Project acceleration, Van Nuys-Sylmar/San Fernando BRT/light rail: HWR, Sept. 29

Dept. of Make Your Opinion Known: the public comment period for the Van Nuys to Sylmar/San Fernando bus rapid transit or light rail project has been extended through Oct. 30 and a community meeting has been added. The project (formally known as the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor) released its draft environmental study in September.

This is a chance to express your opinion about the project’s bus rapid transit and light rail alternatives. Don’t wait until a project is under construction to start filing complaints about the route, etc.!!!

Here’s the Source post that looks at the alternatives and has info about commenting and the extra meeting. This chart provides a handy overview — the route would run from the Orange Line station on Van Nuys Boulevard north, turn northwest onto San Fernando Road, and then to the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station.

Also, the San Fernando Valley Business Journal has a story about the upcoming meeting, noting that it was spurred by business owners afraid their firms would be uprooted by a potential rail maintenance yard for the project. To emphasize: no project alternative has been selected yet but folks are clearly taking a close look at the different alternatives.

Dept. of Transit-Oriented Football: 

Play begins next spring and we’re predicting LAFC soccer in its 22,000-seat stadium — which is a short walk from the Expo Line — will be immensely popular.

Art of Transit: 


Metro wants to speed up decades-long projects, including a Sepulveda Pass train, with private investments (Daily News)

A news story on yesterday’s announcement that Metro will ask firms to bid on how to use private dollars to build the Sepulveda Transit Corridor, West Santa Ana Branch Corridor (Union Station to Artesia light rail) and the ExpressLanes at lower costs and possibly sooner than in Metro’s Measure M spending plan.

Metro will review the bids and then the Metro Board will decide to go forward with any public private partnerships. At that time, we’ll have a better idea of costs and acceleration proposals.

Would congestion pricing work to reduce traffic in Los Angeles? (KPCC AirTalk)

Suddenly, congestion pricing is a sort of hot topic L.A. media. The Southern California Assn. of Governments started its 100 Hours campaign to promote the idea, the LAT editorial board subsequently took the bold stance they would consider it and now KPCC follows up.

To clarify: SCAG isn’t talking about the ExpressLanes, which charge tolls to single motorists to use the HOV lanes on parts of the 10 and 110. There are still free general lanes on those roads. Congestion pricing is talking about tolling all of certain roads or charging tolls to all motorists who enter certain parts of town.

The idea has been around for a long time and has been implemented in downtown of Stockholm and London. As one listener notes, congestion is far more spread out in L.A. than those European cities and another listener says he’s being taxed to death to pay for the roads — and isn’t exactly happy about the prospect of another tax/toll — even if that might create less congestion with the dollars going to other transpo uses.

As I wrote the other day, congestion pricing is likely going to have to climb a pretty steep hill to be implemented here or any place in the U.S. So Cal is already an expensive place to live and drive, there are equity issues and in many places I’m not sure that transit or walking/biking can serve as a viable commuting alternative for people who can’t or don’t want to pay congestion pricing fees — which will have to be significant (I think) to discourage driving.

All that said, I think the concept is sound but the political buy-in and implementation — very hard and I’m not sure we’re quite there yet. Your thoughts?

Things to read whilst transiting: Excellent profile in the NYT Magazine — and the first that I can recall — of the writer John McPhee. If you’re but a young sprout, pick up a copy of “The Control of Nature,” which includes an awesome piece on our local San Gabriel Mountains and the work it takes to keep rocks and mud from the mountains from crushing homes.

Op-ed: Why Santa Monica got rid of parking minimums downtown. And why other cities should consider following suit (LAT)

SaMo Mayor Ted Winterer explains why the city decided to stop requiring developers to build parking as part of residential developments in DTSM.

The reason in short: parking is pricey and deters developers, the space can be used better for other purposes (like more housing) and there are now plentiful quality  transpo options for residents, such as the Expo Line, Big Blue Bus and other bus service, bike share and walking. Plus, there’s already plenty of parking — it’s just not used very efficiently and often sits empty.

