Touring the New Expo Line with the “Ethnic Media”

Metro offers "ethnic media" a preview tour of the new Expo Line. photo: sahra

I was invited to join other members of the “ethnic media” (Metro’s term, not mine) yesterday for a preview of the Expo Line. Set to open to the public on April 28th, trips between Culver City and downtown L.A. along the 8.6 miles of new line will be free all of next weekend.

The Metro folks were genuinely excited to be opening the new line to the city and eager to share their hopes for the economic benefits it would bring, plans for the expansion of the rail system to other parts of town, and the extensive safety campaigns that had been waged to educate the neighbors of the new line and the people that traversed it regularly.

They forgot to mention the crash that had happened just that morning at a crossing near USC.

The incident occurred at an intersection where cars previously could turn left without having to wait for a signal. My observation of that intersection (which has been intermittent) is that some people seem to be confused by the change and try to take the turn anyways. Waiting for that signal to change so you can make a left can be frustrating — the sensors don’t pick up bikes and, apparently, do not pick up the lighter golf-cart type vehicles staff at USC sometimes use to get around campus. The driver of one such cart, realizing that the signal wasn’t going to change, felt he had no choice but to take his chances and cross the tracks. Trying to merge back into traffic or cross lanes to push the pedestrian crossing button were not viable options for him at rush hour.

There are several intersections along the Expo line path where left turns are now regulated or, in the case of the Gramercy – Expo intersection, are just plain confusing.

Convoluted crossings on the Expo Rail line (Gramercy and Expo Blvd.). photo: sahra

Here, the bike lane diverges awkwardly and time-consumingly (as you must cross Expo in pedestrian fashion and then wait for the light to cross Gramercy) from the driving lane.* Drivers also seem unsure where to stop. The car in the left of the photo (above), although stopped, is actually in violation of the red light. He should have stopped 10 or 15 feet behind where he was.

There is also a need for more bike infrastructure at stops and space within cars for bikes that makes sense.

Once on the train, cyclists are often asked to roll their bikes to the designated space between two train cars to be out of the way. In theory, that is a good idea. Anyone who has tried to move with their bike through a crowded train to that designated spot knows, however, it is not so easy in practice. Assuming that the line will attract at least a few beach cruiser enthusiasts (the favored vehicle of USC students) and a greater influx of cyclists trying to get closer to the beach overall, Metro would be wise to take out some seats and designate more space to bikes.

The official I spoke with on the tour yesterday agrees this needs to happen, but acknowledged that it is a slow process. (Damien, we are putting our trust in you on this!!)

Diego Cardoso, an Executive Officer at MTA, takes a seat after his brief presentation. photo: sahra

The tour — from the Crenshaw stop out to La Cienega, eastward to the 7th St. Metro Center, and then back to Crenshaw — was over within an hour. The members of the “ethnic media” disembarked at Crenshaw Blvd., thanked the Metro staff, and headed back to their cars.

I hopped on my bike and rode eastward along Exposition contemplating the uneventfulness of the whole affair. It dawned on me that the reason that the tour had seemed so blah was because there were no real riders on board. For me, it is the regular ridership that gives a transit system character and make it what it is. I can’t wait to see what kind of culture the Expo Line takes on once it opens.

For more information on the opening of the Expo Line, please check out metro.net

*There may be a very good reason for this but it seemed inefficient to me — I would have preferred to ride with traffic. Thoughts are welcome.

  • Geraldo’s Mustache

    Yeah I can’t wait until the expo line becomes a swap meet with people selling DVDs, Candy and Fake Louis Vuittan bags.

  • There’s been discussion of the Exposition/Rodeo/Gramercy bike lane treatment on the LADOT Bike Blog. Most commenters think that this is still not a safe treatment.

    http://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/exposition-line-bikeway/ 
    http://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/expo-line-crossing-improvements/ 

  • Joe B

    That intersection looks really dangerous. It is not safe to bike across railroad tracks at a shallow angle like that: the ruts can grab your wheel and send you flying. 

  • Jim61773

    Ethnic newspapers are very important. They cover issues that the mainstream media may not care about or cover very heavily. Like transit blogs, only with the Manzanar pilgrimage instead of subway tunneling issues.

  • Wait, what is so weird about the concept of ethnic media? They’re an important source of information to our various immigrant, linguistic and cultural groups here in Los Angeles. A lot of people will read, listen to or watch ethnic media because the mainstream media ignores them, or rarely finds their issues newsworthy. You might not be aware of this, but not everyone in Los Angeles is white and only speaks English. The “other people” deserve to know about the new Metro Rail line that’s opening next weekend too, you know.

  • Anonymous

    As long as it is all for “one dollah”!

