Claremont Metrolink Station study, NYC mayor vs subway, freeway demolitions: HWR, Jan. 16

Things to listen to whilst transiting: Good Marc Maron interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates on writing, race and his unique story. Be warned: if adult language or Marc Maron’s podcast bothers you, steer clear.

Dept. of Just Sayin’: 

Art of Transit: 

Shadow rider. Photo 📸 @jokemichaels #LoveMetroLA #GoMetro #silhouette

A post shared by Metro (@metrolosangeles) on

Claremont Metrolink station on path to stay open (SGV Trib)

 The set-up: the existing station has to be moved to make way for the Gold Line station. That costs mucho dinero for a project facing a $279 million budget shortfall at this time (state cap-and-trade funds may fill but that’s not a definite at this time). So the Metro Board asked agency staff to study possibly closing the Metrolink station, among other options.
The Metro staff response, which mirrors the overwhelming public response: keep the Metrolink station open. The staff report goes to the Metro Board’s Planning Committee on Wednesday. Stay tuned.
The answers are mostly ‘yes’ and DTLA, Westlake, Ocean Park, K-Town, NoHo, Glendale, East Hollywood, Pasadena get mentions for their transit friendliness. Many say having a bike also really helps.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio made writing this one easy for the reporter, oft-traveling in an entourage of SUVs across the city and rarely using the subway. The result:
Mr. de Blasio has made populism work for him politically, but apparently too much righteous posturing can be a strain on the middle-aged back. Within a five-minute walk of the 42nd Street Library are 13 subway lines that fan out to virtually every corner of the city. Still, Mayor de Blasio hopped into one of the S.U.V.s leaving the library — a relatively efficient hybrid model, his spokesman pointed out. “The mayor uses public transit as much as his schedule allows, and we’re always looking to use it more,” Eric Phillips, the spokesman, said.

When was the last time?

December 11, Mr. Phillips said.

The article was published Jan. 11. Nice observation by reporter that the SUVs often sit and idle while waiting for the mayor.  

Nice pics of two stations — Expo/Crenshaw (underground) and Downtown Inglewood.
A plea in the comments to accelerate the Crenshaw/LAX Line North project to make the current project “10x” more useful. The route as described in Measure M would continue north to an eventual transfer to the Red Line at the Hollywood/Highland Station. Studies still need to be done to determine a route.
Under Measure M, the northern extension has a 2047 completion date unless funding can be found to accelerate the project.
Headline sums up the story. Navigation app proponents say in theory spreading traffic out should speed things up, thusly proving that navigation app proponents must be: A) inhabiting a different planet than yours truly, or; B) perhaps collecting money from those who make navigation apps.
The problem, of course, is that pushing traffic from busy streets into residential neighborhoods doesn’t seem to help much. Many residential streets have lower speed limits (albeit those are ignored) and many stop signs. And motorists usually have to find their way back onto the larger arterials to reach their destinations.
My limited experience with Waze is that it prefers neighborhood cut-throughs and it’s often not much of a time-saver. As I’ve mentioned before, I think this is a story ripe for digging by local journalists — how routes are determined, what cities can do about it, streets impacted by more traffic, etc.

Source: Caltrans.

I totally get peoples’ frustrations with our freeway system, past and present. And I understand the very real concerns over potential health impacts to those living near freeways.
But…for better and worse, the freeways also help maintain our local economy and make it possible for people of all economic stripes get to work. And shuttering the freeways — absent an exponential increase in transit — probably just pushes traffic and pollution to other, slower roads and residential areas.
And this statement:
Another idea? Dismantling LA’s most densely populated freeways entirely, as many cities have done with much success (and without any impact on traffic).
I respectfully disagree. Most freeway stretches that have been demolished have been short — not entire networks — and some have been relocated or were parts of roads that were never completed in the first place.

20 replies

  1. For clarification: The Foothill Light Rail project requires $279M just to get to Claremont. The extra construction that will take the line all the way to the massive 1600-space Caltrans-owned parking lot at Montclair station is still missing $40M which can only come via San Bernardino County. Therefore, it is highly likely that Claremont or even Pomona(North) will be the last station on the Gold Line (or Line “A” to Long Beach by the time it opens).

    And even if the money is found to build the tracks to Montclair, no dedicated funding from SBCTA is available to pay for Light Rail operations and maintenance between Claremont and Montclair.

    Which means Claremont needs to have the ability to trains of both services stop and exchange passengers. Or keep its stop on the Metrolink tracks.

    Too many what-ifs for this project right now.

  2. The traffic impact of replacing freeways with arterial streets would probably be different in the short run versus the long run. In the short run, traffic would probably be intense. In the long run people have time to make adjustments like moving closer to work. Moves would be hindered by the lack of affordable housing near many job centers, but dismantling freeways would open up new land for building housing.

    It sounds radical, but LA was a big city even before freeways. Freeway planners haven’t reckoned with the debt we owe to those whose health is harmed by these overgrown roads.

    • Good points but I think it would take quite some time to adjust. I do think there are other options such as improving car emissions (from engines, brakes, etc), moving to cleaner technologies and managing our roads better. The freeways may not be popular but I don’t think there is political support or support from voters to close them.

      It is true that our region was very populated before the freeways. But that was before the population really exploded and car ownership really took off — and the population in distant subways increased.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • There’s a lot of truck traffic in the region which can’t be easily substituted by mass transit. LA is a huge port and import/export hub and freeways are necessary to support that.

