Measure R Highway Funds Ready to Roll. Transit Funds? Not So Much.

Yesterday, the Bottleneck Blog publicly released the changes to Metro’s Long Range Plan that will be voted upon by the Metro Board at the end of the month.  Steve Hymon noted that there were many changes to the timelines to complete projects, and many of them weren’t acceleration notices.  Below is the timeline, with various comments that were collected from around the Internet and news reports included.

First is the Subway to the Sea, which many people felt was the jewel of the promised Measure R projects.  The timeline for the project looks like this:

Subway to La Cienega — 2019

Subway to Century City — 2026

Subway to Westwood — 2032

The timeline was panned by everyone: first by LAist which noted that less than a year ago Metro officials opined that the line could be open in five years,  later by Curbed who noted that the Expo Line would be 22 years old by the time it was completed, and lastly by Mayor Villaraigosa who called the timeline "too long."  How long is too long?  Metblogs notes that by the time it is competed, "you could be dead."

Expo Line light rail phase II, Culver City to Santa Monica — 2015

Gold Line light rail extension — 2017

Westside to San Fernando Valley transit project along the 405 Freeway — 2038

The Bus Bench notes that the "usual suspects got bent over."  Using numbers crunched at Metro Rider, Browne Molyneaux shows that voting for more transit doesn’t equal getting more transit.  The Gold Line Foothill’s Extension will be completed by 2015 or 2017 but the Gold Line Eastside Extension won’t be done until 2035.  The communities benefitting from the Foothill extension voted for the project with about 55% of the vote.  Eastside communities voted for Measure R with about 75%.

Wilshire Boulevard bus lane in city of Los Angeles — 2015

Crenshaw Boulevard light rail or bus rapid transit — 2029

Damien Goodmon, who wrote to me and others about the project list on Monday night,  was particularly incensed that South L.A. residents, who voted overwhelmingly for Measure R, were actually seeing a major delay in the completion of the Crenshaw line.  In the first draft of the Long Range Transportation Plan unveiled last year, the completion date for the Crenshaw project was listed as 2025.

In his email, he wrote, "And I will remind all parties, that the Crenshaw project was in the
dedicated funding plan in the 2001 Long Range Transportation Plan and
the Draft 2008 LRTP, meaning, the project was to be funded, built and operational well before 2029, EVEN IF MEASURE R FAILED."

Green Line to LAX — 2016 to 2018

Regional Connector downtown light rail — 2018

Back when Measure R was being debated by the Los Angeles City Council, that Councilman Bill Rosendahl announced that Metro had promised him that the Green Line extension would be accelerated under Measure R.  I guess that’s one promise that Metro has been able to keep.

So what are Measure R funds going to be used for in the short-term?  The Whittier Daily News has the answer with the timeline for highway projects that will be funded based on their start dates and total cost:

Ready immediately: Alameda Corridor East road/train track separations, $1.12 billion

2012: 10 Freeway car-pool lanes from 605 Freeway to Puente Avenue, $198.6 million

2013: 5 Freeway, interchange at Carmenita Road, $379.7 million

2014: 10 Freeway car-pool lanes from Puente Avenue to Citrus Avenue, $182.8 million

2015: 10 Freeway car-pool lanes from Citrus Avenue to 57 Freeway, $192.1 million

2015-2017: Gold Line extension eastward from Pasadena, $905 million

  • In the 2008 Draft LRTP the Crenshaw Boulevard Corridor was to be funded for $1,057 million (year of expenditure) and open in 2025. In the new proposal it would be funded for $2,004 million and open in 2029.

    Conspicuous is doubling of its funding, and given the uncertainty of plans 20 years away its not very different in timing.

  • Wow. Those subway and rail projections are absolutely dismal.

    I feel swindled. In the presentations from the Westside Corridor extension community meetings, they were giving estimates along the lines of: ~3 years for Environmental Impact Report, ~7 years for construction. (and it was unclear what extent of the subway they were talking about, but all the maps they were showing were for routes all the way to Santa Monica) Which had me guesstimating that, if Measure R passed, we could expect to have the purple line extended to Santa Monica in about 10-12 years. Now they are saying it’s going to take 23 years just to get to Westwood?!?! When do they expect to get to Santa Monica? 2050? If I stay healthy maybe I’ll actually be alive then.

    This is ridiculous. What a bait and switch.

  • Oh my god, this is so funny. “Vote for transit” my ear.

    So, wassup transit nerds? You guys feel like suckers yet? I voted for Measure R, and I certainly feel like one.

  • My guess is that it has more to do with highway projects being “ready to roll” than it has to do with anything else. Transit designers are traditionally starved for funding, and highway projects generally don’t have that problem.

    Still highly annoying.

  • Jerard

    ^ That and a certain President-elect stimulus package that rapidly accelerated those projects because they are ready to build.

    Unfortunate but true.

  • One thing you can count on from some is that they will always spin South LA getting screwed. It’s no surprise that many of these people serve on MTA boards appointed directly by board members. I think in the name of transparency those individuals need to state as much when they comment.

    Back to the topic, with Measure R the opening of the Crenshaw Line was to be 2016-2018 – well before the other projects were to open.

    Measure R was sold as expediting that opening date to 2016-2018.

    Here’s the website MTA’s used to promote Measure R: http://www.metro.net/measurer/default.asp

    Here’s the MTA’s timetable for Measure R on the front page of the website: http://www.metro.net/measurer/images/expenditure_plan.pdf

    It specifically states, Crenshaw Corridor, funds available FY 2010-2012, opening 2016-2018.

