Purpose

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

710 tunnel opponents come out in force

http://www.sierramadreweekly.com/current-news/710-tunnel-opponents-come-out-in-force/

By Shel Segal, July 24, 2013





072513I710PressConfPhoto

The battle to bridge the Interstate 710 gap between Alhambra and Pasadena ran into opposition on Saturday as the group No on 710 and around 100 of its supporters rallied at Blair High School to state its case.

Susan Bolan, a La Crescenta resident and member of No on 710, said before the rally that featured several local politicians who are opposed to the proposed project that the amount of traffic that would pass through the area is enough to make her say no to the extension.

“For me, personally, it’s all about the numbers,” Bolan said. “There’s about 44,000 vehicles that go through this area per day currently. It’s predicted that if the tunnel is built about 180,000 vehicles will pass through this area. That’s a four times increase. Hence, an increase in pollution, congestion, all of it … Why would you build a tunnel, a project of this magnitude if it’s so expensive, will increase congestion and increase pollution? I don’t get it.”

She added she does not want to see that traffic make its way up Interstate 210 to where she lives.
“It’s shear volume,” Bolan said. “If you have four times the amount of traffic that’s going through this section, a good portion of that is going to split off and go in my neighborhood.”

In addition, Bolan said the tunnel would just be too dangerous for motorists if it is built
“History has shown that tunnels present a particular type of danger, especially fire,” Bolan said. “You can’t mitigate a tunnel fire.”

Former Assemblyman Anthony Portantino agreed.

“A tunnel of that size inherently brings risks,” Portantino said. “We haven’t seen any evacuation plan. We haven’t seen any type of safety plan or anything that addresses any of the fault lines. They haven’t put one credible piece of information on the table to show this is a safe way to mitigate traffic in the San Gabriel Valley. And you see hundreds and thousands of people expressing that concern. The facts are on our side and they’re losing this battle based on their own false information.

Portantino added the cost of building the tunnel in actual dollars is too great.

“Here’s a situation where we’re spending millions and millions of dollars of taxpayer money on a failed process,” he said. “You can’t bring more cars and more trucks into a region and think somehow traffic and pollution will decrease. A third grader could figure out that’s a faulty thesis, but yet we’re continually sold that thesis without any substantial data that shows this will improve the quality of life for the San Gabriel Valley.”

Ten years riding the Gold Line: photos and observations

http://thesource.metro.net/2013/07/24/ten-years-riding-the-gold-line-photos-and-observations/#more-57487

By Steve Hymon, July 24, 2013





 


A Gold Line train headed through Los Angeles State Historic Park on a winter afternoon. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.


The Gold Line celebrates its 10th anniversary on Friday. Putting aside the issue of where the last decade went, I wanted to offer a few thoughts on a transit line I’ve been riding (literally) since Day One.

I covered the extremely crowded first day for local media. Excitement for the project was running sky high and lines extended all the way from the platform at Union Station down the tunnel to the parking garage under the Patsaouras Transit Plaza.

About a month later, I happened to move to Pasadena. I’ve used the Gold Line since — mostly to reach jobs in downtown L.A. — and also encounter the train frequently in my travels by car, bike and foot around Pasadena.

Of course, in the cosmic scheme of things 10 years is a drop in the bucket.

Musings and applause

•I’ve found that riding the train, especially at peak hours, is competitive with the time it takes to drive between Pasadena and Union Station. That wasn’t always the case. End-to-end travel time was 36 minutes when the train first began running and trains didn’t run as frequently. Today, it’s a 29-minute run between Sierra Madre Villa and Los Angeles Union Station and trains run every six minutes at peak hours on weekdays. It’s no longer such a big deal to miss a train because another one comes along quickly.

•Stand on the Union Station platform at peak hour on any weekday afternoon and watch how fast the platform fills up again after a train departs. It’s pretty amazing. In the early days of the Gold Line, there was about 14,000 average boardings on a weekday. In June, there were 44,113 average weekday boardings, with roughly 70 percent of those coming on the original Union Station to Pasadena segment.

And one semi-related note: the Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan is looking at improving access and connections to the current Gold Line platform, which currently has one very busy stairwell and elevator.


•My gut feeling is that there’s a lot of people living east of the current terminus at Sierra Madre Villa who would take the Gold Line to jobs in Pasadena or downtown L.A. but are disinclined to pull off the 210 freeway, drive or take a bus to the Sierra Madre Villa station and giant parking garage. The Gold Line Foothill Extension that is currently under construction should help remedy that issue with stations — and parking! — in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa.

Likewise, the Regional Connector will make it easier to reach the heart of downtown from Pasadena with a one-seat ride to Little Tokyo, 2nd/Broadway, 2nd/Hope, 7th/Metro Center and the Pico stations. That will be another incentive for folks in the ‘burbs to ride.

•Hundreds of new apartments and condos have been built near the rail line, especially in Pasadena between Old Town and Lake Avenue. With the Great Recession beginning to ebb, Chinatown is also seeing some new development — including the long-awaited Blossom Plaza adjacent to the Gold Line’s Chinatown station. That’s great to see.

And now some nitpicks:

•It would be great to see some TODs near the Heritage Square, Southwest Museum and Highland Park stations. Nothing significant has been built near those stations since the Gold Line has opened, although there is a TOD planned for Highland Park.

•And then there is South Pasadena, which has also added some residential units near the train station — but in the dozens, not hundreds. The neighborhood around the station is lovely, helped in part by a small park and plaza adjacent to the train platform and the city’s public library and park that is one block away. My three cents: there has definitely been some turnover in businesses along Mission near the station and my hunch is that a few new apartments and condos would help supply some much-needed customers.

•Three stations were built in the median of the 210 freeway — Lake, Allen and Sierra Madre Villa — along the old Santa Fe right-of-way that Metro had purchased. And let’s face it: freeway median stations are, by definition, not super lovely places to hang out. 

Of course, there are two sides to the story. On the one hand, putting the tracks and stations down the middle of the 210 made fiscal sense — the old rail right-of-way was already owned by the government. The stations along the 210 are also closer to the many thousands of people living north of the Gold Line tracks in Pasadena and Altadena. And the train can run fast because there are no street crossings.

On the other hand, freeway stations are loud and windy. And when trains run in freeway medians, they aren’t running on local streets that could benefit from having transit right out the front door of homes and businesses.

If I Was The King: I wouldn’t build freeway stations.

•It would be great if one day the Metro 267 bus that runs along Del Mar Boulevard actually serves the Del Mar station.