      • Metro should join the BNSF is its efforts to get environmental approve of its Southern California International Gateway which will remove hundreds of trucks from the I-705 Long Beach Freeway.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Am I reading this right that by not shutting the Metrolink station there will be at least $40 million of additional costs? If yes, that money has to come from some other pot and presumably could be devoted to another station project (e.g. Arts District station). Metro really has to prioritize here and it doesn’t seem like sinking $40 million for 400 daily riders is a good investment.

    Thanks,
    Andrew

    • Hi Andrew;

      I think the issue is that shutting the station would save $40 million, thereby cutting the budget shortfall.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Thanks. Yes, but put another way if the station is not shut then Metro will find another $40 million some other way to build the project. And that other, yet to be determined funding source could instead be used to fund another small project, such as the Arts District station.

        • My understanding is the $279 million funding gap includes the $40 million to move the station. Whether it’s moved or not, I don’t see it impacting other projects directly.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

  4. When I first saw the headline on Curbed, I thought I was reading The Onion.

    The spread-out geography and population of LA does not compare with the Embarcadero or Central Freeway sections of SF. It worked in SF with the compactness of the city and the public generally in favor. Not a chance in LA.

    We should embrace improving all forms of transportation. Public and private cars. Don’t make it an us vs. them situation as the car will win in LA.

    I removed CurbedLA from my read list after that article last week. TheSource and Urbanize do a much better job of discussing LA transportation issues.

    • I don’t mind far-fetched scenarios or the asking of difficult — even unpopular — questions. But I do think Curbed could have gone further in explaining how this might work, what would need to happen, expected consequences and unintended ones. Again, I totally get the frustration with our freeways from a number of different angles. But I think we have to acknowledge the mobility they do provide. Our region has shorter commuting times than (for example) New York, a very transit-heavy and dense region. I suspect the freeways here may have something to do with that.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. Why is Metro prioritizing expanding east to a region that is already being serviced by Metrolink? West Los Angeles is densely populated and it is in dire need of more rail. Only the Expo Line runs west and it is very slow, 50 minutes from Santa Monica to 7th/Metro. Metro should realign their priorities to serve regions that need it the most first.

    The Crenshaw Line to the Red Line and the LAX BRT Connector should be completed before extending the Gold Line to San Bernardino. LA Metro needs to serve closer to home and not the outskirts of Los Angeles County.

    Metrolink already has an extensive network connecting San Bernardino and Riverside counties to downtown Los Angeles.

    At the very least the Gold Line should be extended to El Monte before San Bernardino.

    • I agree with your comment about priorities, as it generally doesn’t make sense that Claremont will have two train options to downtown LA, while Santa Monica has one.

      However, the way the sales tax propositions were structured included something for every region of the county. The Foothill extension is “low hanging fruit” as the mostly at-grade right-of-way simplifies construction.

      Metro needs to provide a date when the Crenshaw North route will be decided. Just getting it up to the Purple line will greatly improve ridership.

    • The gold line would be more frequent and cheaper than the Metrolink, I don’t see the problem personally

      • Hi Brian;

        One issue is that Metrolink to DTLA is faster (about 55 minutes) with fewer stops and the commuters trains are larger and have more room for passengers to do work, an important consideration for those with long commutes/rides from S.B. County. The Gold Line from Montclair is estimated to be about a 75-minute ride, so a little less from Claremont.

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

      • I am sure it would be great for you. However, resources should be prioritized to areas that will make the greatest impact as a whole. For example, reducing traffic in one of the nation’s busiest freeway systems.

  6. um, an extra 15 mins taking the far less expensive Gold Line with frequent headways instead of the far more expensive, and often UNRELIABLE and less frequent Metrolink commuter trains? Yeah, a lot of people, if not MOST, even current Metrolink commuters, would chose the Gold Line alternative, or have we forgotten the high cost of living, and that even the “affluent” suburbanites just have bigger loans and feel the squeez of high costs to everything and are always looking to save a buck: more money for a bigher loan; more money for the 401K, more money saved toward college costs for kids; more money for a fancier car to drive to Target and chain restaurants; more money for fashionalbe attire to meet unspoken “well dressed” codes (believe me, if an office is dressing better than at your last job, you feel the heat to step you your attire) at those big buildings downtown; more money to redecorate the house and big HGVT like improvements. Affluent suburbanites look for ways to save just like everybody else, but it is all RELATIVE: whilst lower imcome people face the fear of being homeless and underwater at any given moment, the consequences for the affluent will have to be to live with that old kitchen a little longer and have their kids hunt for grants and consider Cal-State instead of Ivy League. :).

  7. The difference is actually 20 minutes (75 – 55 = 20). Remember, it is only an estimate given to you by a government employee. In all probability it will be closer to 90 minutes. Not to mention Metro rail has PLENTY of delays just like Metrolink : single tracking, construction, mechanical failures, congestion, signaling issues, plain ineptitude, etc.

    If your primary concern is a financial one then please read up on Measure M. The fare each passenger pays to ride a Metro train or bus is only a fraction of the money spent to keep the system in operation. I believe the fare covers less than 20%. The remaining 80% comes from taxes.

    Measure M funding comes from increasing sales tax countywide. That means that if you live in LA county you are now paying more every time you purchase something. Metro is literally spending billions of our hard earned dollars everyday. So if you believe that extending the Gold Line to Montclair will save you money, think again.

    Financials aside, I advocate prioritizing rail service to west LA because of the soul crushing traffic. Also, virtually every major city in the world has an extensive rail network covering their most congested areas. LA Metro plans to catch up the rest of the world in 30-40 years. That is unacceptable.