    Here’s the text of the MTA Measure R brochure that every voter in LA County received:
    “Crenshaw Transit Corridor (project acceleration). Accelerates construction of a line along the Crenshaw Bl Corridor and connects Los Angeles, Inglewood, Hawthorne and El Segundo, plus unincorporated LA County.”

    Anyone who is surprised about the timetable of the other projects didn’t read the timetable before they voted. South LA and the Crenshaw project is the only one that is being unexpectedly delayed. Hopefully this issue is resolved or the consequences can be severe not just for the Crenshaw corridor but the entire county and MTA.

  • And by the way, why is everyone NOW talking about the timetables? I’m talking about the blogs, the media, the electeds, the activist – every body.

    Isn’t this a discussion that should have taken place BEFORE the election?

    The OLD timetable (where Crenshaw was supposed to come online in 2016-2018 and is linked above) was available on the MTA Measure R website well before the election.

    Yet, NO ONE – I MEAN NO ONE – was talking about how a direct sales tax meant many of these projects would either be significantly delayed if not canceled.

    Measure R being a direct sales tax instead of a bond was my major criticism. It was the primary criticism I and others voiced LOUDLY prior to the election. If this were a bond, we’d have more capital available July 2009 to build longer projects and capture economies of scale – all of which would have brought all projects online decades faster and for the same price, if not cheaper.

    Again, this was all outlined over 2 years ago through the Get LA Moving plan: http://www.GetLAMoving.com

    People mistake Get LA Moving for being just a map with dots and lines. No it was much more of a framework on how to build, build now, build fast and to do so in a manner that garners greater state and federal investment. It was equally a call for a radical change in MTA’s current policies, processes and funding mechanisms as it was a call for them to see their construction budget drastically increased.

    Now do I think these issues can be fixed? Yes. There is a road. But it will require a competence and vision that’s never been displayed by the MTA. So I’m pessimistic. And this Crenshaw wrench will only make things more difficult.

  • Wad

    Damien, it’s never too late to repeal Measure R.

    Populist piss-and-vinegar will set things right.

  • Wad:

    I think people would much rather see MTA to at least uphold the timetable the public voted on, and if possible expedite projects, rather than see a legal challenge or ballot repeal.

    But this is MTA we’re talking about here, so I wouldn’t be surprised they’d take the more difficult road.

  • As I recall, the timeline quoted during Metro’s Alternative Analysis meetings was based on the availability of federal funds (since we all knew the Measure R money wasn’t, by itself, going to pay the whole bill for the subway).

    Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remember that the Long Range Transportation Plan has to use timelines based upon funds that Metro knows will be available. Since none of these projects have even gotten to the point where they can apply for federal funds, much less have them approved (and we also know what’s happening to state funding), I’m not surprised in the least that the LRTP contains much longer timelines.

    Boo to Steve Hymon and the rest of the media in not including that little detail in their reporting.

    If we want the original Measure R timetable to be adhered to, we need to have a unified effort … not against the Metro Board, but in urging the state Legislature to reject cuts in transportation funding and in pushing the new administration in Washington to put as much money as possible into transportation projects.

    We all knew, going in, that the Measure R money wasn’t going to be sufficient. We should also realize that the ballot measure was the easy part of the financial equation.

    (By the way, a bond measure would have required a financial mechanism for repayment, so we would likely have been looking at some kind of tax if such a thing had been floated.)

  • Incidentally, in the interest of full disclosure:

    I presume Mr. Goodmon’s crack about some commenters “serving on Metro boards, appointed by board members” is aimed at myself and Jerard Wright.

    For the record, Mr. Wright and I serve on Metro sector governance councils, which have no voice in construction projects, having been created to oversee bus operations. We are not “directly appointed” by the Board, although the Board as a whole must confirm appointments. In the case of the two seats we occupy, we are appointed by the President of the Los Angeles City Council.

    As we have no role in capital projects, we are free, in our other role as public transportation advocates, to speak (both pro and con) about such projects.

  • Wad

    Damien Goodmon wrote:

    But this is MTA we’re talking about here, so I wouldn’t be surprised they’d take the more difficult road.

    If it turns out that Metro, like the mafia, has been keeping two sets of books, we’re just wasting our time venting our outrage on blogs. Let’s give a call to the grand jury and have it turn over all the shelves in the Taj Mahal.

    Bureaucracies understand hierarchy better than reason. You just have to know the power structure and find the more powerful entity that holds leverage over the weaker.

    This logic is also — probably — why Metro had to revise most projects to be completed in the next eon. Measure R is not paying its own way. We have to match the sales taxes with state and federal funds. I’m resigned into believing that Sacramento shirking its funding role has become part of the scenery. As for the feds, President-elect Obama’s infrastructure initiative is bringing out a feeding frenzy, and L.A.’s role as a productive transit system is a liability because busy systems like ours will always get less returned in taxes than we contribute. It’s an iron law of politics.

    Remember, the FTA and USDOT do not exist to give out money to their recipients. They are there to withhold money from the recipients until they prove to comply with dictates.

    Yet, of course, I would not at all be surprised by the two books thing.

    By the way, I don’t think stalling on Crenshaw is necessarily a bad thing. I don’t support rail on Crenshaw. I’m not against South L.A., and South L.A. should get a north-south line. Only it should be about two miles away.

    On Vermont Avenue.

