In automobile news, more taxi companies, spurred by the threat of emerging ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, are providing apps that allow potential customers to use their smartphones and hail a cab without literally hailing a cab. The Beverly Hills City Council considered renaming “Little” Santa Monica Boulevard into an extension of Burton Way, even as denizens have mixed opinions on the proposed change. Also, if anyone has ever suspected that car insurance prices are higher for Los Angeles residents, a study commissioned by an online insurance concern has confirmed those suspicions.
While the relationship between bicycle activists and, well, everyone else remains acrimonious, some are making the effort to bridge the gap between the needs of the two. One researcher in Seattle addressed claims that businesses that line new bike lanes are economically worse off than those without the lanes. The study discovered that, while tax receipts didn’t rise appreciably in some corridors with newly installed bike lanes, said receipts didn’t drop either. Back in Los Angeles, a rise in bicycle crashes and related deaths has sparked a need to better educate cyclists on safety. To that end, LAPD officers are holding workshops where participants also express local bicycling needs that aim to make the roads safer for cyclists.
With the expansion of the Panama Canal nearing completion, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles will face intense competition from East Coast ports when it comes to receiving and shipping goods by ship. Other West Coast ports are already upgrading and expanding their own facilities in order to be more competitive. Meanwhile, Los Angeles experienced a drop in export traffic last year. Columnist Jack Humphreville presented some ideas that could help keep local ports relevant. Humphreville suggests that LA Mayor Eric Garcetti should realize that port traffic will hereafter grow at a slow pace and must downplay superfluous expansion. Garcetti should also appoint new commissioners that have experience in logistics and port finances to find efficiencies within existing port facilities, according to Humphreville.
Airlines continue to rely on fees to sustain their profits. Said fees generated $27.1 billion for airlines last year. The surge in fuel prices in 2008 forced airlines to find other sources of revenue, the most successful of which has been charging passengers for amenities that used to be included in the ticket price. As a result, 20% of airline revenues come from said fees, with Spirit Airlines taking the cake at 38.5%, even as overall ticket prices went up by about 3%. Onboard wi-fi services undoubtedly make for a great source of revenue, as passengers grow dependent on wi-fi and dispense with other comforts.
Meanwhile, a device that aims to kill germs inside plane cabins made its debut at an airline conference last month. Also, Los Angeles ranks low when it comes to attracting and appeasing business travelers, who provide the bulk of airline profits. Also, an entrepreneur proposes a radical new design that will make zeppelins not only easier to control but also viable as a method of shipping.
This article summarizing the state high-speed rail project focuses on two local companies that form part of the joint venture in charge of building the project’s first segment. Tutor Perini Corp. is based in Sylmar and has been responsible for building several major infrastructure projects in the state, albeit with mixed results. Parsons Corp. is based in Pasadena and constructs various infrastructure projects across the world. Both received a contract with the CAHSR Authority to the tune of $985 million, along with partner Zachry Construction Corp. of San Antonio, Texas.
Often, the perception one develops about public transit is just as powerful as the availability of public transit itself in attracting prospective riders. Dubai has the peculiar problem of attracting passengers when the roads themselves are lightly trafficked. As a solution, the system offers “ gold cars” that mimic business class travel on airlines and “silver cars” for other travelers. By contrast, a recent transplant into Detroit offered a harrowing experience when using that city’s transit system for the first time, not the least of which includes an exchange with a surly bus operator. In San Francisco, a visitor discovers what happens when a gentrifying community, despite access to transit and other amenities, must still grapple with societal ills that remain entrenched in the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, new estimates added a wrinkle to the price of the proposed LA streetcar. Proponents believed the streetcar would cost around $125 million, to which Downtown LA residents voted in favor of levying a tax that would yield $62.5 million towards construction. The difference would be covered by federal grants. However, utility relocation estimates could add as much as $166 million to the price tag, and that doesn’t include hidden utilities that can pose problems during construction. This will likely delay the application for federal grants and, hence, the opening of the streetcar itself. However, proponents expect that engineering efficiencies can be found during the design process, even as streetcar supporters seek additional federal funding.
With major construction about to commence, the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line will stimulate the regional economy. However, this will come to nothing if the project is out of the hands of local construction companies and tradesmen, as well as struggling businesses that line Crenshaw Boulevard. To that effect, Metro Boardmember Mark Ridley-Thomas held a rally to bring awareness of the need to create jobs that would benefit disadvantaged local companies. For their part, Metro and the joint venture selected to build the line agreed to set aside 40% of work hours for employees living in economically depressed areas, a concession fought for by Ridley-Thomas.
Toll lanes took another turn last week. In Atlanta, a new independent study on its transponder-mandated 3+ high occupancy toll lanes shows motorists are more likely to use the lanes if they live in an affluent area. State officials believe the report is spun and therefore disagree. We’ll check out the study and will have a fact-based analysis this week, but be sure to check out our analysis of what happens when toll rates are priced higher during free-flow traffic conditions.
The Riverside Transit Agency will provide direct transit service to the Lake Perris Fairgrounds providing direct service to the upcoming Southern California Fair and Perris Auto Speedway. How will the expanded service fare for Inland Empire residents wanting to spend a day at the fairgrounds? Stay tuned on the blog for details.