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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Metro video: how to slay Nextrip, sings Rusty Eye

http://thesource.metro.net/2014/10/23/new-metro-video-how-to-slay-nextrip-sings-rusty-eye/

By Steve Hymon, October 23, 2014







And here is the third of the new videos from Metro’s marketing team, this one featuring Hollywood-based Rusty Eye promoting Nextrip, which allows users to get real-time bus and train arrival information on GPS-enabled smart phones or computers.

The new videos are intended as a fun way to help folks learn to ride the Metro system and remind everyone that taking transit can be fun and/or interesting. Please feel free to share/comment/review on social media using the hashtag #metrorocks. Metro is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The first video featured Galactic Flo promoting Metro’s and Google’s trip planner. The second video had the folk duo Steps of Doe explaining how to reload your TAP card at ticket machines.

One other note: the musicians who appear in the videos (and the firm that made them, Conceptive, Inc.) are entirely local. If you’re a musician and would like to share your song about local transit, you can email us here.

Metro Board approves Union Station Master Plan, allowing near-term projects to go forward

http://thesource.metro.net/2014/10/23/metro-board-approves-union-station-master-plan-allowing-near-term-projects-to-go-forward/

By Dave Sotero, October 23, 2014



 Sitting at a new plaza overlooking the historic patios – the view is looking north.

 Sitting at a new plaza overlooking the historic patios – the view is looking north.




 Sitting at a new plaza overlooking the historic patios – the view is looking north.
 Sitting at a new plaza overlooking the historic patios – the view is looking north.


 A ground floor site plan of the Master Plan. The big changes: a relocated Patsaouras Bus Plaza would be elevated and be located between the rear of the historic concourse and the existing railroad tracks. The current pedestrian tunnel under the tracks and platforms would be replaced by a widened multi-modal concourse, with two sunken areas offering seating and amenities.
A ground floor site plan of the Master Plan. The big changes: a relocated Patsaouras Bus Plaza would be elevated and be located between the rear of the historic concourse and the existing railroad tracks. The current pedestrian tunnel under the tracks and platforms would be replaced by a widened multi-modal concourse, with two sunken areas offering seating and amenities.

 This rendering shows the expanded multi-modal concourse, with a direct connection to HSR station below grade on the east side of Vignes. The USMP could support other approaches to a HSR station as well.


This rendering shows the expanded multi-modal concourse, with a direct connection to HSR station below grade on the east side of Vignes. The USMP could support other approaches to a HSR station as well.
 Walking west over a new pedestrian bridge that spans the railroad tracks and platforms and connects the east and west sides of the Union Station property.
 Walking west over a new pedestrian bridge that spans the railroad tracks and platforms and connects the east and west sides of the Union Station property.

Looking north, with the relocated Patsaouras Bus Plaza to the east and the historic station to the west. Looking north, with the relocated Patsaouras Bus Plaza to the east and the historic station to the west.

 A rendering of the new east entrance to the station, looking toward Vignes Street.
 A rendering of the new east entrance to the station, looking toward Vignes Street.

 An aerial view of Union Station with potential future development and strong connections to neighboring communities and amenities.


 An aerial view of Union Station with potential future development and strong connections to neighboring communities and amenities.


The western end of the new expanded concourse, showing one of the sunken areas, and views to the trains above. The western end of the new expanded concourse, showing one of the sunken areas, and views to the trains above.


The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors today approved actions to officially move the Union Station Master Plan, an ambitious long-range roadmap for L.A.’s single largest public transit hub, from planning to implementation. 

Metro can now pursue its initial implementation strategy for near-term projects, which includes a programmatic environmental review of the recommended transit improvements as well as the commercial development program. Metro can also seek immediate funding opportunities for improvements to the station’s perimeter, and will form partnerships with the city and county, real estate and investment communities to support related implementation efforts.

“Today is a milestone day in our goal to bring ‘America’s Last Great Train Station’ into the 21st century,” said Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Mayor and Metro Board Chair. “Metro is now on the move to make Los Angeles Union Station a world-class transit hub.”

Planned improvements to Union Station’s perimeter include a series of streetscape, open space and transit stop improvements that soften the edges of the station, improve the pedestrian and cyclist experience, strengthen connections to and from the station’s entrances and create a more welcoming environment to transit riders and visitors. Foremost among these improvements is the planned removal of the surface parking lot on the northern side of the forecourt and the creation of a public plaza. This and other improvements will directly link with the El Pueblo Historic Monument, where apprxoimately $1 million in local open space funds has been identified to support the design and implementation of these improvements.

