COVID-19 update and Metro News; Aug. 11, 2021

Source: L.A. County Department of Public Health.

As you likely know, the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to drive an increase of positive cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County.

•If you still need to get vaccinated, there are seven free vaccination clinics that Metro has helped set up at transit stations. The list of locations, hours and other key details are here.

•Reminder: vaccines are free and health insurance is not required. You will not be questioned about your immigration status. L.A. County has a call center to provide more info between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. everyday — dial 833-540-0473.

•Reminder 2: From the CDC — “COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19, especially severe illness and death. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did before the pandemic.”

•Masks or face coverings are required to ride Metro, as per federal requirements. We have installed mask dispensers on the system.

In other Metro News…

•Metro on Monday announced the project to improve the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station is now officially complete. Here’s the Source post and below is a video that shows the many upgrades to our fourth busiest station that serves the A Line (Blue), C Line (Green) and many bus routes.

•The public comment period for the West Santa Ana Branch project’s draft environmental study has been extended and three new virtual  meetings have been added. Details are here. This is the project to build light rail between Artesia and DTLA.

•The Chargers and Rams open their pre-season on Saturday night at SoFi Stadium — and unlike last year, fans will be in attendance. Metro is also running a shuttle between the C Line (Green) Hawthorne/Lennox Station and the stadium. The details are here.

With the stadium near LAX and the oft-busy 105 and 405, it will be interesting to see how traffic shakes out for football games. When it opens, the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Downtown Inglewood Station will be closer to the stadium than the C Line. The city of Inglewood is also studying building a people mover to run between that station and the ballpark.

And in the regular news…

•As you likely heard, the U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a $1-trillion bill on a 69 to 30 vote to fund infrastructure. About $550 billion is new spending and $450 billion will be spent on continuing programs that already exist.

How might the bill benefit Metro if the U.S. House also approves? Primarily in two areas is the short answer.

The amount of money the feds will spend to help fund new transit projects is increasing — the New Starts program, for example, will be $880 million a year higher. Metro has some good recent history here — we received over $4 billion in New Starts dollars to help build the Purple Line Extension and Regional Connector to match with local dollars from sales tax measures approved by L.A. County voters.

In addition, the new bill increases the amount spent on traditional transit funding programs at the local level — meaning there will be more federal bucks to improve local transit.

Lake Powell as seen from 30,000 feet in 2017 when it had a lot more water in it than today. Photo courtesy Steve Hymon.

•It’s striking to me that the media is no longer suggesting that climate change may be the driving force behind wildfires and other weather. The media is flat out drawing a straight line between climate change and the oft-cataclysmic weather and fires we’ve seen in recent years.

The articles you can read are voluminous but I’ll point you to two good pieces: the New Yorker looks at how the ongoing drought is re-exposing the parts of Glen Canyon that have been submerged beneath Lake Powell for the past six decades. And this Washington Post piece looks at the many wildfires in Siberia that cumulatively are burning a larger area than all other fires combined. Yikes.

And friendly reminder: generally speaking, taking transit is a good way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — especially for those who drive alone. Something to chew upon.

The NYT says traffic these days is worse in the peak afternoons in L.A., S.D. and S.F. due to a combo of commuters and people who work at home and hitting the road for errands later in the day. In my neck of the woods in Pasadena, it depends. The 210 for months has been back to its usual heckscape, whereas the local roads seem better than pre-pandemic. I’m guessing that will change this fall if more offices re-open and once the schools start back up.