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wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Fearing a stalemate in Congress over transportation funding, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is looking to the Chinese government as an option to possibly save his ambitious plan to build a dozen mass-transit projects in 10 years instead of 30.

Villaraigosa said Thursday that he met with executives from China Investment Corp. in Beijing during his trip to Asia in December. The group was established in 2007 by the People's Republic of China, according to the corporation's website.

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Officials with the mayor's office said the meeting was preliminary only and characterized it as "very cordial" and part of the larger trade mission of Villaraigosa's trip to Asia, which also included stops in South Korea and Japan.

David Yale, an official with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, was also at the meeting, which officials said was arranged to explore alternative investment opportunities.

Villaraigosa's plan to accelerate construction of projects funded by Measure R has gained some traction in Washington, D.C., but he derided Congress in a conference call for lack of action and said it was necessary to explore other sources of funding.

"You have a Congress that's just been indifferent to cities," said Villaraigosa, speaking from Washington, where he is attending the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Villaraigosa is the group's president.

Rob Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Villaraigosa's search for infrastructure funding outside U.S. borders is part of an emerging trend.

"It's something that we see becoming more and more prominent … especially as federal resources become more and more constrained," Puentes said.

He said that the way transportation projects are funded has significantly changed and that now "everything is out on the table."

Villaraigosa plans to host a group of Asian companies in Los Angeles later this year to "finalize agreements, secure investments and create jobs here in Los Angeles," according to a news release from the mayor's office. It was unclear if members of the Chinese corporation would be on that trip.

Another possibility is asking voters during next fall's presidential election to support at least a 10-year extension of Measure R, the 30-year, half-cent sales tax for transportation projects. That could raise billions and probably accelerate construction.

Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) introduced a bill earlier this month that sets the stage for such a ballot measure.

"I don't quit. We're focused on the prize," Villaraigosa said.

Villaraigosa and several other California mayors also met this week with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to talk about California's faltering high-speed rail effort.

"We're going to make the case," Villaraigosa said. "If we don't build it now, we'll build it in 20 years" and it will cost more, he said.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (LACMTA) board has approved a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the Los Angeles/Orange County Building Trades Council that will require 40 percent of work hours on LACMTA projects to be performed by workers from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, and 10 percent of the hours performed by workers struggling with poverty or chronic unemployment.

LACMTA officials believe the agreement is a first for a U.S. transit agency because it requires the hiring targets for projects funded with federal dollars as well as those funded with local sales taxes, they said in a prepared statement.

Under the PLA, local construction trades unions will be the primary source of all craft labor employed on construction contracts for projects costing more than $2.5 million. Workers will be paid prevailing wages, and a no-strike provision in the agreement will ensure the work is completed under tight deadlines, LACMTA officials said.

The agreement does not preclude nonunion workers from obtaining the jobs or exclude nonunion contractors from participating in the projects, they said.

“This landmark program is part of a strategy to deliver public transit projects while creating jobs that will lift people out of poverty and into the middle class,” said Los Angeles Mayor and LACMTA Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa.

If LACMTA implements its long-range transportation plan, the work could amount to as much as $70 billion in construction work over the next 30 years, the agency estimates

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Metrolink pushing forward with system designed to prevent crashes

The system, which officials say would have prevented the '08 Chatsworth crash, is expected to be running next year. A bid in the House to delay a nationwide mandate could make the Southland a test lab.

More than three years after the deadly Metrolink crash in Chatsworth, the commuter railroad is forging ahead with the most sophisticated collision avoidance system in the country despite efforts in Congress to relax requirements to install the safety improvement nationwide.

Metrolink already has made substantial progress developing its $201-million positive train control system, which uses an array of electronic gear to monitor and, if necessary, take control of trains to prevent collisions and derailments.

The vast majority of track-side communication stations and radio antennas for the new system have been installed along the railroad's 512 miles of track. Other equipment has been added to a group of locomotives, and a sophisticated dispatching system is under development.

Involved in the project are Union Pacific and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co., which have spent years working on positive train control. Both companies operate freight trains on the same tracks as Metrolink, which serves six Southern California counties.

The entire system is expected to be operational next year, meaning that Metrolink would be one of the first passenger railroads in the nation to fully deploy a state-of-the-art train control system that marries global positioning technology to computers and digital radio communications.

It also means that Southern California could find itself serving for years as a groundbreaking and isolated safety test lab if Congress decides to postpone the deadline from 2015 to 2020 for installing the technology.

Federal lawmakers are being pressured by influential railroads and transportation organizations that say positive train control is very costly and tricky to install and remains largely unproven in daily operations.

Metrolink officials say they want to complete their system by mid-2013 regardless of any change in the national mandate, which covers 70,000 miles of track used by passenger trains and railroads that haul hazardous materials.

"I don't think the rollback is justified," said Richard Katz, chairman of the Metrolink Board of Directors. "This is the most important development in our lifetimes as far as rail safety is concerned. Every year we delay, more people are going to die that don't have to."

Congress set a Dec. 31, 2015, deadline for positive train control after a Metrolink train collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train near the Chatsworth station in September 2008, killing 25 people and injuring more than 130.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which has recommended the use of the collision prevention technology since 1990, concluded that Metrolink's engineer was text messaging and failed to stop for a red signal. Positive train control's automated braking system would have prevented the crash and 20 other deadly and costly rail accidents nationwide in the last two decades, investigators said.

