To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, June 28, 2013

Anthony Portantino kicks off run for State Senate

Former state assemblyman begins fundraising at garden party Sunday
By Lauren Gold, June 28, 2013
 In a bid to re-enter the political arena, former state assemblyman Anthony Portantino will host a kick-off reception for his state Senate campaign in South Pasadena on Sunday.

Portantino, who was termed out of the Assembly last year and was replaced in November by former Pasadena City Councilman Chris Holden, said he plans to run for state Sen. Carol Liu's 25th District seat when she's termed out in 2016. The foothills district spans from Tujunga to Upland and comprises the Angeles National Forest and the cities adjacent to it.

Though he said he has not made an official announcement of his candidacy, Portantino said more than 300 people, paying a minimum of $50 each, have already pledged to attend the campaign kick-off at a South Pasadena home.

Portantino said he is "humbled" by the overwhelming support he has already received. although the race is three years away.

"It's a bipartisan response throughout the entire foothills," Portantino said Friday. "The wonderful communities of the San Gabriel Valley gave me an opportunity to introduce myself eight years ago. It's like an extended family and to have that positive response now I want to keep building on that momentum."

Portantino, a former mayor of La Cañada Flintridge, said he plans to campaign on the core values of transparency in government and education. "Those are the values of the foothill communities and those are my values and Ithink there is a need to continue to fight for them," he said.
Portantino served as a state assemblyman for the 44th District for six years. He has been a strong advocate for the California Public Records Act and an active opponent of the 710 Freeway extension to Pasadena. He currently serves on the California Film Commission and is a visiting fellow at USC's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. He is also a member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Advisory Committee, The Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy and the La Cañada Chamber of Commerce.

Is the future of transit free?


By Nicole Schlosser, June 28, 2013


Over the last couple of weeks, protestors in Brazil demanded less corruption and improvements to the nation's public services. In particular, a free transit activist group staged mass demonstrations over bus fare increases. The group, mostly university students, got the fare hikes that triggered the protests canceled, the AP reported.
The group is not stopping there, though; even after meeting with Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, it is still demanding the end of transit fares, in keeping with its original platform.

In another AP story, polls show that the majority of Brazilians “support the protests, while demanding more services for the heavy taxes they pay.”

However, adds the AP, Brazil’s economy is struggling, and the country is dealing with rising inflation. Both factors make investing more money in public services even more of a challenge.

Then again, there may be something to the idea of fare-free transit on larger systems, argues an article in The Economist. It says that buses and subways should be free to ride in an effort to reduce congestion and increase service quality. Fares cost a significant amount of money to collect, the story points out, referencing a 2007 report in New York magazine that found 6% of the MTA’s budget went to fare collection — maintaining the system and wasted fuel from idling buses, not to mention lost time.

The article also refers to a New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) study that totaled the amount of time wasted as riders waited to board and pay fares on one run of one bus route. That turned out to be 16 minutes and 16 seconds, or over a quarter of the total run. Moving to a proof-of-payment system on many of its lines has helped, but could making the system free to board help even more?

Fare free transit service is not unheard of, of course. Some Europe and U.S. cities have experimented with the idea. Europe appears to have had better luck with it, says a story in Planetizen.

The idea of fare-free transit may not gain much traction here in the U.S. anytime soon, especially given the current political climate. Still, is it possible that the movement in Brazil could be the tipping point for other countries, including the U.S., to re-examine how they improve their transit service and cover the expense?

Here's an Awesome Redesign of the Los Angeles Freeway Map


By Eve Bachrach, June 28, 2013




Boston-based designer Peter Dunn decided to try his hand at creating a new map of LA's highway system and the results are pretty great, and more than a little reminiscent of London's iconic tube maps. Dunn explains that "my challenge was to clarify every possible route through 31 freeways, 75 interchanges, and more than 850 exits covering a few thousand square miles of greater Los Angeles, all in a single poster ... First, I created a set of symbols and design rules that clarify where drivers can enter the system, which direction to go, how to connect to a different freeway, and where to exit." The Kickstarter campaign he launched earlier this week is already fully funded, but Dunn is looking for help from all the eagle-eyed map nerds out there: if you see any errors, send them his way.

Los Angeles Freeway Map, Redesign

 By Peter Dunn





The freeways of Greater Los Angeles presented in a clear, stylish map inspired by subway map designs.

As a designer, I make maps that show places a little differently—like measuring time instead of distance on the subway, or showing 50 states on a city street map. Now, I'm launching my first Kickstarter project, and it's a map I'm hugely proud of. Several months ago, I became interested in creating a new design language for freeway maps. Since Southern California was the first place that came to mind when I thought of highways, I turned to Los Angeles as the perfect site to try out my design. I'm thrilled with the results, and I hope you will be too!
Freeway maps could learn a lot from subway maps. On the rails or on the road, travelers care most about how to get from where they are to where they want to be. For decades, subway maps have offered this information with designs that are more geometric than geographic. The best combine an intuitive logic that enables effortless navigation with a distinctive aesthetic. Most highway maps, on the other hand, often lack basic information about how to navigate the system. And as for style, well, they’re not usually something you’d want hanging on your wall. So what would happen if you applied the lines of the subway map to the tangles of freeway system?
That’s the question I set out to answer. My challenge was to clarify every possible route through 31 freeways, 75 interchanges, and more than 850 exits covering a few thousand square miles of greater Los Angeles, all in a single poster. Just as important, it had to be aesthetically beautiful. The solution required a departure from the typical highway map. First, I created a set of symbols and design rules that clarify where drivers can enter the system, which direction to go, how to connect to a different freeway, and where to exit. I then painstakingly translated every last on-ramp and off-ramp from existing maps into the diagram. Add some distinctive typography and a Southern California color palette, and the result is a poster-sized map that’s both legible and stylish. And as far as I can tell, it’s the only map of its kind.
See more images with full design details on my website:  www.stonebrowndesign.com/los-angeles-freeways.html

