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Posts from the "Wilshire BRT" Category

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City Remains Vigilant on Bus Only Lane Parking Scofflaws

Photo Dana Gabbard

To its credit, the City of Los Angeles is working hard to keep the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes (Bike OK!) open for business. Dana Gabbard grabbed this picture yesterday of parking enforcement hard at work.

Wilshire, south side of street between Coronado and Carondelet this morning at about 7:51 a.m. The car had a disabled placard! Didn’t get the traffic officer’s name as she jumped into her vehicle and zoomed off after snapping a photo of the license plate and putting the citation on the front window of the car.

Maybe this stricter enforcement will lead to better enforcement of no parking in bicycle lanes as well. Either way, it’s good to see the city making sure the Bus Only Lane isn’t “Parking OK” too.

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What’s Going on with the Wilshire BRT? This Weekend’s So.CA.TA Meeting Has the Answers

Due to the Yom Kippur holiday the September meeting of Southern California Transit Advocates is this Saturday, the 21st (normally we meet on the second Saturday). The guest speaker will be a representative of Metro making a presentation on the status of the Wilshire bus lane project. This will start at 2:15 pm at Angelus Plaza, 255 S. Hill St. (4th floor). Extensive transit directions are on our website.

It should be interesting and as always is free, open to the public and after the presentation there will be an opportunity for asking quetions.

The rest of the meeting will be taken up with the usual functioning actions plus bylaws revisions in service of a radical restructuring reflecting social trends and the emerging cyber-environment of new avenues for advocacy and engagement. We are not the only civic institution grappling with the new paradigm.

I remember it was some years ago I first heard about this via blog posts reviewing Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone. Monthly meetings just don’t cut it any more and I am unwilling to continue planning events that draw the same 15-20 people month after month. We have to do things differently and internally we are having discussions on what the “new” SO.CA.TA will be like starting Jan. 2014.

Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: Don’t Park in the Bus Lane

Westbound curb lane just east of Park View at 7:39 am. Photo: Dana Gabbard

One of the most common complaints of cyclists is that it is nigh impossible to get the LAPD to enforce bans on parking in the bicycle lane. However, thanks to Dana Gabbard we may have found an answer. L.A. just needs more bus only lanes, which are after all also “bike o.k.”

Gabbard, a long time contributor to Streetsblog L.A. and director of the Southern California Transit Advocates, snapped this picture this morning of a clean BMW about to be towed for parking in the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes just wast of Park View on the westbound side. Doubtless, the driver has already written an angry letter that will become a feature in L.A. Weekly.

However, It’s nice to see the city enforcing the parking ban and making a cleaner and easier commute for cyclists and pedestrians alike. Now let’s see them enforce it on all non mixed-use travel lanes.

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First Leg of Wilshire Bus Only Lanes Finally Opens

Finally

Finally!

Moments ago, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and representatives of the Federal Transit Administration celebrated tomorrow’s official opening of  1.8 miles of Bus Only Lanes on Wilshire Boulevard between Western Avenue and South Park View St. at MacArthur Park. The lanes open tomorrow morning at 7 am, just in time for the morning rush hour.

The 1.8 miles of bus only lanes, which are “bike ok!”, is the first portion of the 7.7 miles of lanes that will stretch from Downtown Los Angeles to the border of Santa Monica.

During peak hours, Metro operates buses every two minutes on Wilshire Boulevard west of downtown. There are 53,000 daily boardings with 44 percent of those during rush hours. More people travel along the Wilshire Corridor by bus than by car in peak periods. The currently completed bus only lanes will save transit commuters about two minutes in each direction.

A large chunk of Wilshire is excluded from the project in Beverly Hills and Westwood. An exuberant Metro press release brags that the lanes will “stretch 12.5 miles between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica and will shorten bus commute times by 12-15 minutes.” There is no mention of the Beverly Hills/Westwood shaped hole in the middle of the project. Read more…

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Wilshire Repaving to Start This Weekend, Ahead of BRT Design

As I noted previously due to the terrible condition of Wilshire between Fairfax and Wilton repaving of the curb lanes along that portion is being undertaken in advance of the reconstruction of curb lanes to occur as part of the impending Wilshire bus lane project.

Work was supposed to commence in August yet as the end of the month approached nary a sign of any repaving work was apparent. I then came upon an article by Aaron Blevins of the Park LaBrea News/Beverly Press community newspaper explaining “Wilshire repaving may get pushed back to September”.

