A Cab-Eye View of the Gold Line Eastside Extension

Our friend and light rail enthusiast Darrell Clarke brings us video of a ride on the Gold Line Eastside Extension from the front of the cab.  Clarke took the video during the "preview" Metro held for press last Friday.  Thanks to Clarke’s placement near a speaker, this video is a perfect substitute for actually having been at the event yourself.  You can listen as Metro gives its Eastside Tour even as you look out the front window of the train as it travels though the Eastside to the Atlantic Avenue stop.

The full text of Clarke’s email, and the videos are available after the jump:

Here is the view through operator’s window during a preview ride in a Breda train on Los Angeles’ Eastside Gold Line, last Friday, 11/6/09. The line
opens to the public next Sunday, 11/15/09. Go to YouTube and use the full screen and HD for the best ride!

Part 1 of 2 is Union Station to 1st & Lorena:

Part 2 of 2 is the rest of the way to 3rd & Atlantic:

The video skips time stopped in stations; total travel time was about 22 minutes for the six miles. Signal priority / synchronization was working
well, with little or no train delay at most intersections. The most significant was waiting about 35 seconds to turn onto 3rd from the Indiana station.

For a series of recent construction photos and a map see my recent post at the Light Rail Blog.

  • 22 mins for 6 miles is 16 traveled mph, which is about half the speed of what is typically considered “rapid” transit (28-32 traveled mph), and only 1-2 mph faster than Rapid bus.

    For a city that weren’t as dispersed as ours 16 traveled mph would be considered a major disappointment. In L.A. it is a miserable failure.

    The road to increasing transit share begins with station proximity and ends with speed.

  • LAofAnaheim

    Just to add to that…the Union Station to Little Tokyo is unbearably slow. Too slow that the people driving in the 101 will realize why driving is still better than taking Metro..unfortunately. This section needs serious speed.

  • Wad

    LAofAnaheim wrote:

    Just to add to that…the Union Station to Little Tokyo is unbearably slow.

    It’s three minutes of your life that you will never be able to get back.

    Stay in your cars, but remember driving from Little Tokyo to Union Station also takes at least 3 minutes.

  • LAofAnaheim

    I will take the Gold Line eastside extension…but that’s ridiculous, in all honesty. A sensible person will realize that too and wonder “wtf”. I take Metro all the time, but I agree with Damien, speed is essential. Was the public aware that the speed would be limited to 15 mph over this section? Can’t we rush this up, like they did to the Gold Line to Pasadena a couple of years back?

  • Mahatma

    So little for so much.

    Next up on the list of poor investments? Crenshaw LRT.

  • I don’t think anyone driving on the 101 has any license to call another mode of transportation slow.

    You’ll be going 55 MPH in the 1.7 mile twin tunnels and they’ll be going, uhm, 5 mph? I spend a lot of time waiting for trains at Union Station and routinely watch rush hour traffic on the 101. Even on the weekends it’s stop and go.

  • James Fujita

    I can see both sides of the “Little Tokyo is too slow argument.”

    I mean, yeah it is slow. And it could probably be SAFELY speeded up, even without redesigning the thing or making expensive changes.

    But…. I have walked from Union Station to Little Tokyo and back on many occasions. With a backpack full of anime DVDs. And compared to walking on Alameda, my first three-minute train ride to First and Alameda will feel like a dream.

    Even driving to Little Tokyo can be a ridiculous hassle, especially during the summer months.

    So…. it is slow. But, it is only three minutes, and the destination is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city of Los Angeles! :D

  • ry

    “It’s three minutes of your life that you will never be able to get back.”

    Having walked between Little Tokyo and Union Station as part of my commute for the past year and a half, I’m elated to get back the 7 minutes (platform-to-platform on foot is about 11 minutes) I’m going to save in each direction every day from here on out…

  • DJB

    Transit will rarely beat driving in terms of speed. Even with full grade separation. The best argument for transit isn’t speed, it’s a combination of mobility for people who can’t drive, protecting the environment, being able to do work while you travel, having a social space, and saving money.

    There’s also the point about mobility and proximity. Transit may not be as fast as driving, but if you have a neighborhood with lots of close-by destinations, speed doesn’t matter that much. That’s why dense, mixed-use development around transit is so important.

    Proximity is an excellent substitute for mobility.

  • And here come the handwringers.

    I am not going judge this whole line based on one video of one trip that’s a VIP excursion, and not a regular trip in regular service.

    I’m sure the speed will increase. They are most likely going so slow because the spokesperson is pointing all the sights around the area, in case you weren’t listening to the audio, doomsayers.

  • Wad

    Scott, the slow parts are the simulations of revenue service. The Gold Line will run as is.

    Is speed going to be the make-or-break factor for the Eastside Gold Line? It might be secondary to service reliability.

    A 22-minute train ride from Atlantic to downtown L.A. may not be a dramatic improvement over the 30 minutes or so a local bus would take, and probably comparable to the Rapid services on Cesar Chavez and Whittier.

    What the Gold Line can do and what the area buses cannot, though, is run reliably. Metro Rail’s on-time percentages are usually in the mid-to-high 90% range. The buses the Gold Line parallels (18, 30 and 68/84) have percentages in the 60s and 70s. The problem, as Calwatch has said before, has a lot to do with early buses as much as late buses.

    Turn to page 128 of this document to see the OTPs for buses:

    There might be a “flight to quality” in the short term, but ridership may be dampened by the poor north-south bus service off of Soto and Atlantic, as well as the problem of missing much of downtown. Lines 18 and 30/31 will take riders deeper into downtown and farther west than downtown.

    One immediate fix Metro ought to make is to reroute Union Station-adjacent bus routes to Litte Tokyo for easier transfers.


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