  • Anonymous

     The concept isn’t weird.  It’s that over forty years after Martin Luther King died, the Government Transportation Agency for Greater Los Angeles is still hosting not a “Media” ride, but an “Ethnic Media” ride. 

    What was the ride for the LA Times, LADN, Radio and TV, etc., called? 

    Disgusting, especially coming from an entity that itself apperas to be quite integrated itself, albeit ignorant of the diversity of its ridership, as shown by the FTA investigation.

  • Anonymous

    Crashes happen because drivers are untrained, not properly vetted, and unattentive.  The train was on tracks, it did not swerve to hit the Honda.

    There are traffic-signal sensors on the market that use cameras to detect bicycles and golf-carts.  Metro is either aware of these or someone in charge is incompetent.

    Directing bicycles to the right door is easily done using super-graphics on the door that leads to the bicycle area of the light-rail cars.  But apparently the design manual at Metro does not allow for that sort of thing to be painted/affixed to the cars.

  • Jim61773

    Any media organization that’s not aimed at a specific group, but at the general public as a whole, would be mainstream, TAPman.

    I’m Asian American and I’m not offended at all that they would have an ethnic media ride

  • Our eye-rolling about the “ethnic media” isn’t that there are nitch media markets that serve non-English speakers, it is that they get their own super special day.  Shouldn’t all media outlets have been invited to the media day a couple of weeks ago?  Is it weird that I was invited to that, but then Sahra, a reporter with the same outlet, was invited to this one?  And, wouldn’t the “ethnic media” for a train line opening in South L.A. be the outlets primarily viewed/watched/listened to by white people?

    I don’t think anyone is offended by the term, but we certainly found it a little odd.

  • The “other people” deserve to know about the new Metro Rail line that’s opening next weekend too, you know.———
    Of course they do.  We heard that some of the local or ethnic media weren’t invited to the first event because Metro didn’t have a contact list for them.  Given how long Expo has been working in that area, how is that possible?

  • ss

    Hi @twitter-14977670:disqus ,

    I just thought it was odd to be addressed as “ethnic media.”
    Particularly because of two things…1) Tuesday was the day that the
    “regular” or “non-ethnic” (?? I don’t know how they addressed those
    media outlets) were invited to tour Metro and there were no special
    provisions for the “ethnic” media (i.e. translators or whatever special
    provisions an “ethnic” reporter might need, so there seemed to be no
    need to segregate them from the “non-ethnics”) and 2) non-hispanic
    whites are only 28% of the population of the city, according to the 2010
    census. So it raises questions about what it means to be “ethnic” and
    who gets to decide what it means to be “ethnic” I just thought the
    classification was a little crass and made it feel a little like we were
    being ghetto-ized (put in our own little enclave). You certainly
    wouldn’t approach someone and say, “Hello, ethnic person. Hello, Black
    person. Hello, Latino person…” I’m not the most PC person in the world
    — I think we need to talk about race more often and more openly. Being
    too PC makes us unable to have some conversations. But it is another
    thing entirely to have someone address me or my audience as an “ethnic.”
    More accurate would have been to say larger vs. smaller media outlets,
    or call us hyper-local. There was no need to bring ethnicity into it at
    all.

    -sahra

  • ss

    Thanks, Evan.

    -sahra

  • calwatch

    It depends on whether it’s actual “community media” or “ethnic media” as in region wide media. The Chinese Daily News (World Journal) and Sing Tao Daily don’t have much of a constituency in the Expo corridor, but they are regionwide. Did La Opinion and Hoy show up with Sahra or with Damien? Or is this tour for the ones with the local shoppers and community papers like the Wave, the LA Sentinel, and the local Spanish language shopper in the area?

    The other thing is that ethnic media does have unique needs in asking questions that the large Anglo media might not catch. Some of them might feel stupid asking a question when the LA Times reporter who covers the MTA daily rolls their eyes for asking a dumb question. 

  • Nathanael

    Sensor loops… ugh.  I know you CAN get ones which will detect bikes and golf carts, but they never DO install them.  And pedestrians have to mess around with “beg buttons”.

    It’s an argument for plain old timed lights.

  • Sahra

    @calwatch:disqus it was a mix of community media (the Sentinel, etc.) and also some of the media dedicated toward specific linguistic, ethnic, or cultural communities. I just was taken aback that I might be addressed as the “ethnic media,” as I explain below. Given the mix of who showed up, it seemed like the Tuesday visit of “regular/non-ethnic” media was for white people and Thursday was for “everyone else.” Given that non-hispanic whites are the minority in this town, it just seemed incredibly ironic to me, as well as a poor choice of words on the part of Metro.

