Dept. of Free Rides on Earth Day
— Metro (@metrolosangeles) April 18, 2018
Even if you may not be a lover of transit, I do like to issue this occasional reminder: generally speaking taking transit results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions than if you chose to drive alone to wherever you’re going. That’s a nice benefit, not to mention that taking transit is a cheap way of getting around.
Art of Transit:
Things to listen to whilst transiting:
Pretty interesting Smarter Cars podcast that covers a lot of ground, including self-driving cars and Metro’s efforts to bring its own on-demand services to our county.
Probably the most interesting local transpo story of the last couple weeks.
On Wednesday, the L.A. City Council’s Public Works Committee approved an environmental study exemption for the Boring Company (owned by Musk) to build a 2.7-mile test tunnel between a private lot near the Expo Line in West L.A. running south to Culver City. The issue now goes to the full Council, which often follows the lead of committees.
From the LAT:
One concern, [USC’s Marlon Boarnet] said, is whether the test tunnel — and the eventual transportation network that Musk envisions across the county — could interfere with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plans to build a subway through the Sepulveda Pass.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Musk, Metro Chief Executive Phil Washington said state law gives the agency the authority to approve “all plans proposed for the design, construction, and implementation of public mass transit systems.”
To address those concerns, the public works committee recommended Wednesday that the Boring Co. seek approval from Metro before digging can start.
Here’s the letter from Metro, in which Phil Washington also requests a meeting with the Boring Co. to discuss the respective projects.
Metro’s Sepulveda Transit Corridor project is in the midst of a feasibility study to evaluate rail alternatives with potential connections to the Orange Line, Van Nuys to Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station BRT or light rail project, the Purple Line Extension, the Expo Line and other connections near LAX. Local funding for the project comes from Measures R and M. Metro is also pursuing the possibility of a public-private partnership to deliver the project sooner.
The Boring Company has proposed a network of tunnels under the L.A. area. The original concept in a vide posted last spring was this:
But a recent video shows the concept has evolved:
Better video coming soon, but it would look a bit like this: pic.twitter.com/C0iJPi8b4U
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 9, 2018
The Boring Co. also has an FAQ on their website that describes their aims and the project: to greatly reduce the cost of tunneling by digging narrower tunnels that can carry a “Loop” system: “Loop is a high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported on autonomous electric skates traveling at 125-150 miles per hour. Electric skates will carry between 8 and 16 passengers (mass transit), or a single passenger vehicle.”
What we don’t know is much about the overall cost of the Boring Company’s tunnel network, whether the firm has the money in hand to build it and how much it would cost to ride. The Boring Co. is privately funded; their FAQ says no public money is needed. Company spokespeople said Wednesday that a full environmental review would be done before any passenger service would begin.
There are two main layers to this story. There’s the public versus private effort to build an underground transit system — and the merits of both projects. And there are questions about environmental law and when rigorous studies should be required (here’s a Streetsblog LA post about that). I know that enviro studies can be long and frustrating, but in the case of Metro they also give the public a say in shaping projects and mitigations. Lots of interesting stuff.
Related: on the subject of the Sepulveda Transit Corridor, there’s a new survey posted for those who travel in the 405 corridor.
The L.A. City Council recently approved going forward with the $4.9-billion dollar automated people mover that will connect the LAX passenger terminals to a new transit station serving the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Green Line and numerous bus routes. And thus the headlining question Meghan McCarty Carino: are there people who will actually use the train-people mover connector to get to the airport?
The signs are, however, that most people won’t use rail to access the airport in the foreseeable future. They’ll rely on cars and bus shuttles like FlyAway operated by Los Angeles World Airports, as they’re doing now.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority planners project the share of people using rail to get to and from LAX by 2035 will be relatively small – between 1,500 and 3,000 rides a day. That amounts to just around 1 percent of the projected total trips taken to and from the airport.
These projections were made in 2014 before final plans for the Crenshaw Line and the automated people mover were in place and before passage of Measure M, a sales tax increase that will dramatically expand transit in the county. But Metro planner David Mieger said the predictions are in line with what Metro is expecting on the Green and Crenshaw Lines by 2035.
My three cents: I don’t think the percentage breakdown of the way people get to LAX will radically change, but I think it’s smart to build the rail-people mover and that people will use it because it will be cheap, relatively quick from some rail stations and be more appealing as the Metro system expands.
It’s easy to overlook that LAX supports about 50,000 jobs in the airport area, just as it’s easy to forget that the Green Line will one day be extended south to Torrance and east to the Norwalk Metrolink station and the Crenshaw/LAX Line north to a potential connection to the Red Line. The Sepulveda Transit Corridor, as mentioned above, is looking at rail options between the San Fernando Valley and LAX. These are all Measure M projects.
As Meghan makes clear in her article, getting from DTLA to LAX will require three transfers: from the Expo Line (to be renamed because the Regional Connector connects the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines) to Crenshaw/LAX Line to the people mover whereas the LAX Flyaway bus runs directly from Union Station to the terminals. I’m guessing some DTLA folks will opt for Uber/Lyft, others from airport shuttles, others the scheduled FlyAway service from Union Station and others from the six DTLA light rail stations and still others from friends/relatives who don’t mind driving to LAX.
To me, that’s a good thing. Have as many options as possible at as many price points. As a consumer, that’s what I want.