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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Stuck in Seattle: The Aggravating Adventures of a Gigantic Tunnel Drill


710 Freeway Tunnel Debate at CalState L.A

Opposing Views Shared About Proposed Route Under SoPas


By Sally Kilby, March 31, 2015

 A two-hour debate on extending the SR 710 North was held next door to the 710 freeway stub at Cal State LA on Monday night.

Sponsored by the university and its Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs in partnership with the League of Women Voters Pasadena area, the event featured two known opponents and two known proponents of the extension.

It was moderated by Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Brown Institute, who said that since the longstanding battle over extending the 710 was relatively new to him, he could serve as an unbiased moderator. He had learned, however, that every word in the 710 issue has meaning, and he refused to call the noncontiguous 710 a “gap.”

Traveling to the event highlighted the major issue that the 710 options are supposed to resolve: getting from place to place along the 710 corridor. Freeway extension opponents and proponents alike were stuck in traffic along Fremont at rush hour, most probably driving solo.

Anyone traveling from the north along Fremont drove under large Alhambra-sponsored banners urging drivers experiencing the “Fremont Freeway” to voice their opinions at numerous public hearings. And then, some 200 meeting attendees converged on the hilltop campus of 27,000 students on the first day of the new quarter. The parking lot adjacent to the destination Golden Eagle building was a mad unsafe mashup of cars and pedestrians. The Brown Institute, predicting the parking nightmare, instructed all attendees to park at a nearby court and take a special shuttle to the event. However, many rejected this direction and happily claimed spots in student lots close to the building. Amazingly, resident and freeway fighter Sam Burgess purposefully walked from South Pasadena to Cal State LA, arriving before many motorists.

Panel members supporting the 710 extension with a tunnel were Barbara Messina, an Alhambra City Councilmember since 1986 who said she has worked on the 710 issue for 30 years; and John Fasana, a Duarte City Councilmember since 1987 and a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (Metro) board. Opponents were South Pasadena Councilmember Michael Cacciotti, a councilmember since 2001 and a member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District board; and Ara Najarian, a Glendale City Councilmember since 2005 and a member of the Metro board. Written questions were solicited from attendees by League of Women Voters volunteers, and Dr. Sonenshein posed his own questions along with those submitted by the audience.

The debate was timely in that a voluminous environmental impact report (EIR/EIS) had been released in March. This was the first debate in recent history held by a neutral party, and Councilmember Najarian said, “It was a long time coming.”

n response to a question about which of the five transportation alternatives studied in the report each favored, Messina replied, “I definitely support the tunnel because the tunnel is the only alternative that addresses what the EIR is looking for … mobility, air quality, and congestion.” She also said that the tunnel is the only alternative with identified funding. Fasana agreed that the tunnel, along with traffic changes, is the option “that we should be looking at seriously” to “make the system work more effectively.”

Cacciotti took a broad historical view of the transportation needs of the exploding population in the region, advocating for light rail in all four directions to transport workers, 100,000 college students, and others to and from schools, jobs, airports, shopping, and entertainment. Why waste money on a small project, he said, “when a number of light-rail projects can reach people in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties?” Najarian said a combination of methods like light rail and bicycles, not a freeway tunnel, will resolve issues of gridlock, bottleneck, and congestion. “We want a transportation system that will get people to jobs, make the quality of our lives better, and provide economic vitality,” he said.

Panelists’ responses elicited a number of audible reactions from supporters and opponents, causing Dr. Sonenshein to remind the audience on several occasions to refrain from making comments. “This is not a political rally,” he said. Prior to entering the large ballroom, attendees were screened for any visible signs of their political position on the issue, e.g., buttons, clothing signage. For the most part, the large audience, comprised of many with strongly held positions, restrained itself. The panelists were similarly civil to each other, while at the same time challenging opponents’ claims.