•Pasadena has six of the original Gold Line’s 13 stations. And, yet, in the past decade the city has done almost nothing to improve bicycle access to the stations (although, ironically, bike parking has been added to the stations). The Pasadena City Council, in fact, recently shelved a new bike plan because it was perceived as too weak. Holy Ugh! 

If I Was King Part 2: I’d start by installing a bike lane on Cordova between Lake Avenue and the Del Mar station, and then I’d add a bike lane to Allen between the station and the Huntington Library in San Marino. And then I’d look at two key streets — the north-south Sierra Bonita and the east-west duo of Fillmore and Arden — and order staff to do everything they can to make those great bike corridors, including losing some of the many annoying four-way stop signs. 

Yummies

•And, finally, three dining recommendations for those who use the Gold Line: Heirloom Bakery & Cafe across Mission from the South Pasadena station, the Stone Brewing tasting room at Del Mar Station for T.O.B (transit-oriented beer!) and the Market on Holly, one block west of the Memorial Park station.

Coffee at the Market on Holly. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.
Coffee at the Market on Holly and the New York Times — a winning combination! Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

So Gold Line riders, what do you think of the line after the first decade? One comment per customer please!

Two Articles to Download

Posted by Jan SooHoo on Facebook, July 24, 2013


"Environmental Challenges Loom for 710" was true in 1998 and is still true in 2013. Note that the article says that mistakes in estimating the impact of the freeway on air quality were made and that its completion would actually deteriorate air quality. Surprise!!!

The_Wall_Street_Journal_-_CA_980318_full.pdf
 1999 New York Times article about the battle over the 710. I believe we have Mary Ann Parada to thank for finding this and Joanne Nuckols to thank for providing the file.
The_New_York_Times_991009full.pdf

LA Just Approved Two Huge Towers By Capitol Records Building

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/07/la_just_approved_two_huge_towers_by_capitol_records_building.php

By Eve Bachrach, July 24, 2013

 

 07.13milhollywood.jpg

Surprising no one, the City Council just voted to approve the huge, Capitol Records-hugging Millennium Hollywood project. It was a unanimous decision, but only because Tom LaBonge, the lone councilmember opposed, wasn't able to make the vote--he said in a statement read by Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell that he didn't support anything over 29 stories. The two towers are slated to be 39 and 35 stories, so if they're built, it'll be a huge gamechanger for Hollywood (which currently tops out in the low-20 stories. So what of the objections--the traffic, the calamitous earthquake fault, the rape and homicide rate that will be six times worse than that at Hollywood & Highland (yes, an actual objection raised today)? Despite objections from neighborhood groups that the project is seismically dicey, the city geologist said that he's satisfied with the information he's received thus far, and will make the results of the additional studies he's requested public when he has them. He also said that the state geological survey currently underway is merely to determine if the project falls in a "study zone," and that the city has been proceeding as if it does. And hey, if it turns out the project will sit right on top of an active fault that will kill everyone, the city can always deny the building permits.

Several councilmembers did air some concerns about the traffic that the residential/retail/office/sports club/retail complex would add to Hollywood, but seemed reassured by the LA Department of Transportation's assurances that the traffic studies were done according to city guidelines. A rep from Caltrans added that recent conversations with Millennium and been "fruitful," but their concerns about traffic on the 101 have not yet been resolved.

There was also much made today about the sheer volume of paperwork submitted by both sides at the last minute. Millennium says their avalanche of documents was merely in response to requests made by opponents led by lawyer Robert Silverstein (which may be true but doesn't make it any faster to read), but Councilmember Paul Krekorian was even less impressed with the hundreds of pages Silverstein delivered to the Council just this morning--despite having held a press conference about it on Monday. Krekorian asked the City Attorney to exclude the material from the public record of today's debate, saying there was no way anyone would have time to read it. It was a fine reminder of how open, fair, and free from abuse our city planning process is. Said no one ever.

The project still needs approval from Mayor Eric Garcetti, who came out against Millennium during the campaign but signaled he was on board when the height of the two towers was dropped last month.



What about Caltrans's traffic complaints? >>

A Few Wacky Ideas Persist as Congress Moves to Accept Funding Realities

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/07/23/a-few-wacky-ideas-persist-as-congress-moves-to-accept-funding-realities/

By Tanya Snyder, July 23, 2013

There are five stages of mourning, and Congress is moving through them as they begin to face the inevitability of increased revenues for transportation. Lawmakers been through denial, anger, and bargaining, and now they’re pretty solidly in the depression phase. That leaves just one more: acceptance.

“I’m going to give you an idea that’ll work,” says Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX). Oh brother. 


But today’s hearing in the House Transportation Committee was still pretty depressing. Members are still thrashing around trying to find a solution that they like better than the only realistic option, which is raising the gas tax by 10 cents a gallon.

Kim Cawley of the Congressional Budget Office was called in to deliver the sobering news: “To avoid the projected shortfall we see in 2015, the Congress could eliminate all highway and mass transit spending in 2015, or raise the tax on motor fuels by about 10 cents per gallon, or transfer about $15 billion from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund.”

(And by the way, 2015 isn’t quite as far away as you think: the federal government’s fiscal year starts October 1 of the prior year.)

The road to acceptance is a bumpy one, of course. A few holdouts are still in the denial phase. Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) accused gas tax advocates of treating it as a “sin tax” and worried it would hurt the trucking industry. (Actually, the American Trucking Associations support a 12-cent hike.)

And then South Carolina Republican Tom Rice was somewhere between the phases of anger and bargaining. He said Americans living paycheck to paycheck can’t handle another tax increase. And it’s true: An increase in the user fee will hurt some people more than others, and efforts should be made to mitigate the pain for people with low incomes. But Rice’s proposed solution showed just how far he is from accepting reality. “If there was a way that perhaps we could bring the fuel costs down,” he said, “it might not be as much of a hardship to raise the gas tax a few pennies.”

It’s been a while since I’d heard a Republican accuse President Obama of raising the price of gas, and I’d almost forgotten the complete lack of understanding among some in Congress about how global oil prices are set — or the fact that U.S. gas prices are actually pathetically low, and it shows in our inefficient, auto-centric transportation system.

Clearly, Rice’s heartfelt compassion for the down-and-out is blurring his vision a little. After slamming the president for shutting down some coal-fired power plants, saying that would drive utility costs up, he let loose this doozy: “If we would use the tools we have and the resources God’s given us, it wouldn’t be so hard.” Maybe someone should remind Rep. Rice that we have a finite
quantity of those resources and are up against the extremely serious consequences of overusing them.