    That said, I agree that it is a good idea to give smaller outlets their own platform so that they can engage those giving the tour. Damien noted below that that might not have been the plan this time–that they may just not have had enough people show up on Tuesday for the “non-ethnic” tour. I don’t know–I did not receive an invitation for Tuesday’s tour. That said, Metro staff told me they regularly advertise in more of the community media outlets than in the bigger papers because the costs are too high. So they do have more of a relationship with the “ethnic media” than their word choice and outreach for the tour might suggest.

  • When you pander to special interests, of course that’s “ethnic media.”

    Those train nerds some of you detest have probably done more to make the Expo Line a reality than anyone else. The “civil rights” folk didn’t want to budge until they got their special provisions (and they got some of them) and yet it’s still a tragedy that Expo Line is at-grade. That unnecessary stop in the middle of the trip is what civil rights gets you, I guess.

  • “Given that non-hispanic whites are the minority in this town, it just seemed incredibly ironic to me, as well as a poor choice of words on the part of Metro.”

    “There was no need to bring ethnicity into it at all.”

    Cops stopping kids and searching them: We Hispanic, we minority, we ethnic. Cops are racist. This is institutional racism. They are doing it just because they are Hispanic, even though the cops working the beat here are probably mostly Hispanic!

    Metro invites ethnic media to tour the Expo Line: What “ethnic media?” We’re the same as the LA Times. You’re calling us that just because we cater to Hispanic or black interests? How dare you?  

    You seem to want to engage in identity politics or identity journalism only when it suits you. If you want to be divisive, you’re going to be treated that way.

  • “Is it weird that I was invited to that, but then Sahra, a reporter with the same outlet, was invited to this one?  And, wouldn’t the “ethnic media” for a train line opening in South L.A. be the outlets primarily viewed/watched/listened to by white people?”

    The honest to God truth is that they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Agencies like Metro have no clue what you people want. If they don’t hold an ethnic media day or whatever you prefer they call it, the will be cries of institutional racism because certain outlets/groups/people didn’t have their chance to tour the line as a cohesive force or whatever. You’ve made agencies like this so paranoid about race that they do whatever they feel is necessary to placate every group and they can’t win for trying. 

    I rarely see any consistency in identity politics or identity journalism anyway. It is fueled mostly by appeals to emotion rather than facts. Oh no, a disparate impact despite bending over backwards ensuring equal treatment. We better cause a ruckus over this before they figure out what’s really going on. 

  • By the way, if anyone wants me to, I will be happy to drive around any dangerous or confusing rail lines for as long as you want in order to see if I get smacked by a train. My rate is 50 cents per mile. I do not live in the Expo Line service area and have rarely driven around there. It would be interesting to see if I get killed by the train. I will take any and all left turns. 

    Any takers?

    I’ve done this along the Blue Line in a vehicle when I’ve had time to kill. It was quite a dare devil experience.

  • calwatch

    I disagree that the Farmdale stop is “unnecessary”. This is one of the longer gaps in the rail line, same with the gap between Crenshaw and Western, and has significant multi family housing to boot (which Arlington and West Boulevard, where the stop between Crenshaw and Western should have gone, doesn’t). Farmdale will probably not be the most used stop on the Metro system, but it sure won’t be the least.

  • sahra

    Wow, someone clearly had a bad weekend?? I tend not to reply to snarky or off-topic things because I do not believe there is not much point, but since @Spokker:disqus, you seem to have confused issues of racial discrimination or injustice (which are important and deserve discussion) with my surprise at being addressed as an “ethnic” reporter, I will make an exception. I’ve outlined some of the reasons I found the term surprising below. Damien outlined his reasons for surprise at the label, as well. Although I think he and I reacted slightly differently to the use of the label–both of us would agree that it was an outdated way to address a group and somewhat disrespectful, even if well-intentioned. I don’t think it was racist. As an academic, I think about the labels we use a lot. “Ethnic” has always been used to describe cultures and races that were not the norm or standard (which in the US is a white judeo-christian norm). At the very least, given the diversity of Los Angeles, it seems inappropriate and outdated. Better might have been the term “community media” or “hyper-local” or more descriptive of the size and scope of the outlet, not their color or national origin.

    And that’s all I can say on the subject. The article wasn’t about that anyways. I threw it in there because of my bemusement at receiving an ethnic invitation.

  • calwatch, yours is a sane and rational justification for the station, but the community did not advocate for the station. They feel it is dangerous.

  • Anonymous

    Louis Vutton bags?  All I get is candy and batteries!

  • Anonymous

    Actually, the sensors that are good at detecting bikes and golf-cart aren’t loops, they are cameras that can identify shapes and movement (or lack thereof).

  • Anonymous

    How about next time, Metro invite all media to ride at the same time.  It will probably require more than one three-car trains.  And the event could be used as a way for the various media to mingle and perhaps interact.  That might be very good for the whole region.

  • last week expo train collide with a car but it is fault of driver of the car..

  •  Agree with your point but i think cash trains number should be increased.

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