Regional Connector schedule, bus lanes, Pacific Surfliner: HWR, May 13

The pier at Gaviota State Beach as seen from Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner on Friday evening — see the item at the bottom of this post. Photo courtesy Steve Hymon.

The LAT has a story on why the forecast completion of the Regional Connector has recently slipped from Dec. 2021 to spring/summer 2022.

Among one of the challenges: labor shortages for some jobs , which is adjacent to the station being built at 2nd and Broadway. The article also discusses damage at the former LAT building, but Metro says that it’s not at fault.

Metro says the schedule still could recover. The LAT points out that some of the problems — particularly with jobs in a hot construction market — could threaten Metro’s efforts to build 28 projects in time for the 2028 Olympics (here’s a new staff update on that).

Below is a slide from the monthly construction project update to be given to the Metro Board this month. The full report is here. FWIW, here’s a Source post from last week with a bunch of Connector construction pics.

If you’re new to this space, the Connector is a pair of 1.9-mile light rail tunnels that will tie together the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines to speed up light rail trips to and through DTLA and reduce the need to transfer.

•Metro and the city of L.A. are hoping to pilot a new bus lane in the nearish future. Below is a slide from the Board report on the four best candidates from the 25 initially studied and here’s the full presentation (it’s short) that will be given to the Board’s Operations Committee on Thursday. Thoughts?

Metro’s Vision 2028 Plan, approved by the Metro Board last year, calls for more bus lanes to speed up bus speeds, which have been in decline in recent years due to traffic.


•There’s a new staff report on Metro’s efforts to improve real-time arrival info. In one sentence: progress is being made on the bus side and there are some issues to still tackle on the rail side, where tunnels are one challenge to getting up-to-the-second data. Curbed LA wonked out on this important issue last year.

•For the first time, I took Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner from Union Station to San Luis Obispo on Friday. All in all, a nice experience — I treated myself to a business class seat and legroom-wise it’s going to be hard to go back to steerage class when flying from LAX to Cincy.

The train was comfortable enough, the staff was very friendly, social media updates were good and the ride was relaxing. The scenery from Ventura onward is truly awesome (northbound travelers should sit on the left side of the train). The wifi worked well enough to get baseball scores and do email and some basic searching.

Then again, when I fly to Cincy the nearly 2,000-mile flight usually takes about four hours in the air (if there are no delays) and up to three hours getting to and from airports. The train trip to SLO — which would have been an 190-mile drive — took five hours and 50 minutes in addition to a 55-minute delay at Union Station because of earlier delays to the train between San Diego and L.A.

Amtrak doesn’t own the tracks and much of the track between Union Station and SLO is single track — meaning we had to sit at sidings on at least three occasions to let other trains pass (Metrolink and Union Pacific also use the tracks). Our nation has poured a lot of money into infrastructure for air travel — and that’s great for travelers. But that has come at the expense of short- to medium-length trips that could be taken by train. And, IMHO, that’s too bad.

Quasi-related: I went to the Central Coast to do some kayaking in Morro Bay, which is scenic and has a pretty good variety of birds and other wildlife — including sea otters. There are kayak rentals in Morro Bay. If you take the train to SLO, there’s a local bus that runs to Morro Bay (it’s about a 25-minute ride) and ride share operates in the area. True confession: I was meeting my partner up there, who had a car — but there are ways to get around the lovely Central Coast without one.

Photo courtesy Steve Hymon.

5 replies

  1. I hope that these pilot lanes are well enforced especially considering the length of some of them. The Van Nuys Blvd one is about 7 miles long and the effect of it could be muted if enforcement is lax. I’m not calling for ticketing people but we need to make sure that these lanes are effective– because other pilots in other cities (I’m thinking of Boston in particular) show they can be effective when transit is really given priority. We can’t just slap a few signs, say it’s a peak hour bus lane, and then just magically expect it to work– looking at Wilshire. And to respond to mittim80– the Van Nuys lanes connect to the Orange Line (which is supposed to be equal to a rail-line but is slowly getting the priority it needs) and to VN Metrolink/Amtrak, the MLK lanes sound like they’ll hit the future Crenshaw Line station, and it seems like Florence Blue Line will get them too but not too sure.

  2. I see from the presentation that there was an exhaustive criteria for choosing cooridors for bus lanes… and yet not one of them is connectivity to metro rail? Buses are the first/last mile option for reaching the metro, so bus lanes should facilitate that. try western ave or sunset/santa monica blvd

  3. It’s true, Amtrak does not own the tracks between Los Angeles Union Station and San Luis Obispo. Union Pacific now owns them north of Oxnard having acquired them in their merger with Southern Pacific. But who owns the the tracks south of Oxnard? Metro and the Ventura County Transportation Commission. And who manages the Surfliner trains? LOSSAN which is a Joint Powers Authority of which Metro is a member (but hasn’t appointed a second board member to its BOD yet?)

    Huh, I wonder what could be done to make these trains run in a more satisfactory manner?

    • Hi Erik —

      All good points. FWIW, Metro had a project to install a double track along a 6.4-mile stretch of this corridor in the San Fernando Valley (Raymer to Bernson). That project was abandoned in 2016 due to widespread community and political opposition. This motion sums it up what happened pretty well, including Metro’s role: As for Ventura County, I think they own 16 miles of track — between Moorpark and the L.A. County Line. From Moorpark to SLO, the tracks are owned by Union Pacific. Correct me if I’m wrong: I think the entire stretch of track from Chatsworth to SLO is single track with the exception of sidings. This document has a lot of interesting info, including this fun fact: since the 1980s, train trips are taking longer. Hmm. As for VC Transportation Commission, I think money and political will are always going to be an issue there. Which is too bad given that more trains and faster trains to L.A. area could be a good alternative to the 101.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. Regarding the proposed bus lane routes, does Metro believe the city of Beverly Hills would agree to a bus lane on their portion of Olympic? They refused to consider a bus lane on Wilshire. Realistically, this should probably have a western terminus of La Cienega.