To help rebuild public confidence and counter a dismal safety record, Metrolink officials decided to accelerate the installation of the high-tech system in one of the nation's busiest rail centers.

"I'm confident Metrolink will get there," said John Fenton, the railroad's chief executive. "But when you look at where we are today, it's a massive project given the type of work force, the vendors, the technology issues and the possibility of transforming the industry. There are some real challenges. At this point, without a national strategy, I do have concerns."

Other passenger lines, freight railroads and transportation organizations contend that more time is needed because of the mandated system's complexity, the need for uniformity across the U.S. rail network and the high cost — an estimated $12 billion nationally, including $2 billion for commuter operations.

Some rail lines might not be able to afford the systems, which can cost hundreds of millions of dollars each, according to the Assn. of American Railroads and the American Public Transportation Assn., which represents 28 commuter lines.

In addition, railroads are concerned about the availability and reliability of required electronic equipment and a potential shortage of adequately trained installers and maintenance workers. A major impediment, most experts agree, is a lack of the radio frequencies needed for the system's extensive communications network.

The array of concerns has prompted some federal lawmakers to include the five-year delay in a Republican-drafted transportation bill expected to come before the House as early as this week. The proposed legislation would also allow railroads to develop less costly and complex safety systems along tracks that carry toxic materials.

Although the House bill would need to be reconciled with a very different Senate bill, the deadline change could make it into a final bill, given the bipartisan support it has received.

Metrolink officials say they have federal and state money to build their system, but many other passenger railroads do not know how they will pay for positive train control because government funding has dwindled amid the weak economy.

At the federal level, only about $50 million has been allocated out of $250 million Congress set aside for positive train control projects.

"Budgets are very, very tight, and our capital program is really hurting," said Jeff Knueppel, assistant general manager and chief engineer for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. "We're saying, 'Stretch it out; allow us to use funds for other, just as important, safety initiatives.'"

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who championed the bill that established the 2015 deadline for the crash avoidance systems, is fighting any delay.

Siding with her is Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley), whose district is home to some of the Chatsworth victims. Commuters deserve to know that the trains they ride are equipped to get them to their destinations safely, he said.

Barbara Kloster, whose son Mike was almost cut in half in the crash, is confident that Metrolink officials will try to complete their system early. But she criticized the proposal in Congress to push back the national deadline.

"That's all right," Kloster said sarcastically. "Then they can have some more crashes and more dead people and other people who can suffer for the rest of their lives."

NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman noted that railroads were given seven years under the current deadline to deploy the long-recommended systems. "It is disappointing to learn that there may be a delay beyond 2015," she said.

California's other Democratic senator, Barbara Boxer, who has favored keeping the present deadline, is waiting for more information from federal regulators about the technological challenges of implementing positive train control nationwide.

As chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer will play a key role in writing the final transportation bill. "If it's not totally ready yet, that's one thing," she said. "But if it's ready to roll, there's no reason to delay it."

Despite the national concerns, Metrolink's pioneering effort is welcomed by operators of many of the nation's commuter rail systems.

"Hopefully, Metrolink will identify what works and what problems there might be," said Robert L. Healy Jr., vice president of government affairs for the American Public Transportation Assn. "Hopefully, their experience will reduce the costs for other systems moving forward."

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) will host an open house Feb. 29 and hold two community meetings in March to inform the public about an ongoing study of options to connect the agency’s growing rail system to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The study’s focus is a four-square-mile area bounded by La Cienega Boulevard on the east, Manchester Avenue to the north, Imperial Highway to the south and LAX airport terminals on the west, LACMTA officials said in a prepared statement.

Alternatives under consideration include light-rail transit, an automated people mover system and bus rapid transit, they said.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Let's face it. A lot of commuters in Los Angeles ignore public transit. But that may change now that $4-a-gallon gas seems ready to become normal.

The reality is, transit has continued to expand in the Metropolitan Los Angeles area. There are more options, and commuter lines are expanding.  It is a decades old trend that originally found motivation in the benefits to be obtained from reducing congestion, pollution, and dependence on foreign oil.  To that can be added the desire to pay less for gasoline.

The Metro system can get you on all the rail lines and buses you can handle for a five dollar day pass. That's not much more than a gallon of gas.

"That's one of the reasons why I don't use my car, because of the gas prices," said Eric Garcia of West Los Angeles.

We've been here before. Before the global economic crisis of 2008 drove down prices, the average gallon of gasoline topped $4.50, and transit ridership jumped nationwide by 7 percent.

During a two-day survey at that time in Los Angeles, Metrolink ridership was up 16 percent.

"Ultimately it is the economic factor that is the biggest contributor to public transit ridership," said Sunyoung Yang of the Bus Riders Union. "That contributes to ridership."  The Union is hoping Metro will be able to hold the line on fares, and restore some of the cuts in neighborhood bus service in recent years.

Metro has continued to expand its rail and dedicated lane service.   Coming on line in the next few months will be two major projects:  th extension of the Orange Line Busway in the West San Fernando Valley and the first phase of the Expo light rail line from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City.

