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

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Move L.A.’s Measure R2 Draft Proposal, Including Their Rail Fantasy Map

 From Sylvia Plummer, August 4, 2014: 

All the diagrams and photos were in the handout we received at the Move LA meeting.  The detail of each percent is left out of the articles.

For Highways 20%:

Freeway improvements ($9 billlion?)  10% for State of good repair and Express Lane Program
Grand Boulevards Programs ($9 billion?)  10% Street resurfacing (cool pavement) + signal synchronization+ landscaping + street amenties; Complete streeets (transit +bike + pedestrian)  Enhanced Metro Rapid, better safer bus stops with real time digital information; Incentives for new mixed-use and mixed-income residential developments along boulevards to build transit user base;  Transition to bus-only lanes where appropriate

Yes....  This was under Highways

Rail Transit  30%  That's light Rail,  Complete and extend all Measure R rail transit projects.;  Start new rail transit lines all over the county; etc

Of course remember this is there Imagining Measure R2 and what they would like to see.  Metro can twist and turn it around as they please.


By Joe Linton, April 3, 2014

 Move L.A.'s draft breakdown for a possible 2016 transportation funding measre. Source: Move L.A.

 Move L.A.’s draft breakdown for a possible 2016 transportation funding measure.

Last week, Move L.A. convened its annual transportation conversation conference under the banner of “Imagining Measure R2.” The daylong conference was profiled in the L.A. Times and at the Source. Today SBLA takes a look at Move L.A.’s “strawman” R2 proposal presented that day. It’s a draft for purposes of discussion, very likely to change some before it would reaches the ballot in 2016. It looks a lot like Measure R, but there are also a few big differences.

Measure R was a 30-year county-wide half-cent sales tax narrowly approved by L.A. voters in 2008. Measure R funding has been key to Metro’s rail expansion underway, including the Gold Line Foothill Extension, Expo Line Phase 2, Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail, the Regional Connector, and the Purple Line Extension. In 2012, a subsequent transportation bond proposal, Measure J, received 66 percent approval, but narrowly failed to pass the two-thirds needed.

Measure R2, under Move L.A.’s initial strawman proposal, would be a 45-year county-wide half-cent sales tax, with project revenues approximately $90 billion. It would run concurrently with Measure R for R’s remaining 20+years, which presents some issues with overall sales tax limits in some L.A. County cities. R2 is anticipated to be on the 2016 ballot and would need to pass by a two-thirds majority.

The overall R2 breakdown (see pie chart graphic at top of post) is somewhat similar to Measure R.

category 2008 Measure R 2016 draft Measure R2
New rail & BRT capital 35.00% 30.00%
Metrolink capital 3.00% 5.00%
Rail capital existing lines 2.00%
Rail Operations 5.00%
Bus Operations 20.00%
Transit Operations
Highway Capital 20.00% 20.00%
Local Return 15.00% 15.00%
Active Transportation (bike-ped)
Goods Movement

There are a few important differences. The strawman proposal includes funding for active transportation: pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

During the lead up to Measure R, advocates unsuccessfully pressed for 1 percent each for walking and bicycling, and some cities, including Los Angeles, have dedicated some of their local return funding for active transportation. Move L.A. is proposing, overall, that 4 percent of R2 would fund active transportation. That’s roughly $3.6 billion. This is a big step forward from past measures, especially when federal changes are causing Metro to step back from active transportation.

Not only does active transportation have its own dedicated 4 percent funding stream, but Move L.A. has also proposed that walking and bicycling be included in the new rail transit funding.

Within the $27 billion for rail, the proposal “set[s] aside 3 percent for first mile/last mile infrastructure.” That’s an additional $0.8 billion that could go to pedestrian and bicycle facilities, though potentially also to various other feeder strategies such as car share, taxi, shuttles, etc. (maybe even parking lots.) With dedicated first mile/last mile embedded in rail capital, it should be routine for new Metro rail facilities to look more like the Orange and Expo Lines, with dedicated walk and bike trails running parallel within the right-of-way.