Texas Republican Roger Williams was another bargainer. He opened with a bit of optimism and a lot of swagger: “I’m going to give you an idea that’ll work,” he said, with a straight face. His credentials for solving a crisis no one else can figure out: “I’m a small business owner. And I’m from Texas. And I also have been in the automobile business for 42 years.” Bless his heart.

Williams’ big idea? You’ve probably already guessed it. Eliminate CAFE standards; let the market determine how fuel-efficient the vehicles are. (He neglected to mention that the market loves fuel efficient cars and fuel economy standards are exceedingly popular in this country.) No matter: Williams introduced a bill to eliminate CAFE standards last month.

The automotive industry was the biggest contributor to Williams’ election to Congress in 2012, with the oil and gas sector in third place, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Of course, some of the deal-making involved saner ideas. Los Angeles Democrat Janice Hahn said she’s one of just two members of Congress (though there are a couple of senators too) who drives an electric vehicle, and so she doesn’t pay any user fee at all for the roads. She’d like to see a vehicle-miles-traveled fee, and there was a substantial debate on the merits of such a fee. The discussion, impressively, didn’t fall into the usual trap of hysterical concerns about privacy. As Hahn said, drivers don’t raise a stink about trackers that allow them to pay to use high-occupancy toll lanes on the highway. What’s the difference?

Meanwhile, I was beginning to get my back up as I heard Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat from Las Vegas, start to shift the conversation away from revenues “to the other side of the equation.” I thought she was about to go where no other member was willing to go, which is to recommend a dramatic reduction in transportation spending. And it would have to be dramatic — far more so than the House proposal in 2011 to cut spending by a third. Given the projected state of the Highway Trust Fund in 2015, spending would need to fall by 92 percent.

Is the City Cutting Corners on Crosswalk and Bike Lane Installation

http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/07/24/is-the-city-cutting-corners-on-crosswalk-and-bike-lane-installation/

By Damien Newton, July 24, 2013


 
 Facing east on the south corner of Devonshire and Corbin Ave.

Late last year, the City of Los Angeles celebrated the installation of its first Continental Crosswalks in Downtown Los Angeles. These striped crosswalks are more visible than traditional crosswalks and the road markings make clear to motorists that they need to stop behind, not inside, a crosswalk.
Pedestrian advocates were happy.

However, a motion by Council Member Mitch Englander, seconded by new Council Member Gil Cedillo, charges that sloppy work by contractors is making the new crosswalks more dangerous. By gouging out the old markings and replacing them with new ones, that the city is leaving confusing road markings and uneven streets.

This complaint also applies to some of the 137 miles of dedicated bike lanes the city has painted in the last two and a quarter years as well. The motion will be heard at today’s City Council Transportation Committee Hearing.

“With over 80 miles of bike lanes installed in the City of Los Angeles last year, it is critically important these bike lanes are installed properly, and with the safety of cyclists as our highest priority,” said Englander in a statement to Streetsblog.

Not surprisingly, LADOT doesn’t agree with the Council Members point of view. Their report, available here, points out that removing road markings will result in some level of damage or scarring no matter what method is used to remove them. Sandblasting, the marking removal treatment preferred in the Englander motion, has several drawbacks. This requires a permit from the state’s Air Resource Board and is actually the least effective method of the three regularly used by transportation agencies.




However, the LADOT response only answers one of the two complaints head-on. One complaint is that the city isn’t using the best method to remove old road markings when better ones are going in. The second  complaint is that the work being completed by LADOT contractors is shoddy and creates and unsafe environment. The Department does give the qualifications of the contractor they use, but doesn’t ever actually say anything to defend the quality of their work.

The Englander motion states,A flagrant example of this situation is found along Corbin Avenue south of Devonshire Street.” With that section of road being singled out, I packed the kids into the official station wagon of Streetsblog and took a field trip.

On the Southwest corner of Devonshire and Corbin, facing north.

We walked up and down Corbin Avenue, holding the hand of a three year old and wearing a nine month old in a stroller. On one hand, the old markings were plainly visible, both for the bike lane and the Continental Crosswalks. The road was definately in slightly worse shape where the new infrastructure was painted.

On the other hand, the slightly bumpier road didn’t stop me from pushing the stroller across the street. Sammy, the three year old, didn’t fall into a road crater.

I would still prefer to cross at a Continental Crossing with some roughed up road conditions than in a traditional crosswalk with a pair of thin lines designating the pedestrian crossing area. As for the bike lanes, we walked about a half mile in each direction, Sammy was a trooper, and I didn’t notice anything too out of the ordinary with the lane. Of course, it could have been a different story riding in it.

New pedestrian crossings and bike lanes are supposed to be about more than just creating a safe place for pedestrians and cyclists to use the street. It’s also supposed to encourage more people to walk and bike for transportation. In that sense, the new crosswalks on Corbin aren’t going to work. The roughed up gravel and bumpier road sends a message to those walking that they aren’t important. Remember, the rest of the road is actually smoother than the crosswalk. That’s a little weird.

Weird enough that people are calling Council Member Englander’s office to complain. If the city can find staff or contractors that can do a better job installing these crosswalks, and bike lanes, and do less damage to the road, they should…even if it costs a little more money.

After all, it’s one thing when people complain about a bike lane because they want more room to drive. It’s another thing altogether when the bike lane is so poorly installed that cyclists were better off without it in the first place. The same holds true for crosswalks.

A Very Different Reception for Bike Lanes in Brooklyn's Poorest Neighborhood

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/07/very-different-reception-bike-lanes-brooklyns-poorest-neighborhood/6309/

By Sarah Goodyear, July 24, 2013



 A Very Different Reception for Bike Lanes in Brooklyn's Poorest Neighborhood



A new stretch of bike lanes debuted in Brooklyn this week, but this time they're not being met with outrage or protests.

The physical distance between a famously contested Prospect Park West bike lane in Brooklyn's upscale Park Slope neighborhood and the city's newest lane, on Brownsville’s Mother Gaston Boulevard, is only about three and a half miles. But the economic gap is huge. Brownsville remains one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City, with a stubbornly high crime rate.
All the more reason, says longtime Brownsville resident Bettie Kollock-Wallace, to provide better infrastructure for the many area residents who ride bicycles for transportation and exercise, and for the many more who want to but are scared to try.

At 75, Kollock-Wallace has the posture and muscle tone of a person half her age. She credits a lifetime of physical activity that began when she was a girl in South Carolina. “I have been an athletically inclined person from birth,” she says. “I think I came out kicking.”