"What we've always seen is that when people try transit, if they have a good experience, if they understand that it's easy, and if they've routed out that first trip right, they usually go back to it," says Damien Newton of LA.Streetsblog.Org.

But in many cases, unless you get rid of your car and insurance, the difference between the cost of

transit and even five dollar a gallon gasoline is not significant.

UC Santa Barbara student Emily Westmoreland considered leaving her Mustang and taking Amtrak home to Los Angeles, but it did not pencil out.

"It's a little cheaper for me to use my car," said Westmoreland. "But I definitely am for public transit."

Unless you live and work at the end of a main line, with transit you also have to figure out your route and transfers. But Yang says Metro's web of routes and schedules is not as daunting as it may look.

"If can pay taxes, you can figure out transit," she said. "It's not that difficult."  She suggests rookie riders, and even experienced riders headed for a new destination, avail themselves of the trip planner on the Metro home page .

There is dispute whether another widely encouraged initiative to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, carpooling, is winning more public favor.  Metro has stated the addition of HOV lanes to Southland freeways, such as the 405, has increased carpooling.  

Newton disagrees, citing data in US Census surveys between 1990 and 2009, showing a decline in carpooling from 15% of  all commuters to 11%.  Why this would be is not clear.  Newton's theory is that, at least since the tightening of the job market, it has been more difficult for working couples to find employment close by, and therefore they have been less likely to carpool.

There are others ways, of course,  for commuters to cut gasoline expenses, including switching to more fuel efficient vehicles, such as hybrids and pure electrics, not to mention Newton's favorite fuel-efficient vehicle:  the bicycle.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

There's an open secret about getting on the subway in Los Angeles — you don't really have to pay the fare.

Turnstiles are unlocked, security is lax and commuters often hop over or pass through undetected.

Citing millions of dollars in lost revenue, transportation officials have been wrestling with the issue for years. On Thursday, they made their most forceful push yet to lock the gates to anyone without a ticket at a swath of rail stations.

The effort is the latest bid by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to fix a disjointed regional ticketing network that allows some a free ride while creating problems for others who choose to pay.

"There are a lot of people who have been avoiding their fares," said Zev Yaroslavsky, a county supervisor and Metro board member. "We're leaving millions and millions of dollars on the table."

Yaroslavsky wrote Thursday's motion asking for a plan to implement gate-locking at Metro rail stations within six months. He added that it has been "a long, painful, teeth-pulling exercise" to reach this point.

The subway and light-rail system have operated without locked gates for decades, with Metro officials trusting passengers would do the honorable thing and buy tickets without being forced. Only occasionally would transit officers patrol and issue fines to passengers caught boarding for free.

But ticketing problems arose as the system grew, particularly for riders who transfer to and from other carriers run by different agencies, such as Metrolink.

A batch of turnstiles were introduced in 2009 — although anyone could walk through them without a ticket. Now they are in 40 Metro rail stations , including all of those along the subway, 14 on the light-rail Green Line and five each on the Gold and Blue lines.

The Metro board Thursday passed another measure to ask other transit system operators in the region to change their ticketing systems to sync with Metro's Transit Access Pass. Eight municipal bus operators are already TAP-enabled and Metrolink officials say they will follow suit this spring.

Yaroslavsky said one reason Metro officials failed to lock the gates sooner is because they were operating under the false assumption that only 3% of riders were evading fares.

"It's impossible that in a system where there's, practically speaking, no checking whether people paid their fare or not, that 97% would pay their fare," Yaroslavsky said.

The Metro staff tested locking gates at 10 stations last fall and winter and reported increased revenue at the 7th Street/Metro Center and North Hollywood stations by 18% to 22%.

Yaroslavsky said Metro probably is missing out on at least $4 million in revenue each year because of fare evasion on the Red Line subway alone.

One effort already underway includes converting paper day passes and single-ride tickets to plastic TAP cards over the next few months, leaving only interagency transfers on paper.

Another idea from the Metro staff is to transition to locked gates incrementally, with only one or two at a time. There also is a plan to install cameras at gated stations later this year.

But they acknowledge there will be difficulties trying to construct locked gates throughout the rail system, particularly because only about half of the stations have gates at all and at some stations there simply isn't enough space.

Even so, locked turnstiles can be jumped

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

.LOS ANGELES FARE CHECKING RETHINK

on February 28, 2012 in North America

No ticket checking takes place on the Los Angeles County Metro. Up till now, it was assumed that the so-called “honour system” was satisfactory. This was adopted by a number of American transit systems, working on the basis that fare checking costs an inordinate amount of money. Not quite as inordinate as the amount of revenue lost through not checking, recent research discovered. Experiments with locking platform entry turnstiles revealed fare dodging on a substantial scale. “Millions of dollars” are believed to be involved and the current policy is being reviewed.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Metrolink receives $3.7 million to enhance safety at busy crossing

Tuesday, February 28, 2012  

The California Transportation Commission allocated $3.7 million to fund safety enhancements to one of Metrolink's busiest crossings, the Broadway/Brazil crossing in Glendale, Calif.