Move L.A.is proposing that half of the 20 percent dedicated to highways (an estimated $9 billion) be incorporated into a countywide “Grand Boulevards” program. (The other half goes to… freeway improvements. Can’t win ‘em all.) Grand Boulevards would upgrade larger streets with existing bus service to become more “complete streets” with a mix of transit, bike, pedestrian and car usage.

Features could include:
  • Street resurfacing
  • Signal synchronization
  • Landscaping
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian features
  • Bus service enhancements: “better safer bus stops with real time digital information” and bus-only lanes “where appropriate.”
  • Incentives for new mixed-use and mixed-income development
And then there’s Move L.A.’s rail fantasy map! Most of these lines are also viewable as a snappy L.A.’s Got Lines 2 video.

The dotted blue lines represent Move L.A.'s proposal for expanded rail lines throughout L.A. County.
The dotted blue lines represent Move L.A.’s proposal for expanded rail lines throughout L.A. County.

Measure R2 would dedicate $27 billion to new rail capital. Here are Move L.A.’s new rail lines listed roughly west to east:
  • Orange Line Light Rail: The existing Metro Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) could be converted to light rail.
  • Metro rendering of multi-deck tunnel below Sepulveda Pass. Click for full image and presentation.
    Metro rendering of multi-deck tunnel below Sepulveda Pass. Click for full image and presentation.

    Sepulveda Connector: A new north-south rail line could extend from Sylmar to LAX, roughly parallel to the 405 Freeway and Sepulveda Boulevard. This  could include a mega-project multi-deck bypass highway tunnel (with cars, buses, and trains) under the Sepulveda Pass. At last Friday’s event, HDR InfraConsult’s Mike Schneider estimated the Sepulveda project cost at “$6 billion to $8 billion …or maybe up to $20 billion.” With tunnel highway lanes operated as toll roads, Measure R2 funding could be part of an overall Public-Private-Partnership.
  • Green Line to Torrance and Long Beach: The Metro Green Line light rail could be extended south from its Redondo Beach Terminus, connecting to the South Bay, including Torrance, then east through Wilmington to connect to the Willow Blue Line Station in Long Beach.

  • Hollywood-Crenshaw Connector: The under-construction Crenshaw Line could be extended north to connect with the Purple and Red lines, on Wilshire and in Hollywood, respectively.

  • Burbank Airport 5-Freeway Connector: This rail line could extend north from Union Station, roughly parallel to the 5-Freeway, connecting to Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport, then south to the Metro Red Line North Hollywood Station.

  • Glendale-Pasadena Connector: This rail line could extend east-west, roughly parallel to the 134 Freeway, connecting to the Metro Gold Line in downtown Pasadena.

  • West Santa Ana Branch Corridor: This future rail line could extend south from Union Station through Southeast L.A. cities connecting with the Metro Green Line then heading diagonally southeast to Cerritos, at the edge of Orange County.

  • Gold Line Eastside Extension, Phase 2:  The existing Eastside Gold Line would be extended from East Los Angeles via two spurs. The north spur could extend directly east to South El Monte. A southern spur could connect through Montebello and terminate in Whittier.

  • Green Line Extension to Santa Fe Springs: The Green Line could extend east to the Santa Fe Springs Metrolink station.

  • Foothill Gold Line Extension Phase 2B: The Gold Line’s Foothill Extension, currently under construction, will extend the line to Azusa. This further extension would take the line to Claremont and Montclair at the border between L.A. County and San Bernardino County.
As mentioned, Move L.A. calls this their “strawman” proposal. It’s a vision in draft form, put forth to generate discussion. The lines, the boulevards, the percentages, etc. are all subject to plenty of modifications, and a few hurdles, before Angelenos might get to vote on what finally emerges.