Your backing of this project will fund a print run of 24” x 36” posters, bringing this design to life for the first time. The freeways don’t have any train stations or subway cars to post the map in, but a poster in your living room or office will serve as a unique design statement and a practical travel tool.
I worked with a professional printer to do a print run for a previous project, so when this one goes to press, I know what to look for to make sure the work comes out looking fantastic. I'll use a heavy card stock and archival inks that will keep the poster looking great for years to come. Printing on an offset press will ensure crisp lines and deliver the meticulous reproduction needed to show off the attention I've put into the smallest details of the design.
The map will be revised before it's finalized, and I could use your help. If you spot any errors, or anything that could be made more clear, please let me know! I'll post updates on my website. The print will then get a thorough proofing before going to press. Don't worry, I've put far too much time into this to let a product through that's anything less than perfect.
Thanks for your support! Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Many of the biggest challenges are behind me at this point: the map is fully designed!
Once the project is funded, the main risks are snags with the printer. It's impossible to tell what the printer's timeline will look like once this goes to press, so I've been careful to build time into the production schedule to make sure backers aren't waiting a day longer than expected.

Metro votes to block 710 Freeway extension project, studies continue


By Brittany Levine, June 28, 2013

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week voted to block fast-track funding for the Long Beach (710) Freeway extension over the next 10 years.

While the proposal to extend the 710 Freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway will be prevented from getting a share of the $9.4 billion in accelerated funding, studies on five alternatives for closing the gap, including a controversial proposal for a tunnel, will continue.

The studies are expected to be completed in 2015, but money to move forward after that has not been identified. Officials are using money generated by Measure R, a county-wide half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2008, to pay for the studies.

"The motion that was made … does not stop the process to complete the study," said MTA spokeswoman Helen Ortiz-Gilstraph.

The tunnel option to connect the 710 and Foothill (210) Freeways has been opposed by Glendale, Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge and others, but supported by Alhambra and other cities.
Other options include increasing light rail and doing nothing at all.

Among the nine Metro board members who voted Thursday to block the 710 Freeway extension project from the accelerated funding was Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian, who has been a staunch opponent of the tunnel. Although Najarian promised to pare back his anti-710 rhetoric in order to secure the votes he needed to stay on the MTA board in March, he has continued to assert his position.

"I didn't feel it was proper to assign money to a project that has not been defined yet," Najarian said.
Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina, a proponent of the tunnel, was unfazed by the board's move.

"This really doesn't affect anything we're working on," she said.

The projects that did stay on the fast-track list are all transit work, such as extending the Gold Line. Before getting on the list, some of the projects weren't scheduled to be completed for another 10 or 20 years.
MTA officials plan to borrow money from a variety of sources, including the federal government, to pay for the accelerated projects.
The No 710 Action Committee Needs You!

Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook, June 28, 2013

Metro Wants Another Vote to Speed Up Transit Projects


By Neal Broverman, June 28, 2013




Metro's board had a huge day yesterday: finalizing a $2-billion construction contract for the Crenshaw light rail line (the last hurdle before construction can start next year), saying goodbye to transit proponent/outgoing board member/mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and passing a plan to accelerate various transit projects that are about to start work. Voting 9-3, the Board approved the acceleration plan, which The Source is quick to point out won't guarantee shorter timelines for projects like the Purple Line extension to Westwood and the Green Line extension deeper into the South Bay. "[The plan] is reliant on Congressional approval of the America Fast Forward program that both Villaraigosa and Metro have advocated for. America Fast Forward would provide Metro and other transit agencies access to hundreds of millions of dollars in federally-backed loans and interest-free bonds." Since our Congress is dysfunctional, we may be waiting to exhale on AFF; aware of this, the acceleration plan included a provision requesting a ballot initiative plan "for the November 2014 or November 2016 election that, if approved by the voters of Los Angeles County, would enable acceleration of all Measure R highway and transit projects."

Even in the best of worlds, getting a tax increase passed in LA County is difficult, as it requires two-thirds approval, or 66.67 percent of the vote. Measure R squeaked past that bar in 2008, but Measure J, a proposed extension of R, just failed to reach it (while plans were in place to lower the voter threshold to 55 percent, those now seem dead in the water).

If there were to be another vote on a tax extension related to transit and freeway projects, there would be no shortage of people cheering for its failure. First, there's the Beverly Hills NIMBYs who view the Purple Line subway as an approaching rocket from hell, the South LA groups that are demanding the Crenshaw Line be undergrounded in Park Mesa Heights, and, now, San Gabriel Valley groups and politicians that are furious Metro is not funding a Gold Line extension to Claremont, which they claim is a broken promise.
· Metro Board approves strategy to accelerate second- and third-decade Measure R projects
Bus Riders Union take a turn at Metro--Joe Cano Video

Posted by Joe Cano on No 710 on Avenue 64 Facebook page, June 28, 2013

 This video is about New Project 15

Crenshaw Subway Coalition Had Very Valid Complaints--Video by Joe Cano
Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook, June 28, 2013
 Crenshaw Subway Coalition had very valid complaints against Metro.