"Approximately a hundred trains and thousands of cars travel through this intersection every day. This funding will be used to enhance safety at one of the region's busiest crossings," said Glendale City Councilman and Metrolink Board Member Ara Najarian. "Working with cities such as Glendale and Los Angeles, this is part of Metrolink's initiative to upgrade rail crossings across its system to create a sealed corridor of safety."

The enhancements are designed to improve safety at the crossing by adding warning devices and barriers that make it difficult for drivers or pedestrians to circumvent gate arms when a train is approaching. Enhancements include additional exit and pedestrian gates, new raised median islands, flashing signals and right of way security gates. Rail signals will also be interconnected with traffic signals to further pre-empt a sequence that ensures the two systems work together direct safe movements among vehicles, pedestrians and trains.

These funds come from the Highway-Railroad Crossing Safety Account, approved by voters as Proposition 1B for the completion of high-priority rail safety projects. Work on this crossing is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2012 and be complete by the third quarter of 2013.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

The California Transportation Commission has approved the allocation of $3.7 million to help pay for safety improvements at one of Metrolink's busiest grade crossings: the Broadway/Brazil crossing in Glendale.

The project is part of Metrolink's initiative to upgrade crossings across its system to create a sealed corridor, said Glendale City Councilman and Metrolink board member Ara Najarian in a prepared statement.

The safety enhancements will include the addition of warning devices and barriers to discourage drivers or pedestrians from circumventing gate arms when a train is approaching. Additional exit and pedestrian gates, new raised median islands, flashing signals and right-of-way security gates also will be installed. Rail signals will be connected with traffic signals to ensure the two systems work together.

The project is expected to begin in the second quarter and be completed by third-quarter 2013.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) allocated $ 3.7 million to fund safety enhancements to one of Metrolink's busiest crossings, the Broadway/Brazil crossing in Glendale.

"Approximately a hundred trains and thousands of cars travel through this intersection every day. This funding will be used to enhance safety at one of the region's busiest crossings," said Glendale City Councilman and Metrolink Board Member Ara Najarian. "Working with cities such as Glendale and Los Angeles, this is part of Metrolink's initiative to upgrade rail crossings across its system to create a sealed corridor of safety."

The enhancements are designed to improve safety at the crossing by adding warning devices and barriers that make it difficult for drivers or pedestrians to circumvent gate arms when a train is approaching. Enhancements include additional exit and pedestrian gates, new raised median islands, flashing signals and right-of-way security gates. Rail signals will also be interconnected with traffic signals to further pre-empt a sequence that ensures the two systems work together direct safe movements among vehicles, pedestrians and trains.

These funds come from the Highway-Railroad Crossing Safety Account, approved by voters as Proposition 1B for the completion of high-priority rail safety projects. Work on this crossing is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2012 and be complete by the third quarter of 2013.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

The Port of Los Angeles recently was named a recipient of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inaugural Climate Leadership Award, which recognizes businesses and organizations that display outstanding leadership in response to climate change.

The EPA recognized the port in the Supply Chain Leadership category, noting its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals, and comprehensive emission tracking and management. To control GHGs, the port in 2006 adopted a green leasing policy that includes environmental requirements in tenant lease agreements, including air emission controls, environmental quality assessments and energy audits on terminal buildings. In addition, the port several years ago set the goal of reducing GHG emissions 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

The EPA also commended the port for providing tools to help ports around the world measure and reduce their carbon footprints.

“The port has worked hard to establish itself as an international leader in port-related greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts,” said Executive Director Geraldine Katz in a prepared statement. “We’re proud that many of our programs now serve as models for other ports around the world.”

Meanwhile, the Port of Seattle recently took the first step toward selling a 5.75-mile section of the Eastside Rail Corridor to the city of Kirkland, Wash., for $5 million. 
 
When the sale is completed, the city will own a section of the former BNSF Railway Co. route that begins in Bellevue, near the Kirkland/Bellevue border, and extends north into Kirkland. The port acquired the Eastside Rail Corridor from BNSF in 2009.

Port commissioners voted to approve the first reading of a sale resolution and are scheduled to vote on a second and final reading in a few weeks. The transaction is expected to close by mid-April.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

» Linking current and future light rail lines to the airport will require a corridor extension, the construction of an automated people mover, or improved bus service.

Los Angeles leaders, like those of many major cities, are very interested in improving public transportation access to the airport. Such projects are perceived to be politically palatable transit investments because they are appealing to a wide spectrum of the population, including people — especially the economically influential — who do not usually take the bus or train. Unfortunately, even when they’re built, these connections often fail to live up to expectations. Can L.A.’s planned airport rail link do better?

As part of Measure R, the sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in November 2008 that will dedicate billions to new rapid transit, $200 million was dedicated to the extension of the Green Line light rail to LAX Airport — a project that has been under consideration for decades. Currently, the Green Line runs from Norwalk to Redondo Beach, mostly along the Century Freeway; customers can switch to airport-bound buses at the Aviation station.

But there is no direct rail service into the airport, and buses entering and circulating around LAX’s eight terminals are slow. As a result, virtually no one takes transit: Today, just 1% of air passengers and 9% of employees arrive by public transportation. As a comparison, according to the most recent Census statistics, 7.1% of Los Angeles County residents take transit to work and 11.0% of Los AngelesCity residents do the same.* There is certainly room for improvement.