To learn more about the status of the project I e-mailed Scott Levin-Gesundheit, Communications Deputy in the Office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, and he informed me “The weekend of September 8 is looking like the current start date”. Read more…

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Recapping the Wilshire Rush Hour Sprint

To go to the map, click on the image.

It was a warm night last May when four racers gathered at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Amherst Boulevard to race. The race would take them east, for three miles to the corner of Wilshire and Beverly Glen Boulevard. The goal? To prove that even during Wilshire’s legendary rush hour, that our chosen mode of transportation was the fastest, the most efficient, and quite simply, the best.

The race teams departed at 6:15. Representing bike riders everywhere was Austin Sos, a UCLA graduate student. Sahra Sulaiman walked for pedestrians, while I rode the Wilshire Rapid on behalf of transit riders everywhere. Mike Gran, a regular Wilshire Boulevard commuter took his truck.

We honestly weren’t sure how the race would turn out. I’d love to tell you we were trying to make a point about bicycles and transit, but we weren’t. It was a real race. We aim to repeat it when the Bus-Only Lane is completed in two years to see how the transit striping changes the traffic patterns.

Thirteen minutes later, the race was over when the first racer arrived at the northwest corner of the finish markers, where we agreed to meet. Four minutes later, the silver medalist arrived. Ten minutes after that, the bronze medal winner crossed the street. After that, it was another 15 minutes before our runner up arrived at 6:57 pm.

Before publishing, I went back to Wilshire and repeated the race at the same time and same places to see if the race was accurate. To see what order people finished, read on after the jump. Read more…

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LADOT: Building a Bus Only Lane Isn’t As Easy As It Sounds

Earlier this week I shared the latest on the Wilshire BRT and Gateway Plaza busway station projects.

Several of the commenters posed questions about the length of time the city says is needed for completing the Wilshire lanes. For example, Allison M asked “I’m trying to understand why it will take 2 years to do the upgrades and testing after the engineering is complete? Is this normal for BRT? It seems unnecessarily long.” I passed these queries along to the L.A. Dept. of Transportation, which is taking the lead on the project. Bruce L. Gillman, LADOT’s Director of Public Information, was kind enough to confer with the city staffers working on the project and passed along this response:

The schedule for the Wilshire bus lane project involves multiple City departments that work on the design, construction of the street widening, pavement reconstruction, engineering surveys, analysis and traffic management plan. None of which can be completed in a short period of time. That said, LADOT is working with our partners to expedite this project and will continue to push ahead to make Wilshire bus lanes a reality as soon as possible.

My thanks to Mr. Gillman for the prompt response.

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Wilshire BRT and El Monte Busway Improvements Coming…In 2015

Coming in four years...Image via Metro website

As far as I can tell two recent agency reports with updated information on the status of important transit-related improvements went straight under the radar with nary a word in the blogsphere or mass media (much like the poorly publicized TAP cards sold by bus operator pilot project I wrote about previously). Belatedly let me share you the latest on the Wilshire Bus lane project and the Patsaouras Gateway Plaza busway station:

An Oct. 9 memo from the L.A. Dept. of Transportation to the City Council gives an update on the status of the Wilshire BRT project: “Extensive roadway improvements on Wilshire Boulevard, including curb lane reconstruction and selective street widening, will be done before the bus lanes are installed. Design and engineering is scheduled to be completed by June 2013, followed by construction of roadway improvements, traffic mitigation measures, Transit Priority System upgrades, and bus lane striping and signage. The project is expected to be completed and operational by June 2015.”

Meanwhile buried in a recent Metro staff report is the news that to have it avoid impacting the ExpressLane demonstration the Gateway Plaza station for the El Monte busway will be delayed undergoing construction and is now not due to be open until mid 2015 at the earliest. What impact the recent FTA grant for the project could have on this timetable is unknown.

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Metro Board Quickly Moves on Green Construction, Position on HSR, Bike Share and Bus Studies

Villaraigosa re-emerges as a leader on bus issues. Photo: Los Angeles Times

This morning, Mayor Villaraigosa’s last term as Chair of the Metro Board of Directors got off to an efficient and relatively controversy-free start as Supervisors passed motions on studying the impacts of Metro’s bus cuts and Bus Rapid Transit expansion, a second study on the costs and benefits of a bike share program, the approval of a green construction program and even a preferred route for California High Speed Rail.  The only real debate among the Board Members came when Director Diane DuBois challenged Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on the definition of “local” in the local jobs program and on whether or not to give free Metro passes to uniformed Girl Scouts during the group’s 100th birthday party.

