Thursday, December 31, 2009
One day, I will be able to tweet underground: Metro to write RFP to install cell service in subway tunnels
Juan thinks this is super exciting. He could go on lengthy diatribes about how this upgrade further positions the system to meet the needs of working professionals (aka the transit choice rider), who would rather leave the driving to Metro while fiddling around on their smartphones during their commutes to work.
I, on the other hand, would like to take a moment to talk about how this could shape preferences for a particular cell phone provider around the region.
Right now, my closest friends in LA have split their allegiances amongst a number of providers: Juan is with T-Mobile; our friend Nurit is with AT&T; BeccaKlaus is on Verizon; and I'm sure somebody I know is on Sprint, except I probably don''t call them very often because they're not IN, as in, IN the Verizon network.
This is because I am IN. I have been a Verizon subscriber for the past six years. And it's certainly not because I love Verizon. Their customer service often leaves something to be desired, and their website is clunky. They charge what I consider an excessive premium to use a Blackberry, so I have stuck to using a phone once touted by the New York Times for its child-friendliness. (GPS? Check. Ability to restrict phone calls? Check twice.)
But Verizon's actual wireless service has been, in my experience, top-notch. With a Verizon phone, I was actually able to make phone calls while I was a student at Smith, which is located in semi-rural western Massachusetts; while I was working at a nerd camp site in a dense redwood forest; and, most importantly, while I was riding the subway in the DC-metro area.
That's right, Angelenos: Cell phone reception doesn't always have to die underground like it does right now in LA.
Out in the DC Metro area, Verizon subscribers have been able to use their phones underground for years (although this has recently been expanded to include three other providers.) This is one of the reasons why so many of my friends and contacts in the DC Metro area are also on Verizon. (Sprint subscribers with roaming-enabled phones could also use their phones underground, but who knows anyone on Sprint?) And because so many of my friends are on Verizon, I have been reticent to leave Verizon myself. Never mind that I don't really talk to people on the phone anymore. I just like having the security of knowing that I'll never get slammed with an egregious bill in case I need to have a marathon sob session with Lizzie G during the weekday hours of 6AM and 8:59PM.
So in conclusion, this whole prospect of an RFP going out to sniff out potential vendors has got me wondering. Who will win? Will underground subway service be limited to just vendor? If so, what criteria will be considered? And would this be enough to change a region's allegiance to a particular vendor, like it has out in DC?
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Taylor begins by discussing the tendency of politicians to pursue large capital projects in favor of incremental operational improvements. The "monument" or "ribbon-cutting" effects of new capital projects have proven very attractive to politicians. It's difficult to hold a photo-op in front of increased bus frequency, but much easier in front of a subway station:
Post-Measure R Victory Press Conference.
Most transit capital projects are subjected to cost-benefit analysis, but costs are often underestimated and benefits are almost universally overestimated.
These generalizations are present to varying degrees in the history of the Wilshire Subway. Planning on what will eventually become the Wilshire Subway began in the 1970s, but encountered many hurdles along the way. A giant hurdle was the 1980s prohibition of the use of federal funds to tunnel under Henry Waxman's district in Beverly Hills, which came after a methane deposit under a Ross store exploded and burned for several days. Out of the political negotiations surrounding this ban came the present day Purple line stub at Wilshire & Western. In order to circumvent this ban, planners proposed less cost-effective routes. Taylor shows how these alternate routes, which were never seriously studied, were inferior to the proposed Wilshire route.
Proposed Southern route
Taylor argues that the Wilshire Route, along the "linear downtown," is one of the most transit-friendly corridors in the West. With over 100,000 bus riders per day, traffic congestion, expensive parking, high residential density, high peak hour volumes, Wilshire Boulevard is likely the most cost-effective subway corridor in Southern California. There are 7x more workers on the Wilshire foute than the southern alternative along San Vicente & Pico. Later on, Taylor points out that just 3 of nearly a dozen lines which travel on Wilshire (18, 20, and 720) have a combined ridership of 90,033 per day, 1/3 more than the Gold, Green, and Orange lines combined (66,871 per day).
