Saturday, December 13, 2008

AB 32 Scoping Plan

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) passed the AB 32 Scoping Plan Thursday (press release; LA Times).

AB 32 is California's landmark 2006 law to reduce global warming emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, about 30% from business-as-usual projected for 2020, 15% from today’s levels.
The long-range goal is 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

The largest two sectors of greenhouse gas emissions (left) are transportation — 38% — and electricity generation — 23%.

(click to enlarge)

This timeline shows CARB's first milestones in 2007; developing the high-level Scoping Plan over the last year; and the upcoming detailed rulemaking through 2011 to implement it.

Following is the overview of how the Scoping Plan expects to reduce emissions.

Recommended Reduction Measures — Counted Towards 2020 Target (MMTCO2E*)


California Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Standards — 31.7
Energy Efficiency — 26.3
Renewables Portfolio Standard (33% by 2020) — 21.3
Low Carbon Fuel Standard — 15
Regional Transportation-Related GHG Targets — 5
Vehicle Efficiency Measures — 4.5
Goods Movement — 3.7
Million Solar Roofs — 2.1
Medium/Heavy Duty Vehicles — 1.4
High Speed Rail — 1.0
Industrial Measures (cap-and-trade sources) — 0.3
Additional Reductions Necessary to Achieve the Cap — 34.4


High Global Warming Potential Gas Measures — 20.2
Sustainable Forests — 5.0
Industrial Measures (non-cap and trade sources) — 1.1
Recycling and Waste (landfill methane capture) — 1.0


*Million Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent emissions. Source (PDF), page 2, update to Proposed Scoping Plan (PDF), Table 2, page 17 (PDF page 37). Charts source (PDF).

CARB Chairman Mary Nichols (far left) and board members Barbara Riordan and Dr. Daniel Sperling at the December 2007 meeting in El Monte that set the 2020 emissions limit at 427 MMTCO2E.

CARB's senior staff, led by Chuck Shulock (far left), at a July public workshop during development of the Scoping Plan.

Dr. Steven Chu

Another to bookmark: Dr. Steven Chu's presentation on climate change impacts, energy efficiency, and advanced renewable energy technologies — photovoltaics and biofuel grasses — at the National Energy Summit in Nevada last summer demonstrates what an excellent choice he is to be Obama's Energy Secretary (via Gristmill).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Presidents, morphed

Too good not to bookmark here (via Huffington Post), by someone a lot more skilled than I was at morphing Bush to Palin.

It drew me into their faces, these men whose names we've heard of but really know so little about.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

First two Measure R rail projects

Measure R has officially passed with a final count of 67.93% YES!

Let's look at the next steps for the first two rail projects it will fund, Expo Line Phase 2 to Santa Monica and the Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa, construction potentially beginning on both in 2010 (click maps to enlarge; Expo, Foothill PDF sources).

Updated with the latest Expo Authority Board reports their schedule ahead is:

  • January/February 2009 - Public Hearings on Draft EIR
  • March/April 2009 - Board Adopts LPA
  • October 2009 - Final EIR
  • 2010 - Begin construction
  • 2014-15 - Revenue Service

And an email from the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority listed these target dates for the Gold Line Phase 2A (Pasadena to Azusa):

  • November 2009 - Commencement of the design / build procurement process for both the Santa Anita Aerial Structure and the Foothill Extension Phase 2A Alignment.
  • August 2010 - Groundbreaking for Santa Anita Aerial Structure
  • February 2011 - Groundbreaking for Foothill Extension Phase 2A
  • December 2013 - Phase 2A Revenue Service

Sunday, November 23, 2008

After Measure R passes

Now that we can celebrate Measure R passing (67.65% YES on 11/21/08 provisional vote update), what projects will be built first and how can advocates help?