After retiring as an educator, Kollock-Wallace threw herself into a variety of fitness pursuits – becoming a certified physical trainer, learning how to swim and teaching others to do the same as a volunteer at the local recreation center, and riding her trusty 20-year-old Royce Union bicycle.
But the attitude she got from drivers on the street bothered her. “People do not respect bikers,” she says. “They have a tendency to resent them.” Friends and neighbors who might have been interested in riding with her were put off by the hostile environment. “A lot of people have fear of the traffic,” she says.


Bettie Kollock-Wallace worked for two years to bring bike lanes to Brownsville. (Sarah Goodyear)

So she set out to do something about it. Kollock-Wallace serves as the chair of the local community board, a position that has allowed her to advocate for improvements in the neighborhood she's called home for 40 years. One of the improvements she wanted to see was bike lanes. So, back in 2011, she started pushing.

“You see, some of us bloom when we’re old,” she says with a mischievous smile, referring to her role as a community advocate. “You have to either have to have a lot of energy or be a little bit crazy, and I’m some of both.”

The new bike lanes are just one of many efforts by neighborhood partners to increase opportunities for healthier living in Brownsville, including walking groups for seniors and a program that brings fresh produce to the neighborhood.

The Brownsville Partnership worked together with the city’s departments of health and transportation to get community support for the bike lanes, an effort that took two years. A host of other partners, including the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives and the local business improvement district, were also part of the effort.

“It took two years of love, perseverance, and collaboration,” said Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, director of the Brownsville Partnership, as she stood outside the Brownsville Bike Shop on Mother Gaston Boulevard. “Now Brownsville is no longer disconnected.”

Several speakers at the ribbon-cutting emphasized that the lanes would provide a link between the long-isolated streets of Brownsville and the rest of Brooklyn.

In her speech to the modest crowd that assembled for the ribbon-cutting, Kollock-Wallace issued a challenge.

“It is a pleasure to be a model for all of you who are younger than I am,” she said to cheers. “And if you have not yet chosen to be a model, let’s do so today. Everybody’s watching you – everybody’s watching you. So let’s do something that will make people a better people.”

Spain Train Derailment: At Least 35 Killed After Locomotive Derails Near Santiago De Compostela

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/24/spain-train-derailment-santiago-de-compostela_n_3646813.html

By Ryan Craggs, July 24, 2013










La Voz de Galicia reports dozens of people have been killed in a train derailment outside Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

According to the newspaper, the high-speed commuter train derailed at 8:42 p.m. on a route traveling from Madrid to Ferrol. Conflicting reports have come out about the number of deaths involved in the accident.

Currently, emergency crews have put the highest priority on rescuing those trapped in the affected cars, which could be up to 13 people.

"There are so many dead here, my God!" a nearby neighbor told Radio Gallega. Another described the scene, saying it began with "a big explosion," followed by a destroyed train car traveling several meters. Mari, a nearby citizen, said she heard an enormous explosion, followed by a "torpedo of dust and sound."

According to passenger accounts given to La Voz de Galicia, the train, which held 225 passengers, was traveling at high speed around a curve when one car jumped its tracks, surging beyond the slope that separates other tracks. But despite the reported smoke and fires in several cars, passengers noted there was no explosion.

UPDATE 5:08 p.m.:
Reuters reports the death toll has reached 35.

Photos: New supersized TTC streetcars are a real head turner


http://metronews.ca/news/toronto/746654/new-supersized-ttc-streetcars-are-a-real-head-turner/





The new streetcar at the TTC's Hillcrest yard, July 23, 2013


There was no mistaking the look of awe and delight on the folks on the street who whipped out their phones to take pictures. Transit riders on the Bathurst platform gaped hopefully as the first of the TTC’s sleek, new, supersized streetcars glided into the station.

But only reporters were permitted to enjoy a smooth, short test hop down to Bloor St. from the Hillcrest maintenance yard on Tuesday — the first daylight run for the new cars.

The brief ride suggested Torontonians are in for a quieter, smoother ride when the new fleet goes into service mid-2014. There was no rumble as the new car slid down Bathurst. Pens didn’t even wobble as it braked at the lights.


Thirty metres long, almost twice the length of the CLRVs, the new streetcars feature a smaller “sweep” on turns — meaning the front and back ends don’t swing as far into the intersection on curves and loops, said Stephen Lam, chief vehicle engineer of TTC rail.

But riders will be more interested in the accessibility of the low-floor vehicles to mobility aids, he said. There’s room on board for two bikes, flip-up seats for wheelchairs and strollers, and some knee-to-knee groupings of four seats, like those on GO trains.

All the cars are fully air-conditioned.

Toronto transit blogger Steve Munro was enjoying the “fabulous view” from the bigger windows that extend from the ceilings to the seats. He liked the open layout around the doors that should make it easier for riders to enter and exit.

“The car feels nice, the ride’s nice. I want to see how it behaves with real people on it. People are going to have to get used to the new fare collection system and all-door boarding,” he said.

The new cars will be equipped with Presto fare card readers for the electronic payment system being rolled out in 2015. Until then, the TTC will be implementing an interim proof-of-purchase system so riders can enter through any of the four doors on the vehicle.

“Twenty per cent of trip time is boarding,” said TTC chief customer officer Chris Upfold. “With all-door boarding, if it’s a busier stop it’s going to be much less an issue.”

Even though there will be slightly longer gaps in the new streetcar schedules, the new fleet will also be more reliable, he promised.

“Anybody who drives a 30-year-old car can appreciate their reliability issues,” said Upfold, in reference to the retiring fleet of ALRVs and CLRVs.

Riders can expect to see more of the new streetcars now that they are being tested during the day, said TTC spokesman Brad Ross. The first three test cars have, until now, been put through their paces at night. One is being shipped to Ottawa for cold-weather testing.

They will roll out for service on Bathurst, Spadina and Dundas in mid-2014 and the remaining routes through 2018.

The new cars are about twice the length and offer twice the capacity of the old CLRVs, accommodating crush loads of 250 people. The CLRVs can pack in about 132; the articulated ALRVs, about 205.

Unlike the retiring 30-year-old streetcars, these have a sealed-off cab for the driver, with cameras rather than side mirrors.

The 204 new streetcars cost about $1.2 billion — two-thirds paid by the city and a third by Queen’s Park. Another $800 million will pay for the new Ashbridge’s Bay car house, the rewiring of the lines for a new overhead catenary power supply and platform adjustments.