Damien Goodman gave Metro CEO Art Leahy a well deserved shredding. Props go to this amazing young man. If he is lying to the Black community, we as Mexican Americans in El Sereno are probably getting the same.
Does the Crenshaw Subway Coalition Have Enough Juice to Alter Metro’s Crenshaw Plans Again?


By Damien Newton, June 28, 2013 


 The dark yellow line marks the Crenshaw Light Rail route.

Yesterday, the Metro Board of Directors awarded the nearly $1.3 billion construction contract for the Crenshaw Line to Walsh/Shea Corridors Construction.

While the decision was unanimous on the dais, it was not a popular one in the room. Dozens of speakers spoke out asking the Board to not award a contract to anyone who would not tunnel for the Crenshaw Line through an 11-block segment between 48th and 59th streets through Park Mesa Heights. Some of those speakers were as young as seven years old, and testified that they worried that the train line would kill them.

The tag line for the Crenshaw Subway Coalition is “it’s not over until it’s under,” the same one used by the Citizens Campaign to Fix the Expo Line. The Expo Line Phase I literally has more bells and whistles and a station at Dorsey High School because of Fix Expo. But the Expo Line isn’t “under.” For all practical purposes, the Citizen’s Campaign is “over.”

So, with environmental documents, a contractor, and funding all in-hand, is the battle for Crenshaw “over?”

Not yet.

For one thing, the Campaign still has a lawsuit pending over the environmental documents. It is possible, although given Metro’s winning streak against these sorts of suits it is unlikely, that a judge could rule with the Coalition and force a new environmental review.

The Dodgers would love to go one for two these days.

It’s also possible that when Damien Goodmon, the leader of the coalition, finally gets his hands on construction bids submitted to Metro that include the “Park Mesa Tunnel” that a public outcry will compel Metro’s Board to put the brakes on the project. Goodmon has filed multiple public records requests to the transit agency demanding their release to no avail. Metro has all-but-admitted they exist. However, a new environmental impact report would be needed to construct the tunnel and they want to build it today.

And just days before the vote, a new argument against the Crenshaw Subway arose. An op/ed in the Morningside Park Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Inglewood, charges that Metro plans to build a 30 foot wall sectioning off North Inglewood from the rest of the city.
The Board is set to approve a 30-foot high, 1/4-mile long concrete wall that will isolate north Inglewood from the rest of the city. This design change was not a part the EIR process and was never disclosed to the public. Metro’s position is that adding this wall is a minor change and will not impact the community in any way.
However, assuming that the lawsuit is not successful  there are two reasons why a publicity campaign may not have the same impact as the ones that brought about the Leimert Park Station for Crenshaw and the Dorsey High Station for Expo.

The first reason is Mark Ridley-Thomas. The popular County Supervisor who sits on the Metro Board of Directors is excited about the project moving forward with the Leimert Park Station and is ready to be the face of the project. In a press release, the Supervisor praised yesterday’s decision.

“This has been a decades-long, monumental effort by an array of elected officials, community advocates and Metro staff,” said Ridley-Thomas, who has championed the line since his days as a Los Angeles City Council Member in the 1990s. “We did this together and now we are poised to begin construction on a dream that will help millions.”

 Ridley-Thomas doesn’t just provide a spokesperson for the project, but also plays a key role in the politics of the Metro Board. He was a tireless champion of the Leimert Park Station, and without a champion it’s much harder to get the Metro Board to do anything.
Second, there’s an excellent chance that more people from the Crenshaw community will be building the project. The same was not true for the Expo Line.

In January 2012, Metro passed a “Construction Career Policy” requiring that at least 40% of all construction workers on Metro projects come from communities with a median income below the poverty line. Since then, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) has worked with local unions on mentoring programs to insure that a labor force of qualified residents of South L.A. are ready to begin work on their transit line.

There’s a reason that politicians and unions always sell transit projects in terms of the jobs created, all the advocacy in the world isn’t going to convince someone who has a good paying job with benefits that the project they’re working on is a bad one. The same holds true for that worker’s family and friends.

So yes, the battle rages on over Crenshaw. The Subway Coalition lost in the Metro Board Room, but is ready with a lawsuit and a continuing press campaign. But with construction scheduled to start “immediately,” it might be over before it’s under, and be over pretty soon.
Discussion & Vote on Accelerating Measure R Projects Without the SR710 Tunnel: Video by Joe Cano

Posted by Joe Cano on No 710 on Avenue 64 Facebook page, June 28, 2013

Here is the discussion & vote on accelerating Measure R projects without the SR710 tunnel.

SR710 tunnel project suffers a setback. 

The Metro Board passed a resolution to accelerate Measure R funded projects. Ara Najarian was successful in having the SR710 tunnel dropped from this resolution.

