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, December 4, 2014

Actions taken today by the Metro Board of Directors


By Steve Hymon, December 4, 2014

The Metro Board held their final meeting of 2014 this morning; audio of the meeting can be heard by clicking here. It was a short agenda with three receive-and-file items (in other words, items that serve as reports and don’t require a Board vote) on areas of reader interest:

•The Board received an update from Los Angeles World Airport officials on their Automated People Mover project (known as APM) that will include a transfer to the Crenshaw/LAX Line at Aviation/96th Street.

The current airport plan is to build three APM stations in LAX’s central terminal area. One station would serve Terminal 1, 6 and 7, the next station would serve Terminals 5 and 6 and the last station would serve the Tom Bradley International Terminal and Terminals 3 and 4. Moving sidewalks would be used to help passengers get from the stations — which would be within the terminal horseshoe road — to the terminals. Another nugget: officials said that they want APM vehicles to be large enough to accommodate passengers with luggage on SmarteCartes.

The current plan, according to LAWA, is to start construction of the APM in 2017 or 2018 with construction taking five to seven years. Airport officials say they are mindful of one potential deadline: the 2024 Summer Olympics. The Los Angeles area is preparing a bid and is vying with three other cities — San Francisco, Boston and Washington D.C. — to represent the U.S. in the international competition to determine which city will host the Games.

As for the APM, it will also stop at a new Intermodal Transportation Facility that will have parking, serve as a shuttle bus stop and pickup and drop-off area for passengers. The next APM station would be at the Aviation/96th Station for the Crenshaw/LAX Line — a station that Metro will build that is planned as being terminal-like and much more robust than the usual light rail platform.

The final APM station would serve a consolidated rental car facility to be constructed east of Aviation Boulevard. As the name implies, the facility would bring together the more than a dozen rental car companies that serve LAX. Airport passengers would use the APM to reach rental cars, thereby removing the need for shuttles from rental car companies to endlessly circle the horseshoe road serving the airport terminals.

•The Board received a Metro staff report on the budget development process for the 2015-2016 fiscal year that begins July 1. The report looks at both Metro’s short/long-range revenues and expenses and suggests that the Metro Board at some point will have to revisit the question of fare increases (the Board approved the first of three increases recommended by Metro staff last year) and trimming operating expenses, perhaps through transit service changes. Metro staff is scheduled to give another financial update in February. Point of emphasis: nothing happens fare-wise or service-wise without a civil rights analysis (and hearings for a fare increase) and final approval of changes by the Metro Board — the 13-member body of mostly elected officials that oversees Metro.

•The Board also discussed a receive-and-file report from Metro staff on a change in policy that would allow all police officers to ride Metro for free whether on- or off-duty and whether in uniform or not. During the discussion, Board Members said there was a need to increase police presence on transit but some Board Members questioned whether police in plain clothes would serve as a useful deterrent. The item will likely be revisited in 2015.

Solar roadways, 'Internet of Things' to shape highways of the future


December 4, 2014


Future highways will be made from solar materials and will be governed by sophisticated technologies that communicate with cars, road infrastructure and GPS systems, according to a new report.

Arup’s Future of Highways report considers the consequences of themes including rapid urbanisation up to 2050 and how climate change, resource depletion and changes in human behaviour will shape our roads in the future.

INFOGRAPHIC: Future_of_Highways_infographic

“Anticipating and researching future trends will help us move towards a connected, low-carbon future, where mobility solutions put users at the heart of design and potential challenges are addressed as early as possible. The changes that this report suggests will provide safer, more reliable and more environmentally friendly highway infrastructure for generations to come," says Tony Marshall, Global Highways Leader, Arup.

Surfaces could be replaced with advanced solar panels that would generate clean and renewable power, and wirelessly charge electric cars as they are driving or are parked. The panels would also contain LED lighting and heating elements to melt snow.

As well as highways evolving, the report foresees that patterns of ownership will change in the coming years, with commuters more likely to purchase access to a vehicle rather than the vehicle itself. While the number of motorized vehicles on our roads is expected to increase by three per cent annually until 2030, the use of non-motorized transport such as bikes and walking is also due to rise in popularity. Cities worldwide have already recognised this trend and have started to implement strategies to reduce congestion and support the health of their citizens through various cycle and walking schemes.