When asked which of the five alternatives voters would choose if on the ballot today, Cacciotti and Najarian said light rail. Messina said the tunnel. Regarding the issue of trucks using the proposed tunnel, Najarian, representing the Metro Board, said that goods movement transporters will be the only ones willing to pay the tolls (currently estimated at $14 per trip he said). Fasana, also on the Metro Board, said he opposed allowing trucks to use the tunnel. All agreed that trucks should be diverted east, not traveling north on the 710.

Sonenshein, who grew up using the Lincoln Tunnel between New Jersey and midtown Manhattan, asked panelists to comment on the good and bad features of tunnels. Messina said, “To say a tunnel is dangerous is very, very lame.” Najarian said he would caution members of his family, “Never enter a five-mile tunnel with no exits used by trucks.” Fasana admitted that the issue of trucks adds to the safety issue but said the technology is improving. Cacciotti opposed allowing trucks, stating that he had seen numerous tunnel accidents while working for Caltrans.

Each response to subsequent questions was predictable. The two tunnel opponents argued that light rail and other non-tunnel alternatives would provide the most efficient transportation option, improve economic vitality, create jobs, and reduce environmental and health impacts from traffic. Proponents said the tunnel would do the same.

Cars Don’t Shop


March 31, 2015


TRANSIT TALK-"Cars don't shop" and "If you want a better city, build bike lanes. It's an economic development strategy." 

Those were two of the takeaways from last night at the Hammer Museum in transit-friendly Westwood. The evening at  the Hammer's Billy Wilder Theater featured former New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Los Angeles Department of Transportation's (LADOT's) new General Manager Seleta Reynolds. 

In a lively conversation, the two transportation leaders spent the night riffing on how the streets and public spaces revolution happened in New York and elsewhere and what might be in store for Los Angeles on Reynolds' watch. 

For those of us who care about this stuff, last night was Hammer Time for LA's streets. But as anyone who has been in Los Angeles for more than a New York minute knows, Reynolds has her work cut out for her in transforming Los Angeles into a city of complete streets, or Great Streets, as LA is calling them. Complete streets are safe streets amenable to pedestrians, bikers and transit riders as well as drivers. 

Thankfully, a lot of the groundwork laid by Sadik-Khan and others will help Angelenos envision the possibilities. 

The chemistry between these two well-regarded transportation chiefs is strong and last night both speakers deftly shared their visions for their respective cities. They also shared a good deal about the transportation myths that haunt us in pushing the transportation status quo. 

Sadik-Khan got things rolling describing the widespread resistance she encountered in New York. In sum, the myth is that, "All of those projects you are talking about will just make traffic worse." Or, as Reynolds put it, "What idiot came up with this plan?" 

But, as Sadik-Khan explained, the reality is, "It's not the end of days." And during the evening she repeatedly drove home the need for data because, "In the absence of data, anecdotes rule." 

Those new metrics will need to look beyond car counts and traffic speeds to pedestrian and bike improvements, safer crosswalks and more business for shops along the street. Residential and commercial rents and gentrification may be other meaningful metrics as an audience member, a former downtown resident who can't afford to live there anymore, pointed out. 

In a city where affordable housing presents one of our biggest challenges, achieving more complete streets without pricing out the working and middle class will be a challenge. Unless, as LA's Deputy Mayor for Budget & Innovation Rick Cole said last month in The Planning Report "...revitalization was so widespread across Los Angeles that attractive neighborhoods were not a scarce commodity? 

In other words, what if the supply of attractive areas was increased to meet the demand? Second, what if rising wages and business activity allowed existing residents and local businesses to prosper in an improving neighborhood? Targeting both these missing factors could significantly reduce displacement." 

I like the sound of that. I also like what Reynolds had to say about her vision that different streets play different roles in the city. Talking about San Francisco from which she hails most recently, Reynolds described how Valencia in the Mission is now a bike boulevard with street lights timed for bikers, while Mission is a transit-focused street thanks to its BART stations. Given the size of LA and its diversity, LADOT can experiment with different strategies for different areas as it has done on Broadway in downtown LA. 