Can’t really argue with any of that.

None of this is to say that traffic is about to vanish into the ether in SaMo because parking requirements are changed. Downtown SaMo is still filled with ginormous garages with thousands of spaces that encourage folks to drive there.

UCLA launches bike share (Daily Bruin)

Good idea and decent prices for UCLA students, staff and faculty: $7 monthly and $60 annually. Otherwise it’s $7 per hour.

The Purple Line Extension should be opening to Westwood in the mid-2020s and I hope by that time there are crazy amounts of bus shuttles, bus lanes and bike lanes to connect the campus to the subway station at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards.

How much time was spent on the subway? MTA can now tell you (NYT)

Saying the metrics currently used are a relic from a prior century, the New York Subway plans to offer new stats on its website on train delays and travel times. The idea is to burp forth the numbers each month and the try to do better the next month.

13 replies

  1. Will the Chargers be playing at the Banc of California Stadium next year? The 22,000 seats should be more than enough to serve their fan-base.

  2. Road pricing in Oslo (Norway) has been transformational – allowing investment in tunnels for roads so that it’s nice for pedestrians at street level.

  3. With the giant New Hall Ranch project now seemingly on the way there does not seem to be any consideration of public transportation in the plans. I suppose all the planners assume everybody will just take their car and commute to all the labor centers via the Interstate 5, 405 and 210. Massive gridlock in the future! There used to be a rail ROW from Newhall to Santa Paula via Piru along Highway 126. The rail bridge over the Santa Clara river is still there rusting quietly… Shouldn’t any plan to alleviate the 405 corridor through the Sepulveda pass also include something to connect this new massive suburban sprawl on the Newhall Ranch?

  4. Addendum: Whatever rail vehicle is chosen, the one coming right into LAX should make at least 4 stops: One, underground below the revolving restaurant and ATC Tower, one midway-in up N.terminal side (arrivals), Bradley, then S.terminal side midway down, then out of LAX..A loop in other words…I suppose all subway W /escalators up TO arrivals….MH

    • You missed the boat. A very poorly designed LAX people mover was already approved a while back. Unfortunately it’s not very good and doesn’t really stop at most of the terminals.

  5. Enough with busses already !! LRT or tram is best. I even want the Orange line an LRT..After all, even the Gold line follows the old (is it ?) Southern Pacific or Santa Fe RR, N.E- bound right of way, including the beautiful old steel bridge over the Arroyo. The rail transit looks very well done and is looking very popular, as I see them go by where I live in S.Pas. I just took my first trip to Santa Monica last week (via Gold,Red,Expo).. All the interurban now in L.A. really is great. Get that Wilshire line lengthened, too. One suggestion which I’m sure you are all aware of is that it may be time to stop using colors for lines, and go to the NYC subway type of number and letter system.. I mean, you must be pretty close to running out of viable colors..! If we pick white or black or brown or yellow it could cause racial stir.. So what do we have left, Canary yellow line, Tangerine !!? Brown ? Turquoise ?? Hey ! What about Brownstone line, or, Blue Sea line (instead of Expo), Sunset line (some day), Brand/Glendale line (subway under Colorado Bl.), Jet line (right into LAX / Tom Bradley terminal). Even median running. Just no more busses..
    So, there’s my little input, my vote. Mark Harris, S.Pasadena

  6. What ever transit mode is chosen for the Van Nuys to Sylmar/San Fernando Line must be the same as the Sepulveda Pass Line to permit through operation.

    Requiring an end-to-end transfer is totally ridiculous, especially for the patrons travelling north and south of the Orange Line.

    If BRT is chosen, it should at the vey least go all the way to Ventura Blvd.

    Although expensive, my personal preference is for an elevated heavy rail line that then can be extended through the Sepulveda Pass tunnel.

  7. If Santa Monica truly wants to optimize mass transit, they should lobby for and promote Purple Line stage 4 all the way “to the sea”. Once Sepulveda line opens, Expo line west of 405 will be beyond capacity.