Metro was recently awarded other grant opportunities to improve four bus stops along Cesar Chavez between Alameda and Vignes, which includes creating shelters, additional seating and information, and bike facilities.  Metro has also received a grant from the Congestion Reduction ExpressLanes Net Toll Revenue Project and is providing matching funds to create a Metro Bike Hub on the west side of Union Station that will offer parking for about 300 bicycles, 24-7 secure access control, a space for bike retail and repair services, and a meeting/training space to conduct bike safety training workshops. This bike hub is expected to open in 2017.

The master plan improvements build on ongoing restoration and upgrades for the historic station, which have included new signage, restoration of the historic furnishings, woodwork, metalwork, chandeliers, and repainting. Further planned improvements are renovation of the 75-year-old roof and new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for the historic station. Work will be completed under the watchful eye of the Historic Architectural Consultant firm ARG and the Los Angeles Conservancy. In addition to restoration work, Metro has begun actively leasing spaces at the station. In the past six months, leases have been signed with Café Crepe, T&Y Bakery, and most recently two new kiosks for the east portal and a new gastro pub in the Fred Harvey restaurant, which will be developed and managed by downtown restaurateurs Cedd Moses and Eric Needleman.

Long-term plans, subject to the availability of future funding, call for a new expanded, multi-modal passenger concourse and the relocation of Patsaouras Bus Plaza to the west side of the property.  Both of these concepts are intended to improve the efficiency of transit operations and enhance the passenger experience at the station. 

The master plan development program includes 3.25 million square feet of entitlements on the Union Station property.  The master plan preserves the historic station, which is registered as a national historical landmark, yet it also envisions new commercial development that will help make Union Station a world-class destination.  Possible development could include new retail amenities, hotel, housing and much more. 

Metro has been working on the Union Station Master Plan for the last two years with the assistance of a consultant team led by Gruen Associates and Grimshaw Architects.  The station opened in 1939 and primarily served passenger trains connecting to cities across California and the United States. Ridership has increased tenfold since the station opened and is now approaching 110,000 trips per day. Daily ridership is expected to jump to nearly 197,000 trips per day by 2040 as the Metro Rail system continues to expand.

The "fundamental rule" of traffic: building new roads just makes people drive more

http://www.vox.com/2014/10/23/6994159/traffic-roads-induced-demand

By Joseph Stromberg, October 23, 2014


 

 After years spent widening the interstate 405 freeway in Los Angeles, travel times are slightly slower than before.



For people who are constantly stuck in traffic jams, it seems like there should be an obvious solution — just widen the roads.

This makes intuitive sense. Building new lanes (or new highways entirely) adds capacity to road systems. And traffic, at its root, is a volume problem — there are too many cars trying to use not enough road.

But there's a fundamental problem with this idea. Decades of traffic data across the United States shows that adding new road capacity doesn't actually improve congestion. The latest example of this is the widening of Los Angeles' I-405 freeway, which was completed in May after five years of construction and a cost of over $1 billion. "The data shows that traffic is moving slightly slower now on 405 than before the widening," says Matthew Turner, a Brown University economist.

The main reason, Turner has found, is simple — adding road capacity spurs people to drive more miles, either by taking more trips by car or taking longer trips than they otherwise would have. He and University of Pennsylvania economist Gilles Duranton call this the "fundamental rule" of road congestion: adding road capacity just increases the total number of miles traveled by all vehicles.
This is because, for the most part, drivers aren't charged for using roads. So it's not surprising that a valuable resource, given away for free, leads people to use more of it. Economists see this phenomenon in a lot of places, and call it induced demand.

If you really want to cut down on traffic, Turner says, there's only one option: charge people to use roads when they're crowded, a policy known as congestion pricing.

The surprising data: building roads doesn't reduce traffic

traffic 2

In the United States, city planners and traffic engineers have long acted on the belief that adding road capacity will reduce traffic. But no one had ever tested this idea empirically. One reason is that it's a difficult thing to analyze. Researchers can't exactly conduct a controlled study, giving randomly selected cities different amounts of road space simply for the purpose of an experiment.

So Turner and Duranton did their best to get around this by using a few novel methods. In an influential 2011 paper, they looked at the total capacity of highways in each metropolitan area in the US and compared it with the total number of vehicle miles traveled.

They found a one-to-one correlation: the more highway capacity a metro area had, the more miles its vehicles traveled on them. A 10 percent increase in capacity, for instance, meant a 10 percent increase in vehicle miles, on average. But that, on its own, wasn't conclusive. "This could just be telling you that urban planners are smart, and are building roads in places that people want to use them," Turner says.

So, to try to isolate the effect of building roads, the economists then compared changes in highway capacity between 1983 and 2003 to the changes in vehicle miles traveled. "Again, we saw a direct one-to-one correlation across all cities," Turner says. This correlation also held up when the economists compared roads within cities: added road capacity consistently led to more driving. Still, even this wasn't conclusive. It could, after all, simply be a function of planners making good decisions — perfectly anticipating unmet driving demand.