As specified in Measure R (Metro Map, click to enlarge), the new 1/2-cent sales tax begins collection on July 1, 2009. Its funding breakdown is:

35% new Metro Rail and Bus Rapid Transit capital
3% Metrolink commuter rail capital
2% Metro Rail capital improvements to existing lines
5% Rail Operations
20% Bus Operations
20% Highway Capital
15% Local Return for streets, bikeways, pedestrian improvements

The transit projects funded for completion in its first ten years are:

1-A Expo Line phase 2, Culver City to Santa Monica, $925M, starting construction 2010, opening FY 2013-15
1-F Gold Line Foothill Extension, $735M, starting construction 2010, opening FY 2015-17
1-H Green Line LAX Extension, $200M, FY 2015-28
1-B Crenshaw Corridor, $1,207M, FY 2016-18
1-I S.F. Valley Canoga Corridor BRT, $182M, FY 2016-18
1-J S.F. Valley N-S Corridors BRT, $68.5M, FY 2016-18

Even better, Roger Snoble said on KPCC 11/6/08 that construction of the Foothill Gold Line "is able to move ahead very quickly, right along with Expo" Line phase 2 to Santa Monica in 2010 (21:00), as well as the Green Line to LAX (19:30). He also emphasized, "the ordinance ... has a very clear expenditure plan ... when the project would be expected to be delivered ... the people voted on that schedule ...."

On accelerating the Purple Line Wilshire Subway (1-D Westside Subway Extension, $4,074M, FY 2034-36), the LA Times Bottleneck Blog reported: "During the news conference about Measure R's passage, Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief Roger Snoble said it may now be possible to extend the line to Fairfax Avenue within six or seven years and the line could get to Westwood in 20 years."

The important Regional Connector (1-C) between the Expo/Blue and Gold lines is expected to be competitive for federal funding (estimated $708M match to $160M local), which we hope can advance it from its current FY 2023-25 scheduled completion.

How can advocates help? With funding in place, we can now focus on helping Metro's planning process complete their designs well and move forward to construction. And advocate for cities to fund bicycle and pedestrian projects with their Local Return share.

Also see Ken Alpern's CityWatch column this week and my earlier posts Metro's sales tax would fund... and Sales tax comments for more.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election success!

Congratulations President-elect Obama! His presidency, combined with Democratic majorities in Congress, will make possible the energy, climate, and transportation policies we need.

For some very moving photos of last night's acceptance speech, see these Grant Park photos from the Chicago Tribune.

Amazingly, Los Angeles County Measure R transportation sales tax sqeaked past its needed 2/3 majority at 67.41% YES (100% reported)!

The LA Times Bottleneck Blog gave a good description of the joyful press conference this morning at Wilshire & Western. Left are two UCLA student campaigners, and lower left are Steve Hymon with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Metro CEO Roger Snoble (click to enlarge).

Proposition 1A for High Speed Rail finished at 52.2% YES. Now we'll have a lot of work ahead going from funding to completed plans to finished projects.

And the faux-clean-energy Propositions 7 and 10 were strongly defeated, 64.9% and 59.8% NO, respectively (100% reported). Four for four!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Proposition recommendations

NEW: I'm on KNBC TV supporting 1A and opposing 10.

On the four ballot measures next week about transportation and energy:

YES on 1A

Proposition 1A for California high-speed rail from San Francisco to Anaheim, with extensions to Sacramento and San Diego, would fund the state's $10B share to match private and federal money. Travel time from Los Angeles to San Francisco would be less than three hours.

Trains powered by domestic renewable electricity could reduce our oil dependence by 12.7 million barrels a year and eliminate 12 billion pounds of greenhouse gasses from many intra-state plane flights and long-distance car drives, using proven technology enjoyed in Europe and Asia.

This is the time to take high speed rail to its next step, investing in our infrastructure for California's economic future, like Governor Pat Brown's 1960s legacy. Is a $10 billion bond expensive? Not compared with highways and airport expansion, $6B to widen 99 to 6 lanes in the San Joaquin Valley, $20B to 8 lanes. And not compared with China's investment high speed rail for its place in the world economy.

Also see my earlier post on California High Speed Rail.

Links: Yes on 1A; Sierra Club on 1A; California High Speed Rail Blog; LA Times editorial

NO on 7

Proposition 7 has a laudable goal, but its critically flawed execution would set us back, the reason it's opposed by Sierra Club and other leading environmental groups – NRDC, Union of Concerned Scientists, California League of Conservation Voters; many in the renewable energy industry; the LA Times; and both political parties.