The problem is that there is no obvious answer about how to connect Los Angeles’ rapidly expanding rail network with the airport. Early plans from 1988 suggested running a line beside or below the airport on the way to Marina del Rey, northwest up the Pacific Coast. By the mid-1990s, a $215 million extension would run as a quick spur from the Green Line, where it would meet an airport people mover.

With little progress on those plans, LAX planners promoted a people mover to run to the existing Aviation station in the mid-2000s, but that effort has not yet been part of the airport’s renovation scheme. Meanwhile, the transit agency won millions of dollars in aid from the federal government for its 8.5-mile Crenshaw light rail line, which will run east of the airport by 2018 and connect to the Green Line, but again, not provide direct airport access.

All this leaves L.A. grasping about for a plan. This year, L.A. Metro planners are performing an alternatives analysis on the corridor with the goal of selecting a locally preferred alternative for the route in 2013. All but the most basic route would require more funding than the $200 million currently available, so there is no guarantee that the project will be built this decade; even so, the airport will likely contribute hundreds of millions of dollars in airplane landing fees to the line, so something will probably be built eventually.

Metro developed four basic alignments for the route, as illustrated in the figure at the top of this article. Like the Washington Metro Dulles extension (and indeed most airport links), the agency has two fundamental options: Will it serve the airport directly with rapid transit service, or will it have its customers transfer to a people mover from which they will have access to terminals?

The average customer using the line would save the most time if the light rail line were simple rerouted under the terminal (and this would attract the most new customers), but this would be an expensive and duplicative approach, since it would parallel the north-south Crenshaw Corridor. One obvious question is why the Crenshaw Line wasn’t designed to run through the airport on the way to the Green Line, but it is too far along on the design process to change course now. Other options would provide direct light rail service as a branch from the Green Line or a circulator, either in the form of a people mover or a bus rapid transit line, connected to the Crenshaw Line or an intermediate station.

Of these options, only the intermediate branch idea, with a short light rail line connected to an airport circulator, seems truly out of the question, since it would attract fewer riders, save less time, and cost almost as much as the rail re-routing.

As shown below, Metro has also begun to analyse how the new rail link would approach the terminals themselves. The first three options could be completed by light rail or people mover; the fourth would use bus rapid transit. As the analysis demonstrates, using BRT would be far cheaper, and it would allow people a direct walk to each of the eight terminals (a rail network stopping at each of the terminals would apparently cost about two and a half times as much as a system stopping at just one location, so it seems to have been pulled from consideration). The BRT would be a few minutes slower than the rail system for the average user.

This kind of analysis raises some important questions. With this many terminals, do the two or three stations that are possible with a rail scenario make any sense? Does the flexibility inherent in bus service make things easier for baggage-carrying passengers, or will they be treated to something akin to Boston’s Silver Line, where buses meander between terminals at a remarkably slow pace? Will passengers chose not to use the transit link if it is provided by a bus rather than a rail car? There are no easy answers.

Returning to the original issue, one reasonable question is to ask who might be reasonably be convinced to use this new transit connection if it were built. Consider the following L.A. Metro maps showing concentrations of air passengers and employees:

What seems clear is that while employees live mostly in the neighborhoods around the airport, passengers are concentrated across the westside of Los Angeles, along the Pacific Ocean and along Wilshire Avenue. Will the transit improvements as proposed serve them well?

Certainly, simply branching off the Green Line would save time for people coming from the existing route and the South Bay — in addition to people coming from downtown, who will likely be able to get to airport more quickly using the existing Silver and Green Lines than the future Exposition and Crenshaw Lines (because of the larger number of stops on the latter route).

On the other hand, branching off the Green Line would require those arriving on the Crenshaw Line — in other words, people coming from the Westside, where there is a large airport user base — to switch to the Green Line to get to the airport. This will slow their commutes significantly because of the limited frequencies on the Green Line (just every 15 minutes currently at midday). A more equitable solution might be providing a high-frequency people mover from a shared Green and Crenshaw Line station that ensures that whenever a train arrives, there will be a people mover waiting. This forces everyone to transfer but at least there will be little waiting.

Of course, no matter the outcome, this link will not be the end of the conversation about better transit to LAX. None of the solutions proposed will significantly improve airport travel times for most people in the region, and none of them will get downtown within half an hour of the airport, a goal for most cities. Look to places like London and Paris — despite quite significant (and costly) transit links to their respective airports, they’re spending even more to supplement those lines with more connections. And indeed, L.A. planners have in the past mentioned express trains between Union Station and the airport, via the Harbor Subdivision. Satisfaction is hard to come by.

* Those figures, by the way, put Los Angeles (both city and county) near the top of American cities. This is not a particularly car-obsessed city by U.S. standards.

Images above: Comparative data from Los Angeles Metro LAX Extension Project

 
Blackadder Chief Commissioner

Location: Not the ECRL

http://www.ocregister.com/news/metrolink-343872-trains-county.html


By ALEJANDRA MOLINA / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Metrolink service in Orange County was disrupted Friday morning after a freight train struck a vehicle.