    My reasons:
    1. Vermont already has the top third covered, and it makes a lot of sense to cover the street south of Wilshire.
    2. In South L.A., a Vermont line can draw riders to its east and west. Crenshaw can only draw riders to its east, as the west is blocked off by gated communities and unproductive due to the Baldwin Hills.
    3. As bus riders gravitate to the train, this frees up buses to add to east-west lines that will see higher ridership. You wouldn’t need 754, and ridership might be reduced on parallel lines 45, 81, 206, 207 and 757 where a couple of buses wouldn’t be needed. These buses would need to be reallocated to lines like 38, 105, 108, 110, 111 and 115, which will see anywhere from a small to a pronounced increase in transfer activity.
    4. Vermont would junction at Wilshire (Purple Line), Exposition (hopefully), Slauson (Harbor Subdivision) and the Green Line. These alone mean the line needs to be planned for heavy rail from the get-go. I know of someone who is advocating the very same thing. :>

  • The LRTP projects only $1.2 billion in additional Federal New Starts funds. When you compare it with the original Measure R Implementation Plan, there needs to be at least $2.9 billion in federal funds for capital construction. Also, the Westside Subway is not going to cost only $4.2 billion. The original projection was for the subway to be completed in 2035 anyway so this is consistent. You are absolutely correct, however, that Crenshaw got hosed, primarily because Yvonne Burke, its champion, is no longer in office. If Ridley-Thomas has the same amount of influence, he can get it put up the line again.

    Basically, doing a quick comparison of the original chart (http://www.metro.net/measurer/images/expenditure_plan.pdf), you are swapping the acceleration of Crenshaw for an earlier completion of the Downtown Connector. According to the Alternatives Analysis which the MTA Board will also adopt along with these LRTP assumptions, the Downtown Connector already meets FTA criteria for ridership impact with no number massaging necessary. Thus, it makes sense for MTA to advance the Downtown Connector, because it is needed for the Eastside extension, Crenshaw line, and any other branch lines to work without massive congestion at Metro Center. From an objective standpoint, it makes the most sense and creates the most bang for the buck.

  • The LRTP projects only $1.2 billion in additional Federal New Starts funds. When you compare it with the original Measure R Implementation Plan, there needs to be at least $2.9 billion in federal funds for capital construction. Also, the Westside Subway is not going to cost only $4.2 billion. The original projection was for the subway to be completed in 2035 anyway so this is consistent. You are absolutely correct, however, that Crenshaw got hosed, primarily because Yvonne Burke, its champion, is no longer in office. If Ridley-Thomas has the same amount of influence, he can get it put up the line again.

    Basically, doing a quick comparison of the original chart (http://www.metro.net/measurer/images/expenditure_plan.pdf), you are swapping the acceleration of Crenshaw for an earlier completion of the Downtown Connector. According to the Alternatives Analysis which the MTA Board will also adopt along with these LRTP assumptions, the Downtown Connector already meets FTA criteria for ridership impact with no numb

  • er massaging required. Operationally and logistically, the Downtown Connector is needed to maximize ridership on existing routes, alleviate congestion at Metro Center due to transferring passengers and future congestion at fare gates at other Downtown stations, and allow trains on the Crenshaw line to operate in the first place without disrupting operations on the Aqua/Expo and Blue lines. It has the unfortunate effect of screwing South LA, but there is no reason why Rapid Bus queue jumpers, or other TSM measures, as identified in past EIRs, shouldn’t be implemented on Crenshaw immediately as a stop gap.

  • Spokker

    I invite everyone here to ride to Santa Monica on the Wilshire subway by the time your balls or boobs are swinging around your knees.

  • Heh, I’m there Spokker!

    @Calwatch, Damien G., Kymberleigh: Point taken. I concede that the expenditure plan does indeed say “Westside Subway Extension – to be opened in segments. . . Expected Completion: 2034-2036”, and that yes, anyone could have looked at the plan and seen it before the vote.

    But perhaps you can forgive us for a bit of sticker shock. I had been actively discussing this stuff online and reading blogs, but never saw that figure of “completion in 2034-2036” thrown around in any advertisements or interviews until after the election. Everything I read (the Alternative Analysis study Kymberleigh mentioned, the LAist article Damien Newton linked to the original post here, etc. .) was implying that the subway could potentially be completed in a 10-15 year time frame. From the looks of things on this and other blogs where people who actually take some of their time to read up about transit make comments, I’m not the only one who’s surprised about this. And, if that’s the case, you can imagine what the rest of the population, those who don’t take the time to read up on transit issues, thinks.

    Yes, I knew that it would need federal funding to get built all the way to Santa Monica, but it was always unclear what would happen if no federal funding could be made available: Would the whole project just take longer, or would only certain segments get built? That was never made clear, as far as I could tell, and I was going under the assumption that the subway to S.M. would simply not happen if federal funds weren’t available, and that maybe the subway would only get, say, to Westwood. BUT I didn’t expect that it would take 23 YEARS to get to Westwood in that case. I figured MTA would say, hey, we aren’t getting federal funds, so instead of S.M. we’ll take the subway to Westwood. If the whole project could have got to S.M. in 12 years WITH federal funding, why shouldn’t it be able to get take the subway half the distance in the same amount of time? Why should it take TWICE as long to go less distance?

    Do you see how the 23 year figure could have been a surprise to many?

    Yes yes, the main point we should come away with is: “holy crap we need that federal funding”.

  • I can’t wait to take my bicycle on the new highways we’re building!

    It’s my tax dollars at work.

  • Jonathan Trachtman

    What needs to happen are the following, regarding these preposterously long timetables:

    1) Obama passes stimulus package, which as we all know includes a balance of the ‘shovel ready’ projects (predominantly highway/roads), and funding for long term transit construction.

    2) All the powers that be in LA, Sacramento, and Washington who have California-based political moxie need to secure a certain amount of this stimulus/public works funding for our state, local, and regional projects.

    3) Efforts need to be stepped up to secure Private Sector buy-in, partnership, and sponsorship of stations and projects just like these corporations sponsor stadiums and other forms of traditional advertising, despite this economic/financial meltdown.