In 2005, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was elected. A strong proponent of the subway, he negotiated with Waxman to lift the ban on tunneling, and took implicit responsibility for any incidents that may arise from tunneling under Wilshire. Villaraigosa and other politicians pushed for Measure R, the voter approved 1/2 cent sales tax which will provide the funding for the first two segments of the subway. Federal loans and grants could build more subway quicker.
The proposed 2009 route isn't much different from the 1979 route.
Taylor, Gahbauer, and Kim offer a great overview of the history of the Wilshire Subway in Los Angeles. I learned a lot about the political tumult in the 1980s and early 1990s, and the power of one man, Waxman, to impact the urban form of a city for so many years.
Side Note: Monorails have been proposed along Wilshire for well over 100 years. They've never been taken seriously, as aerial structures would severely disrupt the nature of the neighborhood.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
The bigger question this Christmas:
John, quick: Make, model, year of manufacture of the rail car.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The Eastside Extension to the Metro Gold Line opened on Sunday to a LOT of fan fare. Juan and I were one of the 70,000 + people who checked out the festivities along the eight-stop extension. We actually went first to Chinatown to sample some dim sum, then trekked to Union Station, where we got off at several stations along the route to check things out.
Metro did a fantastic job preparing its staff to serve as ambassadors and authorizing its staff to implement crowd control strategies. For instance, our return to Union Station via the Mariachi Plaza was slightly delayed, as Metro staff and security crew held us and probably two dozen other people up by the fare gates until the passengers waiting downstairs for trains departed. SMART!
Juan and I walked between the distance along 1st Street between Soto Station and Indiana Station in Boyle Heights. I suspect that the areas along the Eastside Extension will be the next to "gentrify", as the light rail line provides accessibility to the rest of the city and the housing stock - which includes many California bungalows and large boarding houses with intricate details - might be very appealing to the upwardly mobile.
As part of the mini-adventure, Juan and I got agua de limon from El Mercado, which was so darn sweet that it induced dehydration and a headache. But before the headaches kicked in, we also stopped by Mariachi Plaza. There was a huge street fair underway; I was able to get my Metro Gold Line swag (thankyouverymuch); and we listened to Jose Huizar make some comments. We also got tacos from Jim's. (In actuality, the tacos were nothing special - stuff thrown together haphazardly in a fast-food joint setting. I'll get back to you on the pastrami next time.)
The following day, I went on a VIP tour of the Eastside Extension, but I've had enough blogging for now so I'll save that for another day.
Ridership on the extension is expected to average 13,000 a day during the week. Here's hoping to the successful - and safe - launch of the newest extension of Metro Rail!
Friday, November 6, 2009
And that's what the new Metro site looked like when it was working. It's currently down. Luckily, Google Transit is still up.
I've been a big fan of the Beta site and I think that it will be a great change once the technical obstacles are out of the way.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
So what's a charette?
A charette is a meeting format which brings together stakeholders to develop design solutions. It's commonly used in urban planning design. Some charettes bring people, including residents, developers, and municipal officials, together for several intense days of brainstorming on a potential design for an area.
Come back to the LA Subway Blog for a recap of tonight's events!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
11338 Santa Monica Bl
Los Angeles, CA 90025
4350 Wilshire Bl
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Westwood Presbyterian Church
10822 Wilshire Bl
Los Angeles, CA 90024
637 Lucas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90017
All meeting locations are accessible by public transit. Please go to Metro.net to plan your trip. Parking is also available. Garage parking at Good Samaritan is not validated and costs $8.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Yours truly works 40 hours (or more), so I couldn't fill in. But mark your calendars for October 5 & 6th: my friend Angela Serratore, a fellow Smithie, will be the guest editor for those two days.
Why should you read?