California already has a 20% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for 2010, and 33% for 2020, plus the statewide AB-32 plan to reduce global warming emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Prop. 7 does not address the real barriers to renewable energy – the need for reliable, predictable funding, such as a feed-in tariff – instead of creating rules for renewable contracts based on the unstable cost of baseload gas.

Its exclusion of less-than-30 MW providers (“solar and clean energy plant” is defined as a renewable energy generating “facility” with “a generating capacity of 30 Megawatts or more” in section 14) would cripple much of the renewables industry.

Its six-month “fast-track” provision would undermine environmental protections and existing collaboration on appropriate siting of renewable facilities and transmission corridors.

And it would be nearly impossible to correct these errors with its 2/3-majority legislative vote requirement.

Links: No on 7; Sierra Club on 7; LA Times editorial

NO on 10

Proposition 10 would spend $5B ($10B with bond interest) of state taxpayers’ money to subsidize natural gas vehicles and fueling infrastructure.

Mostly funded by T. Boone Pickens’ natural gas fueling station company Clean Energy Fuels Corp – $3.7M as of Sept. 30 – it is a wrong direction to a dead-end.

The right solutions to Global Warming and to reduce our oil dependence especially include efficiency, and electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) that can use renewable electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal. One-third (36%) of California's greenhouse gas emissions are from from cars and trucks, and half of U.S. oil is used for motor gasoline.

Natural gas is merely another depleting fossil fuel. It provides little benefit toward the goal of 80% reduction in Global Warming emissions by 2050. In fact, it is 40% more efficient to make electricity for electric cars from gas than burn it in cars.

Proposition 10 is opposed by major environmental groups – Sierra Club, NRDC, Union of Concerned Scientists, California League of Conservation Voters – and over 30 newspapers. The LA Times called it a “reprehensible scam.”

Links: No on 10; Sierra Club on 10; LA Times editorial

YES on R

Measure R is a proposed half-cent 30-year Los Angeles County transportation sales tax.

Los Angeles County’s transportation needs far exceed existing local, state, and federal funding, and the political climate both in the state and in Washington DC is not likely to increase those levels any time soon. That is why this comprehensive countywide plan was developed, in consultation with a coalition of transit, environmental, labor, and business groups.

Two-thirds (65%) of Measure R will fund critical expansion of our rail transit network and transit operations. Bus riders will receive the benefits of a 70% annual increase over current bus operations funding, to reduce fare increases and improve service. And Local Return funds can support new bicycle and pedestrian projects.

See my earlier posts Metro's sales tax would fund... and Sales tax comments for more.

Links: Yes on Measure R; Metro on R; LA Times editorial

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sales tax and its planned projects

Great news! The LA Times Bottleneck Blog just reported that amended sales tax authorization bill was just approved by the State Senate Appropriations Committee.

New "intent language" specified that some of the sales tax revenues must be spent on the Green Line to LAX, 605 freeway traffic hotspots, the Foothill Gold Line extension and 710 Freeway to satisfy concerns of some legislators that projects, despite being named, won't be funded — without making changes that would invalidate the Metro ballot language. Whew, we finally got this far!

On objections that not enough planning went into this measure, it's not like the projects in the Draft LRTP and the proposed sales tax are all that new. They haven't changed much from the L.A. County Transportation Commission's 10/91 Draft 30-Year Plan map (detail, right, click to enlarge).

The Proposed Rail Component of the March 1992 "LACTC Proposed 30-Year Integrated Transportation Plan" included three tiers:

Fundable Plan

  • Red Line segments 1, 2, and 3 (North Hollywood)
  • Orange Line (now Purple), east to Atlantic and west to Westwood
  • San Fernando Valley East-West, North Hollywood to Sepulveda (Canoga Park "included in LACTC's commitment to the overall East-West Transit Project, pending outcome of the EIR and Public-Private Partnership initiatives.")
  • Pasadena Line
  • Green Line
  • Commuter Rail
  • Blue Line Downtown Connector
  • Right-of-Way Protection Program