    4) Once all the above is moving forward, Metro needs to revise these timetables aggressively forward to reflect what they were telling us in such forums as the Metro Westside Extension community meetings, which greatly influenced our enthusiastic support of Measure R.

    If we can send humans from orbit to the moon in less than a decade and build the transcontinental railroad from legislation to last track-laying in 7 years (all the while during the CIVIL WAR!!), then we can get these projects fast-tracked and stop the negativity, overwrought NIMBYISM, and excessive bureaucratic wrangling and WAKE UP….the rest of the world is getting things done and modernizing while we are mired in gridlock that is corroding our economic base and global compeitiveness…

  • It seems to me the Crenshaw line has value not just in serve the needs of the communities along side it, but as a one-seat ride between downtown and LAX. How the Crenshaw line interacts with the Expo Line is important.

    If a Y intersection at the Expo Line is created to allow trains to head either east to downtown or west to the beach, it would increase the number of options and potential riders and attract more federal funding, wouldn’t it?

  • Wad

    Dan Wentzel wrote:

    If a Y intersection at the Expo Line is created to allow trains to head either east to downtown or west to the beach, it would increase the number of options and potential riders and attract more federal funding, wouldn’t it?

    Let’s not get carried away, Dan.

    First, Metro would stand a better chance at funding not to build something like this configuration. Junctions like these are very expensive, and by reducing this cost, it improves Metro’s ranking.

    Then, consider the operating impact such a scheme would have. You have to look at the trunk frequency first, and then plan the tails. If Crenshaw is scheduled to have a 12 minute trunk, this implies riders would see trains alternating between Santa Monica and downtown every 24 minutes.

    The other problem is that the overall service network becomes less reliable with each tail added to the system. We’re not talking about a self-contained system like BART or DC’s Metro. We’re talking about a mess like the Muni Metro or Boston’s Green Line. In SanFran, what causes the Metro lines to be such a mess is when the trains act like buses outside of the West Portal. The mess carries into the tunnel, as trains frequently bunch.

    It’s better off to just have the passengers transfer cross-platform.

  • “Junctions like these are very expensive, and by reducing this cost, it improves Metro’s ranking.”

    Isn’t it funny how these sorts of questions only come up theoretically when talking about highway projects? It sometimes seem like no price is too high for a precious highway project (Ahem! 710 Freeway!).

    Gosh, I wish we could all work together to change the FUNDING FORMULAS for transportation rather than quibble over details.

  • Wad

    ubrayj02 wrote:

    Gosh, I wish we could all work together to change the FUNDING FORMULAS for transportation rather than quibble over details.

    Great idea! Let’s all open our wallets so that we come up with equal or more money than the highway lobby and buy off the right politicians.

    Changing funding formulas aren’t done for free, you know.

  • “By the way, I don’t think stalling on Crenshaw is necessarily a bad thing. I don’t support rail on Crenshaw. I’m not against South L.A., and South L.A. should get a north-south line. Only it should be about two miles away. On Vermont Avenue.”

    First, at a distance of two miles (and 3.5 miles further down the route) Crenshaw and Vermont are two separate corridors, which both serve mid-to-high density transit dependent communities and high ridership bus lines. I know you know that, but for folk who don’t, let’s not have them think this discussion is akin to debating whether to put a rail line under Broadway or Figueroa. Vermont and Crenshaw are two completely separate corridors.

    Rail service on both are needed. Indeed all but one of your points are arguments FOR Vermont, not arguments against Crenshaw. And your one point against Crenshaw is inaccurate:

    “Crenshaw can only draw riders to its east, as the west is blocked off by gated communities and unproductive due to the Baldwin Hills.”

    First, I think you should clarify what you mean by “unproductive” so I can respond accordingly.

    Second, Baldwin Hills/View Park amounts to less than one-mile (Stocker 48th) of a long line that meanders through some of the densest portions of Inglewood/Hyde Park. Indeed in that section you question is Baldwin Village (formerly known as The Jungle) and one of the major economic engines in South LA, the Crenshaw Mall. The owners of the Crenshaw Mall by the way, have unveiled a $750 million renovation plan that includes adding millions of retail and commercial space and 800-1000 residential units. It’s ironic that the portion you’ve chosen to criticize would be served by what is likely to be the busiest station on the line – Crenshaw/MLK, and the most culturally significant station on the line/the headliner – Leimert Park Village (Crenshaw/Vernon).

    But Wad, if you want to lead the discussion for rail prioritization at MTA, be my guest. I’d advise all who are in the same room with you as you begin the debate stand near the exits. You’ll start a riot if you tell the region (let alone the MTA Board) that the “Pink Line,” Eastside Extension Phase 2, Foothill Extension, Expo Phase 2, Green Line to LAX, SFV Busway Canoga extension, and San Fernando Valley N-S busways take a back seat to:
    -Crenshaw Line to LAX
    -Vermont to Green Line
    -Wilshire to Westwood
    -Sepulveda Pass/Van Nuys Blvd Line between SFV Busway and Westwood
    -Downtown Connector

    And that’s only including the projects that are “on the drawing board,” not those like a Whittier Blvd subway from Union Station/7th St Metro, or Blue Line eastern branch into Cudahy, Huntington Park, etc.

  • “First, Metro would stand a better chance at funding not to build something like this configuration. Junctions like these are very expensive, and by reducing this cost, it improves Metro’s ranking.”

    I’m always suspicious anytime someone makes the blank statement that building WYEs is “expensive.” It is certainly NOT a hundred million dollar endeavor. It’s not even a $10 million endeavor.