At the Hammer, Sadik-Khan underscored that there is now a totally different competition between cities for which ones can be most favorable to "people who walk and people who bike." Reynolds meanwhile spoke of the way small businesses tend to oppose changes even though "businesses are exceptionally poor judges of who shops at their stores." Citing research on Polk Street in San Francisco, Reynolds noted that some 80 percent of shoppers didn't drive to the area, walking and taking transit instead. Or as Sadik-Khan remarked, "Cars don't shop. Cars are lousy consumers." 

There is a huge body of evidence that transit riders and pedestrians spend more than those who drive to their shopping destination. Wonk alert: see Transport for London for data on that city.  
In the Q and A, Reynolds got a hard question from an audience member who pushed her on shortcomings of the LA bus system. 

On Wilshire which will someday soon see the ribbon cutting on the Metro 720 Rapid bus only lane, the audience member was right to express disappointment with our failure to create a meaningful bus rapid transit (BRT) line because of the cutouts through Beverly HIlls, the Condo Canyon and Santa Monica. Now that the bus lane has had its soft opening, the city also needs to ticket and tow drivers who flaunt the no parking signs.  

Reynolds' answer included comments about the need to tell the story of bus rapid transit in language that ensures the city embraces the Wilshire project as well as planned BRT lines along Vermont and elsewhere. 

There is cause for optimism about what lies ahead for Los Angeles. But we should also heed the leaders' reflections on the transportation myths that will stand in our way. As we have already seen in the pushback over Figueroa downtown, old myths die hard. 

LA will need to show with data, that LADOT's new approaches make sense. 

Late in the conversation, Sadik-Khan quoted Gil Peñalosa, one of the heros of the complete streets movement and the former Commissioner of Parks, Sports and Recreation in Bogotá, Colombia: Scientists look at the health of our rivers by counting the number of fish in a stream. We should look at the health of our cities by counting the number of women and children in our bike lanes. 

That's sound advice coming from the guy whose team initiated Ciclovia, the car-free Sundays in Bogotá that has become an internationally recognized program which sees over 1.3 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of city streets. With any luck, just as Bogotá's success inspired LA's CicLAvia,   New York's achievements under Sadik-Khan's leadership will inform Reynolds' tenure at LADOT. 

Yours in transit.

$3B-$6B Tunnel Proposed In Contested 710 Freeway Extension


March 30, 2015

 EAST LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — It is clear much still needs to be discussed as to how to close the gap between Alhambra and South Pasadena.

One of the longest-running freeway debates in the city’s history continued Monday evening as sharp differences were stated and argued at an official forum.

Four local officials with differing opinions sat on the panel of the debate over whether to extend the 710 freeway all the way to South Pasadena.

The forum held at Cal State Los Angeles was announced after an environmental-impact report suggested a tunnel should be dug to extend the freeway.

Among those who argued against the idea of a tunnel to extend the freeway was South Pasadena Councilman Michael Cacciotti, who believes a light-rail and bus system would be more appropriate.

“With the same amount of money, you can build, essentially, a massive system, and there’s many more benefits from a light-rail system,” Cacciotti said.

Others, including Alhambra Councilwoman Barbara Messina, believe the light-rail system would be insufficient.

“The light-rail that (Councilman Cacciotti) is promoting does nothing to solve the problems,” Messina said. “(The tunnel) is the only alternative that makes sense, and it solves all of the problems that the environmental impact report has to address, (such as) mobility, air quality and congestion. The other alternatives do not meet those needs.”

Report estimates suggest the tunnel would take roughly five years to construct at a cost of $3 billion to $6 billion. The tunnel would connect the 710 freeway to the 210 and 134 freeway interchange in Pasadena.

The report ultimately considered five options:
  • Transporation systems/traffic management
  • Bus and rail
  • Light rail
  • Freeway tunnel
  • No construction
Additional arguments against the tunnel suggest such a project is outdated.