RELATED: 'Connected' Vehicle Testing Aims to Bolster Bus Safety

Electric cars are anticipated to become commonplace on the roads of the future as developments in material science will dramatically improve the performance of batteries and the potential for increased electricity storage. Fully-automated navigation systems will also enable roads to be populated by driverless cars which could change the design and operation of highways, and provide safety and environmental benefits.

VIDEO: Google self driving car test

Vehicles will become increasingly ‘intelligent’ and ‘self-aware’: a combination of the connected vehicle and the Internet of Things will enable vehicles to broadcast and receive information on traffic, speed, weather and potential safety hazards.  As a result, cars will be able to travel closer together and react more quickly to variables around them. This will open the market to people previously unable to operate vehicles such as the elderly or disabled.

Officials laud agreement to create light rail manufacturing jobs in L.A. County


By Steve Hymon, December 4, 2014

 From left: XX, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, XX and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor's Maria Elena Durazo.

 From left: Palmdale James Ledford, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Kinkisharyo’s Donald Boss and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s Maria Elena Durazo.

A media event was held outside Metro headquarters this morning to celebrate the recent agreement that will result in Kinkisharyo keeping and expanding a facility to assemble new light rail cars for Metro’s Blue, Expo and Gold Lines. Below is the news release from the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti:

The Mayor Convened Kinkisharyo and Labor and Community Groups to Continue Stalled Talks, Which Resulted in Agreement

LA Times Last Month Said: “much-celebrated plans to build a light-rail manufacturing plant in Palmdale appear all but dead.”

LOS ANGELES – In advance of today’s Metro Board Meeting, Los Angeles Mayor and L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Chair Eric Garcetti lauded the agreement between Kinkisharyo International, LLC and labor and community groups to resolve an impasse that would have seen the company locate manufacturing operations for its next order of Metro light rail cars outside of L.A. County. Mayor Garcetti intervened to continue stalled talks among the parties, resulting in the agreement. 

“Last month, the lines were drawn in the sand and we were going to see jobs that could be in L.A. County go somewhere else. But because we brought both sides back to the table to grind out night and day negotiations with my office, L.A. County is going to see new middle class jobs and an expansion of our manufacturing base,” Mayor and Metro Chair Garcetti said. “As I oversee the nation’s largest public works project as Mayor and Metro Chair, it’s critical to me that our economy benefits from our $36 billion transportation build out, and this agreement makes that happen. Creating good, local jobs as we strengthen our local infrastructure is key to my back to basics agenda for L.A. ”

As a result of the agreement, Kinkisharyo will expand the current light rail car assembly and testing operations at its existing site in Palmdale to include manufacturing tasks, which will create up to a total of 250 jobs.  The 175 cars being worked on at the facility will be put into service on the Crenshaw, Exposition and extended Gold lines. The agreement includes a neutrality agreement, as well as a commitment to explore additional skills training and assistance for disadvantaged L.A. County workers.

Over the last month, negotiations took place via separate and joint meetings with both sides, conference calls and night and day sessions in the Mayor’s office, with the company and labor and community groups each at times stationed in separate conference rooms and the Mayor’s staff going back and forth to broker the deal. Mayor Garcetti directly participated in the negotiations in person and via telephone.

“Today is a historic day for Kinkisharyo, and we are glad we are able to come to an agreement with IBEW 11,” said Donald Boss, General Manager, Program Management, Los Angeles, for Kinkisharyo. “These negotiations were not easy, but we are confident that as a result of our agreement with IBEW 11, we will continue to do what we do best – manufacture quality rail cars and deliver them on time and on budget. I want to especially thank Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and his staff for their work in helping to bring this agreement to fruition. Without his help, we would not be here today.  I also want to take this opportunity to thank Supervisor Mike Antonovich for his support, and the strong support we have received from the Los Angeles business community over the past few months.”

“We would also like to thank Mayor Eric Garcetti for his great leadership, as well as his able staff, on this important issue,” said Marvin Kropke, Business Manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union Number Eleven (IBEW 11). “We thank Kinkisharyo for its commitment to a strong partnership. This settlement recognizes the value of good middle class jobs in rail car manufacturing. We will continue to advocate for healthier communities and good, green jobs in the Antelope Valley and throughout L.A. County.”

“This settlement is a win for Los Angeles taxpayers, transit riders, the environment and working families,” said Madeline Janis, Director of the Jobs to Move America coalition. “Our public transit dollars can go the distance to create high-quality jobs, promote clean transit choices, and generate opportunities for disadvantaged people. This settlement in L.A. should serve as a model for other U.S. cities expanding their transportation systems.”

