Expo Line, LAX traffic, Dodger Stadium Express: Metro News Now, Oct. 15


Streetsblog LA reports that L.A. City Council Member and Metro Board Member Mike Bonin has introduced a motion at City Hall instructing the city’s transportation department (LADOT) to maximize traffic signal priority for the Expo Line in the area where it is street-running. In the city of L.A. that’s mostly the area between DTLA and Vermont Avenue, although street crossings at Vermont and Crenshaw also lack gates. 

I’m wild guessing Expo riders will welcome the news. Attentive Source readers probably recall Metro runs the trains but local government — the city of L.A. in this case — controls the traffic signals. The Expo Line’s first phase to Culver City opened in 2012 and Metro and LADOT officials have worked together over the years to improve the signal timing but trains are not guaranteed green lights and the shared section of tracks with the Blue Line (between 7th/Metro and Washington Blvd.) poses its challenges to keep both trains and traffic moving. 

The issue resurfaced in the past few weeks due to complaints from riders about over-crowding after Metro changed peak hour train frequencies over the summer from every six minutes to eight minutes. Metro has since added some trains and staff has observed that crowding tends to correlate with trains falling off schedule and time increasing between trains. One potential remedy: more green lights for trains to keep them running on time.

We’ll keep an eye on the motion as it works its way through the City Council. For those who want more background, here is a 2016 article from LA Weekly and here’s an op-ed from 2016 that ran in the LAT on the issue of traffic signals and Expo.

And this background: why aren’t there more crossing gates or street separations at the western end of the Expo Line? The short answer is that at the time Expo’s first phase was planned and built — without funds from Measure R or M — gates were deemed impractical at some intersections while bridges/tunnels were too expensive.

•More layoffs at Uber, apparently to appease investors concerned the company is losing too much money trying to keep fares low, reports the NYT.

•With LAX traffic growing — and people mover construction upcoming — the LAT editorial board supports the new airport requirement that Uber and Lyft pick up riders from a designated lot instead of curbside.

Interesting issue. What this means: the priority for curbside pickup goes to friends/family over for-profit firms such as Uber and Lyft (my domestic partner is definitely not a for-profit entity!). Seems to me that’s probably the right call but with LAX’s passenger counts on the rise, traffic is traffic whether for-profit or not.

Fast-forward a few years…once the people mover is running and the Crenshaw/LAX Line is open, there will be a lot more places where fliers can be picked up and dropped off. Crenshaw/LAX and Green Line stations. And people mover stations outside the LAX horseshoe (including the new rail station at Aviation and 96th, the consolidated rental car center and a giant new parking garage). There will still be traffic in the LAX area — but the people mover and Crenshaw/LAX and Green Line stations should help take the pressure off the horseshoe.

•Motorists on the 15 freeway last week were treated to some bygone days train action, courtesy Union Pacific and their restored Big Boy steam locomotive. My dad would have loved to have seen this:

Dept. of Let’s Talk Baseball!: The Dodger Stadium Express’ winter began earlier than we hoped. But that’s life and baseball.

Two observations: The Dodgers have put together a very competitive team year after year — which is more than most pro sports franchises can manage. And their fans have been generous and big-hearted in their support. The hunch here is that the Dodgers, with a solid farm system, remain a very strong team and that a World Series trophy is coming sooner rather than later to Chavez Ravine.

That said, here’s the thing with modern sports: the pro leagues have eagerly added teams and revenues while encouraging fans to overlook the byproduct of that: more teams and fewer championships. At the start of every baseball season, each team (all other factors put aside) has a 3.3 percent chance of winning the World Series. There are factors that improve those odds such as good management and weak opponents, but still — 3.3 percent is not a great starting place.

Major League Baseball is already toying with the idea of expansion from its current 30 teams. It’s a bad idea if you want to see your team win it all in your lifetime. Sure, baseball can invite more teams to the post-season but that would only devalue what is already an overly long 162-game regular season.

Instead, I’d do this: shrink the regular season to 154 games (the old standard), allow the regular season champ in both leagues to advance directly to the League Championship Series, cap the number of Major League teams to 30 and force some teams to play a few games in other large cities that don’t have a big league team.

The Mariners, for example, should play a couple series each season down Interstate 5 in Portland, Ore., each year. One of the Florida teams could play some games in Nashville while the other tosses a few in Birmingham or Charlotte. Toronto, meet Buffalo. All these games should be in minor league parks, which will only enhance their appeal.

Quasi-related Dodger things to read whilst transiting: the Dodgers fleeced the Reds last winter in a big trade and one Reds fan recommends they do it again by trading SS Corey Seager for, I’m guessing, the entire Reds farm system and the entire Graeters ice cream franchise (the more important and presumably better tasting of the two). The Dodgers are too smart for that and the bet here is Mr. Seager will still be as blue as the sky come Opening Day 2020.





16 replies

  1. Steve Hymon is so misguided. Uber doesn’t make a profit yet. Anyway 80% of fares go to drivers and 20% to Uber. And there are fees paid to LAWA. So instead of above-average income Angelenos paying poorer Angelenos to pick them up and paying a fee to the airport, instead we have them inconveniencing their richer friends and family and poorer Angelenos get nothing. It is hard to see who that benefits. This hatred of the market is illogical and is behind so many evils, like unpriced traffic congestion.