This is a win for the NO710 groups but the fight continues. Harry Baldwin & Leland Dolley where there to speak in favor on this measure. We all know Baldwin & Dolley are paid by Barbara Messina & her SCAG buddies pushing the tunnel. Alhambra & Monterey Park are left flapping in the wind now in supporting a project that will have no money behind it. In the mean time these two cities are spending valuable city resources to promote what exactly? That's what comes with being puppets of Metro. they will get kicked to the curb as soon as Metro realizes they are no longer of any use to them.
Ara Najarian, my main man, mi hermano Armenio
Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook, June 28, 2013
 Joe Cano, Therese U. Hernandez-Cano, and Ara Najarian.
He has come to the aid of the Mexican American community of El Sereno. The history of our Armenian brothers & sisters is no different than what we as Mexican Americans have suffered. Getting kicked around & people trying to wipe us out as a people, he saw the injustice & came to our assistance. I cannot say the same about our Latino representative. I have never seen such a blind, heartless, arrogant group of people who are supposed to represent their own be such be abject failures as human beings. Gil Cedillo has to be the biggest crook & scumbag, Kevin Deleon the biggest dimwit I have ever seen hold a public office, Mayor Tony, the biggest chuch hound I have ever seen & Eli Broad's little lapdog. Let's be honest about Tony's failed Federal appointment he never would have got past the vetting process unless he was running for the Cabinet level of pimp, so he makes the sorry excuse the he did not want it. And last but not least 'La Princesa' Gloria Molina once a champion of our people now totally a sellout & in with corporate America. Even with scientific proof that a tunnel will have adverse effect on our community she sidesteps & dances around the tunnel issue. Yes I see how hard it is to see the truth when you have money pasted to your eyes. It takes a true brother from Glendale & an Armenian to see the peril our gente El Sereno are facing. sh'norhakal em yeghpayr.
  I make no apologies for going after our own. After seeing & hearing the sorry excuses from these pendejos in this tunnel fight. I am extremely pissed off that we have been thrown to the corporate wolves. I do not fawn over these people like others who bow to their awesomeness hoping to be rewarded with a crumb from the feast they are not even invited to. Malinchistas todos!!
The Crenshaw Residents at Metro Board Meeting 06/27/2013People Power
 Posted on Facebook by Joe Cano, June 28, 2013  
Joe Cano:  This is how you do it. This is how we, people of color have to go at the powers that be. I am student of many older cats that fought the 'civil rights' fights of the past. My hearty was lifted lifted to see this. It felt like home.
A comment: Damien Rocked!

Grand jury: Poorly coordinated public transit is hurting seniors


By Dawn Witlin, June 28, 2013

Traveling between cities in Ventura County generally means hitting the freeway in an automobile. But for older residents who are no longer able to drive, finding reliable public transportation to get from one city to the next is not so easy.

A recent Ventura County grand jury report calls for transportation officials to coordinate the county’s disparate bus systems, while transit officials point to a lack of funding to address a problem they’ve been aware of for years.

The grand jury’s yearlong investigation concluded in May that there is little to no coordination among the county’s cities and their respective transportation agency schedules, “making it difficult, if not impossible,” for seniors to travel easily, according to the report.

 “We found that while there are many transportation agencies which just get you from point A to point B in any given city, there is no cohesive way for seniors to get around the county,” said jury foreman Jay Whitney.

The grand jury report found that bus routes, fees, stops and schedules differ so greatly that many seniors find it difficult to plan their travel route.

Camarillo Area Transit offers both in-town fixed routes and a pickup by reservation service called Dial-A-Ride, which costs seniors $1.50 for a one-way trip and $3 for round-trip travel.
Similar Dial-A-Ride services are offered in cities countywide but operate on independent schedules and are difficult to coordinate, the grand jury found.

Jane Raab, Camarillo Senior Center’s recreation supervisor, talks to seniors daily who don’t want to take public transportation between cities because of the confusing route schedule and lack of buses.
Raab said she recently helped an elderly woman plan a route from her Camarillo home to visit an ailing friend at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura using public transportation.
The trip wasn’t easy and took nearly half the day.

The octogenarian transferred between three transportation service providers in Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura, and reached her destination in roughly three hours.

The same trip by car takes about 20 minutes.

“It’s really, really sad because Camarillo has one fixed-route bus, and if you want to go on that fixed route, it’s really affordable, but if you want to deviate from that route, it’s very, very difficult,” Raab said.

The grand jury report also focused on seniors with disabilities that limit their mobility.

“Many seniors may not be able to walk to the bus stop, or even to the curb, to avail themselves of a ride,” the report states. “In many cases the senior feels isolated and no longer a part of the community.”

Another obstacle facing seniors without a driver’s license is travel costs, the report found.

“Aging is a major life transition that typically means leaving the workforce and living on a fixed income that either does not vary over time or rises modestly to cover a portion of annual inflation,” the report said.

The report concluded with several recommendations to address the transportation needs of a growing senior population. The suggestions will be forwarded to local governing agencies.

The grand jury says the Ventura County Board of Supervisors should allocate funding for senior transportation programs.

In addition, the report recommends that an independent, nonelected county administrator be assigned to oversee the collaboration of all the transportation agencies in the county and produce strategies to simplify senior transportation.

The grand jury report also calls for the Ventura County Transportation Commission and the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging to create new programs to help senior citizens find transportation within their cities and throughout the county.

“The main thing is, rather than have this separation of entities, there needs to be a way for the entities to act as one,” Whitney said. “We would like to see a unified plan countywide, and it just seems like a glaring omission for that not to have been done already.”

Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long said that while changes to the county’s transportation system are necessary, she disagrees with the jury’s recommendation to appoint a new administrator to represent seniors.

“I don’t know if I agree with having an independent person because all the county’s jurisdictions would have to agree to empower that person to be able to advocate for the seniors,” Long said. “Every elected official will say, ‘That’s what I’m here for.’”

Long said existing agencies and city representatives have to work together to address senior transportation needs.

VCTC Executive Director Darren Kettle agrees with most of the grand jury’s findings but blames a lack of funding for complicated bus connections and lengthy bus stop wait times.

“One of the things the report talked about is improved connections, and one of the only ways you’re able to do that is by having more frequency of service.” Kettle said. “We simply have a very modest level of public transportation services because we only have so much funding throughout the county for public transportation.”

