Daily Archives: June 9, 2016
Lifeguard Is On Duty!
F/5.6, 1/500, ISO 200.
Canada Goose And Goslings
Why won’t they allow elephants in public swimming pools?
Because they might let down their trunks.
Interesting Fact: Individual Canada Geese from most populations make annual northward migrations after breeding. Nonbreeding geese, or those that lost nests early in the breeding season, may move anywhere from several kilometers to more than 1500 km northward. There they take advantage of vegetation in an earlier state of growth to fuel their molt. Even members of “resident” populations, which do not migrate southward in winter, will move north in late summer to molt. ( https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Canada_Goose/lifehistory )
In Car-Crazy L.A., Rail to the Beach Promises Stress Relief
Francis Aquino, whose company makes an app for meditation, has a most un-Zen commute: an eight-mile drive to Santa Monica that can take an hour and fifteen minutes each way in bumper-to-bumper Los Angeles traffic.
The 38-year-old office manager for Headspace Inc. is counting the days until he can instead ride a new $1.5 billion light rail line that opens May 20. It will connect Los Angeles with the ocean and adjacent parts of the city’s west side for the first time since trolley cars to the beach were discontinued in 1953.
“You have so much free time and you’re not stressed out,” he said. “The one thing I’m really looking forward to is catching up on my reading.”
The new route could be a important step in turning car-obsessed Angelenos into bus and train users. Right on its heels, municipal executives are pushing for a new half-cent sales tax and the extension of an existing levy that could raise $120 billion for transportation infrastructure over the next four decades. But the new line is opening as public transit ridership in the region is declining, leading some to say it’s all a waste of money.
“This culture, I think is changing,” said Phillip Washington, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “Because ridership has decreased slightly should not mean that we should stop building infrastructure.”
With ocean to the west and mountains to the north, most commuters to jobs in coastal Los Angeles converge on highways leading into some of the worst congestion in the U.S. The 6.6 mile (10.6 kilometer) extension of the Expo Line light rail will offer faster transit through a corridor that includes media and entertainment companies in Culver City and Santa Monica’s burgeoning “Silicon Beach.”
Employers whose offices are walking distance to Expo line stations include Universal Music Group, energy drink Red Bull’s U.S. offices, filmmaker Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., nonprofit research institution RAND Corp. and even TrueCar Inc., the online car-buying site.
Some companies, such Hulu LLC, the video-streaming service whose Santa Monica office is two blocks from an Expo stop, are embracing public transit. Hulu sponsors Santa Monica’s bike-rental program, which put about 2,000 cycles near transit stops and other points of interest, a way to facilitate the critical “last mile” between a train station and the rider’s destination. Red Bull and RAND defray all or part of their employees’ transit fares. The benefit is key to helping attract and retain employees in one of California’s priciest areas, said Eric Peltz, RAND’s executive director of operations.
“I really feel like I’m wasting time in the car,” said Jennie Marie Petrini, who has a four-hour daily commute between RAND headquarters in Santa Monica and her home northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “With the Expo, they have WiFi so I’ll be able to spend that time working and be home in time to spend time with my family.”
Brightline Train On Assembly Line
The trains that will zip passengers between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando are almost ready to roll off the assembly line.
Brightline President Michael Reininger had his first look at the passenger trains on June 7 during a tour of Siemens’ manufacturing plant in Sacramento. It takes 6,000 work hours by 900 Siemens workers to complete one Brightline coach, which is 100 percent sourced from parts in the United States.
Brightline ordered five train-sets, each of them with two locomotives and four passenger coaches.
Reininger said the coaches and locomotives look just like the company had hoped for during the long and detailed design process. He’s particularly pleased that the trains are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, with wheelchair and stroller accessibility throughout and a boarding system that has no gap between the train and the platform.
“We are incredible proud of them,” Reininger said. “They are spectacular.”
He said the trains should begin service in South Florida in summer 2017, with Orlando service to follow at least a year after it extends the FEC railway from Orlando to Cocoa. The trip from Miami to Orlando would take about three hours, the company said.
The first trains should be fully complete and ready for testing in the fourth quarter of 2016, he said. They will first be tested in California and Colorado, and then at Brightline’s new facility just south of West Palm Beach.
Reininger said the seating on the Brightline will be 100 percent reserved. Passengers will have a range of seating options, including single seats, dual seats, and seating around tables. Each seat will have access to at least three outlets plus a USB port, so passengers can operate multiple devices. There will also be WiFi.
“For business travelers they could have a laptop and cell phone and tablet, so we made sure the seating is designed to directly accommodate those needs,” Reininger said.
Passengers could choose from “Smart” or “Select” level tickets with different types of service. The add-ons will include food and beverage service, special parking arrangement, and ground transportation shuttles, he said.
Myron Walden: Higher Ground
Higher Ground was released in 2002 when Myron Walden was 20-some old – the record confirms all the buzz that was going on about him. He had been playing with Wynton Marsalis, Nat Adderley and Lou Donaldson, featuring in ensembles led by Jason Lindner, Brian Blade and co-founded the New York Jazz Composers Octet. Walden plays alto saxophone against tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland – both remind in some ways of Eric Dolphy playing with John Coltrane.
Track Listing: Solid; Page One; Slow and Steady; You Dig; Higher Ground; When Time Stood Still; High Above the Clouds. MYRON WALDEN, composer on all selections.
Personnel: Myron Walden- Alto saxophone. Marcus Strickland- Tenor saxophone. Brandon Owens- Bass. E.J. Strickland- Drums.
Court: Passenger-rail law grants unconstitutional regulatory powers to Amtrak
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday once again ruled that the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008 grants Amtrak unconstitutional regulatory authority because it requires the passenger railroad to develop performance metrics for its freight counterparts.
Under the law, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration are required to craft performance metrics and standards as a way of enforcing Amtrak’s statutory priority over other trains. However, since Congress designated Amtrak as a private corporation, the development of these standards represents an “unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to a private entity,” Judge Janice Brown wrote in the court’s opinion.
“[Congress’] chartered entities may either compete, as market participants, or regulate, as official bodies,” she wrote. “To do both is an affront to ‘the very nature of things,’ especially due process.”
The D.C. court previously issued the same decision, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed it and sent it back for reconsideration. On remand from the superior court, the D.C. court maintained its position.
In 2011, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) challenged the provision of the PRIIA that allows Amtrak to create performance standards. The association is pleased with the appeals court’s latest opinion, said AAR spokesman Ed Greenberg in an email.
“Amtrak and host freight railroads have longstanding relationships in which Amtrak performance has always been governed by individual contracts that freight railroads maintain, are better suited to address issues on individual routes than the ‘one-size fits all’ metrics and standards,” Greenberg said.
Despite the AAR’s challenge to the performance metrics, the association and its freight-rail members “recognize the importance of Amtrak and are committed to reliable passenger-rail service,” he added.
Amtrak is disappointed with the court’s decision, railroad officials said in an email.
“The members of Congress from both parties who approved that law intended to ensure that Amtrak trains receive priority over freight trains,” Amtrak officials said in a statement. “We hope that this legal morass will be resolved soon.”
The national passenger railroad continues to urge the Surface Transportation Board to move forward with pending matters that require freight railroads to meet an 80 percent on-time performance benchmark, which “remains a requirement under the law,” Amtrak officials said.