Of Century City, the Boring Co. and Taylor Swift: How We Roll, March 12

Dept. of Taylor Swift: 7th and Metro Center makes a cameo in her new video.

Dept. of Elon Musk: Yeah, he gets his own department on the Source. This thread is certainly interesting. Musk has been talking up the Boring Company’s plans for a system of transportation tunnels in our region. He originally focused on tunnels that would whisk around cars via big sleds. Then came this thread on Friday:

It’s very debatable how serious Musk is and whether he has or can get the money/permits to build his tunnels — let’s just say there’s some skepticism on Twitter.

On the other hand, Musk has managed to launch an electric car company and put rockets into space, neither of which are insignificant feats. Metro, as you may have heard, is also working on its own transit expansion plans and how that meshes with what Musk is talking about remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

Dept. of Transit Public Relations: Take it away, Milwaukee, the city that gave us Harley-Davidsons, Gene Wilder (still the best Willy Wonka), Laverne/Shirley and Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst and Miller, a quartet not exactly known as the Beatles of beers.

Dept. of Affordable Housing: Through Metro’s unsolicited proposals process, a proposal has been received for a development with 160 rental units — all affordable housing — at the Vermont/Santa Monica Station. Here’s a presentation. The item will be discussed in the Metro Board’s Planning Committee on Wednesday at 2 p.m.


On Century City and transit and subways…

Embed from Getty Images

Attentive readers know that development around Century City has been in the news lately. As has the recent groundbreaking for the Purple Line’s second section to downtown Beverly Hills and Century City.

Thus, I thought now would be a good time to write a little about Century City, which is not exactly freeway adjacent (both the 10 and 405 are more than a mile away). In Days of Yore there were plans to run the 2 freeway down Santa Monica Boulevard, but those plans never made it beyond Glendale Boulevard.

Thus the importance of the Purple Line Extension. The subway is a way to offer new mobility to communities that have long been developed but relied solely on surface streets for access.

The old streetcar line along Santa Monica Boulevard. This photo was taken near Canon Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Photo courtesy Alan Weeks via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

As for Century City, it’s a bit of an odd duck given that it was a studio backlot that was sold by 20th Century Fox and developed beginning in the 1960s. By the time Century City got going, the streetcar along Santa Monica Boulevard was gone. Transit plans (and transit agencies, for that matter) that included rail lines to the Westside and Century City, meanwhile, came and went from the 1960s through the 1990s.

And Century City, too, remained a bit of an island with golf course to the north and south and residential neighborhoods on the east and west. There are only three east-west through streets and not a lot of great bus options without transfers for people who have to travel any distance to reach Century City. It’s a challenging place.

Some of the the rail transit plans that went belly up over the years. Click on this to see the entire presentation by the Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

A methane gas explosion at a Ross Dress for Less store on Fairfax Avenue in 1985 –transit construction was not taking place and wasn’t involved — inspired a Congressional ban on federal funding for subway construction in what came to be called the “Methane Gas Risk Zone” in that part of the Westside. That meant a lot of rejiggering of potential  subway routes. At one point in the early 1990s the Purple Line was going to run to Pico and San Vicente (see this report for a good history).

L.A. County voters in 1998 approved a ballot measure intended to put the MTA (as it was known back then) back on track funding-wise by prohibiting any further subway tunneling outside of the Red Line project. That put the kabosh on the Westside subway, although it did give a boost to another project in the works, a light rail line to the Westside along the old streetcar right-of-way on Exposition Boulevard.

The passage of Measure R in 2008 revived funding for the Westside subway. Tunneling experts showed that excavation could be done safely in methane gas areas, ultimately eliminating the federal funding ban for tunneling. A new subway route was developed that largely followed Wilshire Boulevard to the Westwood VA Hospital, including a swing through Century City. That obviously hasn’t been controversy-free.

But here we are in 2018 and it’s happening. The subway is under construction. And although it took a very long time to get to this point — too long, for sure — I think the project that is getting built is the right one.

Dept. of Active Transporters: 

Dude likes his bike.

Dept. of Well That’s Interesting: 


Interesting in the sense that for every striking new building in L.A. there seems to be one…not quite as visually appealing.

How long will Sacramento let homeless people use the city like a toilet? (Sac Bee)

A reminder that homelessness is an issue across much of California — and answers to some of the common issues remain elusive.

“Burn the Witch!”: public enthusiasm for dragging rude youth from trains highlights gap in Metro’s Equity Platform (Streetsblog LA)

The Metro Board recently adopted an equity platform that puts equity front and center in the agency’s projects and programs. Sahra Sulaiman writes:

The approval of a new equity framework affords Metro an important opportunity to revisit the question of what it means to make riders of all stripes feel welcome on transit and to establish a new process to allow for innovation, trust-building, and accountability around safety as the system grows.

Not just because the enforcement of code of conduct violations should not end in scrums. But because all the good work put into centering the needs of lower-income riders of color will be for naught if the presence of law enforcement discourages them from riding.

This is a long post, but a thoughtful one. I know some readers won’t necessarily agree, but it’s a good discussion to have even if the subject is a difficult one.

Quasi-related: this is a great video about what happens when unpopular views are no longer tolerated. Warning: stop motion animation type violence.

Zero Vision or Vision Zero… (CityWatch)

No one is going to read this and accuse former police officer and Los Angeles Council Member Dennis Zine of being the next Hemingway. But I agree with him that making streets safer for everyone — including pedestrians and cyclists — depends on more enforcement.

Zine also predicts there will be a lot more speed tickets being issued around town now that more speed radar surveying work has been done. Whether that happens or not, slow down folks.

Dept. of Polite Tweet: 

The tweet comes from Source alum Carter Rubin. This excellent post at Curbed LA explains what goes wrong why real-time arrival data on Metro Rail is not always 100 percent correct (long story short: service disruptions can throw things off). –

Quasi-related: on the subject of random generators…a lil’ music for your Monday morning:

Art of Transportation: 

5 replies

  1. Uh, it’s not just Sacramento that’s used as a public toilet. Any open space in the LA area that’s obscured from viewing by security cameras and most passers-by is a potential urinal… including Metro stations. Last Friday afternoon, I went to board a train at Culver City, tapped and went upstairs, and found that in not just one, but both landings of the stairwell were large puddles. Whether homeless or drunk, some people just don’t care.

    Short of having any police presence or security to watch people coming through the gates, a portable toilet or two might help. It would fit right in, next to that construction site in the former parking lot.

  2. Other cities have figured out how to accurately implement real-time arrival systems. LA’s system is newer than all of those other systems (and LA is far from underfunded), so LA doesn’t really have an excuse. It’s just poor planning/execution.

  3. I REALLY hope Taylor took some antibiotics after being in contact with the floor of a train. I visibly and audibly winced at that one, being a daily Red Line rider!

  4. I agree with Carter Rubin – Metro signage is no better than a random number generator. The best thing about moving the Expo Line to Platform 1 in 7th/Metro is now I don’t have to look at those signs any more.

  5. If not already applied, the real time data system should get a rework. The time should tell be the location of the train via train traffic control and block detection. But that is just my idea.