As a final step, then, the economists tried to isolate a few different sets of roads that were planned with no regard to current driving patterns — newly built roads that were part of the original 1947 interstate highway plan (which was based on 1940s population levels, not 80s and 90s), and those that followed 19th century railroad rights-of-way, or 18th and 19th century routes taken by explorers. "We saw exactly the same effect here too," Turner says.

This finding has since been replicated with Japanese and British data. It doesn't seem to be an effect of optimized planning. Again and again, more roads lead to more driving — with no reduction in congestion.

Turner and Duranton have also found that public transportation doesn't really help alleviate congestion either — even if it takes some people out of cars and puts them on buses or trains, the empty road space will be quickly filled up by new vehicle-miles. Other researchers have found exceptions to this rule (say, when a transit route parallels heavy commuting corridors) but it doesn't seem to be a large-scale traffic solution, at least given the way US cities are currently built. (Note that transit can have other beneficial effects, like making a city more affordable. But it doesn't seem to have much effect on congestion.)

How new roads make people drive more

traffic 3

So why does traffic increase when new road capacity is added? Turner and Duranton attribute about half of the effect to people's driving decisions. "Think of it as if you made a bunch of hamburgers and then gave them all away," Turner says. "If you make hamburgers free, people will eat more of them."

By way of illustration, consider the following situation: there's a store where you know you can save $10 on something you need to buy, but it's 10 miles away. If you assume there will be terrible traffic and it'll take 30 minutes to get there, you'll just buy the product at a closer store. However, if a new lane gets added to a highway that will speed your journey there, you'll decide it's worth it.

Over time, thousands of people will make this calculation — along with similar ones, like deciding to drive a few blocks rather than walk, because it'll be faster, or making a longish driving trip to see friends or go to a new restaurant because they assume the distance can be covered quickly. Eventually, they increased miles they drive will go a long way towards filling up the new, expensive roads that municipalities went to so much trouble to build. (As a navigation device company's billboard once told drivers, "You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic.") Some people might then opt not to drive, but ultimately, the roads will reach the same equilibrium of traffic they had before.
induced demand
A model showing how induced demand works. Typically, traffic volume levels off and reaches an equilibrium over tine, but when new capacity gets added, the volume increases to fill it, before reaching a new equilibrium. (Victoria Transport Policy Institute)

A few other factors also contribute to induced demand. The economists noticed increased truck traffic in the areas with more new road building — partly an effect of long-haul trucking companies optimizing their routes to take advantage of newly built roads, and partly an effect of industries that rely heavily on transportation moving in to an area to do the same.

Lastly, the researchers attribute some of the effect to individual people moving to an area to follow new road capacity as well.

How to actually solve the traffic problem

congestion pricig
London's congestion pricing scheme.

Turner notes that traffic isn't necessarily a bad thing: it's a sign that lots of people want to use the roads in a certain area. If you want transport-heavy industry and new residents to move to your city, then new roads are an infrastructure investment that appear to attract them.

However, if your goal is reducing traffic congestion, this research shows that adding road capacity won't do it. But there is a way: congestion pricing.

"Essentially, you charge people for access to roads at the times they're congested," Turner says. At rush hour, using a road costs more than in the middle of the night. Only a few cities — like London and Singapore — have tried this sort of scheme so far, but research shows that it has appreciably reduced traffic by shifting behavior. People opt out of making some trips, or shift them to times when the roads won't be so busy, ultimately cutting down on traffic.

One criticism of these sorts of schemes is that they're regressive: they impact the poor much more than the wealthy, and effectively ease the commutes of people who can pay the tolls.

There's certainly some truth to this. But at the same time, the current system (which is relying less and less on gas taxes, which roughly correlate with usage) also has enormous costs, they're just less visible.

The mechanisms we use to currently pay for new roads might be less regressive, but they decouple road usage from payment, a huge long-term problem. "If you have something valuable that you're giving away, and you don't have enough of it, you can either just build more and more and keep giving it away and never have enough, or you can start charging people for access," Turner says.

There are now all sorts of high-tech ways to toll cars based on the distance they drive; perhaps you could create a system that also takes a person's income into account, which would let you make a progressive form of congestion pricing. "Consider the alternatives: congested travel, with tons of money spent on expansion projects," Turner says, "or congestion pricing, which'll really bother us at first, but change our behavior and actually solve the problem."

Editorial: Going off the rails on Metro's rail cars

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-kinkisharyo-labor-dispute-metro-rail-20141023-story.html

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