Candidate Corridors

  • Sierra Madre Villa to Azusa in the San Gabriel Valley
  • Downtown Los Angeles to USC
  • USC to Santa Monica
  • Downtown Los Angeles to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport area
  • Green Line to Orange County Rail Connection
  • Green Line Multi-Modal Transportation Center to Westchester Parkway
  • Route 60 Corridor in the San Gabriel Valley
  • El Segundo to Torrance

Expanded Plan (the colored circles of Possible Future Extensions on the map)

  • The Tri-Cities Corridor linking the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena
  • An extension of the Sierra Madre Villa to Azusa Corridor in the San Gabriel Valley to the Pomona Valley
  • Crenshaw Corridor providing a mid-city connection between the Green Line and the Exposition Corridor
  • A corridor extending from Westchester Parkway to Marina Del Rey

Then there's the LAX-Palmdale Public-Private Partnership Project.

So sixteen years later the project list hasn't changed much at all, beyond rise (especially Crenshaw) and fall in priority, and a couple of mode changes.

Would yet another round of studies change anything — especially after the extensive studies c. 2000 and the current round of corridor studies — or just delay the benefits of completed projects again?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sales tax comments

To get its required 2/3 vote the proposed 1/2-cent L.A. County transportation sales tax will have to meet critical needs for voters across the county. That it was designed as a compromise package to fund a number of long-sought projects, both transit and roads, hasn't stopped some critics from complaining.

The flagship new Westside project is the "Subway to the Sea", to receive $4,074 million, enough to open to Westwood in phases by the mid-2030s. The Expo Line phase 2 from Culver City to Santa Monica, although already budgeted in the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), would receive funding to assure its timely completion in 2013-15.

Other Westside projects include advancing the Crenshaw line from the 2020s to 2016-18, including service to LAX, and extending the Green Line to the South Bay Galleria.

New for both the San Fernando Valley and Westside is $1 billion for the I-405 Connector from the Valley to Westwood, a critical alternative to this freeway pass. SFV north-south Bus Rapid Transit lines along the Canoga right-of-way and north-south boulevards would be accelerated.

Similarly, the flagship project for the San Gabriel Valley is the Foothill Extension of the Pasadena Gold Line to Claremont. Here are Congressmembers David Dreier and Hilda Solis at a press conference on the right-of-way by Citrus College in Azusa on March 26. Foothill is not funded in the LRTP, and would receive $735M from the sales tax.

The Regional Connector across downtown L.A. between the Blue/Expo and Gold Lines would receive $160 million, with expectation of easy qualification for federal match.

Other SGV projects include extending the Eastside Gold Line and initial funding for the 710 freeway "gap closure" tunnel under South Pasadena.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich called for "Equity" in the form of allocating dollars based in population by subregion. But that supposes people only travel where they live. A resident of Palmdale who drives across the San Fernando Valley to a job in Santa Monica demonstrates how funding should go where it is most needed.

Bus advocates call for lower fares and more service in the face of limited operations funds and rising costs. The solution is a bigger pot, which is where 20% of the sales tax would generate $7,880 million for bus operations over 30 years, a 70% annual increase from existing (Draft LRTP) levels.

And how regressive is a sales tax that doesn't apply to groceries, rent, transit, utilities, or services?

Bicycle and pedestrian advocates sought a dedicated 1-2%, but will have to lobby local cities to be sure such projects are submitted under the 15% Local Return category. Making neighborhoods more inviting for walking and cycling is a fast, cost-effective way to reduce both traffic and fuel use.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Metro's sales tax would fund...

Here's some detail of what would be funded by the proposed 1/2-cent 30-year Los Angeles County sales tax that Metro approved July 24 (StreetsBlog, Bottleneck Blog 1 and 2) putting on the ballot this November, from Metro's Board Report (PDF).

(Note that Assemblyman Mike Feuer's AB 2321, necessary for the measure to go on the ballot, is still pending in the State Senate.)