Kettle said as the economy continues to shows signs of recovery, VCTC may receive additional state and federal funding to address the issue of senior transportation.

“Thanks to slight improvements to the budget in the past few years because of the improving economy, we are going to be devoting more staff to trying to look at the coordination and connections between our transportation systems so we have better connections,” Kettle said. “While it’s great that the grand jury recognized these areas of concern, we identified it years ago and have been working to find a solution.”

The grand jury has no special authority to take legal action against the individuals, businesses or institutions it investigates, but the agencies mentioned in the report have an obligation to respond.
VCTC and the Board of Supervisors will each send a detailed response to the grand jury to address their findings in next 30 to 90 days.

L.A. Metro to Purchase Its First Electric Buses for Los Angeles County Transit Riders


June 27, 2013


— The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors today approved a contract with BYD Motors for the manufacture and delivery of up to 25 new all-electric buses as part of a $30 million clean air bus technology pilot project.

This is the first time in Metro’s history that all-electric, zero-emission transit buses will be purchased and placed into revenue service as the agency evaluates electric bus technologies and their applicability to meet L.A.’s rigorous transit needs.

Metro’s Advanced Transit Vehicle Consortium (ATVC), a partnership with L.A. City, L.A. County and South Coast Air Quality Management District, will initially purchase five low-floor, 40-foot all-electric buses. After an initial period of testing and evaluation, Metro may then choose to purchase up to 20 additional buses. Metro will also initiate a new solicitation to convert six existing Metro gasoline electric hybrid buses to Super Low Emission Bus standards.

The BYD contract contains a local jobs component that stipulates that the firm implement a local jobs program. BYD will comply by performing final assembly of bus components at its new manufacturing facilities in L.A. County. A Lancaster, California plant, which opened in May, is the international firm’s first manufacturing facility in the United States.

“Metro already operates the nation's largest compressed natural gas bus fleet, but this initiative sets Metro on a new course for transitioning to even cleaner electric buses that will be assembled right here in Los Angeles County at the BYD manufacturing plant in Lancaster,” said Michael D. Antonovich, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair.

In 2011 Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa co-authored a motion with Metro board members and County Supervisors Don Knabe and Antonovich to jump-start Metro’s Super Low/Zero Emission Bus Program to meet future vehicle emission reduction targets set by the California Air Resources Board.

The program seeks to test rapidly evolving electric vehicle technologies that have enhanced operating characteristics including extended range, better integrated subsystems and lighter weight construction. Metro will evaluate whether the new all-electric buses can reduce operating and maintenance costs and lower life cycle costs compared with Metro’s current fleet.

BYD’s electric buses use the company’s own iron phosphate rechargeable batteries which can reportedly travel 155 miles between charges with a full passenger load. The firm has manufacturered more than 1,000 electric buses in China and was rated highest in the proposal process for technical compliance, project management and past performance.

“In 2010, when BYD made Los Angeles its North American corporate headquarters it signaled L.A.’s emergence as a center for tomorrow’s clean vehicle technologies,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “Through partnerships like this contract, BYD is helping Los Angeles continue to lead the way in developing clean, green transportation solutions, and keeping L.A. at the forefront of the cleantech revolution.”

Metro anticipates receiving the new buses early next year. Following an initial evaluation and testing period, Metro plans to initiate new procurements for additional “next generation” zero-emission and super low emission buses based on technology developments anticipated within the next one to three years.

“BYD very much admires the forward-thinking vision of Metro and is thrilled about partnering with this great transit agency to deliver truly zero-direct-emissions buses while building up local California jobs to support these buses from our L.A. Headquarters or our bus assembly plant in Lancaster, California,” said Stella Li, BYD Motors President.

The program is part of a larger effort to test clean air prototype buses prior to the next Metro replacement bus proceurement in 2016. Funding for the buses has been made available using Measure R funds dedicated for transit operations. Currently, Metro has a fleet of 2,238 clean air compressed natural gas buses operating on 183 bus routes throughout Los Angeles County.
For additional information on Metro transit services, please visit www.metro.net.

Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/2013/06/27/4983038/la-metro-to-purchase-its-first.html#storylink=cpy
Gridlock On The 405 Freeway - 'The Westside Parking Lot'


By  Hal Eisner, June 27, 2013

Los Angeles, CA -
In the big picture West LA is relatively small. But, it's got three really big construction projects going on and, according to some I've spoken with in the transportation industry, this "perfect storm" of converging projects is making traffic worse than it already was in West Los Angeles. Those projects having a domino effect on Sunset, Santa Monica, Wilshire, Olympic and Pico are the 405 widening project, the Wilshire Loops and The Expo line expansion.

Some days it feels so badly gridlocked that it makes drivers grind their teeth. METRO's Marc Littman says he gets it. He gave me a statement to share with you as did Bruce Gillman at LADOT.
The one part of Littman's statement that really resonates here is that if you buy into the notion of "no pain no gain" then how much longer do we have to wait for the pain to go away. We're having plenty of that pain!

From Marc Littman at METRO:

"Metro acknowledges that the I-405 and Expo Phase II to Santa Monica construction has added to Westside traffic, which was woeful long before our work began because the Westside is so densely populated and a major jobs center.  On top of that the work we're doing in the Sepulveda Pass is restricted by mountains so there are limited alternate routes for commuters and others. The good news is that much of the I-405 work will be done by the end of the year. Metro and Caltrans already have opened up three miles of additional lane capacity northbound on the freeway.