“Los Angeles County voters have a high standard for public projects. Taxpayer-funded projects should benefit workers and residents. With this settlement, all sides are honoring Measure R’s promise of increased public transit and good, clean jobs in LA,” said Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

Currently, Kinkisharyo is assembling and testing 78 light rail cars at its Palmdale facility under a 2012 Metro contract.  Under this agreement, the present facility will be expanded to perform additional manufacturing tasks and employ up to 250 people to fulfill an order for 97 additional cars, and it will do similar work on future orders as well.  

Under this agreement: 

•Kinkisharyo has signed a neutrality agreement 

•LACMTA (Metro) will work with the Jobs to Move America coalition to develop new public records act protocols

•Labor and community groups settled a public records act lawsuit and agreed that all environmental challenges are now moot 

•Kinkisharyo and the Jobs to Move America coalition will explore ways to expand opportunities for disadvantaged L.A. County workers including military veterans, women and people of color, and will explore potential job readiness training programs 

About Kinkisharyo International, LLC:

Kinkisharyo International, LLC is the U.S. subsidiary of Kinki Sharyo Corporation of Osaka, Japan.  The parent company has a nearly 100-year history of producing top quality rail cars ranging from streetcars to the famed Shinkansen bullet trains.  In the U.S., Kinkisharyo International has established an unparalleled reputation for quality and on-time delivery and has produced hundreds of light rail vehicles for communities throughout the United States, including Boston, Jersey City, Santa Clara, Dallas, Phoenix and Seattle. The company is headquartered in El Segundo, California.

About IBEW Local Union Eleven:

Organized more than 100 years ago, IBEW 11 is one of the largest and most progressive IBEW locals in the country. They represent more than 11,000 construction electricians and L.A. City municipal workers. The IBEW’s cause is human rights, human justice and human security. Marvin Kropke is a 36-year member of the IBEW and has been the business manager since 1997.

About the Jobs to Move America Coalition:

Jobs to Move America is a national coalition uniting more than 40 community, labor, faith, civil rights, philanthropic, academic and environmental groups to make our transit dollars go the distance.  Members of the Jobs to Move America coalition, which includes LAANE, IBEW local union 11, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO and others, is dedicated to ensuring that the billions of public dollars spent on public transit systems create better results for our communities: good jobs, cleaner equipment and more opportunity for low income people.

About the LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy):

LAANE is a leading advocacy organization dedicated to building a new economy for all. Combining dynamic research, innovative public policy and the organizing of broad alliances, LAANE promotes a new economic approach based on good jobs, thriving communities and a healthy environment.

Slower Speed Limits Move More Traffic


By Darren Proulx, December 2014

I found this study today, completed by Eero Pasenen from Aalborg University on behalf of the Helsinki Traffic Planning Division.  It has some great findings.  When you look at the graph below it shows that the total miles traveled each year in Helsinki has steeply increased since 1930.  The numbers of deaths caused by automobiles also increased until about 1975 when there was a dramatic reversal and decline of automobile related deaths.  Dr. Pasenen has determined that the vehicular speed limits “has been the most important single factor behind this development.”

Car Mileage Increased but Deaths Dropped
Car Mileage Increased but Deaths Dropped

Helsinki originally reduced speed limits on their highways in 1973. In 1987 they reduced speed limits to 40 km/hr (25mph) on suburban residential streets.  In 1992 they reduced the city centre to 40km/hr too. Finally in 2004 the city reduced all 50 & 40 km/hr speed limits to 40 & 30 km/hr respectively.

Evolution of Helsinki Speed Limit Reductions
Evolution of Helsinki Speed Limit Reductions

We are well aware of the effect slowing down traffic has for the safety of people walking and cycling that are involved in collisions with vehicles.

While walking or cycling the chance of death from a vehicular collision increases with speed
While walking or cycling the chance of death from a vehicular collision increases with speed

As vehicles slow down they can follow other cars more closely
As vehicles slow down they can safely follow other cars more closely

What few cities and business owners realize is that slowing down cars can actually move more people driving. Of course like any city in the world, there were fears that this would lead to congestion and traffic hell.  The usual critics were business owners. At first this seems contradictory, but Dr. Pasenen explains:
Both in 1992 and in 2004, the suggestions of speed limit reductions met hard resistance especially from the business circles. It was claimed that the reduction of speed limits would jam the whole traffic-system and ruin conditions for commercial activities in the city centre. It was also claimed that the amount of exhaust emission would increase dramatically.