Metrolink officials reported the collision just before 5:30 a.m. between Riverside and La Sierra.

According to the Press-Enterprise, a man in his 40s was killed when  he drove his pickup onto the railroad tracks and was subsequently struck  by the train.

The westbound train pushed the pickup about 500 feet, Riverside police Lt. Jaybee Brennan told the Press-Enterprise.

The following trains on the Inland Empire-Orange County, the 91, and the Orange County lines were affected: 803, 805, 809, 850, 800, 683, 701.

Trains 807 and 703 will run late out of north Corona, Metrolink officials said.

For further updates, go to twitter.com/metrolink

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Los Angeles chooses new LRVs from Kinkisharyo : Los Angeles MTA has named Kinkisharyo as the preferred bidder for a USD 299M contract for 78 new light rail vehicles; there are four options for up to an additional 157 LRVs for USD 591M. The order is due to be confirmed on 22 March. The new cars will be delivered from 2015 for use on the Expo Line extension, Gold Line Foothill extension and the Crenshaw line. LAMATA also plans to start replacing its original LRV fleet delivered to the Blue Line in 1989/90.

After buying 50 LRVs from AnsaldoBreda in 2006-11, which were delivered late and over-weight, LAMATA cancelled its option for more cars from that company and bid on the new contract (other bidders were CAF and Siemens). Kinkisharyo will establish a transit car production facility in the US to assemble and fit out the new order.

12 March 2012

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Options discussed on how to connect LAX with Metro Green Line

 

USA: Metro has hosted a community workshop on Wednesday night 12 March on the agency’s ongoing study to connect the Metro Green Line to Los Angeles International Airport.

Four general types of alternatives using three different types of transit - light rail, an automated people mover and bus rapid transit - were discussed. The idea is to connect the future rail station at Aviation and Century - which will serve both the Metro Green Line and the Crenshaw/LAX Line - to the airport. That station is 1.3 miles east of Terminal One at LAX.



Metro is considering the cost, convenience, travel time and reliability of each option, as well as the usual no-build and traffic improvement options. Other factors include walking distance from transit stations to the terminals as well as the length of the trip from the Aviation and Century station to the airport. The more stations, of course, the more the cost - but the less the walk to the terminals.

Given the horseshoe-shaped configuration of LAX, locating stations at the airport will be challenging. The study considered aerial and tunnel access to the airport as well as at-grade access for bus rapid transit.

The community workshops are a chance for the public to participate in the planning process. Some of the comments made by meeting attendees:
Several said they want as many airport stations as possible, to reduce walk times from transit to the ticketing area. Several attendees said that long walks - even those more than 800 feet - were not a problem.

Several attendees said they wanted as few transfers as possible and showed a preference for light rail and vehicles that could easily accommodate luggage.

Some attendees didn’t seem concerned about the prospect of aerial structures that may be needed for transit and some said such structures may even complement the airport’s well-known Theme Building.

No one spoke in support of a bus rapid transit option - and considerable concern about the reliability of a BRT trip to the airport when time is of the essence. Even though buses may use an exclusive, elevated busway outside the terminals, the fact that buses would share the terminal roadway with cars and other airport traffic rendered the option less reliable and desirable.

Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008, provides $200 million in funding for the Metro Green Line to LAX project. Metro planning staff explained that capital costs for the options that use rail would range from $540 million to $1.4 billion depending on the alignment and number of stations within the terminal area. As a result, other funds will be needed to construct any project.

An alternative analysis study for the project - and a report on two or three options to be carried forward into the environmental review process - is scheduled to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors at their April meeting. The next step is for Metro to begin preparing a draft environmental analysis of the project

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

 

Last month, container volume at the Port of Long Beach, Calif., dropped 15.2 percent to 388,589 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) compared with February 2011.

Imports fell 18.1 percent to 191,475 TEUs, exports dipped 1.6 percent to 120,006 TEUs and empties plunged 25 percent to 77,108 TEUs.

“The drop in imports in February is partly attributable to the early Chinese New Year. Import volumes typically fall following the New Year as factories in Asia close for a week or more during the holidays,” port officials said in a prepared statement. “Last year, the New Year fell on Feb. 3 and the slow down was felt in the latter part of the month and into early March. This year, the New Year fell on Jan. 23, putting the entire slow down period in February.”

Meanwhile, the Port of Los Angeles in February handled a total of 525,653 TEUs, down 5.3 percent compared with February 2011. Imports dropped 7.8 percent to 254,360 TEUs, total loaded units dipped 1.7 percent to 419,085 TEUs and empties fell 17.2 percent to 106,569 TEUs. However, exports increased 9.6 percent to 164,725 TEUs.

In 2012’s first two months, the port handled a total of 1,224,369 TEUs, up 0.7 percent year over year.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

LACMTA expands additional train testing on new Expo Line


Thursday, March 15, 2012


Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will expand the operation of test trains along the LACMTA Expo Line corridor beginning Sunday, March 18, running trains from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week, on a schedule of every 12 minutes to simulate regular service on the line once the system opens in early 2012.