Just today another of the Wilshire ramps was completed. All of the bridges, the major utility relocation work,, the underpasses and the Wilshire ramps will soon be done. And we will continue opening  more segments of the additional 10 miles of northbound lane, which will give one of the busiest freeways in the world more capacity. When the Expo light rail line is completed to Santa Monica in about 2 ½ years, traffic weary Westsiders will have another option to beat traffic. And the Westside extension of the Purple Line, likewise, will add even greater relief. You'll be able to go from downtown to UCLA in 25 minutes on the subway, an impossible feat by car.

So look beyond the short term pain and embrace a future where you won't have to slog through traffic that will only get worse if we do nothing. But 2 million voters countywide – including an overwhelming percentage of Westside residents – in 2008 in the middle of the Great Recession said enough. Doing nothing is not an option. We want traffic relief and we'll pay for it. So Metro is delivering on that mandate."


Bruce Gillman told me in check with LADOT's ATSAC Center there was no unusual uptick in vehicle volume. He also pointed out that whenever a lane is closed it results in a loss of roadway capacity that otherwise would be available. Hence the slowdown. Further, states Gillman...

"LADOT's Temporary Traffic Management team and our Traffic Control Center (ATSAC) are constantly monitoring westside activities to maximize traffic signal operations in order to serve all approaches around HWY 405 construction projects."

Littman says it all be better when the projects are done. Time will tell.

Amsterdam has bike traffic jams! Is there such a thing as too many bikes?


By Michael Graham Richard, June 25, 2013



Amsterdam bikes


Amsterdam has more bikes than people, 4x more than cars!

Amsterdam is widely considered one of the top - if not the #1 - cyclist city in the world. There are about 880,000 bicycles in a city of 800,000 people (though it's frequent for people to have more than one bike, f.ex. a cargo bike to carry heavy things and a commuting bike for everyday rides), and 32% of all trips are make on bikes while only 22% are done in cars. But now the city is running into the high quality problem of having bike traffic james and a scarcity of bike parking spots... Is there such a thing as too many bikes?

I don't think so. You can never have too many bikes...

The real problem seems to be that infrastructure hasn't kept up with the growth in cycling. Biking wasn't always this popular in Amsterdam. Just since the early 1990s, the cycling's popularity has grown by 40%. It's no surprise that it puts a huge strain on infrastructure, even if a lot of it has been built since then. The solution is now fewer bikes, but even more bike garages (build them underground if need be), bike racks, bike lanes, etc.

The city seems to understand that quite well:
Mr. Smit’s problem is largely what keeps Thomas Koorn, of Amsterdam’s Transport and Traffic Department, awake at night. “We have a real parking issue,” he said in a conference room overlooking the IJ. Over the next two decades, Mr. Koorn said, the city will invest $135 million to improve the biking infrastructure, including the creation of 38,000 bike parking racks “in the hot spots.” (source)
Can you imagine what a proportionally scaled up investment into biking infrastructure would do to a city like New York? NYC is over 10x bigger than Amsterdam, so that would be an extra $1.35 billion invested into cycling!

FTA issues letter saying Metro has addressed Civil Rights issues


By Steve Hymon, June 27, 2013

As some readers may recall, the Federal Transit Administration in Dec. 2011 found that Metro did not fully follow federal regulations and guidance about the process the agency used to make service changes. At the time, Metro released a compliance plan to correct the problems.
And today the FTA found Metro was in compliance. Here is the description from Metro staff:

The Acting Director of the Office of Civil Rights, Federal Transit Administration, issued a letter today stating that Metro has “satisfactorily addressed all of the deficiencies identified in the September 2011 Compliance Review; therefore the Compliance Review is closed.”

Since December 2011, Metro has worked closely with the FTA after a Title VI Compliance Review conducted in July 2011 found Metro deficient in five, out of the twelve, areas that were reviewed.

As of January 2013, four of the five areas were resolved to the satisfaction of the FTA – the remaining area being the evaluation of service changes.

The June 27, 2013 letter closes out this remaining issue with the FTA concurring with Metro’s analysis that the service changes implemented between 2009 and 2011 did not reveal disparate impacts to minority populations. The FTA also specifically acknowledges Metro’s Civil Rights and Planning staff for their assistance in resolving this matter.

Ultimately,  Metro is pleased to finalize this review process and remains committed to ensuring that it will maintain compliance with all provisions of the FTA’s Title VI requirements.

The Civil Rights Compliance Department is now working on the Title VI Program Update, which must be submitted to the FTA by October 1, 2013.  The Update will report on Metro’s Title VI compliance for the past three years and will require Board approval at the September 2013 Board Meeting.


South Bay leaders turn back Metro board highway money cash grab


By Nick Green, June 27, 2013

South Bay leaders successfully repelled a proposed Metro board cash grab Thursday of $95 million set aside for local road projects, saving dozens from an uncertain fate.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority had planned to use the money to help backfill a $160 million shortfall in the 8.5-mile Crenshaw-to-Los Angeles International Airport light rail line, which the board also approved Thursday as widely expected.

South Bay officials had characterized the cash grab as a way of "cannibalizing" other projects and an act of betrayal to voters who had cast ballots in favor of Measure R, the half-cent sales tax measure paying for the road work. They had protested the move vociferously, with all 15 member cities in the South Bay Council of Governments that serves as the liaison between local cities and the Metro board sending in letters or passing resolutions in opposition.

