Meeting people on the bus, Traxx, Green New Deal: How We Roll, April 30

Traxx Restaurant: if you walked through Union Station today you may have noticed that Traxx restaurant and its bar have closed. Here is Metro’s statement:

Metro is disappointed by Tara Thomas Enterprises’ decision to vacate its Traxx Restaurant and Bar locations in Union Station this week, prior to the lease expiration date of September 2020. Metro, which owns Union Station, believes that there will be substantial interest in the space and will continue to market and manage the property in a manner that is in the best interests of the public and the taxpayers.

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Story of the week: “The No. 2 Metro bus connects the fantasies and realities of L.A.” in the LAT. Reporter Frank Shyong spent a week riding the bus between DTLA and UCLA meeting a variety of people. Excerpt:

What I most appreciated about the bus, and what I think a lot of us love about the idea of public transit, is the people. Because a city is its people, and in L.A., people are from everywhere and go through everything. Poverty, mental illness, struggle, exhaustion and kaleidoscopic diversity — the bus makes you look all of that in the face.

According to a recent survey, 92% of Metro’s bus riders are people of color, and 66% of riders are Latino. The median income of riders is $16,218. The bus is an environmentally friendly commute, but more importantly, it’s a safety net — most people ride the bus in L.A. because they have no other option.

Really nice story by Frank, who deftly gets some riders talking about their lives.

From the Twittersphere:

 

Pasadena City Hall moonlighted as Pawnee, Indiana, City Hall in “Parks and Recreation.”

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The above tweet refers to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiling a ‘Green New Deal’ plan for L.A. on Monday. The LAT described the plan this way:

“Los Angeles needs to lead, but the whole world needs to act. This plan gives us a fighting chance,” Garcetti said in an interview. “It’s sort of a ‘greenprint’ for every other city in the country and the world, hopefully.” [snip]

The mayor’s sustainability plan imagines a city where, by the mid-2030s, 80% of the cars run on electricity or zero-emission fuel, 80% of the electricity comes from renewable sources and Angelenos drive 2,000 fewer miles each year than they do now. It’s a far cry from today’s L.A., where gridlock, tailpipe pollution and smoggy air have come to define a way of life.

I don’t think those numbers sound crazy although they represent a big sea change and, as the LAT notes, some policy decisions that could impact the above are outside the city’s direct control.

Example: seems to me that big state and federal tax breaks could influence a lot more people to buy electric cars and install solar atop their homes. Or, to put this in question form: if you could deduct the entire cost of an electric vehicle from your taxes, would you buy an electric vehicle? Heck yeah, I would! But that’s something our friends in D.C. control.

Driving 2,000 miles less per year? That’s about 5.5 miles each day. Seems to me that a greatly expanded and/or improved transit network — i.e. bus system — coupled with great first/last mile solutions could entice more people to take transit a couple times a week and reduce their driving.

As mayor of L.A., Garcetti has been a member of the Metro Board since 2013 and has three appointees to the 13-member Board under his control (his second term as mayor ends in late 2022). So he will continue to have the opportunity to influence Metro policy while overseeing the city’s transportation (with its DASH buses), airport and port.

Shocker: there was some pushback on social media! To wit:

Thoughts?

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John is Metro’s Director of Social Media. One big complaint of users of the app is the lack of accurate real-time arrival data for buses and trains. FWIW, that’s certainly a problem but that’s a problem that goes beyond the app — and something that Metro is working to fix. The idea John is emphasizing is he wants Metro to create great data and then let others use it to their best ability.

Quasi-related is the tweet below. The issue is that the delays this morning were more along the lines of 20 minutes (due to a problem with the doors on a Red Line train) than “slight.” In this case, we have the equipment, we just didn’t get the messaging right. Criticism received and acknowledged.

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We’re heading into the final half of the Blue Line closures for the southern half of the line with the northern closures on deck. We’ll have lots more news on the blog and Metro’s social media streams as we get closer to the flip in the work. New Blue Improvements Project website is here.

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Things to read whilst transiting and Dept. of 🤯: check out the list of companies that paid zero corporate taxes in 2018, as reported by the NYT. Shocker: some are energy, oil and car companies.