Here's the overall breakdown of the estimated $40 billion over 30 years:

35% — Transit Capital — New Rail and/or Bus Rapid Transit — $13,790M
3% — Transit Capital — Metrolink within Los Angeles County — $1,112M
2% — Transit Capital — Metro Rail System Improvements, Rail Yards, and Rail Cars — $788M
20% — Highway Capital — Carpool Lanes, Highways, Goods Movement, Grade Separations, and Soundwalls — $7,880M
5% — Operations — Rail (New Transit Projects) — $1,970M
20% — Operations — Bus (Countywide Bus Service Operations, Maintenance, and Expansion. Suspend a scheduled July 1, 2009 Metro fare increase for one year and freeze all Metro Student, Senior, Disabled, and Medicare fares through June 30, 2013) — $7,880M
15% — Local Return — to cities and unincorporated county for major street resurfacing, rehabilitation and reconstruction; pothole repair; left turn signals; bikeways; pedestrian improvements; streetscapes; signal synchronization; and transit — $5,910M

Here's an outline of the "Metro's Five-Point Plan" official description, combined with Attachment A's Total funding from the new sales tax and Expected Completion dates for specific capital projects. I've indicated these projects in dashed orange on the Draft LRTP base maps. Click to enlarge.

1. Rail Expansion

Goals: To significantly expand the size of the Metro Rail and busway systems; to accelerate and enhance existing rail and bus projects; to serve more communities.

1-A. Expo Light Rail: Culver City to Santa Monica — $925M — FY 2013-5
1-B. Crenshaw Corridor (project acceleration) — $1,207M — FY 2016-18
1-C. Regional Connector — $160M (+ $708M federal) — FY 2023-25
1-D. Westside Subway Extension — $4,074M — $2034-36
1-E. Gold Line Eastside Extension — $1,271M — FY 2033-35
1-F. Gold Line Foothill Light Rail Extension — $735M — FY 2015-17
1-G. Green Line Extension to South Bay — $272M — FY 2033-35
1-H. Green Line Extension to LAX — $200M — FY 2015-28
1-I. S.F. Valley N-S: Canoga Corridor (proj. acc.) — $182M — FY 2014-16
1-J. S.F. Valley N-S: East Corridors (proj. acc.) — $68.5M — FY 2016-18
1-K. West Santa Ana Branch Corridor — $240M — FY 2025-27
1-L. S.F. Valley I-405 Corridor Connection — $1,000M — FY 2038-39
1-M. Metrolink Capital Improvements
1-N. Metro Rail Capital
1-O. Eastside Light Rail Access (Gold Line) — $30M — 2013

2. Local Street Improvements

Goals: To synchronize traffic signals to ease traffic flow; to accelerate pothole repair and other maintenance on local streets; to make neighborhood streets and intersections safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians in each community.

2-A. Signal Synchronization
2-B. Major Street Resurfacing & Pothole Repair
2-C. Traffic Monitoring Programs
2-D. Bicycle Programs
2-E. Pedestrian Improvement Program
2-F. Safer Bus Stops
2-G. Traffic Demand Management

3. Traffic Reduction

Goals: To relieve highway traffic congestion throughout Los Angeles County; to enhance highway safety and improve traffic flow.

3-A. I-5: SR-134 to SR-170 — $271.5M (+$264M state) — FY 2013
3-B. I-5: I-605 to OC Line — $264.8M (+$834M state) — FY 2016-17
3-C. I-5/Carmenita Rd. — $138M (+$154M state) — FY 2015
3-D. I-5/SR-14 — $90.8M (+$41M state) — FY 2013-15
3-E. I-405, I-110, I-105 and SR-91: South Bay — $906M — TBD
3-F. I-5 North: SR-14 to Kern County Line (Truck Lanes) — $410M — TBD
3-G. I-710 South and/or Early Action Projects — $590M — TBD
3-H. SR-138 Capacity Enhancement — $200M — TBD
3-I. High Desert Corridor (environmental) — $33M — TBD
3-J. I-605 Corridor “Hot Spot” Interchanges — $590M — TBD
3-K. Highway ... Arroyo Verdugo Subregion — $170M — TBD
3-L. Highway ... Las Virgenes and Malibu Subregion — $175M — TBD
3-M. I-710 North Gap Closure (Tunnel) — $780M — TBD

4. Better Public Transportation

Goals: To keep public transportation affordable, especially for seniors and the disabled; to expand proven bus transit methods; to extend the convenience of public transportation.

