Monday, November 26, 2007

Regional Connector

The Regional Connector is a potential connection between the Blue and Expo lines and the Gold Line to Pasadena and East Los Angeles. This is an important enhancement to the existing lines, that would allow a one-seat ride into and across downtown Los Angeles, rather than current transfers at 7th and Flower or Union Station to the Red Line or downtown buses.

Metro is beginning an Alternatives Analysis on potential routes. There are many possible routes; the map above (click to enlarge) is my submission, seeking the shortest and quickest route across downtown that serves important destinations.

It would continue in subway from the existing Blue / Expo Line station at 7th Street up Flower Street to 3rd Street, then make a diagonal across Bunker Hill. It would continue east under 1st Street, then curve north under Main Street beneath the City Hall south lawn.

North of Temple Street it would transition from shallow subway to aerial by Los Angeles Street at Aliso Street. The final section would be aerial along Aliso Street to an aerial half grand union with the Gold Line at Aliso and Alameda, to allow trains to go in all directions.

Potential subway station locations are:

  • Flower Street at or north of 5th Street, which also serves southern Bunker Hill via existing escalators;
  • Around Grand Avenue and 2nd Street, serving northern Bunker Hill (hopefully part of the redevelopment project there);
  • By City Hall either on 1st Street around Spring Street or on Main Street near Temple Street.

Add Olympic lane

The LA Times announced today, "Villaraigosa unveils traffic plan for Pico and Olympic." Here's what it would do:

The first step in the mayor's plan would be to immediately begin to eliminate parking on both streets during rush hour. Then, beginning next year, traffic lights would be re-timed so that those traveling west on Olympic and east on Pico would be rewarded with longer green lights. Those driving in the other direction might see their rides take longer.

This makes a lot of sense, to synchronize the signals in the favored direction, without the expense and disruption of Allyn Rifkin's Olympic-Pico one-way proposal last spring. I'd look at it differently, though, rather than take their next step in the one-way direction:

If those two steps speed up traffic, mayoral aides say the city might take an additional step and restripe both streets, so most lanes on Pico would be for eastbound motorists, while westbound lanes would predominate on Olympic.

Think of I-405 as a north-south wall across the Westside, with limited openings that have become major bottlenecks (map, right). Once east of the 405 in the afternoon you find traffic frees up.

This leads to a simple short-term bottleneck-reliever, while we wait for completion of the Expo Line and Wilshire subway. Olympic Boulevard has four lanes westbound but three lanes eastbound between Century City and two blocks west of the 405, presumably from when Century City was a bigger commuter destination than Santa Monica.

The simple bottleneck-reliever is to add a fourth eastbound lane to Olympic from west of Barrington to Sepulveda, as shown below (original map). This section has the same 110-foot right-of-way and 86-foot pavement, but only three lanes in each direction plus curb parking. (To fit nine lanes under the 405 could require a slight narrowing of the sidewalks, but Santa Monica Boulevard fits nine lanes in a 100-foot right-of-way and 88-foot pavement under its I-405 bridge).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Purple Line subway route options

Here's a short version of my Scoping comments submitted for Metro's Westside Extension.

Route options north of Wilshire Boulevard: There are multiple major destinations north of Wilshire Blvd. that may be more important to serve than Wilshire itself, if end-to-end running time isn’t seriously slowed. These include Farmers Market / The Grove / CBS; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center / Beverly Center; and West Hollywood / Pacific Design Center. I sketched three potential route options to serve them onto their map (above). Based on the existing Red Line schedule I estimate their additional travel time at only 1-3 minutes, so they appear well worth considering.

Beverly Hills – Hollywood Connection: I consider the Wilshire corridor primary, but also find a connection from Beverly Hills via West Hollywood to Hollywood very important. That area has no easy freeway access, and could strongly benefit from a rail transit link, for travel between the Westside and Hollywood or the San Fernando Valley. Perhaps it should be a separate light rail line, on the surface where the old Pacific Electric right-of-way still exists, then tunneled the rest of the way from West Hollywood to Hollywood & Highland?

