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Why Transit Agencies Are Looking to Taxis and Uber to Provide Paratransit

In a six-month pilot program, Boston’s MBTA is exploring the use of taxis as an alternative to large vans for paratransit service, which is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Could paratransit vans that transport customers with disabilities door-to-door be more efficiently replaced with taxis? Photo: Wikipedia

When it comes to paratransit, vans aren’t always the right vehicle for the job. Photo: Wikipedia

The program is “already earning praise from customers” according to the Boston Globe. Jarrett Walker at Human Transit explains why this could be very good news for both people with disabilities who rely on paratransit and people who count on trains and buses:

Subsidizing taxis has always been an option to meet the paratransit requirement, but in big cities the routine solution has been paratransit van services. These vans can theoretically serve multiple people at once, but the sparseness of paratransit demand means they often carry just one person, or zero between runs. So paratransit operating cost is often over $30/passenger trip, as compared to more like $5 for an effective fixed route service.

MBTA is now testing using taxis — or in the future, taxi competitors like Uber and Lyft — in the same way that small towns often do. It will encourage some customers to use taxis instead of paratransit vans — which is not hard to do, since taxi service is much more flexible.  (Paratransit vans must be booked 24 hours in advance, but these taxis can be called spontaneously.) The customer will pay a reasonable transit fare, $2, and MBTA will add an average of $13/trip to round out a typical average taxi fare of $15.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Thursday Registration Deadline For Caltrans Planning Conference In L.A.

Sign up by Thursday to attend Caltrans Planning Conference xxx

Sign up by Thursday to attend Caltrans Planning Conference December 2-4 in L.A.

This Thursday is the deadline to sign up for Caltrans’ 2015 California Transportation Planning Conference: Partnering for Sustainable Transportation. The conference will take place from Wednesday through Friday December 2-4 at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Some of the #CTPC2015 conference highlights include:

  • Presentations by Caltrans leadership including:
    – Malcolm Dougherty, Director of Caltrans
    – Kome Ajise, Chief Deputy Director, Caltrans
    – Carrie Bowen, Caltrans District 7 Director
  • Speakers including numerous livable transportation leaders:
    – Seleta Reynolds, General Manager, Los Angeles City Transportation Department (LADOT)
    – Bill Fulton, author of The Reluctant Metropolis and Guide to California Planning, now head of the Rice University Kinder Institute of Urban Research
    – Victor Mendez, Deputy Secretary, United States Department of Transportation
    – Will Kempton, Executive Director, California Transportation Commission
    – Wade Crowfoot, Deputy Cabinet Secretary and Senior Advisor, Office of the Governor
    – many more including: Juan Matute, James Rojas, Michele Martinez, Stuart Cohen, and Rick Cole
  • tour of the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC)

Caltrans’ Jacqueline Hodaly emphasizes that the 2015 Planning Conference will be a great way to get up to speed on lots of new legislation and programs – from the latest federal transportation bill, to recent CA legislation, to statewide greenhouse gas emission reduction initiatives. Hodaly emphasizes that this year’s conference will not be overly top down, but will feature open discussion formats where participants can dialogue with experts and with each other. There will be an emphasis on partnerships, focusing on how leaders, agencies, businesses, communities, and others can work together to implement multi-modal projects, active transportation solutions, and great places. Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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The Looming Transit Breakdown That Threatens America’s Economy


Categories of maintenance needs, in billions of dollars, for America’s large transit agencies. Graph: RPA

While federal transit funding stagnates, the nation’s largest rail and bus systems have been delaying critical maintenance projects. Without sustained efforts to fix infrastructure and vehicles, the effects of deteriorating service in big American cities could ripple across the national economy, according to a new report from the Regional Plan Association [PDF].

RPA focuses on ten of the nation’s largest transit agencies — in Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, Cleveland, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Between them, these agencies face about $102 billion in deferred maintenance costs. To bring the systems into a state of good repair will require about $13 billion in maintenance spending per year — more than twice the current rate of investment.

These regions house about one-fifth of the country’s population and produce about 27 percent of the nation’s economic output. They also carry about 60 percent of the nation’s total transit ridership, up from 55 percent 20 years ago. That’s a reflection of how transit has become increasingly important in these regions, with passenger trips growing 54 percent over the same period.

