Sadly, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that many commuter and freight railroads will not meet the December 2015 deadline to install positive train control on their networks, Metrolink being a notable exception. More frustrating is the fact that, far from trying to implement the system, many of these railroads are actively lobbying for an extension of the deadline. National Transportation Safety Boardmember Robert Sumwalt wrote an op-ed that stressed the importance of incorporating PTC before the existing deadline, citing examples of fatal train crashes that could have been avoided had PTC been implemented.
In New York, “Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening” art train kicked off and started its trek across the nation. This brain child of video artist Doug Aitken uses an Amtrak train to transport musicians and artists who will perform at 10 stops on the train’s trek from New York to California. The sides of the train would be fitted with LED lights forming a very long video screen that responds to the speed of the train and surrounding weather. LACMA is one of seven museums along the route that will partner with Station to Station and receive a portion of sales from tickets sold for music performances. The train will stop at Los Angeles Union Station on Thursday, September 26. Follow the train by visiting the official website.
Truckers have allied with state air quality regulators in targeting trucks and their respective companies who willingly ignore new laws requiring new pollution-reducing mechanisms in their vehicles. Diesel exhaust products account for 85% of Southern California’s cancer risk from air pollution. Individual truckers have formed the majority of tipsters who report non-compliant trucks and believe that the state is not doing enough to enforce the new provisions set to take effect in January. Approved in 2008, the provisions in full force would reduce diesel truck emissions by 90% in 10 years and avoid 3,500 premature deaths, according to the state Air Resources Board.
Caving to pressure from the film industry, the LA City Council directed the LADOT to remove the green paint from the Spring Street bike lane in Downtown LA. (This is in contrast to simply letting the green paint chip away, which has been a problem for this particular bike lane since its inception.) However, the buffered space adjoining the lane will remain. A previous study revealed that bike usage increased, especially during the weekends, when the new bike lane was painted on Spring Street, both buffered and green. How safe and inviting the Spring Street bike lane will be just as a buffered lane remains to be seen.
A study by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy claims that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) spurs just as much development as light rail (LRT), a phenomenon that has not been objectively studied before. The boon comes from the fact that BRT is generally cheaper to build than LRT. Fortunately, the authors recognize that many more factors may have led to the increase in development along BRT lines.
Check out these pictures of the new livery for Metro Rail LRT vehicles, courtesy of Gökhan Esirgen.
Eight people were hurt when a Foothill Transit Silver Streak crashed on the 10 Freeway in Alhambra last Thursday. While this in itself is not exciting news (and is in fact a relief that no one was seriously injured), the bus operator involved in the crash was an employee of First Transit, a company with serious safety violations according to investigators. Even though First Transit has fewer violations overall compared to the national average, the company was faulted for allowing one of its employees to operate without a required medical certificate.
An important bill, AB 1290, that would modernize the California Transportation Commission (CTC) has been passed by the Legislature and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. The CTC makes critical decisions about state transportation funding. Governor Brown has pushed for the CTC to have more control over bicycle and pedestrian funding, tasking this group with key decisions on how to make our streets safer for biking and walking. Additionally, with cutting-edge climate policies like SB 375 on the books and more money from the state’s cap-and-trade program coming soon, now is the time to make sure the CTC will make decisions to benefit our future.
AB 1290 would modernize the CTC by adding new members with a focus on sustainability, and integrating new climate pollution reduction policies into its mission of official responsibilities. It’s time to reform the CTC so that its mission and members reflect understanding of the critical need for real transportation choices – and the multiple benefits that public transportation, walking, and biking can bring to California.
Please email the Governor today and urge him to sign AB 1290 and support a modern CTC that reflects California’s need for real transportation choices and sustainability.
The Transit Coalition well understands that Southern California’s transit system will flourish if it transports a robust and productive labor workforce which provides the resources necessary for operations. Congressman Rep. Mark Takano’s office engaged The Transit Coalition on Inland Empire transportation issues and a summary of the conversation and transportation issues discussed is posted here. At the state and federal level, trivial government regulations have sapped California marketplace economic expansion. Government misspending and high public employee salaries have led to overpriced and delayed transportation infrastructure and operations. Both controversies place heavy obstructions on getting Southern California moving with a first-rate transit system. So what kinds of bills did the state Legislature actually send to Governor Jerry Brown? Here’s an analysis of select bills.
In general transportation news, a bill that would allow single occupancy vehicles to use carpool lanes on the 134 and 210 Freeways during non-peak hours awaits the signature of Governor Brown. Meanwhile, gas prices across Southern California are on the upswing again, reaching $4.01 per gallon. Denizens of Southern California reflect on the death of car dealership magnate and consummate spokesperson Cal Worthington. Elsewhere around the world, workers successfully raised the Costa Concordia cruise ship that capsized off the shore of Italy 20 months ago.