Metrolink upgrade talk, traffic tunnels, housing crisis, The Dude: HWR, March 6

Things to read whilst transiting: I’m deep into “American Heiress” by Jeffrey Toobin on the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst in 1974  by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Source readers who are Young Sprouts won’t remember any of this, but I recall watching this play out on the television.

Toobin’s excellent retelling makes the entire episode feel like a Coen brothers movie or television show (I just finished the epic second season of “Fargo.” Highly recommend.) Actually, I just googled it and there is a movie underway but not by the Coens. And it’s worth mentioning that Patricia Hearst was not a fan of the book, which was well reviewed.

Art of Transportation: 

A happy 20th birthday to one of The Source’s favorite single motorists, The Dude, who could have used a bus pass shortly after this scene. If you haven’t seen “The Big Lebowski,” I highly recommend as a way to pass a Tuesday evening.

How Elon Musk’s traffic tunnel could harm Los Angeles (Capital & Main)

The main argument is that Musk’s proposed tunnels for cars and pods would only increase the region’s dependency on cars. That sounds like a reasonable argument to make.

If the thing becomes a transit project, then the questions are how does this jibe with Metro’s efforts to increase transit, is that something that Elon Musk would even want to pursue, who pays for it and how, how much does it cost to ride and is it legal to build a transit system that is entirely privately funded and run?

Answers anyone?

Ballot measure to fund Metrolink upgrades could come in ’20 (Urbanize LA)

Transit advocates — specifically the group RailPac — are vowing to ask voters across Southern California to fund electrifying the Metrolink system and other upgrades.

The idea is too more frequent service although that will also necessitate adding tracks to separate passenger trains and freight trains. Metrolink has about 39,000 average weekday boardings (Metro had about 1.196 million average weekday boardings in January for sake of comparison) and the feeling in many quarters is that commuter rail here could increase riders given our traffic issues.

Quasi-related: Metro has a study underway looking at increased train service in the Union Station-Glendale-Burbank corridor. Here’s a brief presentation. I count about 32 trains between Union Station, Glendale and downtown Burbank (16 in each direction) currently, according to the Metrolink schedule.

Is there enough demand to support more service? Or would the demand be there if there was more service? And as Glendale booms, what to do about a Metrolink station that is 1.5 to two miles from the DT Glendale core?

Villaraigosa and Newsom want to build more houses in California than ever before. Experts see the candidates’ goal as an empty promise (LAT)

The suggestion that 3.5 million housing units can be built in California by 2025 — which has 14 million units currently — strikes some as unlikely.

But fun fact courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau: there are about 2.4 people per housing unit across the entire United States versus about 2.81 people per home in California.

DA Eric Gonzalez and NYPD: No Charges for Driver Who Killed 2 Kids in Crosswalk (Streetsblog NYC)

The DA’s office say there may have been a medical impairment and they are still investigating. Streetsblog reports the car involved has been involved in other red light running incidents.

Westside Pavilion to be repurposed as office space (Urbanize LA)

Competition from the Internet and other malls is one big issue. Future office workers can rejoice: the Expo Line’s Westwood/Rancho Park Station is a short and pleasant stroll from the pavilion.

This had made rounds over the years but still fun viewing: the dead malls of America.

Not to say all malls are dying. They just look different and typically, at least in So Cal, have an outdoors component and sometimes look like little fake cities.

Snapping together a better bus stop (Streetsblog USA)

Check out the pics. Inexpensive and easy to install platforms.

How a flight diverted by the nor’easter became a 9-hour bus ride — and left two travelers hospitalized (Washington Post)

A flight from Minneapolis to New York was diverted to Baltimore, where passengers were put on a bus to complete the ride to Gotham. It only took nine hours to go the first 40 miles.


15 replies

  1. I say lowering the fare and having electrification are the must, there is nothing other than more frequent services (as a result of electrification) and cheaper cost to ride it. Also adding double tracks along the route will result more train services.

  2. its so frustrating that Ventura won’t vote to tax themselves for more trains. leaves us with horrible service. I hate it. but its what these people want. ugh I have to move

  3. Maybe Metro shouldn’t be glorifying a Dude who drives around LA with a beer in his hand. Just saying.

    • Maybe most people who read this are pretty smart, well-informed and know it’s just a movie. Just saying.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. Steve, what are the current progress of the various Measure R and Measure M funded Metrolink projects? I thought the Van Nuys Station project should be finished this year. It seems like that part of the Metro website is a little out of date.

    • Hi John;

      The Measure M money for Metrolink projects is mostly in the future. As for the Van Nuys project, the projected completion date is late summer 2019. And you are charitable in saying “little” out of date — unless it is somehow 2014 again 🙂

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Thanks Steve! It would be nice if Metro could update that section – as a Metrolink rider, I like to know what’s going on, plus I’ve found Metro is much better at getting information about their about projects than Metrolink.


  5. Right Steve LA! No more tax increases or bond measures! For what? The money will be wasted…

  6. Westside Pavilion’s owner, Macerich, had some success a number of years ago when it redeveloped Santa Monica Place from an indoor mall to an outdoor shopping center (a design popular in northern California as well). It’s more profitable. The factor determining whether they can pull it off is if they can get more foot traffic. Pico and Westwood doesn’t seem like the most attractive location for that, even if it once was. Downtown Santa Monica already was already a tourist destination, and already had open-air shopping on Third St, so the mall redevelopment there would’ve been a sure bet. I’m sure it also helped that the Expo station was put in right next door – but the Westwood station is a bit of a walk from Pico Blvd.

    • Looks like the revamped Westside Pavilion will resemble the Sherman Oaks Galleria (movie theater, smaller retail component and restaurants combined with offices).

  7. Of course there is a potential demand out here in the Valley for more Metrolink trains. Send them up the Ventura County Line and offer more trains during the day and evening weekdays. Additionally, why not have weekend service at least out to Chatsworth? We would like to see more service (including weekends) to bring riders downtown and connect them to other regions in Southern California. Lets get more trains.

  8. As a regular metrolink rider, more service would be great, but that would be the bandaid on an operation that requires surgery.

    Metrolink relies on drivers to fuel ridership. We need to change how station areas are used and developed in order to increase demand and ridership for the severely underutilized network, LAUS notwithstanding… There’s no other Terminal station that I’ve ever been to across the world that is as poorly planned and practically isolating as Union Station.

    Develop comprehensive TOD’s around every station on Metrolink and let revenue generated from adjacent land development fund the increased service.

    Bring riders within walking distance of the train, and provide a place for them to either live or work near stations.

  9. Heck no to any further sales tax increases. Bought something in Santa Monica the other day and was flabbergasted when I saw the sales tax there is 10.25%. I thought state law had a max of 10%.

    If Metrolink needs more funds, a ticket tax or bond measure should be considered. Unlike Metro which has services throughout LA County, Metrolink has nothing south of the 101 and west of the 110.