Here’s a quick roundup of the major happenings.

Review of bus service and Bus Rapid Transit Opportunities – Nobody can accuse Mayor Villaraigosa of thinking small.  The new Board Chair introduced a motion to examine the impacts of the hundreds of thousands of hours bus service cuts that have occurred since the expiration of the Consent Decree between the agency and Bus Riders Union in 2007.

“We see this as a tremendous opportunity to reverse some of the damage that has been done in South L.A.,” testified the Bus Riders Union’s Sunyoung Yang.

To secure unanimous passage, Mayoral Appointee to the Board Richard Katz clarified that this motion “doesn’t undo anything that this Board has already done.”  When questioned directly, Metro CEO Art Leahy confirmed with this interpretation.

A second part of the motion called on staff to examine the possibilities to expand the agency’s Bus Rapid Transit program.  Yang confirmed the BRU’s support for this strategy, “We should continue building on the victories and the massive breakthrough we had on the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes.”

Also testifying in favor of the motion were other BRU members, the Sierra Club Transportation Committee, and Kymberleigh Richards of the San Fernando Valley Service Council.  The LA Times had more on the Mayor’s bus plans in this morning’s paper.

Green Construction Program – Even critics of Metro have to concede the agency has become a leader in promoting green transportation.  Metro was the first big-city transit agency in the country to have an entirely natural gas bus fleet, and they’re beginning to move towards a zero-emissions fleet.  Today, they finalized a “green construction policy” for Metro projects.

Support for the policy was near universal with the Clean Air Coalition, NRDC, Sierra Club, Bus Riders Union, and East Yard Community Groups for Environmental Policy all voicing support.  No construction or contracting groups expressed opposition.  In fact, the only complaint about the program was that it doesn’t apply to LADOT or Caltrans projects.  The policy passed unanimously.

Basically, the new policy is just what it says it is.  Metro contractors now have to use construction equipment, vehicles, and generators that meet modern clean air standards.  This will improve health for residents and construction crews by requiring equipment that emits significantly less air pollution than older models.  Contractors can meet either retrofit old equipment or purchase new equipment.  The NRDC Switchboard has more details on the program.

Bikes and light rail and high speed rail, all after the jump. Read more…

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City Council Approves 7.7 Mile Route for Wilshire Bus Only Lanes, Asks Metro to Consider 8.7 Mile Route

Click on the image for more information on time savings from the various proposed routes.

Next week, the County Board of Supervisors will meet to vote on the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes proposal to decide the county’s official position on the three potential routes.  However, the main drama over the proposal ended earlier today when the Los Angeles City Council approved alternative A1 for the proposal, the 7.7 mile route along Wilshire Boulevard excluding Beverly Hills, Condo Canyon and Santa Monica but including Brentwood.

Which doesn’t mean that all of the drama is over.  The Brentwood Community Council made a not so veiled threat to sue over the lack of studies of the impact of shortening sidewalk lengths to make room for a travel lane in Brentwood.  When there’s more news of that lawsuit, we’ll let you know.

At one point during public comment, the Bike Coalition’s Allison Mannos asked for increased public comment because the majority of the people that had the chance to speak were in favor of a truncated route.  Her plea fell on deaf ears, but it didn’t matter.  There was no support on the Council for the 5.4 mile route from Downtown L.A. to the Beverly Hills border that was championed by Councilman Bill Rosendahl and Brentwood Community Council activists.

Towards the end of the debate, a frustrated Rosendahl compared himself to a “lone boat at sea” and commented that he would prefer a route that included the Condo Canyon area over one that didn’t but included Brentwood.  If he had voted that way, the 8.7 mile route would have actually passed the full council creating a showdown with the Metro Board which had already approved the 7.7 mile route.

Instead of a debate over the value of Bus Only Lanes in Brentwood, the Council debated whether or not the politics of the Metro Board and County Board of Supervisors should trump council decisions.  In the end, they tried to have their bus and ride it too, by going along with the 7.7 mile route but “urging” a change to the 8.7 route should the County or Board should change their minds.  By going along with the Metro Board’s previous position, they assured that the project will be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration, who is funding the project, by their deadline.  The Metro Board of Directors, who already voted on this project, the City Council and County Board of Supervisors, who are voting next week, all have to agree on a route before the application can be submitted.

Which is not to say that today’s vote was easy. Read more…