    And I think all recognize that failing to build or plan for them, and then building them in the future after the train is operational is MORE expensive than building them upfront.

    “Then, consider the operating impact such a scheme would have. You have to look at the trunk frequency first, and then plan the tails. If Crenshaw is scheduled to have a 12 minute trunk, this implies riders would see trains alternating between Santa Monica and downtown every 24 minutes.

    The other problem is that the overall service network becomes less reliable with each tail added to the system. We’re not talking about a self-contained system like BART or DC’s Metro. We’re talking about a mess like the Muni Metro or Boston’s Green Line. In SanFran, what causes the Metro lines to be such a mess is when the trains act like buses outside of the West Portal. The mess carries into the tunnel, as trains frequently bunch.”

    The shared peak hour would look more like 5 min to Santa Monica (via Expo) and 7.5 min to LAX (via Crenshaw). But this is all academic, because as I’ve been saying for well over a year now there’s no capacity for any spur lines off of Expo. In part because of the shared Blue Line section down Flower Street (it’s going to be difficult enough operating 40-48 crossings per hour) but primarily for the reason you stated (STREET-RUNNING and AT-GRADE CROSSINGS!)

    Grade Separation is what makes interlining (multiple lines sharing the same tracks) smooth on BART and difficult on MUNI and the Boston Green Line.

    In a system intended to serve as many riders as ours with train frequencies as great as ours interlining just ain’t possible with so many at-grade crossings.

    LA is not Phoenix, Minneapolis, Sacramento, Salt Lake City or Portland. (It’s sad that that needs to be said, because it is common sense for most, but there are those out there who are always challenging common sense.) We’re not building LRTs with anticipated forecast year peak hour headways of 10 or 15 mins. like other MUCH SMALLER and MUCH LESS CONGESTED Metropolitan areas. We’re building lines with 5 min peak hour headways with at-grade crossings across major streets (Vermont, Western, Crenshaw, Sepulveda, Westwood, Overland, etc.)

    A full grade separated line line Expo could comfortably handle 2 min headways. That leaves a lot of capacity for branch lines, as many as 4 branch lines, but more realistically 3. What does that mean – real time? It means that if Expo were built completely or primarily grade separated, in addition to having the one-seat ride between Downtown LA and LAX via the Crenshaw Line (yielding even more ridership), Westwood and Downtown LA could be connected literally two decades sooner than they would through the Wilshire Line.

    How you ask? Through a branch line off Expo up Sepulveda to Wilshire/Westwood with two stations (Sepulveda/Santa Monica and Westwood/Wilshire). Such a project would be $300-400 million, and it would reduce the cost for the Wilshire subway extension because the Westwood Station would already be built by the time it got there. Metro could even bond against projected I-405 Measure R money to build it simultaneous with Expo Phase 2, and possibly continue the UCLA branch line under the Sepulveda Pass into the San Fernando Valley to the Orange Line.

    For the record it would be smart to build the UCLA line: a) in a manner where heavy rail conversion is smooth; b) with a WYE at the Wilshire/Westwood station. Such would allow an actual 405/Sepulveda/Van Nuys corridor line to operate either as a spur of Wilshire and/or an independent line connecting the SFV, Westwood, Palms, Culver City/Fox Hills, LAX, El Segundo and the South Bay.

    But bringing Westwood online two decades sooner and adding thousands of riders to the Crenshaw line through interlining isn’t possible, because of the lack of grade separation. Because people mistakenly think there is some costs savings in building at-grade, when the real cost is long term: fewer riders (meaning more cars on the road), less street-capacity and thereby less opportunity for smart growth.

    “It’s better off to just have the passengers transfer cross-platform.”

    Losing thousands of daily riders in the process.

  • Spokker

    Transfers are the death knell of any commute. Waiting 10-20 minutes for your next train/bus is NOT productive. I think one of the priorities should be to reduce as many transfers as possible for the most amount of people. A train from North Hollywood could go to Santa Monica or Union Station or LAX.

    A train from LAX could go to the south bay, Norwalk, Union Station, North Hollywood, or East LA.

    It could, but it doesn’t, because we didn’t do the right thing.

  • Wad

    Spokker wrote:

    Transfers are the death knell of any commute. Waiting 10-20 minutes for your next train/bus is NOT productive. I think one of the priorities should be to reduce as many transfers as possible for the most amount of people.

    This is applicable … for buses. (Watch for some of the ideas I have for bus connections to the Eastside Gold Line. Expo will come shortly after.)

    For trains, you need a self-contained system like BART. At this point, do you want to spend resources to eliminate transfers on existing lines and have integrated equipment — essentially doing everything over — or do you want to expand service to more areas?

  • Spokker

    I think we should do everything over. I’d like to see the blue, green, and gold lines turned into heavy rail and be entirely grade separated (green line would be easy :) ). All new projects should be heavy rail subway (not necessarily underground) and services like EAST LA-NORTH HOLLYWOOD trains should be offered instead of these lame colored lines. Also, no more freeway median stations. No human being should ever be asked to wait for a train on a freeway median station ever again.

    If you need money for this incredible endeavor, ask the AIG or auto executives to borrow some of that “stimulus” money. I guarantee my idea would be far more stimulating.

    And while you’re at it, invest in nuclear power and legalize marijuana.

  • Spokker

    The more I read what Damien Goodman has to say the more I am convinced that our current plans are not adequate for the region’s growing needs. I don’t agree with him that Expo is unsafe, but I would agree that all these crappy light rail lines are hardly getting the job done now, and won’t get the job done in the future.