Metrolink, Metro propose more express trains for crowded San Bernardino line


By Steve Scauzillo, April 2, 2014

Commuters travel westbound on the Metrolink 383 express train from San Bernardino to LA Union Station on early Wednesday morning, April 2, 2014. Metro and Metrolink are working on a plan to add 4 miles of double track in La Verne and San Dimas to run an additional San Bernardino to LA express train, the busiest of all the lines in Southern California. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
 Commuters travel westbound on the Metrolink 383 express train from San Bernardino to LA Union Station on early Wednesday morning, April 2, 2014. Metro and Metrolink are working on a plan to add 4 miles of double track in La Verne and San Dimas to run an additional San Bernardino to LA express train, the busiest of all the lines in Southern California. 


 Passengers enter the Metrolink 383 express train from Covina station early Wednesday, April 2, 2014. Metro and Metrolink are working on a plan to add four miles of double track in La Verne and San Dimas to run an additional San Bernardino to Los Angeles express train.

Metrolink passengers traveling from the Inland Empire to downtown Los Angeles may soon be riding faster and more direct express trains, according to top transportation officials.

A second, third and even a fourth express train serving passengers boarding in San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga and Covina are in the works, said Mitch Alderman, director of transit and rail for San Bernardino Associated Governments, or SanBAG.

SanBAG and its L.A. County partner, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, have just completed a feasibility study on adding capacity to the busy San Bernardino line. A report on the project will be released this month or next, he said.

The project will involve double-tracking portions of the line between San Bernardino and Rialto and between San Dimas and La Verne, effectively adding four miles of extra track and bringing the total of double tracking on the line to 12 miles, said Jay Fuhrman, transportation planning manager for Metro.

Though in the preliminary stages, the total cost for the project is approximately $126 million, split between SanBAG and Metro.

“When you put in double track in key areas, it allows you to increase your throughput and you can add more express trains and run faster express trains,” Fuhrman explained. “It is exciting, once we get the funding up.”

Funding for the project is not yet available, he said. The goal of the two agencies is to present an attractive project for federal, state or local funding by next year or sooner.

 An environmental review will begin this summer at a cost of about $700,000, Alderman said. The project is at least two years away from beginning of construction, officials said.

“We could get environmental clearance in a year and build it in a year’s time,” Alderman said. “Railroads can be quick. It is the funding that is a different issue.”

The San Bernardino-to-L.A. Metrolink line has 12,000 boardings every day, making it the busiest line in the 21-year-old system, Alderman said. An express train leaves San Bernardino at 5:40 a.m., Rancho Cucamonga at 5:53 a.m. and Covina at 6:14 a.m. Those are the only three stops before reaching L.A.’s Union Station. An evening express leaves Union Station at 5:15 p.m.

The express train saves each commuter 45 minutes each way, or 90 minutes round-trip per day, said Metrolink and SanBAG officials. The other trains stop at all the stations and take 1 hour 50 minutes from San Bernardino to L.A., compared with 1 hour 5 minutes on the express train, officials said.
Many riders have requested more express trains in order to save commuting time.

Jeff Jabbour, 26, of Rancho Cucamonga was crammed into the morning express train Wednesday with about 600 others. The train was standing room only from Rancho to Union Station.

By taking the express trains both ways weekdays, he saves about 40 minutes a day, since he only rides from Rancho Cucamonga to Union Station and back and not all the way to San Bernardino.
“That is 40 minutes a day. That is like a gym session or a dinner,” he said. “There are a lot of things you can do in 40 minutes.”

Roy Alexander drives down the Cajon Pass from his home in Oak Hills and boards the express train in the pre-dawn hours at the San Bernardino Metrolink Station. He says getting to his job earlier in the morning makes his bosses happy.

 “I work for a multinational corporation,” he said, as the train chugged into Union Station on Wednesday. “We already have people up and working. So me getting into the office as early as possible makes it easier for me to work with other people in other countries, such as the Philippines and Honduras.”

Those who lined up at the Covina Metrolink Station before sunrise tried to find a seat on the express train. Many were awakened by the idea of a second express train.

Gloria Wong of Covina said it is difficult to get a seat. Adding another express train will cut down her commute and give her a sense of security.

“When you get on, the seat you have is the seat you have all the way to Union. You don’t have to jockey for position,” she said, envisioning more room on the faster train.