Two more public debates are scheduled for April on the issue.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Metro train crash near USC injures 21, including two seriously


By Dana Bartholomew, March 28, 2015

 In this still image from video, fire and police members work near a derailed commuter train that struck a car on Saturday in Los Angeles. Los Angeles firefighters say nearly two dozen people suffered injuries, mostly minor, when a commuter train struck a car near downtown Los Angeles and partially derailed. 21 people on the train were hurt in the crash.

LOS ANGELES >> A three-car Metro Expo Line train smashed into a car turning onto the tracks Saturday in front of the University of Southern California, seriously injuring the operator and leaving the driver of the car close to death. Nineteen passengers escaped with minor injuries.

• Video: Multiple people injured in Metro Expo Line train crash

The eastbound train slammed into the car just before 11 a.m. when the driver tried to make a left turn across the tracks running down the middle of Exposition Boulevard, police said.

The crash derailed the first two cars of the light-rail train and obliterated the silver Hyundai. The train, knocked slightly off its tracks, somehow managed to stay upright.

“We had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate the driver, and we transported him to a local hospital,” Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Daniel Curry said at the scene. “He was in extremely critical condition.”
Neither the operator of the train nor the driver of the car have been publicly identified.

Throughout the morning, Los Angeles firefighters attended to the stream of passengers filing off the stricken train. Of the 19 to suffer mostly cuts and bruises, eight were taken to nearby hospitals.

“They are still triaging patients from the train; it’s still uncertain the condition of the driver of the car,” said Ramon Montenegro, a spokesman for the sheriff’s Transport Policing Division, early in the day.

Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo said the car and train were heading east, with the train running down the center of Exposition Boulevard when the car swung a left turn toward a USC side street that dead-ends into a campus parking lot. It was struck by the nose of the train.

The train hit the car at a traffic signal between USC and the Museum of Natural History at 934 Exposition Blvd., where it was knocked slightly off its tracks near Vermont Avenue, according to witnesses.

Metro supervisor Diljiat Sandhu said it looked like the car’s driver was trying to turn left at a grade crossing and didn’t see the approaching train. What was left of the vehicle was still partly wedged onto the tracks Saturday afternoon.

Drivers attempting to make such left turns are normally regulated by a left-turn arrow and flashing alarms for approaching trains, which encounter signals to stop if cars turn across the grade crossing.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the signals flashed before the crash.

After the collision, a photo shot from a USC office building across the street and posted on the Internet showed a crushed car on the westbound tracks at the Watt Drive signal. The eastbound train rested on the tracks linking Culver City to downtown Los Angeles.

Metro cars are designed to be pulled or pushed from the front or back. The wrecked train was being pulled, officials said, with the train operator perched in the front of the leading car.

Expo Line service in both directions was cut, and firefighters were warned about a half-hour after the crash that the train line’s overhead power supply could not be immediately cut off. The train’s electric arms had been retracted, but firefighters were warned that low voltage batteries might still be a hazard.

Police shut down several blocks of Exposition Boulevard while the Metro crews worked to remove the train.

While service through the area was suspended, Sandhu said the transit agency formerly known as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was providing shuttle buses to get riders around the wreck. A “bus bridge” was set up to ferry Expo Line passengers between the Expo/23rd stop and the Expo/Vermont station, Montenegro said.

Metro spokesman Ubaldo said the agency was working to restore rail service by Saturday evening. That’s when an estimated 90,000 people were expected to fill the stands of the nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to watch a sold-out soccer game.

The train was back up and running by 3:30 p.m. up to the Exposition Park station, according to news reports. The full line was to reopen by 8 p.m.

Call to Action and SR710 Upcoming Events

From Sylvia Plummer, March 30, 2015

Especially for those of you that live in Pasadena.  Please email the Pasadena City Council Members and City Manage asking them to notify all Pasadena residents via email or snail mail, about the release of the SR-710 Draft EIR, the public hearings and the special Pasadena City Council meeting on Monday April 13.