  • Jerard

    “…Such a project would be $300-400 million, and it would reduce the cost for the Wilshire subway extension because the Westwood Station would already be built by the time it got there. Metro could even bond against projected I-405 Measure R money to build it simultaneous with Expo Phase 2, and possibly continue the UCLA branch line under the Sepulveda Pass into the San Fernando Valley to the Orange Line.”

    A study would need to start right now to make that possible.

    However that option could still happen regardless if Expo isn’t fully grade separated since it is at the farther end of the line, thus trunk service wouldn’t be an issue, because a wye at Expo/405 would enable the following services;

    * Santa Monica-Downtown
    * Westwood-Downtown
    AND
    * Westwood-Santa Monica.

    For Crenshaw, the lack of interlining isn’t a problem (even though it has more to do with the lack of capacity at 7th Street Metro Center and the REGIONAL CONNECTOR would make this a whole lot easier by through running of trains and extra tail tracks to terminate trains). There’s a solution, the money that wasn’t spent grade separating that stretch of Expo can be directed northward for Crenshaw as a tunnel, serving a whole new area, with plenty of activity and density in;
    West Adams,
    Mid-City(@ Pico/San Vicente) and
    Mid Wilshire/Miracle Mile (@ Wilshire/La Brea).

    This can be done for the same dollars and serve a greater coverage area that improves mobility options for lots of people and adds more destinations to the network because we are serving more destinations.

    “I think one of the priorities should be to reduce as many transfers as possible for the most amount of people.”

    A greater priority should be to provide more amenties and information at those transfers, having signage or display boards showing when the next bus/trains arrive and or Improve the operation of the service by adding more service, create timed transfer connections at major centers. These steps would create positive momentum that can further expand more transit options to get more people out of their cars.

  • Wad

    Spokker, remember that for what you say in #28, we will L.A. it up.

    It doesn’t matter what L.A. does, it will be wrong.

    We could grade-separate all of our rail lines. We’ll just go broke doing it. Then we’ll learn from our mistakes and build lower-cost light rail lines and busways that are inadequate for our levels of ridership.

    We could go with the do nothing option, but remember, we’re L.A. and will therefore L.A. it up. We’ll just have a larger volume of stupid people now being entrusted to convey themselves with large, fast-moving machinery.

    If you need money for this incredible endeavor, ask the AIG or auto executives to borrow some of that “stimulus” money. I guarantee my idea would be far more stimulating.

    How about this: Let’s not.

    Let me just say this: We’ll learn macroeconomic theory the hard way in about a year or two. That sound you hear is Mugabe laughing at us.

  • Spokker

    BART is grade-separated heavy rail covering much lot of the Bay Area. Sure, you get shot at by police on it and the seats are disgusting, but hey, it’s fast and it works.

    Yet Los Angeles can’t do it. Why is that? Who is taking all the money that should otherwise be used for mass transit? Why are we dealing with slow ass at-grade light rail? We’re freakin’ Los Angeles! Let jerkoff Portland have the freakin’ light rail.

  • However that option could still happen regardless if Expo isn’t fully grade separated since it is at the farther end of the line, thus trunk service wouldn’t be an issue, because a wye at Expo/405 would enable the following services

    That’s simply wrong. The capacity does not exist on Flower St to add any more trains. Again, it’s going to be difficult enough to operate 40-48 trains per hour with Expo and Blue. And the demand for service west of Sepulveda doesn’t allow any trains to be taken off of the Santa Monica route.

    For Crenshaw, the lack of interlining isn’t a problem.

    Again, that’s simply wrong. And I challenge you to find any model run by Metro or anyone else to date that supports your suggestion that the lack of interlining on Crenshaw “isn’t a problem.”

    (even though it has more to do with the lack of capacity at 7th Street Metro Center and the REGIONAL CONNECTOR would make this a whole lot easier by through running of trains and extra tail tracks to terminate trains)

    Both are problems.

    Anyone who argues that 40-48 at-grade crossings per hour during peak hour in the middle of a metropolitan city like Los Angeles isn’t problematic needs to learn how a traffic synchronization plan operates. They need to understand how such signals have to be altered so trains aren’t stuck there for literally 2 minutes waiting for it’s turn in the cycle. And that’s just talking about the street-running sections. The sections with crossing gates…geez don’t get me started.

    A greater priority should be to provide more amenties and information at those transfers, having signage or display boards showing when the next bus/trains arrive and or Improve the operation of the service by adding more service, create timed transfer connections at major centers.

    So not only do you propose building a line that is substantially slower than is necessary to yield substantial mode shifts, you want to add transfers that can be avoided? You’ve lost the choice riders, now your going after the existing transit users.

    Every transportation modeling principle consistently shows how transfers lead to a reduction in ridership for a variety of reasons. To assume that all the studies and experts are wrong, and signage is adequate compensation, despite having nothing of comparable status to support that conclusion. Well…I just have no words for it.

    And it’s as though you’ve made your argument in a vacuum, with previously unfounded suppositions are used as the basis for new unfounded suppositions. For example, you say, “add more service” like that’s an option, when in reality there is no capacity for more service.

    These steps would create positive momentum that can further expand more transit options to get more people out of their cars.

    The surest way to stifle at-grade rail expansion is by going into communities that are experiencing the impact of it and proposing more of it. It might be good for public relations, but every motorist waiting at a crossing, every family hit by train, every commuter delayed because of an accident, every homeowner negatively impacted – eventually it all adds up. All one has to do is read about old PE/Yellow Car articles in the Herald Examiner and LA Times. The benefit of lost memories won’t exist much longer.