“Yes, sure. People have been asking for it. If they can swing it, great.”

One dead in car, big rig collision on 101 Freeway in Studio City


April 3, 2014

STUDIO CITY - A person was killed today in a collision between a sedan and a big rig on the southbound Hollywood (101) Freeway in Studio City, authorities said.

The Lexus sedan collided with the rear of the big rig just north of Vineland Avenue at 3:14 a.m, said California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Rubio.

Rubio said the collision occurred as the nearby site of an earlier accident was being cleared. That accident was a collision between a box truck and a pickup truck, also in the southbound lanes. There were no injuries in that accident.

All southbound lanes of the 101 were closed after the fatal collision, with traffic diverted to the eastbound Ventura (134) Freeway. A single lane of the southbound 101 was opened about 4:15 a.m., and the remaining lanes were reopened about 6:35 a.m., the CHP reported.

Advocates Push for Bike/Ped Funding From CA’s Cap-and-Trade Funds


By Melanie Curry, April 2, 2014

A coalition of bike and pedestrian advocates are inviting organizations to sign on to a letter [PDF] asking the state legislature to recommend allocating $50 million of the state’s cap-and-trade revenue towards the Active Transportation Program. Currently, none of the $850 million in cap-and-trade funds are allocated specifically for walking and bicycling in this year’s budget.

Photo by Brian W. Knight from the Streetsblog "Kids + Cities Photo Contest, 2013"
Bicycles produce zero greenhouse gas emissions but get zero funds from cap-and-trade.

Caltrans recently released its first ATP call for projects, and applications are due May 21. Eligible projects support walking and bicycling, and must compete for funding that will be awarded according to a formula in the ATP guidelines, recently adopted by the California Transportation Commission. Applications are expected to request and amount exceeding the program’s current funding levels of $120 million per year.

Revenue from cap-and-trade, the system chosen by California to meet the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act, A.B. 32, must be spent on activities and projects that help meet its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The governor’s proposed expenditure plan for cap-and-trade funds includes $100 million for the Strategic Growth Council for transit oriented development grants, which may include some bike and pedestrian infrastructure as part of larger projects. However, there is no cap-and-trade money specifically allocated to those modes.

The governor’s plan proposes an allocation of $250 million to high-speed rail, $200 million to the Air Resources Board for low-emission vehicle rebates, and $50 million to Caltrans to improve intercity rail, in addition to $250 million for other projects including energy efficiency, clean energy, and natural resource programs that will help reduce GHG emissions.

Building infrastructure for bicycles and pedestrians, and educating and encouraging people to use these emission-free modes, can reduce vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions in the short term. In their letter, advocates argue that bike/ped projects are crucial in meeting the state’s emission reduction goals, though they do not specify what budget line should be reduced to create the $50 million cap-and-trade allocation for active transportation.

“There is a lot of demand for the ATP program,” said Jeanie Ward-Waller, California Advocacy Organizer for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, one of the organizations putting together a letter asking the legislature to consider the allocation from cap-and-trade funds. “There are projects that are ready to go, and ready to start reducing emissions in the short term.”

The Safe Routes to School Partnership has been conducting workshops throughout the state to assist groups who want to apply for ATP funds. Nearly 70 people showed up for the most recent workshop in San Jose, including people from small and large jurisdictions, from Watsonville and Salinas to Danville and San Francisco.

“Most of them are ready to apply, and have projects lined up,” said Ward-Waller.

Caltrans also announced a series of training sessions throughout the state in April to help applicants compete for funding.

The organizations spearheading the letter include the National Partnership for Safe Routes to Schools, the California Bicycle Coalition, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, California Walks, Transform, and the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. Organizations can sign on by emailing jeanie@saferoutespartnership.org by 5 p.m. today, after which the letter will be delivered to the Senate and Assembly budget subcommittees on transportation.

This Bike Elevator Makes Steep Hills a Little More Manageable


By Jenny Xie, Aril 3, 2014

 This Bike Elevator Makes Steep Hills a Little More Manageable

Scandinavia, always ahead of the bike infrastructure curve, has something else to share: a self-service cycle lift for hilly roads.