Tapping the private sector to grow service

http://www.metro-magazine.com/blog/transit-dispatches/story/2013/07/tapping-the-private-sector-to-grow-service.aspx?ref=TransitDispatches-20130724&utm_campaign=TransitDispatches-20130724&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

By Joel Volinski, July 24, 2013

Last month I posted a piece on the various ways transit agencies are partnering with other public agencies that result in increased ridership, revenue and service. Public partners have included universities, local schools, social service agencies, downtown development authorities, and cities and counties among others. Transit agencies have also been active in entering partnerships with private entities with similar results as noted below:
  • Fourteen different entities have partnered with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to provide $3.6 million over three years for an expanded downtown rubber tired trolley service.  
  • SamTrans in the San Francisco Bay area has a Shuttles Program that provides the “last mile” to link rail stations with business parks, hospitals, schools and other major employers. Typically, employers pay 50% of the costs, various government grants pay 2% and SamTrans pays 25%.  
  • In Portland, Ore., businesses have taxed themselves via a local improvement district and donated land for light rail system amenities provided by TriMet.
  • The Centre Area Transportation Authority, not being able to initiate a U-Pass program at Penn State, has developed a similar program through off-campus student housing complexes. CATA currently contracts with 15 apartment complexes, each of which includes pre-paid transit passes as one of the amenities they offer their tenants.
  • The North County Transit District has partnered with a local hospital to increase frequency on route 353 to serve as a shuttle between two hospital facilities. The hospital pays NCTD approximately $90,000 per year for increased service on the route.  


Rochester-Genessee Regional Transportation Authority
Rochester-Genessee Regional Transportation Authority

There are three transit agencies that have taken additional steps to work with private partners to expand service or help cover the cost of existing service. The Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA) in New York dedicates two full-time positions to “Business Development” which involves finding new partners to help fund transit services that would not ordinarily be provided in certain areas. Many public and private organizations build new facilities in areas outside of the more dense urban core in order to save development costs, but in so doing, they deprive employees and customers of the ability to reach them by public transportation. RGRTA is a fiscally constrained agency that cannot serve every street and every destination in the greater Rochester area.

To serve new markets at no or low additional cost to the transit agency, RGRTA’s two business development sales professionals invest time in meeting with institutions, such as customer calling centers, nursing homes, apartment complexes, supermarkets, health care facilities, technical schools, bingo halls and others that have located in places not currently served by transit. They discuss the possibilities of extending service to their locations, if those entities are willing to pay the costs associated with those new services. To date, that staff is finding that 20% of the organizations they meet with agree to pay for the additional transit service that would be required to serve their institution. The transit agency is earning as much through such agreements as they are through the fare box. In the meantime, the business development staff continues to meet with the Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club, the local Rotary Club and many other organizations in order to stay in the front of the minds of all the business interests in their community.


Chicago Transit Authority
Chicago Transit Authority
Similarly, the Chicago Transit Authority has partnered with Soldier Field, United Parcel Service (UPS), the Wrigley Co., and other attractions, hospitals and downtown business interests to allow these entities to provide subsidized service. CTA has begun renegotiating these contracts to decrease and/or eliminate the operating and overhead costs it incurs for such service. In addition, the CTA has established an official "Corporate Partnership Program” to promote corporate investment in its transit system. Benefits to the "Corporate Partner" include being promoted in CTA press releases, having the right to advertise on the CTA system, and having their name or logo incorporated into a CTA station name and signage.


Soldier Field.


.
Soldier Field. (C) City of Chicago.
In 2012, CTA launched an official program to sell the business naming and sponsorship rights to 11 of its stations. Current corporate partners include the Chicago Sun-Times and Miller Coors, which sponsor penny rides on the first day of school for Chicago Public School children and on New Year’s Eve for all riders on CTA, respectively. CTA’s agreement with Sun-Times Media Productions LLC is for three years plus a three-year option totaling $900,000 for the first three-year agreement and an additional $900,000 if an additional three-year agreement is entered. The agreement would cover out-of-pocket costs incurred by the CTA as a result of providing free rides to students.

CTA’s three-year (plus three-year option) sponsorship agreement with Miller Coors to provide free rides on New Year's Eve allows the company to advertise in stations and on fare cards sold in predetermined stations. The total contract value including option years is $1.4 million. CTA estimates a total of $154,000 in lost revenues on New Year's Eve every year, but this sponsorship agreement will result in an estimated $1.1 million in revenue for the CTA over six years.

On a smaller scale, the Fredericksburg Regional Transit Authority (FRED) in Virginia has also established a partnership program that invites public and private partners who make annual contributions or grants of $25,000 or more in cash or in kind to receive the following benefits:
  • Acknowledgment of their support on all FRED promotional materials.
  • Acknowledgment of their support at all FRED-sponsored public events.
  • VIP invitations to all FRED-sponsored events (e.g., ground breakings, ribbon cuttings, new service launches).
  • Invitations to all Public Transit Advisory Board meetings, where your voice can be heard.
  • Free system-wide ridership for all of their employees (upon presentation of a valid ID).
In some of the three cases noted above, new service, revenue and ridership result from the partnerships. In other cases, stronger bonds are formed with the public and private partners that serve the transit agency well in terms of their own relevance in their communities.

Lawmakers debate possibility of gas tax increase

http://thehill.com/blogs/transportation-report/highways-bridges-and-roads/312881-lawmakers-debate-possibility-of-gas-tax-increase

By Keith Laing, July 23, 2013

Lawmakers on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee debated on Tuesday the possibility of increasing the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax for the first time since 1993.
The discussion came during hearing about the $20 billion shortfall that currently exists between incoming and outgoing road and transit funding.

Lawmakers in both parties agreed that they had to do something about the transportation funding problem. But they could not agree Tuesday on what that solution should be.

The gas tax, which has been the traditional funding source for road and transit improvements, brings in approximately $35 billion per year. However, the last surface transportation bill that was passed by Congress spent $54 billion per year.

The chairman of the House Transportation Committee's highways and transit panel said on Tuesday that it was imperative that lawmakers address the problem before they have to craft another road and transit bill.

"MAP-21 is set to expire on September 30, 2014, and current projections show that the Trust Fund will once again become insolvent and unable to meet its obligations starting in fiscal year 2015," Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) said in reference to the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. 

"Without changes in spending levels or additional revenue, the trust fund will continue to be unable to meet its obligations over the 10-year budget window," Petri continued. "Many of our members were not in Congress when previous funding shortfalls were addressed, and it is important that members understand the fiscal reality we face and the measures the U.S. DOT would need to take."