4-A. Rapid Bus Improvements
4-B. Express Bus Improvements
4-C. Local Bus Improvements
4-D. Improved Service for Seniors
4-E. Improved Service for the Disabled
4-F. Fare Equity
4-G. Increased Bus Service to Rail Stations
4-H. Expanding Community-based Shuttle Services
4-I. Increased Local Transit Funding

5. Quality of Life

Goals: To ensure that people and freight can move freely in Los Angeles County; to enable the local economy to prosper; to enable residents to enjoy safety, clean air and a high quality of life.

5-A. Alternative to High Gas Prices
5-B. Significant Economic Impacts
5-C. Job Stimulus
5-D. Reduced Traffic Congestion
5-E. Local Air Quality Improvements
5-F. Live/Work Opportunities
5-G. BNSF Grade Separations in Gateway Cities
5-H. Alameda Corridor East Grade Separations Phase II
5-I. Countywide Soundwall Construction
5-J. Metro and Municipal Clean Fuel Bus Facilities and Rolling Stock

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oil prices

Crude oil prices have risen from under $25 to over $130 a barrel (click images to enlarge). Gasoline prices are headed for $5 a gallon. Is it Peak Oil, speculators, the weak dollar, OPEC, or what?

The lower chart (source, PDF, page 6), by Roger H. Bezdek, co-author of the 2005 "Hirsch Report", shows the impact of demand exceeding supply. Are we there now?

I'll update this post with analyses on different sides.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Peak Oil introduction

The critical topic of Peak Oil deserves its extensive coverage in multiple books (right; click to enlarge) and websites. A good start is oil geologist and Princeton University Professor Emeritus Kenneth Deffeyes' beginning to Beyond Oil:

The supply of oil in the ground is not infinite. Someday, annual world crude oil production has to reach a peak and start to decline. It is my opinion that the peak will occur in late 2005 or in the first few months of 2006.

Based on oil geology, the peak occurs when around half of total recoverable oil has been produced. Not that we're "out of oil", but that production will inexorably fall after the peak.

This chart, data from ASPO (the Association for the Study of Peak Oil&Gas) founder Colin Campbell, summarizes where we likely are.

But won't oil companies keep finding more oil fields, especially with new technology?

No, the biggest fields were discoverd decades ago and are running down faster than new discoveries can replace them. Matthew Simmons' Twilight in the Desert summarizes numerous technical reports to conclude even Saudi Arabia's production may have peaked.

As an example, this chart from The Oil Drum's Gail Tverberg documents the United States' 1970 oil peak was never exceeded despite all of Alaska's new production. Proposed drilling in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) would do far less.

That's the very short version of Peak Oil. Energy Bulletin's Peak Oil Primer and the books above are good next steps. Richard Heinberg and James Howard Kunstler provide extensive background on Peak Oil, oil alternatives, and potential futures. I regularly check Energy Bulletin, Gristmill, and Robert Rapier's blog for Peak Oil and energy news. ASPO-USA will hold its 4th annual national conference in Sacramento this year, September 21-23. I'll be there.

So begins a thread that will focus on what does Los Angeles do post-Peak Oil.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Streetcar Workshop

Yesterday's Streetcar Workshop received extensive coverage in BlogDowntown, as well as StreetsBlog LA.

This image sets the mood of a streetcar revival on Broadway (click to enlarge).

Here more photos of recent streetcar lines.
The Portland Streetcar blazed the trail of modern streetcars as the catalyst to new pedestrian-oriented downtowns.

Two replica Pacific Electric Red Cars run in San Pedro. Extensions south to the beach, west into downtown, and north are planned.

Replica cars circle downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, go to the Clinton Library, and cross the river to North Little Rock.

Regional Conector: 1st & Alameda

A new post on BlogDowntown (via MetroRiderLA) shows three Metro images of the Regional Connector subway Alternative 5 at 1st and Alameda with tracks rising from a portal at 2nd and Central and Alameda passing under 1st.