North-South Corridor: The concurrent Crenshaw-Prairie corridor study’s northern boundary is Wilshire Blvd. Is there a way within the scope of the Westside Extension study to consider a single north-south line from LAX to Hollywood? Such a line could use some combination of Crenshaw, La Brea, Fairfax, and/or San Vicente to connect Exposition & Crenshaw to Hollywood & Highland.

I-405 Corridor: Transit along the I-405 corridor from the San Fernando Valley to Westwood, LAX, and the South Bay is critical and missing. The current Metro LRTP suggests only BRT along the I-405 HOV lanes, and no rail line. An effective interface between the Wilshire corridor and the I-405 corridor (interim BRT, future rail) is very important to consider. Good access to the UCLA campus is also obviously important.

West of I-405: A Wilshire subway may not extend west of Westwood, given its high capital cost and the lesser development density in Santa Monica. Western terminus locations to consider beyond Westwood include one more station on Wilshire between Federal and Bundy in West Los Angeles, to allow Westside access to the subway without needing to cross the 405, and in Santa Monica, the Expo Line's Bergamot Station, Wilshire & Ocean, or the Expo Line’s terminus around Colorado & 4th.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

October transit meetings

There are a number of important public meetings on transit planning this month on the Westside:

1. Metro Westside Extension (aka Wilshire "Subway to the Sea"), map above) Alternatives Analysis public meetings. "Please join Metro at one of five upcoming community meetings where you can comment on what you want Metro to study." All meetings are 6:00-8:00 p.m. (same content at each). More info.

Westwood/Century City - Tues., Oct. 9 - Emerson Middle School, 1650 Selby Ave., LA
Hollywood/West Hollywood - Thurs., Oct. 11 - Pan Pacific Recreation Center, 7600 Beverly Blvd., LA
Mid-Wilshire/Koreatown - Tues., Oct. 16 - LA Wilshire United Methodist Church, 4350 Wilshire Blvd., LA
Beverly Hills - Wed., Oct. 17 - Beverly Hills Public Library Auditorium, 444 North Rexford Dr., BH
Santa Monica - Thurs., Oct. 18 - Santa Monica Public Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., SM

2. Expo Line Phase 2 Initial Screening Results. All meetings are 6:30-8:30 p.m. Announcement flier (1.5 M PDF); Expo Construction Authority; Friends 4 Expo Transit.

Mon., Oct. 22 - Santa Monica Civic Auditorium East Wing Meeting Room, 1855 Main St., SM
Wed., Oct. 24 - Venice High School Auditorium, 13000 Venice Blvd., LA 90066
Thurs., Oct. 25 - (Cheviot Hills) Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services Gymnasium, 3200 Motor Ave., LA 90034

3. Santa Monica citywide Transportation Workshop, part of the Land Use and Circulation Element update. More info and rsvp.

Sat., Oct. 6, 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., John Adams Middle School cafeteria, 2425 16th St., SM

4. Metro Crenshaw-Prairie Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis public meetings. "Metro will consider several transit modes such as Metro Rapid Bus, Metro Rapid Transit (MRT) (a dedicated lane) and Light Rail Transit (LRT)." More info.

Mon., Oct. 15, 6-8 p.m., Darby Park, 3400 W. Arbor Vitae St., Inglewood
Wed., Oct. 17, 6-8 p.m., Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles
Sat., Oct. 20, 9-11 a.m., Audubon Middle School, 4120 11th Ave., Los Angeles

[Added] 5. Santa Monica Industrial Land workshop, including the Bergamont Station and Mid-City Expo Station locations, part of the Land Use and Circulation Element update. More info and rsvp.

Thu., Oct. 25, 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. [verify], Lincoln Middle School cafeteria, 1501 California Ave., SM

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

LA CityBeat

I'm featured in Alan Mittelstaedt's article "Dozing in the Slow Lane" in this week's CityBeat.

For more about the Expo Line light rail from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica and our advocacy for it, please see Friends 4 Expo Transit.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lincoln bus lanes

Santa Monica Daily Press commentator Bill Bauer (page 5 in PDF) argues that:

Local politicians, planners and misguided "enviros" must stop backing schemes that reduce street capacity. It'll be a long time before mass transit (light rail, monorail, busses and subways) serves a sizable percentage of the public. In the meantime, streets should be configured ot move traffic efficiently, safely and expediently - not impede it.