Here are all the email addresses:

Here is a sample letter and an April Events Calendar

Dear Councilmembers and City Manager,
RE:  Notice to Pasadena Residents of the SR-710 Draft EIR  and upcoming events.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the SR-710 North Study was released on March 6, 2015 by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).  The public is highly encouraged to submit written or electronic comments prior to July 6, 2015

There has not been enough notification by the city of Pasadena to the residents that the SR-710 DEIR has been released and that Caltrans is now accepting public comment.   Most residents don't know about any of the events in April.
Each Council member should send to their district's constituents a list of the upcoming SR-710 events taking place in April.   In particular the events that are taking place in Pasadena.  The meetings should be heavily advertised and each Council Member should send out via email or via snail mail to their District households the list of upcoming SR-710 events.
If this slips by without proper notification to the public, the residents of Pasadena will know that the City and their representatives did not do enough outreach for this very important issue.

Attached is a Calendar of SR-710 Upcoming Events for April and Information on how to give public comment.

Include your name and address

SR-710 Upcoming Events

Mark your calendar

Host:                                                   Date                               Time                      Location

Public Hearing #1 on SR710 Draft EIR

CalTrans                                          Saturday, April 11, 2015           10 am – 4 pm         East Los Angeles College
                                                                                                                                     Rosco Ingalls Auditorium
Map Viewing 10 am – 11 am                                                                              1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Public Hearing 11 am – 4 pm                                                                           Monterey Park, CA  91754


Pasadena City Council Meeting

Vote will be taken on a Resolution to oppose SR-710 Tunnels,
And Pasadena’s local Alternative preference

Everyone is invited             Monday, April 13, 2015               6:30 pm                Pasadena Convention Center
                                                                                                                         300 E. Green Street
                                                                                                                         Pasadena, 91101


Public Hearing #2 on SR710 Draft EIR

CalTrans                                          Tuesday, April 14, 2015           5 pm – 9 pm           Pasadena Convention Center
Map Viewing 5 pm – 6 pm                                                                                 300 E. Green Street
Public Hearing 6 pm – 9 pm                                                                             Pasadena, 91101


Now Accepting Public Comment for the SR-710 Draft EIR/EIS:

The public is highly encouraged to submit written or electronic comments prior to July 6, 2015

The Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the SR-710 North Study was released on March 6, 2015 by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).


The public is encouraged to submit written or electronic comments through the following options:

  • By U.S. Mail to Garrett Damrath, Caltrans District 7, Division of Environmental Planning, 100 S. Main St., MS-16, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Friday, March 27, 2015

Another Reason to Love California High-Speed Rail: It's Drought-Friendly

Despite what critics say, the project will encourage higher-density growth—and save precious water over the long term.


By Laura Bliss, March 26, 2015

Image AP Photo/California High Speed Rail Authority

An artist's rendering of a high-speed train station.

California's high-speed rail project has plenty of critics: nearly half the state, in fact, according to last year's polls. Its $68 billion price tag has most people anxious in the shadow of the state's foreboding "wall of debt." Others are baffled by the starting segment in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV), between Madera and Fresno, calling it a "train to nowhere." And some are upset that the mega-project is "drought intolerant."

"Man cannot live without water, but he can certainly survive without ever-growing density," wrote Linda Roberts in an Los Angeles Times "Reader's React" column last week. "How can anyone take the drought seriously when the developers and politicians approve constant, frenzied building of malls, gigantic hotels, condos, businesses and residential communities, all of which will impact the water supply?"

Downtown Fresno.
Roberts was one of several to write in to frame high-speed rail, and the development that is certain to accompany it, in the context of the the state's historic drought. The American Farmland Trust and agricultural representatives in the SJV have made similar arguments. The drought is likely to last for years, foreshadowing even more devastating dry spells in the future. Does high-speed rail—a money-hungry, high-intensity mega-project—spell sustainability, from a water perspective?
Yes, it does. To pan high-speed rail (HSR) on the basis of the drought is short-sighted. Low-density development uses more water than high-density development does. HSR will encourage the latter, and not just in terms of accommodating induced growth.