There was a rather embarrassing false reasoning behind these claims. Everybody knows that congestion causes slow speeds. However, this does not mean that low speed limits cause traffic jams.

The capacity of a given lane depends on the time-intervals between successive vehicles. The slower the leading car drives in front of a queue, the closer follows the next car. From the point of view of capacity, it looks like the optimal speed level in urban street network is somewhere between 30 and 40 kilometers per hour (figure 5).
So there you have it slowing down vehicles can reduce unnecessary fatalities and move more people at the same time.  For businesses that think slow speeds will be a death knell, consider that vehicles travelling slower means they are on your street longer and it is more likely they will see your business. Additionally reducing vehicular speeds also reduces the noise made by vehicles, this would also help reinforce a pleasant sidewalk shopping environment.  It seems that slower speed limits are the panacea for creating livelier cities, so why are we not embracing this as much?
Speed reductions from 50 to 30 kph typically reduce noise levels by 4-5 decibels,66 or more in some circumstances.

The Hyperloop Is 'Insane,' Says Head of Hyperloop Design Program

A UCLA research studio is confronting the challenges of America's favorite fanciful flying tube.



Surely you haven't forgotten the Hyperloop: Elon Musk's pie-, er, pod-in-the-sky plan to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco with pneumatic transport tubes. Traveling at 760 mph, passengers could theoretically make the trip between Northern and Southern California in a little more than half an hour. All this, supposedly, for a fraction of the cost of building high-speed rail between the cities.

But if you find the whole idea a little out there, you're not alone. Architect and designer Craig Hodgetts, who's leading a one-year program at UCLA focused on developing the Hyperloop, recently described the concept as "insane" to the Daily Breeze—even as he insisted that physics behind it "are sound." More from the Breeze:
"It's pure science fiction," Hodgetts said gleefully. "Ray Bradbury would be the perfect person to explain this."
That comment stands in pretty stark contrast to one Hodgetts made earlier this year to LA Weekly:
"There's not a single element of science fiction," Hodgetts says. "Hyperloop is the same thing as the pneumatic tube."
In response to an email from CityLab about the statements, Hodgetts explains that his description of the project as "insane" was meant in jest, and that his reference to Bradbury was a literary one, not an engineering critique. He says that some of the original engineering assumptions have needed revision, such as the tube diameter, suspension methods, and station designs. But he adds that such refinement isn't surprising considering the complexities of the project.

"To clarify, what I meant was that the yearnings of futurists and science-fiction aficionados would be fulfilled by the realization of the system," he says. "I certainly did not mean that the concept had anything resembling what I think of as 'fantasy fiction'—i.e., anti-gravity, teleportation, etc."

Hyperloop Alpha / Tesla Motors
Musk, the futurist head of Tesla and SpaceX, released a white paper detailing the Hyperloop concept in 2013, complete with design renderings, rough cost estimates, and a route map. But the idea has been criticized for its potential to disrupt or distract from far more realistic transportation projects. This August, CNET reported that Hyperloop promoters had encountered some "environmental and regulatory" hurdles and wondered if perhaps "even a technologist as accomplished as Musk looked too far into the future."

Still, the concept's development pushes on. The UCLA program being led by Hodgetts, known as a Suprastudio, is a partnership between the university's Architecture and Urban Design School and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. (The studio is housed, rather inauspiciously, in the same complex where Howard Hughes built his failed aircraft known as the Spruce Goose.) The Breeze reports that most of the 25 students in the class are Chinese, owing to their country's fascination with Musk in general and the Hyperloop in particular.

Among the toughest design challenges facing Hodgetts and company is how to integrate Hyperloop stations into a city environment. Ideally, Hyperloop stations would exist in or near the urban core and be easily accessible, minimizing the considerable ground transportation time that often makes air travel less attractive than intercity rail. Hodgetts reportedly envisions a system similar to a ski lift, capable of moving fast for most of the trip but slowing down during entry and exit.

Hyperloop Alpha / Tesla Motors
Of course, along with the urban design challenges, the UCLA studio must address some far more basic travel barriers, like passenger nausea; again, the Breeze:
The forces exerted on the body are so great that seat design and panel displays are almost as important as the physics behind the locomotion. If you build it, the passengers will come — but only if the Hyperloop doesn't make people want to throw up.
For the record, the class has set for itself some perfectly sane goals: to build a full-scale prototype of the transport capsule as well as a miniature pneumatic tube. How crazy things get from there is anyone's guess.