"(County Supervisor) Don Knabe said it was the mobilization of the South Bay that made a big difference," said Jacki Bacharach, executive director with the SBCOG.

The South Bay was awarded $906 million over 30 years for more than 100 road projects because it is not receiving the huge amounts of money being lavished on light rail lines in other areas of the county. 

The board instead endorsed a proposal by Knabe to find the money it needs by increasing the debt funding ceiling for the Crenshaw/LAX project, perhaps by issuing new bonds.

"The Metro Board today approved my motion for a funding plan to fill a $160 million budget shortfall for the Crenshaw/LAX Project that does not have us taking voter-approved Measure R funds and pitting one transit project against another," Knabe said Thursday. "Leaders in the South Bay did an excellent job of working together to support our efforts to keep the projects envisioned under Measure R whole and to maintain a fair and level playing field for the South Bay and all areas of the county. We must remain committed to delivering the transportation projects that were promised to the voters."

Groundbreaking on the $2 billion Crenshaw/LAX project is expected to occur later this year, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. 

He expects it to "significantly revitalize" a corridor that includes such Inglewood landmarks as Hollywood Park and the Forum. It will serve communities that include Westchester, El Segundo and Hawthorne.

The Metro board also adopted an acceleration policy that will see proposed projects finished years earlier than originally envisioned.

That means, for instance, that the proposed two-mile Green Line extension to the South Bay Galleria is now scheduled to reach the mall by 2021, eight years earlier than planned, said Steve Lantz, a transportation consultant assisting the SBCOG.

However, the board also allowed the South Bay to opt out of the acceleration policy if necessary and use highway money for transit projects -- or vice versa -- based on local needs.

"They've given us the most flexibility," Lantz said. "We're again in charge of our future planning and delivering the projects we're committed to."

MTA backs off on plan to divert South Bay highway funds


By Christine Mai-Duc, June 27, 2013


Crenshaw line

A young girl plays at the fountain at Leimert Park, not far from a future MTA station.

After two weeks of protests by South Bay leaders, the Metropolitan Transit Authority delivered two major victories for the region’s highway program Thursday.

The Metro board had aimed to divert nearly $100 million in funds destined for road and highway projects to pay for increased costs on the Crenshaw/LAX light rail project. Local leaders had protested, saying the money had been promised to South Bay road projects in Measure R, a half-cent sales tax passed by county voters in 2008.

On Thursday, the agency’s board voted to leave Measure R projects intact and, instead, use funds and bonds from Proposition C, another half-cent sales tax passed in 1990.

“It was a victory on a lot of levels. We showed that we can work together well…and we got what we wanted,” said Jacki Bacharach, executive director of the South Bay Cities Council of Governments. The organization helped mobilize more than a dozen South Bay cities, which passed resolutions and sent in letters against the plan.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who also sits on the Metro board, helped lead the effort to shift the burden away from the South Bay’s highway program, which promises $906 million over 30 years for more than 100 road projects big and small.

“Leaders in the South Bay did an excellent job of working together to support our efforts to keep projects envisioned under Measure R whole,” Knabe said in a statement.

Separately, the board also allowed the South Bay and other regions to exempt its highway programs from the agency’s plan to accelerate timelines for major projects, an effort many South Bay cities feared would overwhelm their small staffs in the short term and dry up funds for bigger road projects down the line.

The move allows Metro to maintain its acceleration policy for transit projects, including the South Bay’s planned extension of the Green Line to the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach. That project will now be completed by 2020 instead of 2035.

“A rail project is very, very different than 100 highway projects,” said Bacharach. “We’re looking forward to it.”

After 20 years of talk, Crenshaw/LAX rail line gets green light

Metro OKs a $2-billion contract to build a light-rail line through South Los Angeles to the airport.


 By Laura J. Nelson, June 27, 2013

 Crenshaw light rail
 A Metro Expo Line train crosses Crenshaw Boulevard at Exposition Boulevard.

After some last-minute fiscal reshuffling, transportation officials gave a green light to the proposed Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line on Thursday, capping years of controversy over the train's route through South Los Angeles.

The board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority unanimously approved the Crenshaw Line's $2.06-billion budget, the largest in the agency's history, and awarded the joint project contract to Walsh Construction and J.F. Shea Co.

The 8.5-mile line will connect the Expo Line to the Green Line. It's partially funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax Los Angeles County voters passed in 2008. When major construction begins next year, the Crenshaw Line will be one of five significant rail projects simultaneously under construction in the county. It's expected to open in 2019.

"What you have here is a regional, rational and equitable transportation plan," Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. The line will reduce congestion and air pollution and increase jobs along Crenshaw Boulevard, he said.

Ridley-Thomas was one of the officials who led the charge to build the Crenshaw Line, which was discussed for more than two decades. The issue came to the forefront after county voters passed Measure R. Ridley-Thomas and South L.A. activists successfully fought to add two stations to the route, including a stop in Leimert Park Village, a hub of African American culture and history.

The project's funding includes an extra $160 million, in case construction runs over budget.

Officials had planned to take the extra money from a variety of other projects, including nearly $100 million for South Bay highway and road improvements. But after cities there protested, officials voted to take the money instead from two projects funded by Proposition C, another half-cent sales tax that county voters passed in 1990.

Activists had urged Metro to hire black workers to build the line, but the federal government prohibits hiring based on race. The Crenshaw Line contractors have agreed that construction workers from ZIP Codes with low income and chronic unemployment — many of which are in South L.A. — will handle many of the project work hours.