  2. I would have much rather seen private automobiles banned from the ring at LAX, leaving it for shuttles of all sizes. An Lyft that takes someone to the airport is going to then pick up someone at the airport and drive them somewhere else. But a friend who drives you to the airport is immediately going to turn around and drive home solo.

    • Private autos need to be able to get to the terminal area parking garages: it’s a huge source of revenue to the airport. However, I agree it would be OK to ban private autos from curbside drop-off and pickup. Split the horseshoe lanes down the middle, with the right-hand lanes going curbside only and no private autos, left-hand lanes parking only. Set up a quick drop-off/pickup zone in each garage for people who don’t want to park, and perhaps charge a reduced parking fee for those who are just going in and out. To be fair and mode-neutral, the fee for private auto drop-off or pickup should be the same as the taxi/uber/lyft LAX surcharge.

  3. Please start referring to the Expo as: The Expo (E) Line. Then in a few months refer to it as the E Line (Expo). Once the Regional Connector Project (refer to it as a project, not a thing, because once the project is done, the ‘thing’ won’t exist as a thing) is nearing completion, start referring to the Gold Line sections as “A Line north of Downtown” and “E Line east of Downtown”. The sooner that you can get us calling the new names the better.

    Also, while the city council might be part of the solution getting the signal priority issue solved, the Mayor of Los Angeles is the one that can get it done fastest. The Board of Transportation Commissioners (Eric Eisenberg, Tafarai M. Bayne,
    Donna Choi, Cris Liban, John Ly, Jazmin Ortega, & Sheila Tejada) want to keep on the Mayor’s good side. And the General Manager (Seleta Reynolds) serves at the pleasure of the Mayor. If the Mayor says “Get it done quickly” to the GM, it will happen. So people should make their desires for signal priority known to the Mayor and the other individuals mentioned. It should not be hard to find their e-mail addresses, their phone numbers, twitter, IG, and FB. (The last 3 public forms work well.)

  4. All exciting news! However I really wish there could be a light rail in SGV. The silver line is good, but it’s a bus after all – meaning it still stucks in traffic during rush hours. The east side of LA really needs a light rail!

    Btw the Go Metro app doesn’t seem to work on my phone anymore. Anyone else?

  5. What’s the prognosis for taking the A train. New Blue says “late October”. Getting close?

    • Hi Charlie;

      Prognosis good and announcement of re-opening date coming soon to a government blog near you!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. Just a note: it may be a typo, but you refer to the western end of Expo as having grade separation issues and no gates. However the eastern end from Pico to Crenshaw is where the biggest issues lie. In fact some folks thought Metro had done that deliberately, tweaking the grade separation policy to save money which adversely affected communities of color and lower income communities along the line. there are lots of crossings which were deemed too busy to gate, (Vermont, Normandie, Westen and Crenshaw) but not busy enough to grade separate. Even the smaller crossings like Denker, Budlong, Raymond, and Halldale, are badly timed and will stop Expo for one car to pass. It’s to be noted there are no un-gated or un-grade separated crossings west of Crenshaw until 17th and Colorado in Santa Monica.

  7. The Big Boy 4014, I got to see it going up Cajon Pass, it was spectacular, awesome, amazing, etc!

  8. You can delete this comment – but it looks like the first link to that esteemed publication Streetsblog goes to the L.A. Weekly piece.

    • Hi Joe –

      Sorry about that and fixed. My track record on correct links this week is not quite ideal.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  9. Two comments.
    Something to think about. The Dodgers play at one off the oldest and least accessible ball parks in the nation. When they came to L.A. they decided they wanted to be in Chavez Ravine. But this was a hispanic community that was standing in their way. What it finally came down to when they refused los ell was they were forcible removed from their homes and their entire contents destroyed along with their homes. But along with their homes some families had oil wells operating on their property. Could it be that oil wells are still operating within the walls of Dodger Stadium and moving the team could subject the Dodgers and the stadium owners to a very embarrassing revelation. Perhaps the curse of Chavez Ravine is the reason the Dodgers are unable to succeed into the World Series.

    Your column mentioned the baseball season is too long with one hundred and sixty games per year. My question is, when does the basketball;l season end? Perhaps they have a week or two break but its a never ending season in my opinion be it pre-season, regular or play offs which seems to include every team.

    • Don’t even get me started on the length of the pro basketball and hockey seasons — both utterly ridiculous.

      If I was the king, I would have liked to see the Dodgers play in a ballpark in downtown proper. I also think I’m in the minority on that issue and Dodgers attendance over the decades — always at or near the top of the league — suggests that fans find the ballpark to be plenty accessible. It will be interesting what the Angels decide to do in regards to staying in Anaheim — another ballpark that attracts plenty of fans — or go to something smaller with less parking in Long Beach.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Steve, “…fans find the ballpark to be plenty accessible.” But at what expense to the rest of the commuters, especially when the Dodgers traffic coincides with the normal expanded rush hour traffic? Maybe the “flying” tram will help a small fraction, but that is yet to be seen.

  10. Maybe Metro should have separated grades near DTLA for Blue and Gold Lines now that it has a steady source of funding.

    Again, they need to fix the LAX horseshoe for better traffic flow. As for better drop off locations, they need to built out the tracks to where people actually live. Convert Metrolink to Metro with all electric trains and one form of payment.

    MLB has very long season and each team pair plays 6 games each in a triple triple series. This is ridiculous amount of games. Reduce it down in half.