’s first phase to Wilshire/La Cienega. I’m pondering the wisdom of mixing dialogue from ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Kung Fu’ in a single tweet. I feel like Yoda can stand on his own.

Dept. of Bike Month: 

Reminder: Bike Night is Friday night at Union Station from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. More here.

And Wired has a good article on thief-proofing your bike.

Things to listen to whilst transiting: Good Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast on season two of ‘Master of None.’ I’m two episodes in and feel like Aziz Ansari has upped its game. Not all my colleagues agree.

Things to read whilst transiting: Why Roger Moore was the best James Bond, according to NYT film critic A.O. Scott. This will be lost on Source readers who are Young Sprouts.

Dept. of Go Metro to U2: 

The Mojave Desert. Photo courtesy Steve Hymon.

Thanks everyone who took the Gold Line to the desert/Rose Bowl to see the U2 ‘Joshua Tree’ shows this weekend. How was your ride? I saw some complaints about long shuttle lines after the show — which seems to be an endemic thing at the RB.

I went to the Sunday night show. I Ubered from my home in eastern Pas to Green & Orange Grove and walked 10 minutes to a nice picnic site in

Bono elevating during “Elevation.”

Brookside Park before climbing to my seat in the bleachers. After the show, I walked back to Old Pas and at 11:55 p.m. caught a nice, crowded three-car Gold Line train back to the 91106.

So how was the show? I thought the highlight was side two of the “The Joshua Tree,” which includes a bunch of songs that U2 rarely tackles live. The band proved that those songs are as strong as the war horses on side one.

One nit: I thought they should have played “The Hands that Built America” as the song leading into “Where the Streets Have No Name.” That said, “Miss Sarajevo” was a pleasant surprise and I got another fave during the encores, “Ultraviolet.” Looking forward to the “Songs of Experience” tour next year. The new song that ended the show sounded great.

Don’t be hating on U2 in the comments, please 🙂

L.A. bus ridership continues to fall; officials now looking to overhaul the system (LAT)

A pull-no-punches look at the news that burped forth last week that Metro is beginning a three-year process to ‘reimagine and restructure’ its vast bus network. Metro is not the only large bus agency to face ridership challenges although the declines in bus ridership here have certainly been significant with an estimated loss of 20 percent of boardings between April 2014 and April 2017.

Key graphs in the LAT:

But no region is poised to invest more aggressively in transit construction than Los Angeles County, where voters recently approved a sales tax increase worth an estimated $120 billion over four decades for rail construction, bus improvements and system repairs.

High ridership on new rail lines, including a planned route through the Sepulveda Pass, will require a well-organized bus network, experts say. Buses will also continue to play an important role along busy corridors, and in neighborhoods where rail won’t be built.

Buses are still the backbone of the Metro system, accounting for about 72% of trips taken last year.

As expected, there are a lot of comments on the LAT story (as well as with our post last week). The most frequent complaint is that too many buses run too infrequently to be of much use — and they tend to be slow.

Some tweets on LAT transpo reporter Laura Nelson’s always informative stream:

Robert Garcia is the mayor of Long Beach and a member of the Metro Board of Directors.

Fasana Metro Motion Could Kill 710 North Freeway Tunnel (Streetsblog LA)

Metro board may vote to take controversial 710 tunnel proposal off the table (KPCC)

A Metro committee recommends no 710 tunnel, instead chooses street improvements (SGV Tribune)

Editorial: pull the plug on the 710 tunnel (LAT)

Should be a loooooong Metro Board meeting on Thursday, owing to the Board’s scheduled consideration of a motion to support one of the five alternatives being studied as part of the 710 North project — to improve local roads.

The alternative’s formal name is “Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management” (TSM/TDM) and includes traffic signal upgrades and synchronization, local street and intersection improvements, better connections to existing bus service and the promotion of rideshare in the area around the gap in the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena.

A recent status update on the project’s environmental studies said that a freeway tunnel would provide more mobility improvements.

The LAT editorial takes a pragmatic view, pointing to the lack of necessary funding and political support to get the tunnel built. I’m sure there will be considerable discussion of these points and more from public speakers and the Board on Thursday.

Your thoughts on this one, readers? Be kind.

The Eastside’s six billion dollar question (Urbanize LA)

The Metro Board will also consider a new ‘project definition’ for the Eastside Gold Line Extension project on Thursday.