... In Santa Monica, ... instead of using parking lanes on Lincoln Boulevard to ease congestion, City Council declared them exclusive "bus and bike only" lanes for the eight hourly busses and handful of bicyclists using the street. ...

Isn't a simpler solution to Santa Monica's traffic and parking congestion to have more people come into the city without bringing their cars with them? Bus-only lanes can provide a speed incentive to ride instead of drive plus greater people-carrying capacity.

That was the recommendation of the 2002-3 Lincoln Corridor Task Force. The illustration above shows its near-term recommendations: to use the opportunity of existing parking lanes in Venice and Ocean Park for peak-period bus- and bike-only lanes, plus to underground the power lines and add landscaped medians.

Santa Monica Big Blue Bus already operates four #3 buses and another four Rapid 3 buses per direction on Lincoln during peak periods. The ones I've seen are crowded beyond their 40 seats, carrying around 400 people/hour (50/bus x 8 buses/hour), despite being stuck in slow traffic. That's some 20% of the people traveling on Lincoln.

A boulevard lane maxes out at around 750 vehicles/hour, or 900 people/lane/hour at 1.2 people per vehicle. But a new mixed-flow curb lane would carry fewer, with cars stuck behind frequently stopping buses, whereas a dedicated bus lane can easily expand capacity with more buses and/or longer ones.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wilshire Monorail?

A monorail along Wilshire Boulevard has been suggested as a faster and cheaper alternative to extending the Purple Line "Subway to the Sea". Here are some considerations to evaluate whether a monorail could fit.

This image of the Las Vegas Monorail superimposed onto Wilshire in West Los Angeles shows the visual bulk of its concrete beams and columns, and how it blocks the left turn lane.

Las Vegas has the only transit monorail in the United States, begun construction in 2001 and opened in 2004. Its 2000 construction cost was $100 million/mile ($385 million for 3.8 miles; source). This was similar to elevated light rail, and about one-third the cost of subway construction. It would be more now, with construction cost inflation.

Las Vegas uses a proprietary Bombardier (Canada) design based on Walt Disney World. Hitachi (Japan), the world's other main monorail vendor, uses a different, incompatible, design. It's risky to be dependent on a single vendor.

Spans for the Las Vegas beams average 100 feet, with the longest about 120 feet. They are 26 inches wide and vary from 5 to 7 feet deep. The typical column is 56 inches by 32 inches (source). They likely would be larger in Los Angeles to meet our seismic requirements.

Aerial stations are quite large, cantilevered over the street with pedestrian bridges to the sidewalk, needing space for stairs, handicapped-accessible elevators, and possibly escalators (which tend to break in the weather). Is this acceptable on Wilshire?

Passengers would experience a 10-15 minute delay at Western Avenue, to transfer between aerial and subway stations and wait for another train.

What are alternatives to losing the left turn lane to columns? Las Vegas' 120-foot maximum span is far short of this typical boulevard intersection at Wilshire and Bundy, where it would take a 550 foot span across the left-turn lanes and cross street.

Even this massive bridge of the Green Line over Aviation and Rosecrans in the South Bay is only just over 300 feet.

The other possibility is "straddle bents" spanning the entire boulevard, like these three supporting a curve in Las Vegas. These would also be used if the beam curved to the edge of the boulevard if stations were built in buildings' upper floors.

For more perspectives see The Monorail Society and Light Rail Now.

(I plan a future post about monorails along freeways.)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Metro fares

I was quoted in today's LA Times article on Metro's (MTA's) proposed fare increase:

"Rail gives greater speed, it's more comfortable and it has higher capacity than buses," said Darrell Clarke, co-chairman of Friends 4 Expo Transit, which has been pushing for the line from downtown to Culver City. "Buses are stuck in traffic."

I'm disappointed the article was cast as bus vs. rail, though, framing the issue as:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority today will consider approving a series of large fare increases that would hit bus riders particularly hard at a time when officials are spending $1.5 billion for a network of new rail lines.