The line could still change in one significant way. In a separate motion Thursday, the Metro board voted to study another option for bringing airport travelers on the Crenshaw Line closer to Los Angeles International Airport. The new alternative would connect the Crenshaw Line to a facility along 96th Street, where travelers would take a transfer to the terminal.

Planes, trains and automobiles top Anthony Foxx’s agenda


 By Kathryn A. Wolfe and Adam Snider, June 27, 2013

Anthony Foxx is pictured. | AP Photo

The reins at the Transportation Department’s Navy Yard headquarters may be changing hands, but the array of issues that will confront Anthony Foxx on his first day as transportation secretary won’t look much different from the ones that faced his predecessor, Ray LaHood.

When President Barack Obama announced Foxx’s nomination at the White House, the North Carolinian told the much-praised LaHood that he would “do my absolute best to uphold the standards you have set at USDOT.”

He also borrowed a line LaHood loves to use when addressing the nation’s infrastructure funding gap, saying “there is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican road, bridge, port, airfield or rail system. We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation’s infrastructure.”
(PHOTOS: Obama's second-term Cabinet)
Here are eight issues Foxx will inherit:

1. Sequester

Depending on how Congress spends the rest of its pre-recess summer, the sequester may stick around for a while. If Congress fails to replace or otherwise blunt the effects of the sequester before the end of September, Foxx’s most pressing task may be dealing with a fresh threat of air traffic controller furloughs and contract tower closures. Given the political and media frenzy around aviation delays caused by furloughs in April, this would mean Foxx could be thrust quickly into a high-wire act while he is still figuring out his way around the job.

Under questioning by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) about how he would deal with the sequester during his Senate Commerce Committee confirmation hearing, Foxx said he would try to maximize efficiency with “the least amount of pain as possible.” But he added that he “cannot guarantee you there will be painless choices.”

2. Highway funding

Finding money for the next highway and transit bill will be one of his biggest challenges, and Foxx isn’t likely to live up to LaHood’s goal of a transportation bill with a more than $500 billion price tag. The administration has taken flak for repeatedly offering up the “peace dividend” as a pay-for, with many calling that plan a budget gimmick.

LaHood has promised a “big and bold” funding plan from the president later this year, and Foxx will play a key role in selling the proposal to reluctant members of Congress.

3. Amtrak reauthorization

Since the Senate has already passed a water resources bill, the upcoming passenger rail legislation could be Foxx’s first chance to substantially weigh in on what the administration would like to see in a bill before Congress. The two parties are far apart — House Republicans are seeking cuts in the mandate for nationwide service, which will face opposition in the Democratic Senate.

The railroad has trimmed losses in recent years but still needs more than $1 billion a year in federal funding. Foxx has supported transit in Charlotte, but he will need to widen his scope to take on the country’s passenger rail network.

4. NextGen

The transition to a satellite-based air traffic control system to cut down on delays and increase the capacity of the aviation system remains an enormous challenge for the Federal Aviation Administration and DOT. That’s because of the program’s complexity and many interrelated moving parts but also because of the multiple billions of dollars required to implement it.

That price tag would present a challenge at any time and is an even bigger issue as lawmakers look for ways to trim spending. Foxx will have to find ways to thread the needle to keep the money flowing — while also managing the massive project.

5. Distracted driving

Distracted driving is perhaps the highest-profile safety issue associated with LaHood’s tenure, and he leaves office with a legacy of helping to elevate awareness of the dangers of texting while driving.
Foxx promised that he would continue LaHood’s crusade, saying at his confirmation hearing that LaHood had “baked that into the DNA of the Department of Transportation, and I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

In his final “On the Go” video blog, LaHood said he had faith that Foxx will carry the torch. “I believe my successor will continue this campaign because it’s at the top of the list of the safety agenda we’ve developed here at the Department of Transportation,” he said in the video.

6. Dreamliner review

Foxx will be at the helm for the unveiling of FAA’s review of the certification process that found the 787 Dreamliner was safe to fly. The review, which was initiated after a Japanese 787’s lithium-ion battery malfunctioned and caught fire on the tarmac, will examine, among other things, whether FAA’s “special conditions” for the battery were adequate.

That review is separate from an ongoing National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the root cause of the problem. If the DOT review recommends any changes that would require legislation, Foxx would help shepherd those changes through Congress.

7. Pending rules

Foxx will also inherit a host of pending rules, and all have deadlines that will occur on his watch. That includes several big-ticket safety-related items, such as a much-watched rule that would bump up the training requirements for commercial airline pilots. The rule, which is supposed to be completed by Aug. 1, was issued after a deadly 2009 regional jet crash that also spurred major changes to pilot rest-and-fatigue requirements.

Also in the hopper is a long-delayed rule that would mandate new vehicles be equipped with cameras enabling drivers to see behind them. That rule seeks to reduce the number of children killed by cars and trucks moving in reverse.

Another high-profile potential change for air travelers is whether the FAA will relax rules that require personal electronic devices like iPods and laptops to be turned off when a plane is operating below 10,000 feet, typically during takeoffs and landings. An industry working group is expected to produce a report on the issue later this summer, which could form the basis of regulatory changes to the way the FAA handles this issue.

8. Ongoing safety matters

As one of the nation’s top safety officials, Foxx will also have to weigh in on issues expected to emerge during the drafting of the next transportation bill. Those include efforts to alter the size and weight of large trucks on the nation’s federally funded highways, efforts by advocates to mandate auto safety items and increase the frequency of recalls, human fatigue issues across all modes of transportation and issues related to air traffic controller staffing levels and separation between planes.