That level of ridership growth can’t be sustained if the transit systems aren’t maintained properly. RPA cites a 2012 report from San Francisco’s BART that says if the system is allowed to deteriorate…

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Expo Line’s Success Questioned Based On Non-Expo Riders Experiences (LAT, KPCC)
    …Anyone Expecting Level Of Service To Predict Real Life Is Deluded (PPS)
  • City Councilmembers Balk At Handing Sidewalk Responsibility To Owners (KPCC)
  • Metro’s Push To Hire More Women For Construction Projects (Pasadena Star News)
  • Celebrating Hollywood and Highland’s New Scramble Crosswalks (Hoff the Beaten Path)
  • State Notifies Additional Homeowners In Expanded Exide Clean-Up Areas (KPCC)
  • Why CA High Speed Rail Funds Should Not Be Raided For Roads (City Lab)
  • Let’s Go L.A. Gets Up And Goes To Visit Murray, Utah

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Eyes On the Street: Scramble Crosswalks Debut At Hollywood And Highland


A big X marks the spot: pedestrians scramble yesterday at the newly revamped intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

It may be one of those made-up statistics, but there is a repeated truism that millions of people visit Hollywood Boulevard every year, and they spend an average of about fifteen minutes there. Sure, there are the Walk of Fame, some beautiful historic theaters and other noble buildings, Metro Red Line subway stops, costumed performers, street musicians… but Hollywood Boulevard is mostly tacky souvenir shops, museums in name only, and sad restaurants one would never return to, all along a massive car-choked stroad.

Despite millions of tourists milling around on foot, there is no place to sit, or to hang out. There are hardly even places to shoot respectable selfies.

All that has not changed overnight, but the city implemented a pedestrian upgrade yesterday at Hollywood’s most prominent intersection: Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, Department of Transportation (LADOT) General Manager Seleta Reynolds, a marching band, and tens of thousands of pedestrians (most of whom just happened to be passing through) opened the city’s latest pedestrian scramble crosswalks.

Similar to intersections in downtown Pasadena, fronting USC and UCLA, and elsewhere, Hollywood pedestrians can now cross diagonally during a phase when all cars are stopped. The upgrade is part of the city’s inter-departmental Vision Zero improvements program, in which L.A. has committed to ending all traffic fatalities over the next ten years.

Hollywood and Highland

Lights. Camera. Scramble.

Read more…
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Speeding Is a Big Problem Where Police Stopped Google Car for Slow Driving

A Google car made headlines last week when police pulled it over for driving too slowly on El Camino Real in Mountain View, California.

El Camino Real in Mountainview is a pretty dangerous street for pedestrians, but apparently police are out patrolling for cars not going fast enough. Image: Metrocosm via Cyclelicious

El Camino Real in Mountain View is a dangerous street for pedestrians because drivers go too fast, not because they go slower than the speed limit. Image: Metrocosm via Cyclelicious

Most media accounts treated the incident as a funny anecdote, but Richard Masoner at Cyclelicious says it reveals a lot about what’s broken with how police approach traffic enforcement:

Guess which area of Mountain View is the most dangerous for pedestrians?

I zoomed in on this map showing 10 years of FARS traffic fatality data. El Camino Real is highlighted in blue. The yellow line to the left is Rengstorff, the other line is El Monte.

This is the area where Mountain View police say a Google autonomous car traveling at 24 MPH in a 35 zone is impeding traffic, even with two other lanes available for passing traffic on a Thursday afternoon.

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This Week In Livable Streets

sblog_calendarMany meetings this week: sidewalks, Metro, High Speed Rail, plus Gabe Klein, a long long long walk, a car-free chat, and more!

  • Monday 11/16 – Today at 2 p.m. the Los Angeles City Council Budget and Public Works committees deliberate on a proposed “fix and release” sidewalk repair plan. See SBLA’s explainer article here and meeting agenda here.
  • Monday 11/16 – The California High Speed Rail Authority continues a series of three meetings on the future HSR route between Burbank and downtown L.A. Tonight’s meeting takes place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Glendale Adult Recreation Center at 201 E Colorado Street in Glendale. An identical meeting follows in Cypress Park on Thursday. Additional details on flier [PDF].
  • Tuesday 11/17 – Los Angeles Eco-Village hosts a “Carfree Chat” with CicLAvia founder Adonia Lugo and SBLA Editor Joe Linton. The free event includes an overview of livable transportation issues and activism, and plenty of questions and answers. It takes place from 7:30-9 p.m. at L.A. Eco-Village at 117 Bimini Place in Koreatown. More details at Facebook event.
  • Wednesday-Thursday 11/18-19 – The Metro Board of Directors committees will work out business in advance of their December 3 full board meeting. The agendas include bike-share pricing and more. See Metro website for agendas.
  • Thursday 11/19 – The California High Speed Rail Authority hosts the last of three L.A. County meetings on the future HSR route between Burbank and downtown L.A. Thursday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the L.A. River Center and Gardens at 570 W. Avenue 26 in Cypress Park. Additional details on flier [PDF].
  • Thursday 11/19 – Kick-ass livable transportation leader, innovator, and author Gabe Klein speaks at UCLA’s Luskin Center at 6 p.m. Talk is free, but RSVP and details here.
  • Friday 11/20 – The documentary Bikes Vs. Cars opens at Laemmle Monica NoHo7 movie theaters in North Hollywood.
  • Saturday 11/21 – The Great Los Angeles Walk will proceed down Olympic Boulevard from downtown L.A. to the Pacific Ocean. Departs from Clifton’s Cafeteria at 9 a.m. More details at Great L.A. Walk and Facebook event.
  • Sunday 11/22 – Climate Action Santa Monica hosts a free public forum “What a Way to Go – Bike, Bus Expo” featuring keynote by SM City Manager Rick Cole. The event takes place from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at the Church in Ocean Park at 235 Hill Street in Santa Monica. More details at Facebook event.