The first prototype was installed in Trondheim, Norway, in 1993. Since then, it's become a popular tourist attraction that's powered more than 200,000 cyclists up a 130-meter hill, with no accidents recorded. The original lift was dismantled in 2012, and replaced a year later with CycloCable, an industrialized version upgraded to meet new safety standards.

Now, POMA Group, the French cableway company behind the CycloCable, wants to sell the idea to other cities around the world.

The CycloCable in action at its re-launch last summer.

CycloCable works very much like a ski lift. But most of the design structures are placed just below the street surface for a safer and more seamless integration into the road.

To begin, you just push the green button at the "start station" and wait for the first footplate. You then stand up on your bike and put your right foot and all of your weight on the footplate. The launcher at the start station will give you gentle push to accelerate from zero to 1.5 meters per second. The lift can go up to 2 meters per second, handling a maximum of 300 cyclists per hour. It supports inclines of up to 18 percent grade and can extend as long as 1,640 feet.

So far, the only CycloCable installed on a real road is in Trondheim. According to Didier Balavoine from POMA, it's generated plenty of interest from cities in Europe, Asia, and North America. But the company wants to test the reliability of the Trondheim CycloCable for a second season before expanding to those cities.

People have also found alternative uses for the CycloCable in Trondheim. 

For bicycle diehards, the CycloCable may seem like a cop-out. But the system, which costs about as much as a bike lane to install, could encourage more cyclists on intimidating topography. A 2007 survey of Trondheim bike lift users found that 41 percent were biking more often because of the lift.
It's statistics like those that have hilly American cities taking notice.

According to Ben Jose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, the adoption and success of CycloCable will be on the city's radar. Jose says San Francisco's prioritized facilities that help cyclists navigate the hillier parts of the city.

But, he says, installing CycloCable would involve an elaborate process of pilot demos, securing funding, further engineering analysis, as well as appropriate legislative steps.

Pittsburgh has also considered the lift. According to Stephen Patchan, bicycle/pedestrian coordinator at Pittsburgh's Department of City Planning, the cycling community sees the steep terrain as an amenity, not a challenge. But Patchan says it would still be nice to have that kind of assistance for people tired at the end of the day, for example. 

A Pittsburgh non-profit even proposed a bike lift modeled after the one in Trondheim several years ago. But the idea generated some initial questions about liability and wasn't pursued further.

This time around, liability would still be the primary concern, but not one that can't be overcome. 
Patchan is confident that the cost-benefit of implementing something like CycloCable will be more acceptable as U.S. bike infrastructure systems continue to mature.

"It only takes one smart and cavalier community to figure it out and establish a model for operations and maintenance," he says.

Will a World of Driverless Cars Be Heaven or Hell?


By Robin Chase, April 3, 2014

 Will a World of Driverless Cars Be Heaven or Hell?

When my city-raised son was two, he'd scream bus! with full-bodied delight whenever he saw one. It's quite possible that his yet-to-be-conceived youngest child won't learn that word, nor ever ride in a "taxi," "shuttle," or "vanpool." These fine gradations for types of shared vehicles will disappear much like telephone booths from city streets — and not to be replaced by the likes of Zipcar, Car2go, or Lyft. Rather, it is the fully autonomous car that is going to be game-changing. But it is a future with two trajectories: heaven and hell.

Let's start with the hell scenario, in which we all own driverless cars that do all our errands for us. To see the impact of our worst nature, consider a typical day owning an autonomous car. I have a breakfast meeting in Harvard Square, so my fully autonomous vehicle — my FAV — drops me off then sends itself back home to park for free. I schedule the FAV to return at 9:30 a.m., but I don't rush out because the car will just circle the neighborhood until I tell it "I'm here!" Later on, my son decides to go to a friend's house two miles away, but instead of riding his bike the family FAV takes him there and comes back. As I get a friend a gift at a hand-made jewelry shop, my FAV circles the block for 15 minutes. Rather than trip-chaining to get the dry cleaning, we send the FAV out anytime to pick it up (an employee places the cleaned and pressed clothes in my car for me). Ditto for our take-out dinner.