1)For starters, Angela is wicked funny. (You can see on her own tongue-in-cheek blog, Overpaid and Underworked.)
2) Angela walks the talk: car-free in the Valley (she lives with her dad, but has not touched the steering wheel of her dad's Prius since moving back three months ago); devoted to Google Transit, buses, Metrolink Trains, DASH buses, and walking.
3) Angela has a multi-faceted understanding of the connections between transportation and land use through her coursework and professional experience in urban design and historical preservation. And she's read up on parking after she sat in on a Shoup-dogg lecture with me a few years ago.
3a) Maybe there will be interviews with cool UCLA transportation geeks too...
Yet Angela herself is not a transportation geek - far from it. For her, living without a car is simply a fact of life. Her willingness to do things that are accessible without a car also makes it so much easier for me to hang out with her too. (See this link for a blog entry by Car Free With Kids that talks about the complexity of socializing with friends in the suburbs.)
Friday, September 11, 2009
Mondays at 2pm in the UCLA School of Public Affairs Room 1246. (directions: driving, bus)
Free and open to the public. Please RSVP.
Monday, October 12 – J.R. DeShazo, Director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, will discuss his recent study of California Climate Action Policies.
Monday, October 19 - Richard Katz, Member, CARB SB 375 Regional Targets Advisory Committee, Metro Board Member, and 16-year California Assembly veteran, will talk about SB 375 regional targets.
Monday, October 26 - Michael Woo, Member, CARB SB 375 Regional Targets Advisory Committee and Los Angeles City Planning Commissioner will talk about the future of development.
Monday, November 2nd - Tim Kohut, AIA and LEED AP, Vice President and Director of Architecture of Abode Communities speaks about challenges to building green affordable housing.
Monday, November 9th – Juan Matute, Director of the UCLA Program on Local Government Climate Action Policies will speak about measuring greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
Monday, November 16th - Kathryn Phillips, Environmental Defense Fund Director, will talk about "10 Ways Local governments Can and Have Reduced their Transportation GHG Footprint"
Monday, November 23rd - Matthew Kahn, UCLA Professor and author of Green Cities will share his research on residential energy use.
feel free to distribute widely, we have secured a large capacity room for the speaker series
Thursday, September 10, 2009
On Tuesday night, the city council for the City of Santa Monica voted 6 to 1 to approve what amounts to a Shoupistic approach to parking pricing in its downtown parking garages. The biggest change: Free parking in the garages will be available for just one hour, not to penalize visitors but rather to deter downtown employees from moving their cars every two hours to get "free" parking.
At the bus stop in downtown Santa Monica yesterday, a Valley-based filmmaker named Juan Fernando (his real first two names) confirmed that this really happens. Furthermore, he also added that the employee shuffle creates congestion and is a huge hassle because it takes more time than necessary to enter and exit the garage.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
La Asadero Victoria was adjacent to a store that sold used Levis and another store that sold gaudy tchotkes for little girls imported from China. The best thing about La Asadero Victoria was the spit they pulled out into the parking lot every Friday and Saturday night, which they used to slowly cook and marinate carne asada and pastor for tacos and burritos. They were delicious.
Over the past six months, Juan and I introduced many friends and our families to the amazing food they served there and had many great evenings there. The people who ran the restaurant were kind and attentive. La Asadero Victoria was exactly the kind of place that Juan and I tried hard to patronize because it was locally owned and near our homes.
Restaurants have a high fail rate (fewer than 50% that open each year survive into year 2). But I still feel a little bummed that La Asadero Victoria is no longer. I'm sure there are many more places to sample in Valley Glen & Van Nuys, but so far La Asadero Victoria was one of the best, really, in all of LA.
Some of what we saw last week:
WELCOME, albeit temporarily: The old Rite-Aid at Westwood & Kinross will now be selling Halloween costumes. (Could it be open already?) There is now competition for Aahs across the street.
Note: EAZY Wireless is also no longer with us in the Village.