Construction costs for rail come from different sources than operations, and operating costs for rail are less than for buses. In Metro's FY07 Budget (Appendix 15, pp. VII-46-47), buses cost $0.61 per passenger-mile, compared to light rail's $0.49 and the subway's $0.47.

This is consistent with national statistics, and makes sense: the largest cost of running transit is vehicle operators, and one 3-car Blue Line train carries more passengers than six regular buses (or four of the new articulated buses). (Click for more.)

It's not either-or; we need both rail for main high-speed corridors and buses to fill in the gaps and provide local service. Rail is also more attractive to get people out of their cars and to attract the transit-oriented development Los Angeles needs to handle population growth without completely choking on traffic.

On the fare increase, many transit advocates recognize Metro's costs have been increasing for labor, fuel, and expanded service, while fares have been held flat for a decade. Like the LA Times editorial today, we seek a middle ground between no increase and Metro's original proposal:

Big transit systems in the U.S. get 38% of their operating revenues from fares, on average, while the MTA went from 32% before the decree to 24% today. If transit riders don't start paying their fair share, the agency will have no choice but to cut bus and rail service, which won't benefit anybody.

An ideal solution would find new sources of transit operations funding from sources like gas taxes, parking fees, carbon taxes, or congestion pricing, to mitigate for the externalized costs of automobiles.

Updates: I just spoke about this with Patt Morrison on KPCC.

Here's the LA Times on the final compromise by county Supervisors Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky that was adopted:

... the original increase, which would have raised the cash fare for both rail and bus to $2 per ride from $1.25. The monthly pass would have increased to $120 from $52 over the next 19 months.

Instead, ... fares will increase to $1.50 by July 1, 2010, then $1.80 by 2012. The $3 daily pass will jump to $5 by 2008, $6 in 2010 and $7.25 two years later. The $52 monthly pass will go up to $62 in 2008, $75 in 2010 and $90 in 2012.

A special [off-peak] 25-cent fare will be established for the disabled and seniors 65 and older. The fare would be in effect 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and after 7 p.m. on weekdays, and all day Saturday, Sunday and federal holidays.

Be sure to read Steve Lopez' column, especially Martin Wachs' comments:

"There's no question that in a metro area like L.A., a transit system cannot be sustained" by current formulas, said Martin Wachs of the Rand Corp. "You need some form of tolls or parking or gas increases, with a transfer of funds from auto users to transit users."

He and Brian Taylor of UCLA's Institute of Transportation Studies support a variable fare system, saying it's illogical to charge a flat $1.25 for a bus ticket regardless of whether the rider goes 30 miles or three blocks.

Southern California Transit Advocates (So.CA.TA) has an extensive discussion of their fare recommendations and the final Metro plan.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Olympic-Pico update

Allyn Rifkin presented his Olympic and Pico Boulevards one-way study at the CD-11 Transportation Committee Monday evening. (See my earlier post for an introduction.)

He set the stage well, saying, "Think of this as someone's first idea ... now let's go out to the community about it." His main points were:

  • Olympic and Pico are major Metro and Big Blue Bus corridors. Because they're mostly more than 1/4 mile apart, he rejected pure one-way roadways in favor of contra-flow bus lanes.

  • Left turn arrows eat up a lot of intersection capacity. The one-way direction would be clockwise — east on Olympic, west on Pico — so changes in direction would use right turns.

  • His "5/2" (5 lanes one-way, 2 contra-flow) diagrams are here — off-peak with parking and left turns above, peak without parking or left turns below.

    Without peak-period left turns capacity would increase by 20%; with peak left turns capacity would only increase by 6%. A questioner was concerned about banning left turns, which would require many to drive around a the block through neighborhoods.

  • The roadways would not become "freeways" because speeds would be regulated by synchronized signal timing.

Zev Yaroslavksy's transportation deputy Vivian Rescalvo emphasized this is about improving transit in the corridor, not only for automobiles, and that it's "absolutely not" an alternative to the Expo Line, but that is eight years away.

Rifkin agreed with my question that Santa Monica's section of Olympic is difficult, long blocks west of Centinela with many west-bound cars headed to the freeway at Cloverfield, and with the median's coral trees and Expo Line west of Cloverfield. Pico is also narrower in Santa Monica. But switching from one-way to two-way would require a large connector street. Could Barrington do that? Bundy is already jammed.