Here's why that's a hellish vision: people consider the cost of individual car trips to be just the cost of gas and we won't think twice about asking a driverless robot car to do our bidding. In a FAV world, where we won't actually need to be doing the driving ourselves, each and every errand whim we might dream of is now a reality. If single-occupancy vehicles are the bane of our congested highways and cities right now, imagine the congestion when we pour in unfettered zero-occupancy vehicles.

Now for the transportation heaven scenario, in which shared FAVs are used for on-demand origin-to-destination public transport. Depending on the weather and our moods, both my son and I can choose to ride our bikes to our destinations, which is also door-to-door and basically free. Or we use an app to call the public (or private?) shared FAV and tell it "I'm here and I want to go here." We wait less than two minutes and a six-seat vehicle arrives. There may or may not be people in it already, and we may or may not stop and pick someone else up along the way. If I didn't want any side stops and were rich enough to pay a surcharge, I could say, "I'm here. Book entire vehicle." I might also say "I'm here. Book entire vehicle. Fancy one, please." With the shared FAV world, I have a full range of luxury and price points, and society has fewer individual car owners.

The subway will still be an attractive mode of transport: no traffic, no traffic lights, with a hard-to-beat passenger throughput in the most dense geographies. The price point of shared FAVs will be comparable to current public transit fares, but likely won't require taxpayer subsidies. It should be profitable in most densities, and maybe some clever price manipulation (pushing people to cluster the timing of their demands) could even make it work in rural areas. We still walk, bike, and perhaps even own motorized single-person vehicles. But when you need a car, nothing will beat the convenience and price of the shared FAV, with its real-time, 24/7 access, pay-only-for-what-you-use, get-the-exact-vehicle-you-want, never-ever-have-to-park-it, never-have-to-maintain-it ease of use.

While the hell vision results in gridlock everywhere, this heaven vision takes all those personal cars — now parked 95 percent of the time — off the streets and out of garages. We can repurpose those lanes to trees, bike lanes, sidewalks, play spaces, bike parking, cafĂ© expansion, community gardens, or even swimming pools. It's not too early to consider this alternative universe.

Autonomous cars will be part of our reality faster than most people realize. While manufacturers have a four-phase plan to bring about the fully autonomous car within the next two decades, Google promises to have them ready as early as 2017, just three years distant.

My guess is that Google's could be the "heaven" vision. In July they spent $966 million to purchase Waze, a company with a brilliant smart phone navigation app. The app delivers the best routes based on the historical choices of the 50 million Wazers combined with the traffic speeds they are experiencing in real-time. Back in the day, when I was CEO of Zipcar, I was struck that we knew the precise times, days, durations, and distances of car travel more intimately even than car manufacturers did. Today, Waze offers a greater insight into the exact travel paths of what must be on the order of a billion trips over many years. If you wanted to get into the on-demand public transport world, you couldn't ask for better data against which to understand and predict exactly where and when people will want to travel. Couple that with Google Ventures single largest investment to date — $258 million — into Uber, which has perfected the request, pickup, and delivery side of the equation, and you've got a clear blueprint for tomorrow's transportation (if you take as a given the autonomous vehicle itself, of course).

But getting to the heaven vision will also require making sure that we share not just the cars (about 80 percent of all trips are single occupancy, and this produces a lot of congestion), but we also share the trips, which is where the real road efficiency will come from. Having a range of vehicle types and sizes, pricing the trips appropriately, and making sure that all of them are CO2-free are all necessary parts of a heavenly car future.

So policy makers, taxpayers, road warriors, city lovers: Which path forward will we choose? Our future hinges on two things. First, will the cost for autonomous vehicles be high enough that each vehicle will need to be used well? If so, the economic imperative to share the cars will set us down the efficient-use path. Second, will we add a per-mile fee for human-free passenger vehicles? We will need that to temper our insatiable desire to send machines out to do our bidding.