In English that means they’ll approve of the three routes to be further studied: to South El Monte along the 60 freeway, to Whittier along (actually under) Atlantic Boulevard and Whittier Boulevard and both those routes plus a C-shaped route running between South El Monte, Atlantic and Whittier stations.

Urbanize’s Scott Frazier takes a deeper dive and is less than convinced (by which I mean he’s very skeptical) the C route would provide much benefit. For now, more study is in the works and there is a way to go before the finish line on this one with one segment to be built in the 2030s and the other in the 2050s under Measure M.

More tomorrow when I post about the Board agenda. A Metro staff report helps explain the whole thing.

Feds appprove $647 million for Caltrain electrification project (Mercury News)

The Trump Administration had initially held up funding for the project as part of its plans to withhold federal funding for projects that weren’t already being funded as part of the ‘New Starts’ program.

The Merc calls the reversal “stunning” and the project will allow Caltrain to replace diesel locomotives with electric ones. Electrifying the corridor is also necessary for future high-speed rail service planned along the line between San Jose and downtown San Francisco.

This story should resonate in our neck of the woods. Metro’s Purple Line Extension has already secured New Starts commitments for section one (to Wilshire/La Cienega) and section two (to Century City) but is in the process of trying to get the feds to commit money for section three to Westwood. The initial Trump budget outline released in March didn’t include those funds, prompting this statement from Metro.

Metro is hoping to get the subway to Westwood in time for a potential 2024 Summer Olympics. UCLA is the location of the proposed athletes village as well as some competition venues.

And another thing: LAist is reporting the Purple Line Extension could be finished a decade ahead of schedule thanks to Measure M. Yes, that’s the plan approved by the Metro Board last summer and approved by voters in November. That’s very old news, people.

Nonetheless, LAist reports: “On Friday, Metro announced that Section 3 of the extension (Century City/Constellation to Westwood/VA Hospital) will begin construction in 2018, with a planned completion of 2024.”

Actually, there was no announcement. LAist seems to be getting this news from the Daily Bruin, which seems to think something was announced Friday. Again, nothing was announced. Metro gave its contractor the ‘notice to proceed‘ on section two back in April. There is some preliminary work on section three beginning but the plan, as noted above, has always been to get to Westwood in the mid 2020s instead of the 2030s, as was the plan under Measure R.


14 replies

  1. We need more major streets to have bus lanes so busses have the right of way. I just don’t understand why L.A just does not understand that we are trying to become denser, smarter, more bikable and more dedicated to transit. It’s written is bold letters we need to stop catering and making it easier for cars before buses and trains. Busses need enhanced signals far side verses nearside stops to prevent waiting at lights and trains need to have the right away at major intersections. It’s frustrating riding the expo and blue lines and orange lines continually stopping at red lights it makes nosense. If your building trains you want people to ride give them the right of way this is rapid tranist trains should not stop at red lights we are still putting cars ahead of mass transit and it’s frustrating. If you fix that nightmare downtown at Washington and Pico where trains are bottleknecked it easily adds 20 minutes sometimes to a trip. It’s not hard other city s make this work its always L.A behind. Have major intersection automatically change to let trains in all directions go before traffic. Believe me I am one of the most dedicated advocates for transit I study it for goodness sake but Metro needs to work on time management and increasing speed and signals I mean we have some of the worst if not the worst urban planning and traffic signals patterns I have ever seen anywhere I mean I’m venting here but the train goes stops goes stops every few feet in DTLA we need to speed it up people fix the signals is so simple.

  2. The 710 tunnel probably shouldn’t get built, and TSM/TDM is probably the best alternative of the ones studied, because the other build alternatives were mass transit; transit is great for moving people, but the big problem on the 710 is trucks moving freight. The study should have looked at freight alternatives such as an Alameda Corridor North, which would get trucks off the road. In the meantime, the truck-oriented 710 south projects are moving ahead at full speed.

