Regional Connector pics, all-door boarding, SB 50: HWR, May 20

Art of Transit Construction: a couple pics from a staff tour on Friday of the Regional Connector project under DTLA. The Connector is trying together the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines to speed up light rail trips to and through DTLA.

Photos by Adrian Hernandez/Metro.

Recent op-ed in the LAT by Mehmet Berker carried the headline “Metro is hemorrhaging riders. It needs to stop studying obvious fixes and start acting.” The focus is on all-door boarding with Mehmet opining that ADB is a best-practice type of thing that should be a lot more common than it is on Metro, which currently uses ADB on the Orange Line, Silver Line, the 720 and 754.

Fair enough. I do think Metro will consider expanding it but on our end staff are also consumed currently with the NextGen Bus Study to restructure the bus system and the New Blue project to modernize the Blue Line (bus shuttles are filling in for rail service on parts of the line). We also think that NextGen will yield some real positives for riders in terms of travel time. Your thoughts?

•Also in LAT, a smart piece about long-distance travel by electric car, specifically a Tesla. As reporter Chris Erskine points out, the extended charging times — instead of gas-up-and-go — may encourage folks to linger in rural towns they would otherwise blow through.

•As expected, the Federal Railroad Administration cancelled a $929-million grant for California’s bullet train project, with the FRA citing inaccurate work schedules and budgets.

State officials believe there’s still enough funding to get trains running between Merced and Bakersfield. But that could be threatened if the FRA tries to reclaim a second grant of about $2.5 billion.

Urbanize LA takes a quick look at four corridors listed in a recent Metro staff report as possibilities for a pilot bus lane project with the city of L.A.

Urbanize also notes that the Van Nuys Boulevard suggestion was quickly unpopular with two members of the L.A. City Council as a Metro light rail line is already planned to run down the middle of part of the street (north of the Orange Line). Groundbreaking is scheduled for 2021.

Other possibilities could be Florence Avenue, Olympic Boulevard and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. The item ended up getting pulled from the Metro Board’s Operations Committee.

•There’s a Metro staff report on the agenda for the Metro Board that looks at the development of a financial plan to complete four mega-projects (Green Line Extension to Torrance, Eastside Gold Line Extension to South El Monte or Whittier, light rail between Artesia and DTLA and the Sepulveda Transit Corridor) in time for the 2028 Olympics and Paralympics. Bottom line: it won’t be easy.

•The city of San Marino is considering returning $32 million to Metro that would have been used for traffic improvement projects — in particular widening parts of Huntington Drive, adding turn lanes and synching traffic lights, according to the SGV Tribune.

The funds come from the 710 North project to improve traffic in the area around the 710 gap. Residents are concerned about a loss in quality of life and — says one — turning Huntington (which is already three lanes in each direction) into a freeway. San Marino was one of the cities that wanted the 710 gap filled.

•A state bill that would have pre-empted some local zoning laws to allow more density near frequent transit lines — including in some single-family neighborhoods — was shelved for the year in the Senate’s Appropriations Committee. Although the bill was certainly popular in some quarters\ it was also controversial and it’s not exactly shocking that for the second straight year it failed to pass muster Sacramento.

In the LAT, an editor notes that all but one of nearly three dozen letters received were against the bill. Excerpt:

It’s been said that Los Angeles is a changing city, one where automobile dependence coexists with a rail transit boom and where density is increasing in an urban area created by sprawl. And yet, coverage in the L.A. Times on measures to speed along these transitions, whether it’s about so-called road diets or more recently SB 50, almost always prompts a backlash.

My take on the bill: I like the passion for building more housing to help reduce prices for renters and owners. That’s admirable. Building near transit makes sense. But…being politically provocative is not the same thing as being politically successful and a dead bill doesn’t help any housing get built. The single-family neighborhood issue will remain a tough one as long as people have their nest eggs wrapped up in their homes.

One other nugget for the sake of discussion: Pasadena has managed to add an estimated 2,200 housing units between 2010 and 2017, according to this city report. As far as I can tell, most of that has come by changing zoning on commercial corridors and major streets near transit. It doesn’t seem to be very controversial.

Your thoughts?

Things to read whilst transiting: A WaPo story from last year on the giant audience that watched the MASH series finale in 1983 — a heck of a lot more people than watched Game of Thrones, FWIW.




9 replies

  1. Bus lanes in Downey for line 111? Most of the day there are only 2 buses each way an hour.
    This does not look like a good use of lanes or money.
    If there were 8 or sixteen buses a hour—–maybe.

  2. I call BS on the excuses about not implementing ADB. Putting this in place has nothing to do with the bus study, and makes one wonder whether the folks at Metro can walk and chew gum at the same time. I used to live in San Francisco, and MUNI is not well respected for either forward thinking or effective planning, BUT, somehow they implemented ADB years ago without too much difficulty.

  3. As long as they continue to make it cheaper to drive people are going to drive. People have every incentive to drive. People only use public transportation because they are either not allowed to drive or can’t afford it. I can drive but don’t by choice. I wonder how many commuters choose not to drive out of concern for the environment.

  4. It’s pretty absurd how slow Metro is to act on obvious improvements that other cities have already successfully implemented. If another city has already rolled something out successfully, we really don’t need Metro to commission its own study, let’s just get it done. But Metro board members and Metro staff seem unwilling to take action unless there is a study that provides them political cover. That’s not leadership.

  5. Sigh. So many things.
    Fewer riders on Metro and the light rail because charges are going up before problems are solved. It now costs MORE to park and take the train/light rail than it does to drive. Plus the wait time for trains, the fact that they stop before I get off work, and the fact that regardless of living near a transit line, getting TO and FROM the right bus or train to get where I’m headed is a major challenge. Not counting, the system still doesn’t go anywhere near a lot of places I work. So until the system has broader outreach, runs 24 hours and cost factors are taken into consideration, this will continue to be an issue.

    AND SB50 is a failure because it’s a rich man’s bill for rich people. I live in a blue-collar neighborhood that is gentrifying and being taken over by developers who are tearing down affordable housing, rent-controlled apartments and single family homes with MILs in the back and replacing them with luxury condos with nowhere near a replacement number of housing, let alone affordable in real-world terms. If these were truly affordable places and meant for the working poor and homeless families, or at least for those the developers displaced, it wouldn’t be an issue. But they aren’t. And they are punishing those of us who saved for years to get out of apartments to purchase a home, and those whose families have lived here for generations, because we are not rich enough to fight this. I scrimped and saved and sacrificed to pay off my home so I wouldn’t have that expense in retirement. I cannot afford to be forced to go back to monthly rent payments and HOA fees.

  6. Weren’t the studies for all door boarding already complete and in testing prior to the next gen bus study? Why could they not have implemented it then? I understand that staff is under constraints with the various projects, but all of these things have been in planning for years! We all know ADB would speed up service on the 720 and also all express lines, yet nothing happens. Also, you and others keep referencing the Next Gen Bus Study which will recommend changes to the system, but given how slow and non existent the roll out for ADB has been, why should we expect anything from the Next Gen Bus Study? Frankly, I expect that it will take years before any tangible bus service changes are made and by then you will have lost so many riders that it will give metro even more excuse to continue cutting bus service, despite the fact that it serves as the backbone of the metro system.