Metro News Now! Friday, August 2

Between some vacation time and other duties, it has been a while since I’ve rode herd on transportation-related news. So let’s see if the saddle still fits…

•Long interview with Metro CEO Phil Washington at the Planning Report, but some pretty good nuggets in there on Metro’s challenges when it comes to getting construction permits from cities, the time it takes to do environmental studies and the impact of trade wars on Metro.

•Tough op-ed in the Daily News on density and traffic — with the focus on Promenade 2035 development in Warner Center, which proposes 1,400 apartments and space dedicated to retail, offices and a new 7,500-seat performance space. Excerpt:

That’s another way of saying the streets in the area can’t handle the extra capacity from this project. Will that mean more tax increases for more transit?

This sequence of events is being repeated throughout the state: raise taxes for transit, ostensibly for traffic reduction, then use proximity to transit as a justification to approve hyper-dense development, then use the worsened traffic as a pretext to raise taxes for transit, ostensibly for traffic reduction.

That’s a well-articulated narrative but of course there’s another way to look at it: traffic is already bad in part because there’s not enough housing where we need it (and we should be building it near transit) and the ballot measures keep passing because the majority of voters believe there’s a need to build a modern transit and road system.

Art of Transit:


Things to read whilst transiting, part one: excellent LAT sports column by Bill Plaschke on a group using baseball to connect people who have Alzheimers and dementia with their memories.

•You can now use your phone and credit cards as a fare card on parts of the New York Subway, reports the NYT. BTW, you’ll soon be able to use a TAP app on your phone as a TAP card here.

Given the ubiquity of smartphones, that strikes me as smart, modern and rider-friendly. It’s certainly a far cry from the subway tokens I used when living in Chicago and New York — which worked just fine but were easy to lose.

•Attentive Source readers know that I’m highly skeptical self-driving cars will be ruling the world anytime soon and this NYT article points out another challenge/problem: if the cars are programmed to stop for jaywalkers, then a lot of people will be jaywalking. Hmm.

Dept. of Construction:

•Virgin Atlantic airlines and Sir Richard Branson have created Virgin USA railroads. One of their plans is to revive efforts to build a train line between Victorville and Las Vegas — which seemingly could work if it’s competitive with drive times and was extended to a certain train station below where I presently sit. Columnist and writer Carl Hiassen takes a look at their plans for a Miami-Orlando line in Florida and let’s just say he’s skeptical.

Things to read whilst transiting, part 2: I’m about one-third of the way of the through the novel “The Overstory” by Richard Powers and it’s absolutely terrific. It’s (thus far) the story of how the lives of many different people intersect with trees. And the cover is beautiful, for those who like to judge.

•It’s the Summer of Bus Lanes, or rather mostly the Summer of Talking About Bus Lanes. I thought this LAT editorial hit all the nails on the noggin. Excerpt:

Making travel faster and easier for non-drivers often means removing traffic lanes and, yes, slowing travel for cars. The question is whether political leaders are willing to make the tradeoffs necessary to vastly improve the bus system so that public transit can become a real option for Angelenos.

This is also a test for Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council, as the majority of the planned bus rapid transit lanes are within the city of L.A. These officials have proposed all kinds of climate emergency plans and Green New Deals. When the rubber hits the road — and takes out a lane previously used for traffic or parking — are they going to stand up for a sustainable transportation system?

On the subject, our lil’ video/tweet on the subject by my colleague Joe Lemon got its share of hugs on Twitter. If you haven ‘t seen:

And, finally, an art of transit/transpo taken in the town of Dorris, California, just north of Mt. Shasta. I took this on a road trip to Oregon along Highway 97 which skirts Mt. Shasta and then follows the railroad tracks up into Oregon. Too bad there’s no passenger rail service in these parts because it would be a very scenic ride — including a stretch up the east side of massive Klamath Lake. CORRECTION: There is passenger rail service in these parts! As a reader points out, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight passes through Dorris, although it doesn’t stop there. Duly noted!

Photo courtesy Steve Hymon.




7 replies

  1. The Victorville-Las Vegas train will use a fully-grade separated right-of-way (Embankments, overpasses, and bridges) through the desert running at speeds of up to 125 MPH, which is 2x faster than driving on I-15 with traffic (60 MPH).

  2. Just like the phoenix, Virgin USA Railroads rises from the ashes of Virgin America.

  3. Dorris. California. Just south of the Oregon border.
    “When you live in Dorris, everything else is Southern California.”
    And yes, there is passenger rail service through there.
    The Coast Starlight.

    • I stand corrected! Had no idea the Coast Starlight went that far inland. I’ve stayed in Mt. Shasta several times, usually near the tracks, but never saw an Amtrak come through. Good to know.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • The tracks go through, on the outskirts of the town, but there’s no station. You can actually view the entire route on Google Maps (for Android, at least) by tapping on Union Station, and then on a scheduled Cost Starlight train.

      • Regarding Coast Starlight, the stretch between Redding,CA and Klamath Falls,OR is probably one of the most scenic sections along the route. The real bummer is that both trains travel through this area in the dead of night. The northbound is 3-8AM while the southbound is 10PM-2:30AM. So much for a beautifully scenic ride through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. 🙁