Did we miss anything? Is there something we should list on future calendars? Email
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How Giving Bike Share Prime Real Estate Attracts More Riders

One of the more successful stations in MInneapolis' Nice Ride system is parked right in front of the Birchwood Cafe. Photo: Bill Lindeke

One of the more successful stations in Minneapolis’s Nice Ride system is parked right in front of the Birchwood Cafe. Photo: Bill Lindeke/

We’ve written before about how bike-share “station density” — how closely together stations are placed — is a key variable in how successful systems are in attracting riders.

Here’s a new theory on how station locations can have an impact on bike-share use. Bill Lindeke at says it matters where stations are placed within commercial sites and public areas. The more prominent the better, he says, citing the example of a cafe in Minneapolis:

It was outside the Birchwood where I first noticed the odd psychological effect of bike share stations. I was sitting sipping a coffee in the sunshine, watching people ride and walk up and down the street, and the new kiosk made quite an impression before the front door. As couples walked past, they would stop and gaze at it for a few key seconds.

“Hm, maybe someday I’ll try that out,” I heard someone say.

“How do they work,” couples would murmur to each other

The key thing for me was that these were people, so I thought, that would never bike around South Minneapolis on their own. Even if you never use it, the Nice Ride station breaks down a psychological barrier between us and them, the bicycle people and the rest of us. It offers a gateway into an intimidating world, an exciting potential that is really helpful for forwarding conversations about urban bicycling past a divisive impasse.

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • Hollywood Highland Scramble Crosswalk Safety Improvements Debut (CBS)
  • One More Mile Of Wilshire Bus-Only Lane Opens Today (The Source)
  • Planning Commission Re-Zones Controversial East Hollywood Target (LAist)
  • Cedillo’s Anti-Mobility Rhetoric Doesn’t Hold Up To Scrutiny (Biking in L.A.)
  • A Pleasant Westside Bike To Work Story (Orange 20)
  • Cal State Northridge Professors Bike Commutes From Pasadena (Sundial)
  • New Paid Parking Unpopular At Topanga Mall (Daily News)
  • State Traffic Ticket Amnesty Program Popular and Inconsistent (LAT)
  • Troubled Port SCIG Railyard In Court This Week (NRDC)
  • Opinion: Fix Sidewalks and Replant Trees (LAT)
  • Metro Opens $1.4Million Worth Of More “Free” Parking At NoHo Station (The Source)
  • New Rick Prelinger Documetary ‘Lost Landscapes of L.A.’ Shows Historic Streetscapes (LAT)

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City Committees To Hear Proposed “Fix And Release” Sidewalk Repair Plan

Next Monday, November 16, two committees of the Los Angeles City Council are scheduled to discuss a proposal that will shape the future of the city’s sidewalks. The joint meeting of the city’s Public Works and Budget Committees will take place at 2 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers. Critics of the proposal argue that the city fails to treat sidewalks as a serious core mobility network.

Readers may recall that the city faces a backlog of sidewalk repair estimated $1.5 billion. In contrast to other transportation networks – streets, freeways, bike paths – responsibility (and liability) for sidewalks is somewhat complicated. Legally, the underlying property owner is responsible for building and maintaining walk access. In the past, the city took some responsibility for repairs, but the sidewalks deteriorated faster than the city was able to fix them. In 2014, the L.A. City Council decided to target limited sidewalk funding only to repair sites in front of city-owned properties. Those repairs are underway.

In 2015 the city committed to $1.4 billion worth of sidewalk repair in order to settle Willits vs. City of Los Angeles – a class action lawsuit over L.A.’s failure to make the public pedestrian right-of-way accessible to disabled people. L.A. will the invest $1.4 billion over the next 30 years.

The city’s proposed sidewalk strategy is being called “fix and release.” City funds would pay to repair sidewalks damaged by tree roots. The city would guarantee the work for five years, then the underlying property owner would be responsible for any future sidewalk repair.

Unfortunately, “fix and release” repairs are limited to specific areas of the city. The city would only fix sidewalks in front of residential properties. Commercial properties are not included in the program. The city would continue to fix sidewalks in front of city facilities, but not at other governmental properties, including schools.

Though “fix and release” would be expected to improve many of L.A.’s failing sidewalks, the policy has numerous drawbacks. Ultimately, it creates an inconsistent patchwork, with little to no assurance of consistent repairs now, nor maintenance in the future.  Read more…