    There’s a solution, the money that wasn’t spent grade separating that stretch of Expo can be directed northward for Crenshaw as a tunnel

    You know, there are a thousand and one ways to find ways of doing both (extending Crenshaw to Wilshire and building Expo grade separated), but to see them requires doing something a lot of advocates (not just you Jerard) aren’t capable of doing: assuming what MTA tells you about agency limitations is B.S. I’m talking about financial limitations, planning limitations, political limitations, etc.

    And here again you have an example of making an argument in a vacuum. You talk about MTA’s financial limitations, while completely neglecting the increased long-term maintenance cost that comes with the at-grade rail lines, and the relationship that has to competing for state and federal funding for other projects. (Overall financial strength is a major factor in qualifying for federal funding).

    Let me be frank: in no other possible industry on this planet could any analysis keep their job by recommending NOT spending 40% more on capital cost, when the benefit is a substantial reduction in the life cycle cost of a 100 year product. The life cycle cost is the true cost of these systems. There are the operational cost, which is lowered with increased ridership, lowered/eliminated traffic impact, eliminated accidents, increased development potential, reduced maintenance cost, etc. etc. etc. And yet so many are so comfortable making these recommendations when it comes to public transit. I don’t get it.

    Arguments like those are what make public transit such an easy target for the truly anti-transit. Me, I’m in the camp that would rather argue for the $2.6-2.8 billion rail line that can conceivably serve 125K riders per day and has the capacity to credibly serve even more, than the $2 billion rail line that yields 60-75K riders per day and comes with a host of operational limitation and all of the other negative externalities.

    This can be done for the same dollars and serve a greater coverage area that improves mobility options for lots of people and adds more destinations to the network because we are serving more destinations.

    I’ve said this before to every person at LADOT and I’ve yet to have anyone disagree, would you?: Building the Expo completely grade separated from Downtown LA to Crenshaw would do more to alleviate traffic and “improve mobility” than building it as we are to Culver City.

    Just because money is being spent laying tracks DOES NOT MEAN mobility is being improved. And sure you’re adding “options” by adding dots to a map. But what option is a system that takes substantially longer to use than comparable alternatives? It’s not. People need to stop pretending like it is, stop demonizing those who see that the Emperor has no clothes and drive instead, and start advocating for real transportation solutions.

    Such solutions aren’t predicated on light rail PR strategy and weak arguments about “choice.” They involve comparative trip times.

    The more I read what Damien Goodman has to say the more I am convinced that our current plans are not adequate for the region’s growing needs. I don’t agree with him that Expo is unsafe, but I would agree that all these crappy light rail lines are hardly getting the job done now, and won’t get the job done in the future.

    Under the Fix Expo umbrella are transportation commissioners and rail lovers along with those who are generally anti-rail. We don’t stand together because we agree on everything. We stand together because we recognize that the solutions to almost all of our concerns are the same.

    That’s called coalition building. It’s only possible because we can disagree without being disagreeable and we have respect for one another. Those things allow us to identify shared principles.

    Compare that with how things are dealt with on the other side. Just look at how opponents to at-grade rail are demonized and you will see why the type of coalition I’ve described just isn’t possible. And it’s sad. Because as I recognized a long time ago, to get the type of revenue we really need to build a first class transit system quickly, we’re going to have to build broad and diverse coalitions.

    Then again, we can always use falsely implied timelines for subways and highway expansion as our bait. ;-)

    I’d like to see the blue, green, and gold lines turned into heavy rail and be entirely grade separated (green line would be easy :) ). All new projects should be heavy rail subway (not necessarily underground) and services like EAST LA-NORTH HOLLYWOOD trains should be offered instead of these lame colored lines.

    1) Eventually we’ll have to convert the Blue Line and the portions of the Expo that Fix Expo won’t be successful in grade separating. It will be much more expensive than it would have been to build it grade separated initially. It will be embarrassing. All will universally proclaim that the people who put it in at-grade initially were idiots.

    2) I think we should move toward one vehicle/type of vehicle, as opposed to having both heavy rail vehicles and light rail vehicles. LRVs have greater flexibility, so if wider vehicles can be manufactured, some of the same light rail infrastructure can be preserved, at least in the near-term (specifically the Green Line).

    Also, no more freeway median stations. No human being should ever be asked to wait for a train on a freeway median station ever again.

    It’s actually possible to make the median stations tolerable with insulated platforms (platform doors and what not). But there are other problems with freeway median stations – horrible for redevelopment and don’t belong in urban centers (think: the discussion regarding an I-405 line). They’re best suited for heavy rail/commuter lines in suburban environments where delivering public transit is a difficult endeavor.

    Yet Los Angeles can’t do it. Why is that? Who is taking all the money that should otherwise be used for mass transit?

    Eventually the money will flow. And the route to that day is much easier when advocating for solutions that address all problems instead of going to war with communities. Nonetheless, when that day comes, LA will unfortunately we’re still going to be screwed. Because it is a thousand times easier and cheaper to expand a grade separated system than it is to retrofit an at-grade system.

  • I don’t think I’m being “pie in the sky” about building the Crenshaw / Expo intersection in a way at that allows transfers. Connectivity increases options. At the very least this could be constructed to allow a one seat ride from Downtown to LAX via Crenshaw. THAT would help the regional economy too.

    I’m not convinced that Expo needs to be wholly grade separated west of Crenshaw.

    But Fix Expo might generate more support for grade separation if they advocated it as a way of facilitating a one-seat ride between airport/downtown. That is also probably a way to move the Crenshaw Line back up in priority — call it the Crenshaw/LAX line.

  • Great idea! Let’s all open our wallets so that we come up with equal or more money than the highway lobby and buy off the right politicians.