Those millions of people coming to the SJV are going to set roots somewhere. No matter what, hundreds of thousands of acres of land that are currently used by agriculture are going to be sold to developers and become urbanized. And if California had no big infrastructure project planned, and merely allowed historical patterns to unfold, urbanization of the Valley would continue in its current shape: sprawling, low-density development, with greater quantities of farmland swallowed up. Think "ranchettes," the bane of every SJV farmer's existence: non-farming, suburban-style homes on ten-plus-acre parcels. A 2005 report from the Public Policy Institute of California projected an idea (not a precise forecast) of what urbanization might look like by 2040, if the SJV developed in business-as-usual form:

Compare this, on the other hand, to how they projected urbanization patterns as they'll be shaped by HSR. Development will be more concentrated around train stations in existing city centers. Less land will become urbanized overall.

Fresno, where HSR construction broke ground, adopted a new "smart growth" general plan in December that will corral half of the city's future growth within the existing city limits, supporting more people per acre. Fresno is the SJV's largest city, and will hopefully set a precedent for other towns by tightly regulating how development unfurls. But according to research from the HSR authority, market forces will also help encourage increased density and a mix of land uses near rail stations.

Urban sprawl, intuitively, affects water consumption. Typically, low-density development (with the large lot sizes and more landscaping) results in higher total water use as well as higher per capita water use. And not only does sprawl contribute to traffic, air pollution, and lower health outcomes, it also threatens the quality and availability of water itself. A report from Smart Growth America writes, "As the impervious surfaces that characterize sprawling development—roads, parking lots, driveways, and roofs—replace meadows and forests, rain no longer can seep into the ground to replenish our aquifers."

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to the crowd during the California High Speed Rail Authority ground breaking event on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 in Fresno, Calif.
It may have struck you by now, though, that in the grand scheme of water consumption, urban and industrial use don't amount to much. Agriculture—the core activity of the San Joaquin Valley—guzzles about 80 percent of California's overall supply.

So I don't disagree with those LA Times letter-writers that California could be doing more in response to the drought, even given Governor Jerry Brown's $1 billion emergency bond package last week. Legislators should be working to establish a stronger water market for agricultural and environmental purposes. They should be mandating restrictions on farm water use instead of only on residential use. And they should be embracing a big, long-view project that will bring new jobs to a struggling region that's already losing agricultural dollars to the drought, and take up less farmland than sprawl-as-usual. Oh wait, actually, that project is high-speed rail.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Actions taken today by the Metro Board of Directors


By Steve Hymon, March 26, 2015

Outgoing Metro CEO Art Leahy, center, was given both proclamations by the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County at today's meeting. It is Leahy's final Board meeting as Metro CEO; he takes over as Metrolink CEO in mid-April. Photo by Juan Ocampo for Metro.

 Outgoing Metro CEO Art Leahy, center, with the Metro Board of Directors. Art was given both proclamations by the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County at today’s meeting. It was Art’s final Board meeting as Metro CEO; he takes over as Metrolink CEO in mid-April.

Item 17. The Board approved a motion by several Board Members (Don Knabe, Eric Garcetti, Jacquelyne Dupont-Walker, Mike Bonin, James Butts and Mark Ridley-Thomas) directing Metro staff to report back on a cost and schedule comparison of building a rail station at Aviation/96th as part of the Crenshaw/LAX Line versus building it after the Crenshaw/LAX Line opens.

The issue: the Aviation/96th Station will be the transfer point to an Automated People Mover to be built by LAX that will allow Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line passengers to reach the airport terminals. The station is not formally part of the Crenshaw/LAX Line since it was just approved by the Board last year with an environmental study now underway.

