A Line, making transit a habit, 405 ExpressLanes: Metro News Now, Dec. 2

Dept. of Public Policy: thinky thread below on whether zero emission buses may attract new bus riders.

Dept. of Debate: Which large city has the best view of skyline and snowy mountains? L.A. is very good, I think, with a few other candidates below. Any city I’m missing?

I added Geneva and Tokyo at the request of a Metro colleague. Also, check out these views of the snowy San Gabriels as captured by KABC’s helicopter.

In the news…

•The LAT takes a look at the A Line’s (Blue) performance since fully reopening on Nov. 2. Excerpt:

Before opening a new line, Metro typically spends at least a month running empty trains on the tracks to find and fix any problems. Such testing on the A Line lasted 30 hours, spokesman Brian Haas said.

Metro conducted more than 14,000 hours of testing while the new systems were being installed and brought online, enough for the line to be safely opened, Haas said. But another week, he said, “would have been beneficial.”

The Blue Line closures began in late January and extended for nine months and change — obviously the agency was eager to reopen the line. Service issues have been declining and the last week was mostly quiet although there were delays due to signal maintenance during the mid- to late-morning on Monday, Nov. 25.

Here’s a presentation that staff will give to the Metro Board of Directors at their meeting on Thursday.

Regular riders, how has the line performed in recent days? Comment please.

•USC professor and regular Metro rider Wendy Wood penned an LAT op-ed that argues that Metro is not doing enough to get people to make taking buses and trains a regular habit. She points to infrequent midday service, loud+annoying announcements, lack of accurate real-time arrival data, cleanliness challenges and having to deal with the homeless.

FWIW, I’m encouraged that Metro isn’t standing pat. There is work here underway to improve the customer experience on buses and trains, overhaul our bus routes, beef up security and get better arrival data to riders, among other things. The midday maintenance is a tough issue as we want to keep trains from breaking down, but that means running less service to accommodate the work on active tracks.

•I’m sure some of you reading this enjoyed some quality time sitting parked on the 405 freeway at some point in the last week. Thus you may be interested to know that the Metro Board on Thursday will consider a $27.5-million contract with WP USA to do the environmental document and other studies for the Sepulveda Pass ExpressLanes project, reports the LAT.

Here’s the staff report.

There are actually three phases to improving mobility in the Sepulveda Pass corridor. This project is the first with the goal to finish the ExpressLanes between the 10 and the 101 by 2027. The second phase is a rail line or monorail between Van Nuys Metrolink Station and the Expo Line (2033 to ’35) and the third phase is between the Expo Line and LAX (’57 to ’59). Those are the Measure M spending plan dates; Metro is trying to accelerate the transit part of the project through a public-private partnership.

As for the ExpressLanes, a lot of planning work remains to be done — with one big question being whether there would be one or two lanes in both directions. It depends on how much space there is in the corridor as this is not another widening project.

The current ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 have proved popular and allow those who don’t meet the carpool requirements to pay a toll to use the lanes. Metro is also presently planning to add ExpressLanes on the 105 freeway between the 405 and 605.

•Quasi-transpo LAT article that may raise the dander: a state bill to make it easier to convince people of car burglaries is going nowhere. The bill’s sponsor says that’s because his colleagues are reluctant to pass any bill that might add people to already crowded state prisons.


Dept. of Football — The Rams have two more regular season games left in their tenure at the Expo Line-adjacent Coliseum: this coming Sunday at 5 p.m. versus the Seahawks (barf) and Dec. 29 against Glendale, Arizona. (More info on transit to the game is here).

Professional football writers were ready to write off the Rams after they lost to Baltimore last Monday night — arguably the best team in the league. Hmmm.

Perhaps the writers should have looked at the standings and schedule. If the Vikings — not a team good outdoors against good teams — lose at Seattle tonight, the Rams will be one game out of a wildcard spot with four games to play. (Let’s repeat that: the Vikings are based in a cold climate but are weanies when outside. Perhaps why the Vikes have never visited the Super Bowl since moving into a dome). That is hardly insurmountable if the Rams can put together a winning streak down the stretch and our L.A. Chargers can beat the Vikes in a couple weeks in Carson.

Over at NBC Sports, Peter King can envision a Rams at Green Bay game on Saturday night of wildcard weekend. That would be fun television viewing.




10 replies

  1. You’re not going to get people to use buses. LA County is just too vast a space. Walking down to the bus stop is already a major hike. Then you must wait 30 minutes or longer for the bus to arrive. The key is figuring out where people are going. Build train lines that have stops at most major job centers. Sadly, this won’t happen for decades. I have always said Metrolink in LA County must be absorbed into Metro using the same train cars, fee structure, and frequency of stops. The untapped potential of Metrolink is wasted. Despite the costs, build more subway systems where congestion is worse in city centers and not in freeway medians.

    Bad governing resulted in high real estate prices that worsen the housing crisis. Fix the construction permitting process. Lower fees and regulations. High density makes mass transit realistic especially near Metro. Also, lack of safety make using mass transit not a real consideration. I would never take my kids on to the system. I would only drive them around.