Democrats offered a potential solution that has been a tough sale for an entire generation of politicians: raising the federal gas tax.

The gas tax was last raised during former President Bill Clinton's first year in office, but the ranking Democrat on the Transportation Committee said on Tuesday that states have been upping the ante on their own in the meantime.

"States are increasingly coming up with their own plans for raising additional transportation revenues," Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) said, citing states like Maryland and Virginia, which both passed new transportation funding packages that included state gas tax changes earlier this year.

"Over the legislative years 2010 through 2013, seven states enacted significant transportation revenue-raising measures," Rahall continued. "This includes a diverse group of states taking steps to increase transportation infrastructure investment by generating additional revenues from a variety of sources."

The idea quickly ran into resistance from rank-and-file Republicans on the Transportation Committee.

"We're sitting here talking about a tax increase," Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) said. "We just had a tax increase on January 1 and we're going to have another tax increase next year with ObamaCare."

Rice said he agreed that more funding was needed for transportation projects, but he said lawmakers should concentrate on lowering the price of gas before they talked about increasing the tax on fuel purchases.

"I don't think most Americans know what the fuel tax is," Rice said. "What they know is the price of gas. If we find a way to bring the price of fuel down, it might be easier to raise the gas tax a couple of pennies."

Rice said projects like the controversially Keystone XL oil pipeline could help bring the price of gas down enough to make a fuel tax increase more palatable.

"If you could employ some of these things and somehow bring the fuel price down, if you say you need a 9 cent increase in fuel tax, I don't think most people would even know," he said.

Department of Transportation Undersecretary for Policy Polly Trottenberg told lawmakers that either way they were going to have to do something.

Trottenberg said the use of diesel fuel has been increasing in recent years as businesses rebound from the 2008 economic recession, but she said there has not been a similar boost in passenger traffic.

"The growth of passengers is kind of flat, so what you see in terms of revenue when you look at the trust fund, it only goes up a little bit," Trottenberg said.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Natural and Physical Resources Cost Estimates Unit Chief Kim Cawley agreed, telling lawmakers that "the current trajectory of the Highway Trust Fund is unsustainable."

"Starting in fiscal year 2015, the trust fund will have insufficient resources to meet all of its obligations, resulting in steadily accumulating shortfalls," Crawley said in testimony that was submitted to the panel.

Crawley said if lawmakers continue transferring money from other areas of the federal budget to make up the difference in transportation funding, as they did in the MAP-21 bill, they would have to transfer at least $15 billion in 2015 if road and transit spending remained at 2013 levels. 

CityDig: The History of Turning Right in Los Angeles

http://www.lamag.com/citythink/citythinkblog/2013/07/23/citydig-the-history-of-turning-right-in-los-angeles

By Nathan Masters, July 23, 2013





With apologies to Woody Allen, making a right turn on a red light is certainly not Los Angeles’ only cultural advantage. In fact, while it was once a Los Angeles idiosyncrasy, today the maneuver is permitted nationwide, with some local exceptions.

Los Angeles has adjusted the rules governing the turn since 1925, when it first sanctioned the maneuver as part of a congestion-relief measure. At first, drivers turning right could roll through the intersection without stopping—an allowance revoked by the city council in 1929. And from 1945 to 1947, thanks to a short-lived statewide ban, drivers could turn against a red light only where signs expressly allowed it.

For decades the right turn on red remained a West Coast eccentricity, best associated with Los Angeles. But amid the fuel shortage of the 1970s it became a nationwide norm as many localities across the United States—despite concerns about pedestrian safety—began permitting it in the interest of energy conservation.

The rules governing right-turn signals have also evolved. Today, blinking electronic lights broadcast a driver’s intent to turn, but Los Angeles motorists once signaled by hand. An early local custom required drivers to extend their arm through their car’s right-side window before turning right—a trick that became quite a stretch as automobiles widened and left-side controls became standard. In 1914, authorities introduced a new right-turn signal—a circular motion made with the left arm—that never caught on. Finally, four years later, the Automobile Club introduced a new set of arm signals originating in Portland, Oregon. The system, which became state law in 1923, called for drivers to signal a right turn by bending their left arm upward at the elbow.

Above: An automobile turns right at Broadway and Seventh Street in Los Angeles, 1926. Courtesy of the USC Libraries - California Historical Society Collection.

Before the 'Carmageddon': A Photographic Look at the Construction of 5 SoCal Freeways


http://www.kcet.org/updaily/socal_focus/history/la-as-subject/before-the-carmageddon-a-photographic-look-at-the-construction-of-5-socal-freeways-35191.html

By Nathan Masters, July 14, 2011

A woman poses in front of the unfinished Foothill Freeway. Courtesy of the Glendale Public Library.
A woman poses in front of the unfinished Foothill Freeway. Courtesy of the Glendale Public Library.
 
As AngeleƱos prepare to survive the upcoming weekend without access to a ten-mile section of the San Diego Freeway, our thoughts may turn to L.A.'s pre-freeway era, a time before it was possible to cruise through the Los Angeles basin at 70 miles per hour, a time when freeway construction was an occasion for celebrity photo-ops rather than an excuse to coin apocalyptic portmanteaux.

In the twenty years between 1950 and 1970, more than 500 miles of freeways were built in L.A., Orange, and Ventura counties. Southern California welcomed them with the pomp and circumstance usually reserved for foreign dignitaries. Movie stars and governors christened the new concrete rivers, and many Southern Californians drove to construction sites to pose in photographs of half-built highways rising from the ground.

The photos below, culled from several regional archives, illustrate that junction between L.A.'s pre- and post-freeway eras, when work crews built bridges and on-ramps but also razed houses and split neighborhoods. They show construction work on five Southern California freeways: the Hollywood Freeway (U.S. Highway 101), one of L.A.'s first; the Harbor Freeway (Interstate 110); the Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10); the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405); and the Foothill Freeway (Interstate 210).