The concern among Board Members is that if the 96th Street Station is built after the Crenshaw/LAX Line is completed, it may cause some previous work to be redone in order to accommodate the new station. To put it in plain English, the Board is trying to determine whether it’s best to do the work now — with perhaps some delays to the Crenshaw/LAX Line construction schedule — or later at perhaps a far higher cost. Staff report on the issue

•Item 10. The Board approved spending $8 million in Measure R funds on three Metrolink projects, including grade safety improvements at Ramona Boulevard and Citrus Avenue on the San Bernardino Line and track improvements at Control Point Soledad on the Antelope Valley Line to improve speeds on an existing siding from 20 mph to 40 mph. Staff report

•Item 8. The Board approved a motion by several members (Eric Garcetti, Paul Krekorian, Ara Najarian, Hilda Solis) asking Metro to develop an “action plan” to improve ridership, which is up over the past five years but has declined since last April. The Board also approved an amendment by Michael D. Antonovich asking Metro staff to review and include suggestions from past motions asking for improvements to bus and rail service, transfers and schedules and customer safety and experience.

Here is a recent Metro staff presentation on ridership trends.

•Item 51. The Board approved a motion by several members (Eric Garcetti, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Sheila Kuehl, Hilda Solis, Mike Bonin and Jacquelyne Dupont-Walker) directing that Metro’s joint development policy be amended so that 35 percent of the units built on Metro-owned land qualify as “affordable” units. (Of the 2,077 units developed thus far, 33 percent qualify). The motion also asks Metro staff to report back on the feasibility of starting a $10 million affordable housing fund.
An amendment by Board Members Don Knabe and Diane DuBois directs staff to consider a number of sources for that funding, including non-operations funds.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Photo Tour of Dubai's Tramway Featuring Alstom's Catenary-Free Vehicle


March 25, 2015

 The Dubai tramway is the first tram in the world able to run in temperatures of up to 50 °C (122 °F) and to withstand harsh climate conditions. Equipped with APS ground-level power supply, the system is also the first in the world to be catenary-free all along the line, enabling perfect integration of the tramway into the cityscape.

See website for more photos.

Air pollution 'link to stroke risk'


March 25, 2015


 Nitrogen dioxide is a by-product of diesel engines

Air pollution is linked to an increased risk of stroke, a large global study in the British Medical Journal suggests. 

Scientists say even short-term spikes in pollution were mirrored by a rise in strokes - particularly in low and middle-income countries.

The work builds on earlier studies linking pollution to cardiovascular risk.

UK experts say although pollution is lower in the developed world, it may still pose a significant risk.

Pollution peaks

Parts of the UK are breaching pollution limits set by the European Union in 2010.

And the UK government says some major cities may well continue to do so until at least 2025.
The European Environment Agency warns that air pollution can lead to major illness and contribute to premature deaths.

The latest study looked specifically at the risk of stroke. Scientists from Edinburgh University scoured the results of 94 studies covering 28 countries across the world.

They say the trends were consistent - a short-term rise in pollution was associated with a rise in the number of people admitted to hospital for strokes and in stroke deaths.

The link was the strongest in low and middle-income countries and on the day people were exposed to high pollution.

The review looked at a range of possible pollutants - from gases such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide to fine soot particles known as PM 2.5.

Dr Anoop Shah, lead author of the study, said: "This study now demonstrates that even short-term exposure to air pollution can trigger disabling strokes or death from stroke.

"One of the key differences between risk of stroke due to air pollution and other risk factors such as smoking or high blood pressure is that the whole general population is exposed.

"As such, this increased risk of stroke is in the general population and not just those previously thought to be at high risk."

But Dr Shamim Quadir at the Stroke Association said more work was needed to establish how strong this link is and whether or not air pollution could be considered as a risk factor for stroke.

Level check

The British Heart Foundation, which funded the study, says there is an urgent need for the UK government to meet pollution targets.

It says failure to do so could be putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk - though further research is needed to confirm this estimate.

The charity suggests people with heart conditions or lung disease should monitor air pollution where they live and work.

More on this story