    • Metro said the Blue Line renovation included completely rebuilding the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station. Last weekend I purposely went to check it out ….. only to find out it meant nothing more than some repainting, a couple of ramps, some new TAP validators. The customer service center, which is multiple crossings away from the station itself, is still under construction. The platforms are still sticky.

      Then I got into the LA-bound same old Kinkisharyo A Line train. There are still ponds of urine on the floor, brown color stains on the floor, still having people selling candies and earbuds, and with the same old familiar “fragrance” of the old Blue Line.

    • Buses are a very effective way to traverse the county – the Silver Streak from Union to Pomona is essentially the same trip time as the San Bernardino Line. Buses can provide near-peer trip times and better headways than trains, given the proper right of way. Providing the right of way to ensure high speed and reliable (and short!) headways, and making bus stops less hostile – more shade, better info, and as you pointed out, closer to where people are – makes bus service attractive. Rail is crucial, don’t get me wrong, but it’s hard to argue for a rail system without investing in the bus service that supports it or to argue that bus systems aren’t worth investing in for trunk routes (see: Orange and Silver Lines, Silver Streak)

      Also, it’s worth noting that you and your children are much more likely to be injured or killed in a car crash than they are on a mass transit system, so “lack of safety” from injury and death is not a real consideration between the two. If safety is a desire to be free of homelessness, well that’s just the reality of living in a city that’s facing an exploding homelessness crisis.

      • This is true. The problem people have with public transportation is the wait and speed of service.

        Homeless on the trains and buses is a bit of a complex issue with ethics. Fare enforcement is the first step in discouraging riders from using the system as shelter.

        Unfortunately, Los Angeles county does not have enough facilities to absorb our homeless. So it would be a bit nasty to penalize them for “fare evasion” and the snowball of infractions or misdemeanors that could come after.

        With my recent rent increase, it occurred to me that we do not have a “homeless problem”, we have a “greedy landlord/property management” problem.

  2. The midday maintenance is a tough issue as we want to keep trains from breaking down, but that means running less service to accommodate the work on active tracks.

    Can’t Metro do maintenance work at night or on the weekend like other cities with rail systems do?

    • We have all of these new rail cars coming, and have been scrapping rail cars as of the last few years.

      I rode a skytrain in Vancouver that felt like 1988 inside. It also was on time during my vacation and frequent. I cant speak about regular service patterns but it feels like Metro needs to do better.

      Its also unfortunate that everyone wants to see a shiny new bus or train. I get we don’t have to have RTD system back, but once the consent decree was lifted, the system got polished, but service declined massively.

      I remember 1-3 minute service on Wilshire (at max 10 minutes). We had 20, 720, and 920. Theyd squeek along, but in many years of riding, ive never been on a broken down bus…(80s baby here; Id say a million trips, but definitely over 100,000 hahahaha).

      I remember Metro testing 24 rail service in 2007 or 08. I do not remember seeing any comprehensive data on the results. The bubble burst right around then so that may have got lost in the sauce.

      I also remember 5 minute service in the Red/Purple zone, and 10 minute service outside of those two zones.

      I didn’t need real time arrival data via gps. The system was decent, and it was much cleaner than it is today.

      Once Phil Washington came, it was like contractors took over most aspects of metro.

      I dont feel like service meets our needs anymore, but thanks for the wifi and usb ports metro. How much did that cost to install? Whos doing it? How much will THAT cost to maintain, because, maintenance, ya know?

    • Exactly! I don’t understand why metro continues to deny that this is not an issue in many other locales. In many cities like Seattle or Chicago, there is never a routine wait time of more than 15 minutes on the rail line(s) barring some delay or special circumstance. Even the CTA yellow line (skokie swift) suburban shuttle train runs at 15 minutes all day on sundays. Though it does end service just after 11 pm, but the rest of the rail lines mostly run well past midnight at the same or better headways. The maintenance issue isn’t an excuse, metro. 20 minute headways after 9 pm isn’t acceptable. And as far as many bus frequencies are concerned, fuhghetaboutit! One could drive to their destination in traffic in the time it takes to wait for many metro buses.

  3. I don’t understand why Metro thinks ExpressLanes can erase the traffic, and apparently it does not. The toll lane policy tolerates all the cheaters not paying the tolls to use it, and I don’t know how Metro makes money for it. You have to revise and enforce the rules, such as catching those cheaters, prohibition of non passenger vehicles such as trucks and trailers on toll lanes, and making sure all drivers pay the same toll with no carpool exceptions, otherwise it is so cheap to drive on those lanes instead of using public transportation. The 10 and 110 ExpressLanes work because they are both covered by the 24/7 Silver Line, other commuter buses by Metro and municipal agencies, and the Metrolink train (10 fwy) as well as A line train runs parallel the 110 freeway, however it is not the case for the 405. The 405 does not have 24/7 bus service (except Flyaway bus), rail, and only the 788 and LADOT commuter buses run through the Sepulveda pass on weekday rush hours. You do not offer sufficient alternatives for traveling through the 405 Sepulveda pass and putting the toll lanes won’t help much.