Hollywood Freeway

Construction for the new Cahuenga Freeway causes a traffic jam in the pass, 1939. The Cahuenga Freeway opened in 1940, connecting Hollywood to the San Fernando Valley. In the 1950s, the freeway was widened, extended to downtown Los Angeles, and renamed the Hollywood Freeway. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Construction for the new Cahuenga Freeway causes a traffic jam in the pass, 1939. The Cahuenga Freeway opened in 1940, connecting Hollywood to the San Fernando Valley. In the 1950s, the freeway was widened, extended to downtown Los Angeles, and renamed the Hollywood Freeway. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
A woman poses in front of the uncompleted Hollywood Freeway, 1952. Courtesy of the Automobile Club of Southern California Collection.
A woman poses in front of the uncompleted Hollywood Freeway, 1952. Courtesy of the Automobile Club of Southern California Collection.
101 freeway under construction near downtown Los Angeles and City Hall, 1953. Southeast of the Four Level (101-110) Interchange, the 101 freeway is named the Santa Ana Freeway.
101 freeway under construction near downtown Los Angeles and City Hall, 1953. Southeast of the Four Level (101-110) Interchange, the 101 freeway is named the Santa Ana Freeway.
Hollywood Freeway under construction in Hollywood, 1953. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Hollywood Freeway under construction in Hollywood, 1953. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Lieutenant Governor Goodwin Knight helps open a segment of the Hollywood Freeway between Silver Lake Boulevard and Western Avenue in 1951. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Lieutenant Governor Goodwin Knight helps open a segment of the Hollywood Freeway between Silver Lake Boulevard and Western Avenue in 1951. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.

Harbor Freeway

The nearly completed Four Level Interchange in 1949. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
The nearly completed Four Level Interchange in 1949. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Governor Ronald Reagan sits at the controls of a bulldozer in 1968 at a groundbreaking ceremony for an extension of the Harbor Freeway to the Vincent Thomas Bridge. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Governor Ronald Reagan sits at the controls of a bulldozer in 1968 at a groundbreaking ceremony for an extension of the Harbor Freeway to the Vincent Thomas Bridge. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
The Harbor Freeway Transitway, which carries the Metro Silver Line as well as carpool lanes, under construction in 1992. Courtesy of the Metro Transportation Library and Archive.
The Harbor Freeway Transitway, which carries the Metro Silver Line as well as carpool lanes, under construction in 1992. Courtesy of the Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

Santa Monica Freeway

Preparation for the construction of Interstate 10 through Santa Monica, circa 1965. B106. Courtesy of the Santa Monica Public Library.
Preparation for the construction of Interstate 10 through Santa Monica, circa 1965. B106. Courtesy of the Santa Monica Public Library.
The Santa Monica Freeway under construction, looking east from Hoover Street, in 1961. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
The Santa Monica Freeway under construction, looking east from Hoover Street, in 1961. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
The Santa Monica Freeway under construction at La Cienega and Venice boulevards, 1964. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
The Santa Monica Freeway under construction at La Cienega and Venice boulevards, 1964. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Miss Auto Show 1965 helps Governor Edmund G. 'Pat' Brown open a segment of the Santa Monica Freeway on October 23, 1964. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Miss Auto Show 1965 helps Governor Edmund G. 'Pat' Brown open a segment of the Santa Monica Freeway on October 23, 1964. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Opening of Interstate 10 in Santa Monica on January 6, 1966. B47. Courtesy of the Santa Monica Public Library.
Opening of Interstate 10 in Santa Monica on January 6, 1966. B47. Courtesy of the Santa Monica Public Library.

San Diego Freeway

Construction work on the San Diego Freeway just south of Sepulveda Canyon. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Construction work on the San Diego Freeway just south of Sepulveda Canyon. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Entire tracts of houses were sometimes razed to make way for new freeways. This 1957 photograph, taken between Wilshire and Venice Boulevards along the route of the future San Diego Freeway, shows a neighborhood split by the construction. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Entire tracts of houses were sometimes razed to make way for new freeways. This 1957 photograph, taken between Wilshire and Venice Boulevards along the route of the future San Diego Freeway, shows a neighborhood split by the construction. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Work crews extend the San Diego Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass in 1961. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.
Work crews extend the San Diego Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass in 1961. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

Foothill Freeway

A bulldozer doing earthwork for the construction of the Foothill Freeway through Arcadia, circa 1966. ID 953. Courtesy of the Arcadia Public Library.
A bulldozer doing earthwork for the construction of the Foothill Freeway through Arcadia, circa 1966. ID 953. Courtesy of the Arcadia Public Library.
The Foothill Freeway under construction at Devil's Gate Dam in August 1954. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
The Foothill Freeway under construction at Devil's Gate Dam in August 1954. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Same view as above, 11 months later. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Same view as above, 11 months later. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
At the time this photo was taken circa May 1971, the Foothill Freeway ended at the Arcadia city limits. ID 1059. Courtesy of the Arcadia Public Library.
At the time this photo was taken circa May 1971, the Foothill Freeway ended at the Arcadia city limits. ID 1059. Courtesy of the Arcadia Public Library.

Dig Deeper

The collections of the Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library and Archive at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority constitute an invaluable resource for understanding Southern California's transportation, from early cable cars to the Pacific Electric Railway and from superhighways to the "Subway to the Sea."

Those interested in learning more about how L.A.'s freeways system was conceived should consult the Metro Library's online list of major L.A. County transportation planning documents. Thanks to the library's active digitization efforts, many of the documents are publicly available in PDF format. Particularly relevant to the subject of freeway planning and construction is a 1946 report by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Parkway Engineering Committee, titled Interregional, Regional, Metropolitan Parkways in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. The report includes maps of proposed freeway routes and an analysis of the county's long-term highway needs.

Librarian Kenn Bicknell is currently digitizing another relevant collection that he describes as the "mother lode of information" about freeway construction. Published from the 1924 to 1967, California Highways and Public Works was the official journal of the California Highway Commission and, later, the California Division of Highways. Bicknell hopes to have the entire archive digitized and publicly accessible here on the library's website by the end of the year. He has already digitized the September/October 1956 issue, which contains a treasure trove of photographs, maps, and other information about freeway construction projects in Southern California.

Are you ready for a trillion-dollar train in California? Opinion

http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23716604/are-you-ready-trillion-dollar-train-california-opinion?source=rss

By Jon Coupal, July 23, 2013


After the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the replacement span for the Bay Bridge was originally expected to be completed by 1994 and cost less than a billion dollars. To say that those responsible for this project missed their targets would be a gross understatement. With broken bolts and all, the bridge still isn't open and now it's projected cost is over $6 billion.

So who is responsible? As for the delay, political meddling by then-Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown insisting on a "world class" bridge and then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown's leveraging the S.F.-owned Treasure Island anchorage point as a bargaining chip has to assume some share of blame for the 10-year delay.

Add to that Caltrans' bureaucratic incompetence. Caltrans, simply put, wanted to show that it could take on a huge public works project. This resulted in a bureaucratic turf war with the vested interests in the state Capitol winning out over common sense and the public interest.