Test trains had been operating along the alignment from approximately 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. The additional train testing is needed in an effort to test the operation of the trains and the integration of Expo Line service with the Blue Line service in downtown Los Angeles. No date has been set for the opening of the line. LACMTA will select an opening date for the public once all systems and trains are thoroughly tested and operated.

Due to the increased frequency of trains traveling along the entire Expo Line corridor, LACMTA is reminding the public to be alert and stay updated on rail safety tips.

As part of the rail safety awareness program, rail safety ambassadors have been placed at various intersections along the Expo Line during the testing of trains to educate the public about the service and how to safely navigate around the system. The rail safety ambassadors are all retired LACMTA bus and rail operators that are fully trained in safety rules and regulations so they can assist at crossings, observe situations that may occur and report back to staff.

Phase I of the Expo Line is a new $932 million, 8.6-mile light rail line under construction from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City. It will have 12 stations with two stations shared with the Blue Line. The new light rail line will serve USC, Exposition Park, The Mid-City communities, the Crenshaw District and Culver City.

Phase II of the Metro Expo Line, a $1.5 billion 6.6-mile extension from Culver City to Santa Monica, is funded under the Measure R half-cent sale tax initiative approved by the voters in 2008. Phase II will have seven stations serving West Los Angeles/Santa Monica and is expected to be completed in 2015.

Both Phase I and II of the Metro Expo Line are being built by the Expo Construction Authority. Once completed, they are turned over to Metro to operate.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The final phase of testing for the Expo Light Rail Line Phase 1 is now underway with trains set to begin operating out of the La Cienega/Jefferson station come mid-April.

The Venice/Robertson Station will open six to eight weeks after the opening of the La Cienega/Jefferson Station, which will provide commuters from downtown Los Angeles their first chance to reach Culver City and the outer rim of the Westside via light rail, according to Eric Olsen, Chief Project Officer of the Expo Authority.

Olsen said safety protocols were the reason for the delay of the opening of Phase 1 of the Expo Line. It was initially scheduled to open in January and then March of 2012.

“We just put in a high tech automatic signal protection system,” Olsen said. “It is an added safety measure and will override an operator if an operator misses a signal.”

The new auto stop technology is being applied to vehicles that are more than 20 years old and the task, now completed, has been passed onto the Metro authority to operate test runs on the system to make sure it is ready for commuter travel to and from Culver City.

Phase 2 of the Expo Line, which is currently under construction, is expected to start operating all the way to downtown Santa Monica in 2015.

Phase 2 will link the Expo Line from Culver City to the Santa Monica terminus at 4th and Colorado, which is a block away from the Third Street Promenade.

“It’s a $2.4 billion regional project,” said Santa Monica Deputy City Manager Kate Vernez. “It will go from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles in 45 minutes.”

The Expo Line from Culver City to Santa Monica had initially been scheduled to open in 2014, but has been pushed back until 2015.

City officials believe that this project will be worth the wait.

“Without Expo Light Rail there is a major missing link to the regional transportation system,” Vernez said. “It will be the first mass transit system created. It will be of very substantial benefit to both the environment and the city.”

Commuters who drive their cars through the city of Los Angeles to reach Santa Monica and Los Angeles during rush hour frequently experience a daily ‘carmageddon’ en route to their jobs with traffic along the 10 Freeway.

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom said the Expo Line would provide for a better experience for residents in the business community as well as benefit tourism.

“One thing we don’t think about is the freeway system,” Bloom said. “The 10 (Freeway) has effectively removed us from various communities and Expo is going to help bring these communities back together.”

The City of Santa Monica has been working to implement the Expo Light Rail Line since the late 1980s and preliminary construction of the line has already begun with the recent demolition of old buildings such as Sears Auto Center and the bank training facility on Colorado and 24th.

“It takes decades of concerted effort by people in the City Council who really worked hard to get this type of rail system opened and we are thrilled that it is within reach,” Vernez said. “I think it will be great for the region and Santa Monica and the tourist economy.”

The Expo Light Rail Line will also feature the Bergamot Station that will be located near the intersection of 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard. Its inclusion will offer commuters the chance to reach the Pico district along the southern edge of Olympic Blvd.

In the meantime, the Big Blue Bus will be offering some new bus routes once the Robertson/Venice station is complete. This will allow for commuters to take a combo ride of light rail and bus to reach their destinations in the UCLA area and downtown Santa Monica.

“We’re currently planning to serve the Expo Robertson/Venice station to the UCLA area sometime after the completion of the station,” said Joe Stitcher, Chief Administrative Officer for the Big Blue Bus. “We are looking to change line 5 to that station. We’re (also) looking to change our line 12.”

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — As gas prices rose quickly this year, Angelenos took to public transportation in higher numbers, according to ridership data released Friday by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The Metro Gold Line saw the biggest spike in ridership, a 21.6 percent increase in boardings compared with the same time in 2011. Ridership on the San Fernando Valley Orange Line bus rapid transit was up 18 percent.

Metro rail ridership jumped 5.9 percent in February over the same month in 2011, an addition of about 17,500 new weekday riders.

In a statement, Metro called the jump a “significant increase from the slow-but-steady 1.9 percent rise reported between 2011 and 2010.”

