Congestion pricing study, transit vs public restrooms, Orange Line project: HWR, March 28

As many of you likely know, the Metro Board of Directors in February approved launching a feasibility study of congestion relief pricing, which is the use of tolls to manage traffic. That study will take up to 24 months to complete and will identify places where fees could be tested.

In 2017, the Southern California Assn. of Governments began studying congestion pricing. The organization — which is the regional transportation planning agency for six counties in Southern California — on Thursday released their own feasibility study on the subject.

You may be wondering: what gives?

Our agency is working with SCAG and will use their research as a starting point for Metro’s feasibility study. The important point here: the Metro feasibility study will be the one that determines what is done on a pilot basis for congestion relief pricing in Los Angeles County.

To repeat: At the end of the day, Metro and its Board of Directors will decide how and where congestion relief pricing is tested in our county. The other counties that are members of SCAG — Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura — may decide to draw on SCAG’s work and develop their own congestion pricing programs, too. But it’s up to those counties to decide.

Various media are covering the SCAG study. Here’s a link to a good article in the LAT.

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Dept. of Dodger Stadium Express: all the info on the free bus from Union Station and Harbor Gateway to the ballpark.

Dept. of Baseball Predictions: Dodgers vs Cincinnati Reds/Yasael Puig in the NLDS, anyone?

In the news…

•The Daily News attended a recent public meeting for the Orange Line Improvements Project, which seeks to install up to 35 railroad-style gates where the busway crosses streets in the San Fernando Valley. How long will cars wait? Metro officials said drivers typically wait 35 seconds or less when an Orange Line bus is crossing a street now. With the gates that could increase to 80 seconds.

Key graphs for Orange Line riders:

Meanwhile, they said riders on the dedicated bus lane that constitutes the 18-mile-long Orange Line between Chatsworth and North Hollywood could see their commute cut down by nearly 30 percent — from between 55 and 53 minutes to 38 minutes.

In the traffic analysis, engineers said they proposed a tweak to the frequency of the buses so that instead of having them come every four minutes in each direction, they show up every six minutes in each direction. The capacity was doubled by having two buses arrive within seconds of each other. The aim is to pick up more passengers and ensure that buses drove through the intersections less often.

The project aims to be complete by 2025 and will also build bridges over two busy streets, Sepulveda and Van Nuys boulevards. Here’s a map that shows where gates could be from this presentation shown at the public meetings.

•If you work in PR for a certain long-distance railroad, you probably didn’t like the headline in Jalopnik that read “I took Amtrak instead of flying and it made me want to die a little bit.” The actual article isn’t quite that harsh and the writer makes some good points that the bulk of the American railroad system — unfortunately — is set up to haul freight, not people. FWIW, I don’t get to take Amtrak often but enjoy riding in Southern California.

Credit: Getty Images.

•Here’s a primer on LAist on the dearth of one-way streets in our region. And this: now some neighborhoods want to forgo their two-way streets in favor of one-way as a way to deter Waze devotees.

Credit: Getty Images.

•The NYT dispatched a pair of reporters to the 51 bathrooms in the New York subway — that’s 51 stations out of 472 — to see if “subway restrooms lived up the horrific hype. Mostly they did.” And they took pics!

Attentive readers know that restrooms on transit are a contentious issue. Riders oft say they want them, transit agencies often cite the expensive burden of keeping restrooms clean and safe. Metro has restrooms at two stations — Union Station (where more will be added) and El Monte Transit Center. Adding more restrooms has been discussed at Board meetings and Metro does try to ensure that public restrooms are part of future joint developments built adjacent to stations.

 

 

 

 

12 replies

  1. Bathrooms have baths or showers. Restrooms do not. I don’t think that Metro has any public bathrooms. There might be a private one in the executive suite. WC or comfort station are also used for facilities with commodes but no bathing options.

  2. The argument that Metro doesn’t have more than two restrooms in its system because it’s expensive to keep them safe and clean doesn’t seem to hold water. It’s not as if not having restrooms somehow magically increases the holding capacity of the human bladder which is why the elevators, doors, and stairways of Metro’s stations all smell suspiciously of human urine. Those elevators, doors, and stairways are then cleaned… so where are the savings?

    And why not allow commerce in the stations to generate more money? You go to an advanced country like Japan, Korea, or Taiwan and there are clothing stalls, restaurants, daycare centers, bakeries, convenience stores (and yes, restrooms) which attract customers who aren’t even there to take transit. In the US, we have shopping areas in our airports — but our train stations don’t even have so much as a vending machine.

  3. Nice to see that you guys are listening because those gates would of been a pain on a busway with too many buses within close proximity. But if traffic congestion still builds up due to the crossing gates and the system is well maintained, the problem then will most like be the bus drivers themselves.