The next step is more study and public process. Will we end up deciding to just synchronize signal timings in the dominant direction?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

LNG terminals

A number of proposals for Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminals along the southern California coast are being promoted, citing increasing demand for gas. Because natural gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel — in both CO2 and other air pollutants — it has been favored to displace coal and oil for generating electricity and diesel in large vehicles like transit buses.

To ship natural gas across the ocean it is liquified by chilling to minus 259 degrees Fahrenheit, stored in special tanker ships (photo), shipped, and re-gasified at a receiving terminal. See the California Energy Commission for an LNG overview.

There are serious questions, however, about the safety and emissions of LNG terminals:

  • A proposed terminal in the Port of Long Beach was voted down by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners in January. "Specifically, opponents raised safety concerns, citing the potential for a catastrophic natural gas explosion that could kill hundreds of people and devastate much of the Long Beach waterfront."

  • The proposed Cabrillo Port LNG terminal off the Ventura County coast was rejected by the state Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission in April. It would have emitted "23 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, or about 40 percent as much as New York City" as well as "failed to meet local air pollution standards."

  • Woodside's OceanWay proposal, "over 20 miles offshore" in Santa Monica Bay, raises similar issues of air pollution and safety near LAX. The LAX area and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are already the largest air polluters in Los Angeles County.

  • The energy used to liquify the gas, transport the gas, and regasify it — 15% in one example* — reduces its advantages over other fossil fuels.

There are better alternatives. I find this a critical decision point, whether we invest in more fossil fuel infrastructure that does not reduce global warming, or instead in efficiency and sustainable alternatives that reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions.

Around 50% of California's gas is used to generate electricity. Natural gas demand can thus be directly reduced by:

  • Replacing old power plants (right) with the most-efficient combined-cycle plants;
  • Increasing building energy efficiency in lighting, cooling, and heating;
  • Increasing wind and solar electricity generation (especially when combined with smart grid storage with EVs and PHEVs).

Solar thermal hot water systems can also reduce the 10% used to heat residential hot water and swimming pools.

*Julian Darley, High Noon for Natural Gas, p.60.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

High Speed Rail budget alert!

The California High Speed Rail Authority's budget request of $103 million for 2007-2008 will be discussed at a Budget Subcommittee meeting scheduled for this Thursday, May 10th in Sacramento. This funding is critical for the authority to continue its environmental planning and begin acquiring right-of-way while it is still available.

Besides high speed rail's strong mobility and economic benefits, it will be an important component in California's commitment to sustainable energy and reducing global warming. Electric-powered high speed rail is an excellent alternative to CO2 emissions from jet plane flights and long car trips within California. See my earlier post for more.

Click here to write Governor Schwarzenegger and here to send an email to key state legislators by tomorrow!

Monday, May 07, 2007

The (Fossil) Invaders

Too good to not pass on! (Via Energy Bulletin. It and Gristmill, links to the left, are my two best daily sources of energy and climate news.)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Carbon Footprint

Dr. James Hansen, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, emphasized last year that,
We have at most ten years — not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions.

A major purpose of my starting this blog is to examine what we can do in Los Angeles, what can work to change course on energy, within the urgent timeframe we have.

I'll begin with the idea of "carbon footprint," because the increase in carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning of fossil fuels is the largest contributor to global warming.

It helps to break it into four main areas we can change as individuals, regionally, and nationally:

  • What and how much we drive
  • Electricity and gas used in our homes and other buildings
  • How much we fly
  • Energy used to make and transport what we buy

Different "carbon calculators" are available online. The website for "An Inconvenient Truth" notes,

The average American generates about 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year from personal transportation, home energy use and from the energy used to produce all of the products and services we consume. Calculate your personal impact to see how much CO2 you produce each year.

Another is The Climate Trust's Here is my estimate there:

So what do I do after I calculate it? Stay tuned, there's a lot to explore....