Metro will expand its 79.1 mile transportation system this year when it opens the the 8.6-mile Expo Line from Union Station to Culver City this spring and the 4-mile extension of the Orange Line to Chatsworth this summer.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

 

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) ridership is off to a strong start in 2012. During the year’s first two months, the agency carried more than 623,000 passengers on its rail systems. Increases were most notable on the Gold Line, where ridership spiked 21.6 percent in January and February compared with the same period last year.

In February, rail ridership rose 5.8 percent compared with February 2011. Ridership on the Green Line climbed 7.3 percent, while ridership on the Red, Blue and Gold lines increased 3.3 percent, 3 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

During the past 12 months, Metro Rail average weekday boardings rose 5.9 percent. By comparison, the agency recorded a 1.9 percent increase in the prior 12-month period.

LACMTA officials expect ridership to continue to increase in 2012, particularly when the 8.6-mile Expo Line to Culver City, Calif., opens in spring.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

LACMTA ridership increases


Monday, March 19, 2012


Recent Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority system ridership numbers show an increase in weekday boardings during January and February of 2012.

LACMTA rail ridership jumped the charts during the first two months of this year, with the Orange Line commuter route up a significant 18 percent. Ridership on also showed solid increases during January and February, most notably on the Blue Line and Green Line. The popular Gold Line scored the biggest spike in ridership, reporting a 21.6 percent increase in boardings compared to last year.

Rail ridership surged 5.9 percent to 316,436 average weekday boardings during the same reporting period, gaining 17,504 when compared to February 2011. This is a significant increase from the slow but steady 1.9 percent rise reported between 2011 and 2010.

Overall, ridership showed strong gains during the month of February totaling 316,436 average weekday boardings on the entire 79.1-mile system. The Blue Line carried an average of 83,397 customers, the Green Line recorded 43,712, the Gold Line logged 41,147 and the Red Line averaged 148,180 weekday boardings in February.

 

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

 

Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIR/EIS) for the Westside Subway Extension. Funded through the Measure R sales tax measure, the project calls for extending the agency’s Purple Line nine miles west from the Wilshire/Western station to the Westwood/VA area.

The final EIR/EIS includes recommendations for the alignment and seven station locations along the route, as well as environmental mitigations.

“[The environmental work’s] completion represents the culmination of more than four years of environmental study by Metro, and upon final approval by the Metro Board, will help secure future federal funding as the agency moves into final design,” said Los Angeles Mayor and LACMTA Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa in a prepared statement. “When built, this project will provide critically needed transportation options to and from the Westside that will benefit all of L.A. County.”

The board will consider the report’s recommendations at its April 26 meeting. Construction could begin in 2013.

Based on the adopted funding schedule, LACMTA plans to build the project in three phases, with the final segment to the Westwood VA Hospital to be completed in 2036. The agency is seeking alternative financing solutions to build the extension in one phase and complete it in as little as 10 years.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

 

Metrolink has been working with the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering to focus on the science of safety leadership specific to the railroad industry. Now, Metrolink officials want to share what they’re learning with other local transit agencies.

On March 20, Metrolink will host a “Leading Organizations Safely” workshop, which is designed for people who oversee public transportation systems.

The one-day program is open to leaders who serve on transportation commissions in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, as well as other senior state and federal safety oversight officials. The participants will discuss the importance of aligning and standardizing safety leadership principles and techniques.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

 

On March 16, the largest container ship ever to call on North America reached Long Beach, Calif., according to the Port of Long Beach. The 1,200-foot MSC Fabiola, which arrived from China’s Port of Yantian, carried more than 12,000 containers.

Larger ships serving Asia and North America typically can carry about 8,000 containers. The port’s main channel is 76 feet deep, the deepest in North America, port officials said in a prepared statement.

“This is the largest container vessel now serving U.S.-Asia trade,” said J. Christopher Lytle, the port’s executive director. “Few ports can handle these giant ships [but] Long Beach is big-ship ready.”

The port plans to spend $4.5 billion over the next decade to further modernize its facilities, including the construction of the Middle Harbor terminal — "the world’s greenest and most technologically advanced container terminal" — and the replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge, port officials said. Part of the $750 million terminal project calls for adding 65,000 feet of track. The port’s switching railroad, Pacific Harbor Line Inc., interchanges with BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

LACMTA ridership increases


Monday, March 19, 2012


Recent Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority system ridership numbers show an increase in weekday boardings during January and February of 2012.

LACMTA rail ridership jumped the charts during the first two months of this year, with the Orange Line commuter route up a significant 18 percent. Ridership on also showed solid increases during January and February, most notably on the Blue Line and Green Line. The popular Gold Line scored the biggest spike in ridership, reporting a 21.6 percent increase in boardings compared to last year.

Rail ridership surged 5.9 percent to 316,436 average weekday boardings during the same reporting period, gaining 17,504 when compared to February 2011. This is a significant increase from the slow but steady 1.9 percent rise reported between 2011 and 2010.

Overall, ridership showed strong gains during the month of February totaling 316,436 average weekday boardings on the entire 79.1-mile system. The Blue Line carried an average of 83,397 customers, the Green Line recorded 43,712, the Gold Line logged 41,147 and the Red Line averaged 148,180 weekday boardings in February.

 

 

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