Good morning everyone! If you happen to be in Cocoon Coffee in Mason, Ohio, this morning swing by my table and say hello. Attentive Source readers know that I am dry-
docked in the Cincinnati-area every so often due to Parental Health Problems. I try my best to carry on my Metro duties, albeit as a telecommuter.
I was just chatting with a very nice bloke at the next table who lived for a time in So Cal and was griping about the traffic in LaLa Land. The funny thing, of course: Cincy folks drive everywhere! Many ‘burbs have little to no transit, sidewalks are often missing, six- or eight-lane wide arterial roads are routine and legions of farm fields are now strip mall parking lots.
So just stop the L.A. bashing, People of Cincy. And this: I was served a plate of Mexican food last night that could have only originated at a local dog park. Yes, that bad. 🤮
LAX People Mover update
Los Angeles World Airports is finalizing a deal that would build the people mover as a public-private partnership; the goal is to complete it by 2023. As it happens, Metro is also pursuing P3s as a way to possibly accelerate some of its projects.
The people mover will have three stations serving airport terminals and a station at Aviation/96th Street, where riders can transfer to/from the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line, as well as bus lines. Metro will be building the Aviation/96th Station. Here’s a rendering:
Art of Transit: I’ve been running around the past few weeks taking pics of 25-year full-timers at Metro (the agency turns 25 this year). Below are a trio of pics. See them all in this video.
Metro Board to vote on $6 billion lower 710 freeway widening (Streetsblog LA)
Cargo containers on a ship at the Port of L.A. Much of the freight in the ports ends up trucks and many of the trucks end up on the 710. Photo by Joey Zanotti, via Flickr creative commons.
First things first — and with an eye on the Curbed LA headline: nothing has been decided on the 710 Corridor Project. The full Metro Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on March 1 whether to make alternative 5C — which includes a widening of the freeway between Long Beach and the 60 freeway — the “preferred alternative” for the project.
Two Metro Board Committees heard testimony on the item. Neither voted. They sent the item to the full Board without a recommendation and some doubts were aired. Supervisor Janice Hahn also introduced a motion that would significantly change 5C by adding a lane for zero emission vehicles. Public testimony ran strongly against the proposal. To wit:
"This is not the kind of response that happened when the folks up in South Pasadena had questions about freeway development – a radically different neighborhood," said Long Beach resident Leanne Noble. "Our neighborhoods also have the right to stability and to health."
— Laura J. Nelson (@laura_nelson) February 14, 2018
The nut of this debate: the 710 was not built to handle the traffic it’s carrying, including the increase in trucks from the ports. No one — at least at this time — can force all that freight onto trains, even though there’s capacity to spare (for now). New rail yards are for their own reasons also controversial. The public is asking questions about whether freeway widenings help with traffic congestion — or just attract more traffic and increase emissions. One goal of this project is to try to separate trucks from cars to increase safety and decrease accidents that tie up traffic. Another goal is to invest $100 million into putting low-emission trucks on the road.
It’s a tough piece of public policy. On the northern end of the 710 — where there is a four mile gap in the freeway — the Metro Board voted last year to stop pursuing a freeway expansion and instead invest money in local road and transit improvements. The environmental studies for the 710 south project have been underway since 2008. We’ll see what happens on March 1, 2018.
Metro discovers a better West Santa Ana branch (Red Line Reader)
Scott Frazier offers another thoughtful take on a Metro rail project in the works. This time it’s the Artesia-to-DTLA light rail line.
Earlier planning efforts focused on Union Station as the northern end of the line. But Metro staff this month are asking the agency’s Board to approve new options for further study that would end the line in the heart of DTLA or a new Arts District station.
Scott’s take, first on Union Station as a terminus:
Shoved in the armpit of two concrete rivers, nestled next to the largest prison complex in the entire country, Union Station will never be anything but a place to make transfers. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that transferring at the station is also fraught.
And his take on the possibility of the line running to the DTLA core:
With respect to those connections, the Downtown Transit Core 1 alternative hits all the must-haves. It connects to the Blue Line, to the subway at Pershing Square, and to the Regional Connector at Flower. It also would spread the congestion currently concentrated at 7th/Metro across three stations, helping to assure the long time stability of the downtown area transit network.
And Scott pointing the barrel of his laptop at the Metro Mothership:
This isn’t a common occurrence in Metro’s history. As planning progresses across the county, many lines (Van Nuys, Whittier, Crenshaw) are under constant threat of degrading into boondoggles hamstrung by failures to think far enough ahead. In this instance, Metro has admirably taken community feedback and turned it into an opportunity to improve a major capital project. All that remains to be seen is whether they can follow through.
One thing I’ll add about the two routes to the DTLA core. They seemingly would get southeast L.A. County residents to the DTLA job center more quickly and could also be an east-west transit solution to connect the DTLA core to the Arts/Industrial districts. We’ll see what the Metro studies find.
New truck bodies outfitted with old engines don’t have to meet the same lower emission levels as new trucks.
Proponents say the less-expensive trucks keep smaller trucking outfits competitive and preserve jobs. Opponents — including some in the trucking industry — say it’s a loophole based on shoddy science and political donations.
Bottom line: the loophole for worse or better isn’t helping air quality or public health.
“Despite a turbulent year for the ride-hailing company, sales were $7.5 billion. But the company also posted a substantial loss of $4.5 billion. There are few historical precedents for the scale of its loss.”
Some of the loss involved legal expenses and other financial moves. But still. There’s no doubt the product is popular, but the question must be asked: at what point do the Ubers of the world have to raise their prices?
This is exactly why Uber and other ride-sharers are pursuing self-driving cars. Cutting the cost of drivers might help with profitability, although I have to wonder about the costs involved in acquiring and maintaining a giant fleet of robot cars. In the meantime, the Ubers of the world know that keeping fares low is popular and allows them to undercut traditional taxis.
How much are these guys hurting transit ridership? Hard to say but I think it’s among the reasons that ridership has dipped across the U.S. (and at Metro). Of course, ride sharing can’t alone be blamed for ridership: there has been much attention lately on the UCLA study that found that car ownership in our region has surged, especially among lower-income residents who formerly took transit.
Categories: Transportation Headlines