Keeping the design and materials approval process within Caltrans is exactly why we have what we have today-- designs were selected because of political decisions. Materials decisions were left up to politically connected bureaucrats. And the endless delays mean that the five-year bridge has now taken 25 years so that a Caltrans employee could have spent his or her entire career, and started collecting a pension, simply by working on this one project. In short, the current system incentivizes delay. And yet, have you heard of anyone being fired for any of this gross incompetence?

Now, let's take what happened with the Bay Bridge and extrapolate it to high-speed rail. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the same problems won't repeat themselves.

First, the way California government conducts business, the longer this goes on, and the more delays we see, the more rewards there are for the people building the system. None of that culture has changed in Sacramento.

Second, just as when Jerry Brown objected to the original Bay Bridge plan because of his insistence on a world-class bridge, look what happened when his own team was brought in to re-evaluate the HSR plan. His team finished their evaluation and announced the new plan would cost $95 billion (or roughly triple what voters were told when they approved the HSR ballot measure.)

When the public rightfully went ballistic over the price, Brown made them go back and lower the price to $65 billion. HSR tried to cover up the sudden reduction by claiming this was now a "blended" plan, (which violates the provisions of the ballot measure) but when the Anaheim supporters threw a tantrum because the Anaheim leg wasn't in the $65 billion plan, HSR went back and included the Anaheim leg, but didn't increase the $65 billion estimate!

So they want us to believe the L.A.-Anaheim leg isn't going to cost anything? Really? Politics and vested interests are driving HSR, not responsible management.

To recap: It took our dysfunctional state government 25 years and $6.4 billion to build a four-mile bridge they told us would take just five years and less than a billion. Nobody has been held accountable for this colossal failure and waste of money.

Now, the same cast of characters is telling us they're going to a build a 400-mile high-speed rail system, which will include dozens of bridges and tunnels, right-of-way purchases, environmental reviews (and delays), track, power delivery systems, operating systems, stations and trains, and it's going to do all that in the same amount of time and at just 10 times the cost of their half-a-bridge in San Francisco Bay.

No one in their right mind would believe such a claim. So, California, are you ready for your Trillion Dollar Train?

Beijing Subway Platform Is The Stuff Of Morning-Commute Nightmares (VIDEO)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/23/beijing-subway-video_n_3640567.html

July 23, 2013

Do you hate your morning commute? Does the prospect of being stuck in tight spaces -- whether a traffic jam, a long line for coffee, or crammed among countless other travelers in a train car or subway station -- give you the worst kind of anxiety?

 Well, then you might not want to watch this video of a subway platform in Beijing.

More motorists using 110 Freeway ExpressLanes since conversion, MTA says

http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/ci_23717514/more-motorists-using-110-freeway-expresslanes-since-conversion

By Nick Green, July 23, 2013

 
 Traffic moves south towards the 105 freeway along the 110 Harbor Freeway Tuesday afternoon. The MTA released its six-month performance review of the paid express lanes which run in the center.





More vehicles traveling at higher speeds are using the high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the 110 Freeway since they were converted to ExpressLanes, while speeds on the other lanes largely remained constant, according to a six-month evaluation of the project by the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Workweek trips are averaging 57,256 per day on the ExpressLanes compared with the average of 50,000 trips before the 11 miles of ExpressLanes were installed between the 91 Freeway and Adams Boulevard, the Metro report said. The average ExpressLanes speed on the Harbor Freeway was 65 mph during the peak morning commute, from 5-9 a.m.

Meanwhile, the average speed for the rest of the freeway lanes during the peak morning commute was 48.3 mph, largely unchanged from the average speed of 48.4 mph before the Nov. 10 opening of the experimental ExpressLanes.


 
 Traffic moves north towards downtown Los Angeles along the 110 Harbor Freeway Tuesday afternoon.


"If they have achieved their goal of increasing the speed of the toll lane and not changing the speed of the mixed slow lane I would deem that a success," said Steve Lantz, a transportation consultant with the South Bay Cities Council of Governments who formerly worked for Metro. "It's not a failure."
Unlike the former car-pool lanes, ExpressLanes allow solo drivers to use them for a fee per mile based on freeway congestion.

And that has been the key to increasing the capacity of those lanes since their $210.6 million transformation as part of a federally funded, year-long congestion reduction pilot project, Metro officials said.

The former car-pool lanes, which opened in 1995, experienced the heaviest use during the morning commute. But the rest of the day had unused capacity, while the transit service on what was officially known as the Harbor Transitway had low ridership.

"Solo drivers never had the opportunity to use HOV lanes," Metro spokesman Rick Jager said. "Now anybody can use them."

But that comes with a price, although car-pools trips with two or more drivers remain free if the vehicle is equipped with the required transponder.

The average price for the trip was $5.35, although the cost during the peak morning commute was considerably higher -- about $10. However, a majority of trips cost less than $3 in either direction. About 41 percent of motorists drive solo and pay the fee, while the remainder are car-poolers.

But commuters seem willing to pay those prices as long as traffic flows freely on the ExpressLanes. Previously, the 

Traffic moves south towards the 105 freeway along the 110 Harbor Freeway Tuesday afternoon.
 
 
car-pool lanes would grind to a halt with little notice, especially during rush hour.
Travel speeds have actually exceeded the goal of an average 45 mph speed 90 percent of the time during peak periods.

"In the morning peak travel period (6-9 a.m.), average speeds in the 110 ExpressLanes increased by over 5 mph with the implementation of ExpressLanes," Metro quoted an independent Cornell University study as concluding in the report. "There is no statistically meaningful variation in average speeds along the conventional mainline lanes."

Bus riders and van pools have embraced the ExpressLanes, too.

Ridership on the Metro Silver Line has increased 5 percent, a figure that closely tracks the 4 percent improvement in on-time transit performance. In addition, 18 new van pools have formed.
Metro cautioned that the data is preliminary and subject to change ahead of an independent evaluation scheduled for release in mid-2014.

Other findings of the report include:
  • The worst hour for ExpressLanes travel is 7-8 a.m., while the most congested segment is between Slauson Avenue and 39th Street.
  • As of April, a total of 6,873 transponders had been issued to residents of Torrance, the most of any South Bay city. Figures for other local communities include Redondo Beach (4,331), Manhattan Beach (3,668), Rancho Palos Verdes (2,501), San Pedro (2,364) and Gardena (2,278).
  • About 22 percent of all ExpressLane citations issued were for toll evasion.