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In the news…

•With “Infrastructure Week” approaching, President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders say they will work together on a $2-trillion infrastructure plan, reports the NYT. Details are in extremely short supply at this time.

•The cities of Alhambra, Pasadena and South Pasadena have sent a letter to Metro asking that funds for the 710 North project to enhance mobility in the area of the 710 gap be used for a wider variety of projects — and not just those to improve car traffic.

One city official says they want to take cars off the road — not add them. In fairness, proponents of the freeway tunnel that was rejected by many cities (including South Pas and Pas) said the tunnel would do precisely that by pulling car traffic off surface streets. Here’s the story in the Star News.

•An item that was scheduled to be heard by the Metro Board last week would have launched the formal studies for the North Hollywood to Pasadena bus rapid transit project. But the item was pulled for further discussions of the route.

The issue, as reported by the Star News: Pasadena officials want the BRT line to terminate at the Gold Line in Old Pasadena and not continue to Pasadena City College. Officials say that 60-foot articulated buses would be a poor fit for Colorado Boulevard and that BRT infrastructure would need to be moved each year for the Rose Parade.

Here’s the map that was before the Board:

Click map to see larger.

•The NYT’s editorial page backs Senate Bill 50, which would pre-empt local zoning laws and allow more housing to be built near frequent transit lines across heavily populated counties in California — including some in single-family neighborhoods. There are a lot of strong views on both sides of this bill and, as the editorial notes, its passage is no sure thing.

•A town in Ontario, Canada, has been using Uber in lieu of bus service and offering discounts. The program has been popular but costs are going up — and so are the fares, reports Citylab.

•Sad to hear that film director John Singleton passed away — here’s the obit in the LAT. “Boyz n the Hood” from 1991 remains, I think, the best movie made to date about South L.A. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend — the film is available to rent on many large streaming services. Here’s a clip about gentrification. Warning: very adult language. And here’s an NYT appreciation of the film.

Credit: Columbia Pictures.

5 replies

  1. As a Pasadena resident, I would actually prefer the BRT plan on Union and Green (but not on Colorado). It’s only a block off of Colorado and a block from Gold Line stations. If it goes all the way to Hill, I’d probably use it more than the train for my trips to Old Town. That would also help solve the foolish lack of a Gold Line station on Hill (where PCC is located) and the general issue of the Gold Line being at the freeway rather than near the business districts. Too bad Pasadena will probably mess it up

    • Hi JR;

      I understand the Pas officials’ point that there is existing bus service by Metro, Foothill Transit and Pasadena between Old Pas and PCC, but the open question is how Metro’s slice of that might change because of Metro’s NextGen Bus Study and this project. I think the other issue is speed. I suspect more people in Pas (I live there) would take the bus if it was faster.

      I don’t know for sure, but I suspect when the Gold Line was built they were trying to space the stations and decided Hill was too close to Lake. That said, I agree that the Gold Line would be more appealing to some PCC students if it was closer to the campus. That said, Google Maps says station from Hill would have been .4 mile to campus and Allen is .5 miles.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. The Green New Deal is unrealistic. It makes no sense. Just a blanket pronouncement makes no effort to figure out how the goals can be reached. Green cars will not reduce congestion. It only adds to traffic. Mass transit continues to be horribly inefficient. Much wasted time transferring between inefficient busses. SB50 tries to solve the housing crisis, but it doesn’t do anything to solve transportation problems. The 710 debacle shows how people don’t have any realistic plan to solve traffic problems. It should have been completed by now. People have no choice, but to drive through Monterey Park, Alhambra, South Pasadena, and Pasadena on surface streets as they always did. There’s no detour. How about expanding and extending the 110 Freeway as the new detour to reach the 210 Freeway? Of course they won’t, but they should.

  3. When is Metro planning to roll out an upcoming update for their app included paying through a cell phone? I can’t wait for it. It should have been ready by now.

  4. IMO, the Metro App was the best when it had the Live map of busses and rail. That was the most reliable to actually see where the next bus or train was physically. After the live maps were removed, the reliability of the app went down greatly.