Electric cars, light rail in Valley, COVID-19: Metro News Now, Oct. 5

It’s time to resume one of this blog’s regular features over the years: transportation headlines + Other Metro Stuff as curated by yours truly.

I figure when you’ve grown weary of all other headlines, there’s always that special breed that is media articles about gettin’ around.

Let’s begin with the subject that has rightfully lorded over all others this year: COVID-19.

A virus may not have a brain but COVID-19 has proven a difficult foe. There still seems much to learn and the unpredictable nature of a new — and potentially deadly virus — has made keeping the virus in check difficult while also trying to maintain a semblance of  daily life.

As for Metro…

•With many people out of work, working less or working at home, Metro’s message remains that we’re here for those who need us for essential trips.

•We’re requiring all riders to wear a face covering except those with medical conditions. Spot checks by Metro staff show that compliance has been strong with nearly all riders wearing them.

•We’re protecting riders through cleaning, disinfecting, good ventilation and providing room for social distancing when practical. Much more about those efforts here.

Los Angeles County has had nearly 275,000 cases thus far — more than any county in the United States. That’s not surprising as we’re the most populous county in the U.S. but the virus has seemed to be more intractable here. Numbers lately have trended down somewhat, which is good. But we’re still about where we were in May.

In the spirit of mulling public policy, daylight savings time has been on my mind. It’s conventional wisdom that COVID-19 seems to spread less in the outdoors than inside. Daylight Savings Time ends Nov. 1, meaning sunset will be between about 4:45 p.m. and about 5:20 p.m. in L.A. County from November through January.

Might it be better this autumn and winter to have a little more daylight at the end of the day? And keep folks outside a little longer?

That would be my personal preference. Confession: I’m also not a morning person. Of course, remaining on daylight savings time would mean that sunrise we be pushed back to between 7:15 a.m. and 8 a.m. in those same months.

From a mobility perspective, late fall and early winter are a pick your poison thing: do you want to be commuting in the dark in the a.m. or p.m. hours? For those who walk and bike on their commute, it’s not just an aesthetic issue — you are more easily seen when it’s light out by people who may or may not be paying attention while driving their big, heavy,  steel beasts.

What do you think? I’m curious to hear your feedback. Comment please.

In other Metro news:

•If you have 16 minutes to spare, my colleague Adrian Hernandez made this video on the fossils that been discovered as part of work on the Purple Line Extension project:

•Looking for a new book? The 750-page tome/coffee table that is the Final Environmental Impact Report/Statement for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project waits for your perusal.

In English, this is the project to build a 9.2-mile light rail between Van Nuys and the city of San Fernando. There’s also “virtual learning tool” that breaks down the basic benefits and impacts of the project.

A rendering of the future Roscoe Station on Van Nuys Boulevard.

•There’s one more virtual public workshop to learn more about Metro’s Traffic Reduction Study, which is looking at whether tolls and more transportation options could reduce congestion. The meeting is Tuesday night from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Click here to register and the video below explains what’s being studied in more detail.

And in the media…

•With wildfires and climate change in the news, and perhaps eyeing a future campaign, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that would phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars in 2035.

Details are lacking. Headlines were, as expected, secured. Lawsuits are likely (California is already involved in one with the federal government over mileage standards). But I liked the move.

Transportation is by a healthy margin the biggest source of greenhouse gases in our state. It’s not just cars — talking to you, ships/trains/planes — but if you’ve been on an L.A. area freeway recently, it’s obvious cars are a big source of greenhouse gases and smog.

Even though there will be more transit and other options to get around in the future, let’s face it: people are still going to be getting around by cars. So we might as well draw a line in the sand and figure this out now, rather than keep kicking the can.

Here’s a good FAQ in the LAT about the exec order.

Have an article you think I should share + ponder? Email me.

 

 

4 replies

  1. Although bus and train service have been deemed essential, buses and trains maybe the biggest source of infection. Most buses and trains are not cleaned for at least eight hours with the majority being perhaps sixteen hours. And how many vehicles receive a deep cleaning as is needed now but only vacuumed out at the fuel station? These are the real facts, not the politically correct facts. Empty the Gateway Headquarters and send those employees to Term. 28 and other layovers to clean the buses and trains at the end of the line. Perhaps then you would be providing a safe environment. The Bus and Train Operators are being protected for a reason, i.e. patrons not allowed in the front of the buses and free fares. You know it and the MTA brass know it. And for those who believe I’m just a bus rider I’m not. I was employed at the RTD/MTA for 31 years primarily in a management position dealing with day to day on street operation. Disgruntled , no. A realist, yes that believes the public deserves the truth.

    • The research already out there has already ruled out transit as being the site of super-spreader events in Tokyo and Paris. Most of the increase in COVID transmission is happening at workplaces and at gatherings where people are not social-distancing properly and/or masking. That said, there is overcrowding happening on Metro buses and the budget they approved better be as flexible as they say it is to increase service where it matters the most. A front-line worker may get sick at work but could potentially spread it to people while riding on an overcrowded bus.

  2. First, I have to say, this business of changing clocks twice a year has become old for a long time. It is hard on people who work or go to school and it seems to be getting people sick every time we change time. I don’t care if it is standard or daylight time; but leave us on one or the other.

    Second, Metro & the City of Los Angeles need coordinate the traffic signals on Van Nuys Blvd for the new light rail line. The current light rail lines waste too much time waiting for signals to change.

    Third, I am not happy Governor Newsom wants to do away with gas powered cars in 2035. Unless, there are a lot of charging stations around, just how are people that live in apartments and condos suppose to charge in their cars at home? If you live in a large apartment or condo building it will cost a fortune to put additional electric wiring in a large building. Plus there is an issue of people stealing electricity from other residents car charging meters. It also takes a while to recharge a car compared to pumping gas. Plus what happens in the summer when we always have electrical outages? Thought also needs to be given to truckers and people who drive from state to state. Will there be enough charging stations in areas of mountains or in the desert? To set up a program like that; a lot of concerns need answers.

  3. Regarding DST, I’m on the side of getting rid of it entirely. Studies indicate it’s actually a health hazard with side efffects that can include weakening your immune system.