Thursday, May 03, 2007

South Bay Energy Fair

I'll be speaking on "How public transit can serve you in the South Bay, and other ways to make your transportation greener", and hosting a table for Friends 4 Expo Transit and the Sierra Club, at the South Bay Energy Fair this Saturday, May 5th.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Plug-In Hybrids

Increase the battery capacity of a hybrid like a Toyota Prius so it charges while parked, then operates on batteries for 20-50 miles without needing its gasoline engine, and you have a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV).

Half of Americans travel 25 miles or less per day. PHEVs use electricity instead of gasoline for many of their miles, yet retain the range of a conventional car when needed. Their electricity can be sustainably generated from wind and solar, and there is ample off-peak capacity in today's electricity grid for charging.

Although the only PHEVs available today are aftermarket conversions of Priuses (as in the photo; also note the plug-in cord), major auto manufacturers including Toyota and others have announced plans. See the LA-based Plug In America and Austin-based Plug In Partners for two national campaigns to push the car companies to build them.

Sherry Boschert, author of the excellent Plug-in Hybrids will speak on Thursday, May 10, 7:00 p.m., at the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter office, 3435 Wilshire Boulevard, suite 320 (the tall Equitable building across from the former Ambassador Hotel; park free after 6 p.m. under the building off Mariposa, or on 6th Street, or ride the Wilshire Purple Line subway or Metro Rapid bus #720 to Wilshire / Normandie). Office phone is 213-387-4287.

The batteries of electric vehicles and PHEVs could also be used for distributed storage in a smart electric grid, to balance peak demands and intermittant generation from wind and solar. Saturday's LA Times noted:

California power companies are salivating at the idea of plug-in hybrid vehicles that would provide extended all-electric travel using bigger batteries that are recharged from the conventional power grid. ...

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. demonstrated bidirectional, or vehicle-to-grid, technology in San Francisco this month, using a Toyota Motor Corp. Prius modified by Energy CS, a Monrovia firm that develops plug-in hybrid conversions.

After the car's extra lithium-ion battery was charged, a PG&E technician flipped a switch and the power in the battery started flowing back onto the grid, causing the electric meter monitoring the activity to start running backward.

... plug-in hybrid owners could recharge their batteries at night, when most electric rates are lower, said PG&E environmental spokesman Keely Wachs.

Then on hot days, when demand for power soars, owners not using their cars could plug them in and transfer electricity from the batteries to the commercial grid. Utility companies would pay hybrid owners for that power, and at the higher daytime rate. ...

See New Energy News for more on vehicle-to-grid.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wilshire bus lanes

Also on the LA City Council Transportation Committee agenda Wednesday is a staff recommendation (1.9MB pdf) to implement dedicated peak hour curb bus lanes on Wilshire Boulevard, per the map above (click to enlarge). Here are key excerpts.

Option A: Peak Period End-to-End Bus Lanes. Convert the curb lanes of Wilshire Boulevard within the City limits from mixed flow to bus and right turn only operation between Downtown LA and the Santa Monica City limit during weekday peak periods (7-9 AM and 4-7 PM). ...


Option A would result in significant improvement for bus travel times and speeds. End-to-end Metro Rapid bus travel time within the City would be reduced by an average of 11.7 minutes from 48.0 to 36.3 minutes, or 24%. ...


Conversion of the curb lanes from mixed flow to bus and right-turn only operation would mean that Wilshire Boulevard could carry fewer mixed flow vehicles during peak periods, resulting in significant adverse impacts on mixed flow traffic. The traffic impact analysis indicates that mixed flow travel time on Wilshire Boulevard in the peak periods would increase by an average of 26% (11 minutes). ...

These impacts would diminish over time if drivers find new routes or switch to transit. ...

As part of its Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit project, Metro is proposing to widen Wilshire Boulevard between Barrington Avenue and Bonsall Avenue (on the Veterans Administration property) in West LA to create new capacity for an eastbound peak period bus lane. ...