    Changing funding formulas aren’t done for free, you know.
    —————-

    While the kind of reform in funding proposals that would lead to real changes on the street wouldn’t be cheap, we don’t have to match the highway lobby’s funding to be able to bring about this sort of change. Political pressure, with the proper numbers of people and aimed at the write pressure point at the right time can accomplish what right now would appear a miracle.

  • Wad

    Damien, I’m fully with you on recommendations 1 and 2 in post 33.

    The Blue Line needs grade-separation expedited. It has outgrown itself twice now, crossing both the 50,000 and 75,000 boarding thresholds. The Blue Line also has the ridership levels and patterns to support using the two other tracks on the right of way for an express service.

    The priorities for grade-separation would be the right of way between Washington and Willow Stations, then the Los Angeles street running between 7MC and Washington Stations.

    The Long Beach street running, though, would be a lower priority. While the Blue Line carries about 80,000 now, Long Beach only accounts for a fraction of it. The street running is not near the >50,000 threshold for heavy rail. I am mindful, though, of the exposure to accidents there and that there are four or five schools (!) along the Long Beach part of the route — though as far as I know, no student has ever been struck by a train.

  • Spokker

    Blue line express service would be a huge milestone and a boon to the people of Long Beach and South LA.

  • Wad

    Long Beach, maybe. South L.A., not so much.

    The time savings would be significant for those riding end-to-end, or at least anyone getting on along the street portions of Long Beach.

    Let’s say the express train would make all Long Beach and L.A. street stops, and only Willow, Rosa Parks and Washington on the right of way. Under this arrangement, an end-to-end rider might get a 12-15 minute savings on a ride — because the train skips more stops. A rider boarding at Rosa Parks, at the halfway point of the Blue Line, would get about a 6-8 minute savings.

    This could be one express train scenario. The other one might be to simply “split” the line in two, where the “express” would only be about 8 minutes faster by making all stops between Long Beach and Rosa Parks, and bypassing all stops until Washington. The “local” would run between 7MC and Rosa Parks.

  • Spokker

    An 8 minute savings is still good. You’re basically eliminating more than the equivalent of the time it takes to transfer to the subway.

    Also consider express trains from Long Beach to Pasadena. Pasadena to Long Beach.

    If I live near Slauson station and I’m going to school at Pasadena City College and there’s a one-seat express ride to Allen station, I’m covered.

    Skipping all those stops in the middle of no where like Lincoln Heights and Southwest Museum might save some time.

  • When the Purple Line is built, it would be great if it had an express track between Western and Westwood.

  • Express service done right isn’t cheap. The state provided $127 million for passing tracks and equipment to facilitate the very succesful Caltrain baby bullet service. We don’t want to end up with a near useless debacle like the “express” they had for a while on the Gold Line. It may merit consideration but unless there is a political consensus to do the real deal we’d likely end up with something providing only marginal benefit.

  • It seems the Crenshaw Line debate to be had is which is more important,

    (1) to build it in a way that it splits off from Expo to enable a one-seat ride from LAX to downtown, which I think would tremendously benefit the whole region, not only the Crenshaw corridor locally.

    (2) to build it so a transfer is required at Expo, but that enables it to extend north to Wilshire or perhaps even farther.

    Granted, both are unlikely to be built at once. Is it possible to construct either option 1 or 2 so that the not chosen option may be added in the distant future when funding is available.

  • Wad

    Since the shovel hasn’t gotten into the ground for Crenshaw, maybe we should be advocating that it should be a branch of the Purple Line rather than Expo.

    Me, I still would like to see efforts and resources moved from Crenshaw to explore an extension of the subway along Vermont. The high concept: A Crenshaw branch makes the most people happy.

    The arguments:
    1. If Crenshaw must be a branch, it might as well be a “closed” system — like the subway. Every branch of a trunk makes the overall network unreliable. An at-grade Crenshaw from Expo would wreak havoc with both the Crenshaw and Expo branches.
    2. A grade-separated Crenshaw line might just buy Damien G.’s silence. :>
    3. A Crenshaw line would mean the subway would have four branches: Red to North Hollywood, Purple along Wilshire, [Pantone process color here] along Crenshaw … and Pink along Santa Monica. :>
    4. If we can complete Expo, we could forget about extending the subway beyond Westwood (for the time being), and for the cost of going from Westwood to Santa Monica, we could reallocate the money to build some Pink Line tunnel through West Hollywood. It’s about 4-5 miles from Westwood to the sea … and it’s about 4-5 miles to connect Hollywood/Highland to Wilshire through West Hollywood. The proposed Pink Line would carry more riders per mile than the subway to the sea.

  • Jerard

    Wad,

    That is exactly what I’m saying in a transit network we have many various ways to provide the service coverage needed to make it a success. If Crenshaw can’t run on Expo just extend the service to Wilshire/Miracle Mile and Mid City areas with no rail service.

    With Crenshaw there’s an opportunity to continue it northward and provide TWO opportunities to connect to the Westside and Downtown LA.

  • Wad

    Jerard,

    The point of Crenshaw isn’t necessarily to give full coverage along the street. Crenshaw is a rather sleepy street north of the 10 freeway to its end at Wilshire. There are apartments along Crenshaw, and bus ridership is decent, but not necessarily at a level that would warrant rail.

    A Crenshaw subway, though, might not win on the cost/productivity metric, but it could pencil out by its network effect (every addition to an existing network helps the overall grid) and by allowing for a more reliable branch through a grade-separated system.

  • Jerard

    I know, that is why in my original post I mention the Pico/San Vicente and Wilshire/La Brea stops because those are locations of activity and they are not on Crenshaw, they provide good locations to feed into the network. Once the network grows, the corridor’s importance grows as a second North-South line.