  4. Ugh, making Orange Line passengers wait longer just to save cars 50 seconds at intersections is a terrible idea, especially if it relies on the belief that you can reliably schedule buses a few seconds apart.

  5. Please no bathrooms. As someone who spent a lot of time in NYC, the bathrooms are places to avoid for all of the reasons stated above. Just walk above ground and go to a place of business. Bathrooms will only contribute to the already-disgusting rail stations and will act as the default bathroom for the homeless. While bathrooms for the homeless are important for the City to provide, there’s no reason those city services should be provided at Metro rail stations unless you want the rail stations to continue to be homeless encampments.

  6. Last week, I was waiting on the Blue Line train to depart at Watts/103rd station, when a homeless gentleman with a terribly infected stood up, exited the train, walked to the middle of the platform, and urinated. Right on the platform. Everybody watched, including security, who stood by and took no enforcement action.

    This is a matter not just of comfort, but of protecting public health. No person should pee in a public train, but they also shouldn’t have to hold it for an unreasonable amount of time.

    I believe that every major transfer station or terminus should have restrooms. That’s not all stations: it’s around 10-12 stations. These stations tend to have a high volume of passengers, and they tend to be located where people need to wait, or are coming to the end of a long trip, and may need to urinate.

  7. Couldn’t help but notice the fact that the 4-lane configuration that exists at orange line stations is conducive to skip-stop express service. It would cost metro little to nothing to implement and would represent a marked service improvement in addition to this new infrastructure.

  8. Congestion pricing ideas are fine for cities in which there is an alternate form of transportation like New York, London and San Francisco. Cities without reliable, efficient transit will fail at this. Here are some examples: Exampe 1: Anza Ave. & Carson St. in Torrance to 7th & Figueroa. MTA says it will take 81 minutes; Google Maps says you can drive it in 45 minutes – nearly half the time. Example 2: Roscoe Blvd & Reseda Blvd in Reseda to Lincoln Blvd & Jefferson Blvd in Playa Vista (Silicone Beach). MTA estimates 2 hours and 20 minutes. Google Maps again says about 45 minutes to drive. MTA and city official need to stop talking about congestion pricing and come up with real, viable solutions like timing signals, reversible lanes, grade separations for transit, etc.

  9. Re: Need for public restrooms on Metro.

    Those of us who regularly (or semi-regularly) ride Metro (especially MetroRail) for long distances know very well how extremely complicated and difficult it can be to deal with the almost total absence of restrooms for Metro customers.

    For very well understood physiological reasons, the greatest need for public restrooms tends to be concentrated among three identifiable demographics: pregnant women, small children, and senior men. However, I suspect that almost every regular transit passenger has had one or more experiences when arranging quickly for that type of relief unexpectedly has become a paramount necessity.

    Whenever I ride Metro, I carry with me a list of all the branches in both the L.A. City and L.A. County library systems–which, to be sure, is of little aid later at night. I also confess to having had to take the legal risk, on occasion of the direst need later at night, of resorting to the discreet use of available bushes.

    Besides the inexplicably (and pathetically) inadequate facilities at Union Station, currently there is a basic (though much appreciated) one near the downtown Long Beach Blue-Line station, as well as coin-operated, semi-portable ones next to Red-Line stations at Pershing Square and North Hollywood–probably provide by the City of L.A. One hopes that the rebuilt Willowbrook Blue-Line station will have public restrooms as well.

    My proposal is for Metro at least to provide a public restroom at/near the beginning and end of every MetroRail line as well as wherever two MetroRail Lines intersect and at a busy station within 20 or 30 minutes of travel on any MetroRail line (e.g., at the Culver City or Sepulveda Expo-Line station.

    These facilities could be very basic, like the (semi-)portable potties furnished by the City of L.A., and I am willing to pay a quarter or even a dollar for admission.

  10. Regarding the headways on the orange line; It’s annoying that there is still so much pandering to cars with regard to transit planning here in LA but I suppose this policy is consistent with LADOT’s requests for the same frequencies on the LRT lines for the same reason. It’s still silly though. Transit users should not have to wait longer just so a bunch of single occupant drivers save less than a minute at a single crossing, out of thousands of miles of streets one can drive on. The logic just isn’t sound.

    However, 55 min. down to 38 min. end to end? Not bad, keep it up. Heck that makes the orange line faster than the expo line and it’s not even LRT yet, plus it’s 3 miles longer. Just goes to show how truly detrimental street-running is to that line.

    Also echoing the request for metro to add express / skip-stop service on the orange line.

    And yeah, restrooms of some kind, at every transfer station and beginning/end point should be added. The pay per use is actually not a bad idea either so long as its minimal and if it means maintenance and/or upkeep is easier.