  8. Thanks for the reply, Steve. By “you” in my statement about high density housing I didn’t intend to mean you-Steve, but Metro and as you said the transportation/urbanist crowd (I, obviously, don’t write for a living).

    I don’t disagree that “the stick” can have its place and time, I just don’t think we’re there yet given the current mass transit infrastructure in So Cal. I, sadly, believe most people who voted for Measure M did so in the hope other people will begin to use transit so their car commute will improve (the people who will need “the stick” in the future to change).

    I’d like to see Metro partner with the drive share industry, versus seeing them as competitors, for potential solutions to the “last {10}mile problem” and I really believe selective use of parking structures should have a place in moving commuters from car to train/bus before they travel unto congested freeways and downtown areas. For example, Irwindale station would be an ideal geographic location to have a large, free parking facility to get cars off the road during commute times. There’s lots of available space and no NIMBY crowd to complain.

    • I think that’s another excellent point: anyone who wants to do congestion pricing in its purest form – tolling all lanes or a geographic area is obliged to consider whether the transit system has the capacity yet to offer a good alternative for those who won’t be driving.

      I think the transit network has come a long way, but there are obviously still holes to fill. The good news is that some very big holes will be filled in the coming years — i.e. Purple Line to Westwood, Sepulveda Transit Corridor, L.A. to Artesia (southeast county rail) and others.

      On the ride share front, Metro is preparing an RFP for a “microtransit” service that is on-demand without a fixed route. We have a good post in the works about the project that I’m eager to post — very interesting and I’m curious to hear everyone’s take on it.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  9. Steve, you fairly regularly link to academic and journalist articles advocating the use of “the stick” alone to force car driving commuters into using the mass transit infrastructure as it currently exists and I can understand Metro’s affinity with that approach. It doesn’t require any change in Metro’s preferred long terms plans. I just don’t see it happening. Voters will not stand for it, and as demonstrated by the recent “road diet” reversals, elected officials will not risk their careers angering their constituents by massively negatively impacting commute times or the cost of commuting.

    Reducing the number of cars in: downtown Pasadena, downtown LA, Westside is going to require providing mass transit alternatives that offer commute times at least equivalent to the drive times for most people. Only then can you reasonably expect voters to be ok with instituting “the stick”. Bottom line, “the carrot” has to be provided before “the stick” can be successfully employed.

    I’m my opinion though, that’s going to require a major mindset change at Metro. You can dream about a future utopia {dystopia?} where everyone lives along Metro’s central corridor routes in high-density housing projects or actually work on providing solutions to how thing actually are and solve “the last {10}mile problem”, which is (again IMO) the primary impediment to mass transit success in So Cal. And, no, multiple transfers and long-ish walks/bike rides isn’t going to work for most people heading to work; especially if they work in an office and/or have to wear business dress.

    • All excellent points, especially about the last 10-mile issue — which is very real. I personally don’t think everyone is going to live along Metro’s routes and I don’t believe I’ve ever written such — although I have certainly expressed my view that those corridors are a very good place to put new residential developments.

      One reason that I link to articles advocating use of the “stick” — there aren’t a lot of articles out there about not using the stick. Whether folks like it or not, there is certainly a popular view in transportation and urbanist circles that more tolling is a good way to manage traffic congestion.

      As I wrote, it’s my view that the kind of congestion pricing that is currently being talked about is going to be a tough sell here or anywhere. As one gentleman on KPCC said, he’s already paying a number of transportation related taxes and is not hungry for more. I don’t think that’s a minority view, although I do think some members of the public may consider a congestion pricing plan that has specific targets and outcomes and in which the money is going to very specific things.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Vista del Mar was not a Road Diet, it was a moving of free parking spaces to the west that the City thought had to be maintained on the city’s street. Now the parking spaces have been moved to the paid County lot.

      The Playa del Rey Road Diet has been modified but not removed.

      The Mar Vista Bicycle lanes, protected left-hand turns and mid-block crosswalks are still in “Pilot” phase and have not been removed.