Arts District Station update, smog, bears vs cars; HWR, Nov. 16

Art of Transportation: 

I wrote about this issue in 2001 in the Sierra parks and things don’t seem to be getting much better. Geesh.

Metro CEO says no Arts District Station unless ‘manna falls from heaven’ (Downtown News)

At the Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum this week, Metro CEO Phil Washington said: “We don’t argue that a station would be a good idea in the Arts District. The question is, how do you pay for it? Because it’s not in anybody’s budget. So unless manna falls from heaven,” and he paused to look up, drawing laughs, “that’s the challenge that we have.”

The station’s location would likely be in the the Red/Purple Line yards between the Arts District and the L.A. River. It has been talked about over the years but has never been funded as part of a ballot measure and has never gotten far enough so that other funding could be secured.

Metro is working on another project involving the subway yards that will allow Red/Purple Line trains to turn around more quickly at Union Station. The project will also make it possible to run more frequent trains on the subway. Metro has said it is designing the project not to preclude an Arts District station.

There are, of course, other ways to fund public infrastructure. So perhaps there’s another way to get money for an Arts District Station for the Red/Purple Line. Stay tuned. Of course, on another front the Artesia to Union Station light rail project — funded by Measures R and M — may run through the Arts District although would require a transfer to either light rail or subway at Union Station to get to the heart of DTLA. See this post.

Dept. of We Don’t Do This: 

Southern California smog worsens for second straight year despite reduced emissions (LAT)

Air pollution officials are citing hot weather as the primary culprit. But please. Weather’s gonna happen in the same way the haters gonna hate. The real problem is we haven’t lowered our emissions enough from transportation and industry.

In other air pollution news…

Dept. of Point/Counterpoint: 

The excerpt in the tweet is from a New Geography article about Metro’s ridership losses. Our ridership data is here, btw. As I have written in the past, the numbers are certainly fair game for public scrutiny and there are efforts underway to improve the system, expand it and — in particular — restructure the Metro bus system to make it more relevant.

What the car did and might do (NYT Magazine)

Last Sunday’s issue was devoted to articles about self-driving cars (the links to the different articles are at the bottom of the story linked to above).

The two big takeaways: 1) do not underestimate how many companies are striving to make self-driving cars the next big thing, and; 2) there continues to be many reasons to be skeptical about the time it will take for totally self-driving cars to be common.

Another story has this illuminating paragraph that spells out the dramatic impact of reducing labor costs for Uber, Lyft and company:

A 2017 report by Tasha Keeney, an analyst with ARK Invest, told the story in four numbers. A rider’s “all-in cost per mile” for average United States taxi services was about $3.50. For a human-driven Uber in San Francisco, that number was about $2.86. Assuming the same fuel price, the figure for personal cars is much lower, at around 70 cents. The estimate for self-driving taxi services, circa 2020, would cut that cost in half.

Dept. of Congress: The tax bill approved today by the House of Representatives is more bad than good for the agency, so says Metro’s government relations staff while reporting to the Metro Board’s Executive Management Committee this morning. The House bill impacts bond expenses (Metro borrows through bonds) and also would reduce commuter tax benefits. The U.S. Senate is considering their own version of the bill.


8 replies

  1. My issue with this is that Phil’s saying this while we’re spending money on a streetcar that won’t be nearly the catalyst a Red Line station in the Arts District would have.

  2. Really too bad if the Arts District Station cannot be built. It is relatively low cost and the tracks are already there. This should have been part of Measure M along with getting the Purple Line to Bundy from its current awkward and hard to reach terminus at the VA up against the 405 Freeway.

    • @Matt to Bundy??? no one like ever mentioned before Measure M was even thought of abd created bout that………

      • Without a park/ride lot, the VA is an illogical terminus for the Purple Line. If not Santa Monica, then Bundy, Barrington or San Vicente/Montana would make more sense.

  3. I am truly saddened that this could not work safely. In my opinion, this is more important than and extension to Claremont or even converting the Orange line to rail. The Arts District is somewhat deserving, and the fact that most rail essentially bypasses it, yet there is all types of old rail infrastructure there. Another blunder from a previous generation that WE are dealing with unfortunately.

    Metro’s ability to tie in short spurs should be a priority however. Vermont South, Arts District, and, well, a few of my personal pet projects (transit nerd here so I wish). : )

    WSA up Alameda could supplement, however, Arts District Station to me feels like a no brainer but surveys are surveys and if the math don’t work, the math don’t work.

    That headline is a kick in the teeth!

    • I feel like if Metro put forth what the estimated cost would be for the Arts District station conversion from the turnaround tracks, there would be a very high possibility of a Public-Private Partnership to be had with the developers in the area. A heavy rail station right near their new building would make their new developments much more attractive and, if they started getting the money together now, could be completed around the same time their buildings open (or shortly afterward). Plus, there would certainly be a return on this investment if they’re able to spread it out amongst the various stakeholders in the area. This almost seems like a case where Metro should be actively courting the private sector for the investment, rather than waiting for the private sector to come to them.

  4. Are there any technical barriers to extending the Red Line to the Arts District and beyond to form the connection for the new Santa Ana branch? This could possibly save some ROW acquisitions in the area and or tunnel costs. I’ve always wondered how LAUS would be able to accommodate yet another above-ground light rail platform (or additional trains on the same platform) considering how impacted the existing ones are already.