  3. Maybe the philosophy of the Metro revamp should be:

    1) 15 minute headways minimum on moderately traveled corridors; 10 minute or less on heavily traveled corridors
    2) for train deserts, offer a service level where only one bus transfer is needed to get to a major destination (ie Downtown LA or Century City, for example), and to get people to those destinations in an hour tops (maybe one of those two buses is a Rapid)
    3) Avoiding routings that made constant turns – like the old 576 and 56 (the 90s version along Long Beach Av between Downtown and Imperial – now Rosa Parks – station)
    4) have most corridors have two lines whenever possible – a 1-99 route into Downtown and a 100-299 route away from downtown in order to boost bus frequency and reduce headways. For example: if the old 42 between LAX and Union Station was still around, have it coupled with the 212 on La Brea until Florence or Century, then on to the LAX bus terminal. Have the 40 continue down Crenshaw to Century to La Brea/Hawthorne, then down Hawthorne to the Galleria, with an extended 212 ending in Lawndale or Manhattan Beach.

    As for Florence potentially losing service because of the 40 reroute in this scenario, a new line – “43” to use a number – between Downtown Inglewood and Union Station.

    More frequent service connecting destinations (Downtown and Hollywood) with potentially minimal need for bus purchases.

  4. Recall that in 1998 there was a ban on rail tunnels. The 710 tunnel will happen eventually; it’s too useful not to.

  5. I assumed LAist and Daily Bruin got their scoop from the Purple Line public meeting last week at SAG-AFTRA, which listed the start of Section 3 construction as 2018. That presentation’s slides should be available online.

  6. I am confused. Is a young one a “grasshopper” or a “sprout”? When does said grasshopper/sprout turn into a “whippersnapper”?

    I agree with a lack of frequency, especially in the urban areas where the bus runs hourly on the weekday evenings and weekends and rail would never be built there.

    Metro should also look at increasing bus service and/or adding service to special events for areas not accessible by train. My case in point: JPL was open to the public on the 20th and 21st. Metro service to JPL on weekends; line 268. Frequency: 1 hour. Metro could have added 30 minute intervals to line 268 plus have line 177 (which does not run on weekends) run at the same intervals. Or work with PARTS line 52 to add even more service. Needless to say, I did not go back this year and do not see me going back in the near future. Or at least until those Uber flying cars become a reality. Maybe I should just get a gyrocopter instead.

  7. I think to help out with the new bus system, Metro needs to embark on a massive survey of as many LA residents as possible to figure modern-day travel patterns. Something that incorporates Google Maps or some other API to see where residents live and where they need to get to and when. For example, asking where and when someone has work, gets groceries, goes shopping, etc. I suspect that current day travel patterns differ greatly from when the bus schedules and routes were originally devised. More people working on Saturdays, or outside of the 9-5, new residential and work centers popping up, etc.

    • BINGO!! I know many people still have the tradition 9-5 commute, but many of us don’t either.

    • Metro Research is in the process of expanding its current online survey panel, and will be conducting a massive outreach effort in mid-June. I am happy to say that the survey will cover everything in your comment other than the Google Maps interface (which is something we are looking at for future surveys). However, it will track bus/rail lines used, relevant zip codes for places you live/frequent, travel options accessible to you, etc. though.

      The survey will not be specific to current Metro Riders, and respondents will be filtered to different sets of questions depending on their travel portfolio and primary concerns. The survey will be posted here and also shared via other mediums to LA County as whole. We look forward to your feedback!

      Matthew Kridler
      Metro Research

  8. Speaking as a Bay Area native and former Caltrain rider – FINALLY! In general, public transit up there has been modernizing at a snail’s pace since the 90s.

    Also, speaking of potential Olympics venues, the opening of the NFL stadium in Inglewood has been pushed back to 2020 due to heavy winter rains delaying construction. That means you guys won’t get game day traffic right away on the upcoming Crenshaw Line.

  9. I totally agree with the thought that lack of frequency is a huge problem. I would have happily taken the bus to my last job in mid-city (on La Brea), except the bus on Magnolia (in Burbank) runs hourly, and the one on La Brea is at a 20-minute headway. That meant I had exactly one bus I could catch home, and it had to run on time, or else. Needless to say, I didn’t do that very often.

  10. Hi Steve, speaking of bus, are we having revised timetables on June 25 or around that time? Meanwhile, can’t wait to see some new driver faces on my daily rides! =)

    • I guess I’m not the only ones who read the comments. One word of caution: we can’t vouch for the accuracy of comments.

      I don’t have the revised timetables yet — I think they usually get posted about two-three weeks before the changes. I’ll keep my eyes peeled and post the links when they’re ready to go.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source