Street Pavement

It is anticipated that operation of the bus lanes in Option A would have a significant impact on the curb lane pavement due to the concentration of bus activity in the curbside lanes, The new 60-foot articulated buses, with a gross vehicle weight of 68,000 Ibs. and rear axle load of 30,000 Ibs., are much more damaging to pavement than 40-foot buses, with a gross vehicle weight of 42,000 Ibs. and rear axle load of 28,000Ibs. This would be especially problematic between Western Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard, where the pavement and concrete gutters are in generally poor condition. The curb lane pavement condition is also a problem for buses: Metro's bus operators are instructed to stay out of the Wilshire Boulevard curb lanes where possible.

As part of the Bus Speed Improvement Project, Metro is proposing to install 120' long concrete bus pads at all bus stops and intersection stops along Wilshire Boulevard (200 total), at a total cost of $6,8 million. This would substantially mitigate impacts to the pavement at locations where buses are most likely to stop.


In order to mitigate some of Option A's traffic impacts, certain segments of Wilshire Boulevard could be widened to create additional capacity for the new bus lanes: ...

San Vicente Boulevard to Fairfax Avenue - The north side of Wilshire Boulevard could be widened by reducing the sidewalk width, which is currently 20-23 feet, to create capacity for a new westbound bus lane. This would leave a 10-13 foot width sidewalk along the north side. ...

Like the Lincoln proposal below, this would prioritize people-carrying capacity of the boulevard while we wait for higher-capacity rail transit. It is also consistent with the fall 2006 "A Green Los Angeles" recommendations by the Green LA Working Group, which included more peak-hour bus-only lanes as one of its top-three transportation recommendations.

The LA Times Bottleneck Blog has an item about this plan potentially narrowing sidewalks

Olympic-Pico one-way?

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's April 15, 2007 "Olympic/Pico One-Way Pair Initial Feasibility Report" (4.7 MB pdf) by Allyn D. Rifkin P.E. describes a range of options. The Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee will consider a motion by Weiss, Greuel, and Rosendahl this Wednesday (4/25 at 2:00 p.m.):

In January 2007, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky hired a traffc consultant to analyze the feasibility of turning Olympic and Pico Boulevards into oneway streets from downtown Los Angeles to the City of Santa Monica. The traffc consultant has completed a preliminary analysis.

The potential impact to residential neighborhoods of any proposal to convert major thoroughfares into one-way streets necessitates a thorough analysis and consideration of all potential community impacts.

Such analysis must include a thorough assessment of the potential impacts to residential neighborhoods as well as a quantitative analysis of potential benefis in terms of reduced travel times and congestion relief. Analysis of this proposal must also include broad community input.

I THEREFORE MOVE that the City Council direct the Department of Transportation to report back in 60 days with a review and analysis of Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavosky's consultant study on the feasibility of turning Olympic and Pico Boulevards into one-way streets from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica. The report should address potential impacts to surrounding streets and neighborhoods. In addition, LADOT shall engage in comprehensive community outreach during the preparation of their report.

I'll also highlight Kent Strumpell's letter to the LA Times (4/21):

One-way streets prioritize moving cars rather than moving people, perpetuating the traffic problems we face. Instead, we need solutions that help people meet their needs without having to drive.

Unfortunately, one-way streets make our urban boulevards more like freeways, with hazardous speeds, noise and lack of landscaped medians. This works against the strategy of improving our boulevards as inviting public places conducive to walking, transit use, cycling and successful businesses. Creating vibrant, multimodal shopping streets near residential communities is a critical strategy for reducing automobile trips.

It is time that we stop sacrificing the important public space of our roads to the degrading domination of cars.

In a similar situation I served on the Lincoln Corridor Task Force Citizens' Advisory Committee in 2002-4. We faced the question of whether to attempt to move more cars on Lincoln Boulevard -- knowing it wouldn't solve traffic congestion and would further impact its neighbors -- or to focus on moving people. We recommended the latter, taking advantage of the curb parking lanes in Venice and Ocean Park to propose dedicated peak-hour bus lanes first, and potentially light rail later. See SCAG's LCTF webpage for detailed LCTF reports.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hybrid sales up

The LA Times reported yesterday that hybrid car sales are up 91% year-to-year:

Hybrid sales are on a roll, and it's no secret what's driving them.

"It's called $3 gasoline," said Fritz Hitchcock, who owns Toyota dealerships in Santa Barbara, Northridge and the City of Industry. "We are absolutely, positively liking hybrids, and it's only going to get better." ...