Be sure to read the whole item; here's the first image (click to enlarge; looking south, Little Tokyo Gold Line station on the lower right next to Alameda).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Regional Connector update

Last week blogdowntown reported the final two options for the 1.5-mile Regional Connector that will provide a one-seat ride into and across downtown between the Blue / Expo Lines and the Pasadena / Eastside Gold Line.

These images (click to enlarge) are updated from Metro's February presentation. (Turns out my suggestions last November didn't work structurally to connect with the existing Gold Line bridge at Aliso.)

In Alternative 3B the existing Flower Street tunnel would be extended up to street level at 4th for a station, cross 3rd at-grade, cut through the 2nd Street tunnel wall, then run on the south side of the tunnel and middle of 2nd (image below). A one-way couplet on Main and Los Angeles completes the route up to Temple and the Gold Line.

Alternative 5 is a subway extension up Flower and beneath 2nd Street. It would ramp up from a portal at 2nd and Central across the Office Depot lot to cross Alameda at-grade. Alameda would be depressed below 1st Street.

This rendering shows the proposed at-grade alignment on 2nd Street. It does all fit in the 60' street right-of-way (5' sidewalk, 10' station platform, 24' trackway, 11' traffic lane, and 10' sidewalk).

But detailed study and the relatively-small price difference — $650 million vs. $800 million — is likely to conclude that the subway is the best choice, for a faster ride with less traffic and train disruption.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wilshire subway planning

Here are the latest refined Westside Extension (aka Wilshire subway) maps (click images to enlarge) from Metro's public meetings this week. (Also see my 11/15/07 comments and the Subway to the Sea Coalition.)

The remaining alternatives — with the best performance — are two subway options along the Wilshire corridor, and those two with Hollywood branches added. The obligatory No Project, TSM (Transportation System Management), and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) study options also remain. These are only general route and station locations; details will come in a later study phase.

Alt. 1. This is the basic Wilshire route, with different details from Century City to Westwood. Orange rectangles highlight changes from previous versions.

Alt. 14. This jogs north to serve Farmers Market and Cedars-Sinai. I like adding these destinations, but am concerned about slowing around three sides of a box, unlike the earlier version that diagonaled to Wilshire & Beverly.

Alt. 11. Here trains would also run between Santa Monica and Hollywood, transferring to the Red Line at Highland. I suggested considering a longer north-south route from Hollywood past Wilshire to perhaps the Crenshaw line to LAX.

Alt. 16. Hollywood branch added to the Farmers Market alternative.

Other notes:

  • The Santa Monica Blvd.-only options were dropped for lower ridership and cost-effectiveness.
  • Wilshire only — 71K new boardings (2030), 53K daily travel hours saved, $5.5B capital cost, $32/hour saved (FTA target is $25-35/hour saved)
  • Santa Monica only — 55K new boardings, 41K daily travel hours saved
  • Wilshire + Hollywood — 82K new boardings, 62K daily travel hours saved, $8B capital cost, $37/hour saved

The remaining two meetings are (6-8 p.m.):

  • Thursday, May 8, Santa Monica Public Library – Multipurpose Room, 2nd Floor, 601 Santa Monica Bl, SM
  • Monday, May 12, Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Bl, West Hollywood

Wilshire Monorail—2

There were also these two great simulations of a monorail above Wilshire at Fairfax, using a Las Vegas station to show how much space it would take. The landmark former May Co. department store, now part of the LA County Museum of Art, is on the left.

Metro doesn't recommend further study of any aerial alternatives in this corridor, either HRT, LRT, or monorail. (click images to enlarge)

Stations are large, especially with pedestrian bridges for access. Straddle bents (the beams spanning the street) are used when there's not space for columns.

See my previous 6/23/07 post Wilshire Monorail? on this subject, also Flood channel monorails?

Olympic-Pico one-way

The LA Times reported yesterday, "Judge puts hold on L.A.'s Olympic-Pico traffic plan".
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's chief plan to speed traffic in Los Angeles was delayed Monday when a judge ruled that more study, which could take months, was needed before two Westside thoroughfares could be altered to work more like one-way streets. ...