In the first three months of the year, sales jumped 91% compared with the same period of 2006, to 59,613, according to research firm AutoData Inc. In March, year-over-year sales of the segment-leading Toyota Prius climbed 142% to 19,156.

Prius sales were juiced by a rush to buy before the federal tax credit on the vehicle was cut by 50% on April 1 to $788 per vehicle. But other popular models also showed strong growth last month, including hybrid versions of the Honda Civic (up 26%) and the Ford Escape sport utility vehicle (up 51%). ...

Although gas savings are attracting buyers, having more cars on dealer lots has also helped. Toyota is boosting production of U.S.-bound Priuses by almost 50% to an annual rate of 110,000. That's giving buyers more bargaining room — the cars are selling for almost $3,000 less than last summer, according to The average sale price of a base model is now about $21,200, according to Edmunds. Toyota is offering discounts of $600 to $2,000 a vehicle on common options packages. ...

Almost 700,000 hybrids have been sold in the U.S. since 1999. They accounted for 1.8% of vehicle sales last month, double the year-earlier market share. ...

If you're buying a car, it seems obvious to buy the highest-mpg car you can, both from expecting rising gasoline prices and to reduce our individual global warming emissions. If all cars averaged what today's Prius does, it would save half of U.S. gasoline, one fourth of all U.S. oil used.

Speaking as a delighted Prius owner, it's just a great car! I love its comfortable upright driving position, good interior space, and very useful hatchback. It's nimble for parking, yet a good cruiser. And it's averaged over 40 mpg for two years.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

California High-Speed Rail

High-speed trains offer the prospect of travel between Los Angeles and the Bay Area in 2-3 hours. Electrically powered, they can be a sustainable alternative to fossil-fueled airplanes and automobiles.

France just set a new speed record of 356 mph. The California High-Speed Rail Authority has plans for our state to join Europe and Asia's accomplishments.

After completing system-wide environmental study, two project-level EIR/EISs are now beginning, for Los Angeles-Palmdale and LA-Orange County. The last Scoping meeting for LA-Palmdale will be at the Los Angeles River Center & Gardens (Atrium), 570 W. Avenue 26, Los Angeles, CA 90065 on April 17, 2007, 3:00-5:00 and 6:00-8:00 p.m. Comments for both may be submitted until April 27, 2007.

While we wait for the real thing, here are two of a number of simulations (the photo above is from the first): San Diego Mission Bay and Tehachapi windmills.

See the local Friends of High Speed Rail to help.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Step It Up!

This Saturday, April 14 is the "Step It Up National Day of Climate Action":

"Citizens around the nation concerned about the catastrophic effects of global warming will rally together on April 14, 2007 to urge Congress to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050. The events are part of the Step it Up campaign, the largest day of citizen action focusing on global warming in our nation’s history."

This is consistent with the reduction in global warming emissions many climate scientists say is necessary to avoid runaway warming, and the goal of Rep. Henry Waxman's Safe Climate Act (graph, right).

Look for me at the Sierra Club booth at Earth Day on the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., featuring personal carbon footprint calculations and the Carbon Family.

Expo Line

The Expo Line is a planned light rail transit line from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica, a sustainable alternative to horrible Westside traffic. Construction on Phase 1 from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City is starting, with opening scheduled for 2010. Environmental study for Phase 2 to Santa Monica is now beginning.

For more information see Friends 4 Expo Transit (the volunteers who brought the popular support leading to its approval in 2001) and the Expositon Metro Line Construction Authority. The Authority will host a Project Status Open House on Tuesday, April 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Culver City Senior Center, 4095 Culver Boulevard.

A great proposal for a "green corridor" park with restored stream west of Overland Ave. (below) was developed by Light Rail for Cheviot.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Our challenges for the Los Angeles region are acute, especially in transportation, housing, Global Warming, and the coming decline of fossil fuels. But transitions bring opportunities.

I'm beginning this to explore possiblities of what can work to make L.A. more livable and sustainable, and celebrate special places, past and present, that we can expand on. Welcome to what I'm seeking to be an important and entertaining discussion!