In his five-page ruling, Torribio took particular umbrage to a claim by the city that the project didn't need to be studied because it wasn't a major change to how the streets were managed.

"In other words, the very purpose of the project is to expand the use of the existing streets," Torribio wrote. "To claim that the project will not expand the current use and is therefore exempt" from further study "seems inconsistent with the stated purpose." ...

Rather than creating major disruption for the questionable effectiveness of the city's plan, two simple improvements would help ease the bottleneck of getting east past the 405 freeway while we await major relief from completion of the Expo Line to Santa Monica:

  • Restripe a fourth eastbound lane to Olympic Boulevard from Barrington to Sepulveda.
  • Two lanes of Pico converge with two lanes of Gateway (Ocean Park) Blvd., narrowing to two lanes (photo above, click to enlarge) before widening to three lanes (past the big tree on the right). An obvious fix is to extend the third lane the short additional distance to the intersection. Street parking on Pico proposed to be removed farther west is much less the problem.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Flood channel monorails?

For more on monorails (see also Wilshire monorail?), David Lazarus' 12/9/07 column "Southland transit is in need of big ideas" suggested:

Brian C. Brooks, an L.A. County Department of Public Works employee, believes he has the answer, which he shared with me after laying out a map of the county's system of flood channels.

"If you had a monorail system all over Los Angeles, along all the flood channels, it would be like having a magic carpet, carrying you above all the traffic," he said. "Absolutely this would work." ...

Brooks believes a monorail network can be built along L.A.'s flood channels for less than $35 million per mile, or a tenth the estimated cost of expanding the existing subway system. A 10-mile monorail line could be up and running in less than three years, he said.

"Californians are an above-ground people," Brooks said. "We don't want to be underground in a dark tunnel. We want to be above it all, in the light."

This image shows how a flood channel monorail could look, north from the Charnock Ave. bridge in Mar Vista, between McLaughlin and Sawtelle (enlarge).

I was a regular San Francisco Bay Area BART rider in the 1970s, and every time the train came out of the subway onto elevated track I enjoyed seeing daylight (or even night). So I'm another who prefers to ride above ground.

Monorails have operated in transit service in a number of cities around the world, and certainly have a cool factor from Disneyland, Disney World, etc. -- even if the Disneyland monorail only bumped across the parking lot at 25 mph.

But I'm concerned monorails are oversold, especially when a company claims costs and performance that it has never built. Here are three issues about monorails along flood channels: 1. Would they fit? 2. How much would they cost? 3. Would they go where people travel?

1. Fit. Running along storm channels raises issues of space for 5-6-foot wide columns and noise and visual impacts for neighbors, commonly single-family residential neighborhoods. I rather doubt that the owners of the houses on the right would welcome this past their back yards; some of the most heated opponents of the late Orange County CenterLine were Irvine homeowners along the flood channel where it would have been built.

The Las Vegas monorail (train used in image) is a close comparable to the unbuilt Metrail proposal Brooks cites. Las Vegas' Bombardier trains are about the same size but not as tall, also made of lightweight composite materials. The standard Las Vegas columns are 4'-8" x 2'-8" and 18+ feet tall. In Los Angeles they would likely be thicker to for our seismic standards; the L.A. Green Line's columns are about 6 feet in diameter.

Las Vegas trains are relatively quiet, but could not be called silent, with tire noise and a metallic whoosh as they pass. Metrail proposes to add an on-board engine instead of electric power, which would add to its noise, likely making it sound like a Long Beach diesel hybrid bus.

2. Cost. It's very unlikely a Metrail monorail could be built for one-tenth the cost of subway. The Las Vegas monorail was built between 2001 and 2004 for $100M per mile (source) by an experienced engineering company (see construction photos by The Monorail Society).

With Brooks's Metrail trains about the same size and weight as Las Vegas' its guideway and stations would be quite similar, while costs have inflated seriously since then. Best case is probably $100-150M per mile, at least 1/3 the cost of subway.

3. Usefulness. Finally, would monorails along flood channels put stations in places useful for travellers? In many cases, no.