Category Archives: California

Here’s why the future of the Caltrain Corridor is so important

Information from Curbed SF Mar 2, 2017 and Streetsblog Los Angeles (blog)-Feb 27, 2017

The electrification of commuter rail service between San Jose and San Francisco was all but ready to begin construction when Donald Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, pulled the rug out from under the project earlier this month..

When California Republicans convinced the Department of Transportation to hold off on a $647 million federal grant for the transit corridor’s electrification plan, they did more than stall transportation progress for the region. The delay would put thousands of new jobs and much-needed housing projects on hold indefinitely. It’s not hyperbolic to say that the future economic growth of California stands in peril.

This is worrisome, to say the least. So much so that Caltrain created a petition on the White House site, urging the current administration to reverse course. But it’s about more than simply moving forward with electrification. Caltrain’s success is inextricably tied to multiple transportation and housing issues throughout the state.

U.S. transportation chief Foxx sees high-speed rail construction in California

Anthony Foxx, accompanied by California state Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly and Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, toured several of the sites in Fresno and Madera counties where major construction is underway on the first stages of the statewide bullet-train project.

Those included a 1,600-foot-long viaduct to carry the high-speed tracks above the Fresno River, Highway 145 and Raymond Road east of Madera; a new bridge and elevated tracks across the San Joaquin River and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks at the Fresno-Madera county line near Highway 99; and the new Tuolumne Street bridge over the future high-speed tracks in downtown Fresno.

More than $3 billion from the Obama administration – much of it from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – is being used for work in the Valley.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/high-speed-rail/article108802387.html#storylink=cpy

Steam engine celebrates ‘new and improved’ Acton Metrolink station

Sept 28, 2016. Pacoima CA. A 1927 Topeka & Santa Fe 3751 steam locomotive makes it’s way south pass the Whiteman airport tower Wednesday. The train made a appearance at a new train station opening in the Acton area and is being pulled by two locomotives engines back home to San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society. Photo by Gene Blevins/LA Daily News

The revamped Acton station was a nod to Acton’s rural design and “old homestead” feel.
With funding from LA Metro, Caltrans and the California Transportation Committee (CTC), Metrolink built a second platform, a pedestrian at-grade crossing, a crossover and an extension of almost 5,000 feet to the existing Vincent Siding.

Transit agencies use ‘Pokemon GO’ to encourage ridership

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and other transit agencies are using the “Pokemon GO” game to encourage public transit ridership.

Several of Metro’s rail stations serve as “gyms,” where players of the game can train and battle Pokemon, the agency announced this week. Additionally, many stops serve as “Pokestops,” where players can gather equipment needed for the game.

“For those of you who aren’t too keen on walking long distances, Metro buses and trains are a good traffic-beating option with many stations near the type of community gathering places favored by the game,” Metro officials said in a press release.

Additionally, the agency created a Twitter handle dedicated to updates about the augmented reality game, which requires players to walk around their environments to capture virtual creatures.

However, Metro cautioned players to remain alert and aware of their surroundings while playing the game. On Twitter, MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) and several other agencies have issued similar warnings.

Meanwhile, Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Miami-Dade Transit and others also sent out tweets encouraging Pokemon GO players to use transit to catch Pokemon.

All the way from FLORIDA TO CALIFORNIA — the longest move of any Circus in history

June 25 – July 1 BLUE UNIT Train-Run from Ellenton, Florida to Fresno, California (7 days). THIS WILL BE THE LONGEST SINGLE MOVE OF ANY CIRCUS IN HISTORY. Time-frame calls for the load-out to begin early on Friday, June 24. The flats are to move from Ellenton to join the coaches between Ellenton and Tampa, then they are to move out as a “Unit Train” (Circus Train) upon putting those two sections together. Since posting this thread on Thursday, June 23, the “chosen” route has been confirmed by someone with the internet moniker “rrw” and also from a host of BNSF personnel who were scratching their collective heads over yesterday’s conundrum over the possible route choices west of New Orleans (UP or BNSF): After going west out of Florida on CSXT to New Orleans, BNSF will take over from there, and all the way to destination: through Houston-Temple-Sweetwater-Clovis-Belen-Winslow-Needles-Barstow-Bakersfield-Fresno, with a run over TEHACHAPI LOOP on the final day of the run.

Hyperloop Technologies: Changing the way we travel (Ali Hyperloop 14)

In 2013, entrepreneur Elon Musk, proposed a conceptual high-speed transportation system called the ‘Hyperloop’.

And while construction of the “Hyperloop” itself is still in the startup phase, both current and former students at UCLA’s IDEAS campus have already envisioned what the Hyperloop travel experience would be like.

“We were just looking at the data of Elon’s white paper and expanding it, taking it to the next level,” explained former UCLA graduate student Matt Whitham. “How big would a Hyperloop station have to be? What would the interior of the capsule look like? How to design it? Would you be able to stand up inside of the capsule while going 760 miles an hour?”

The idea is that passengers would ride inside capsules, at tremendously high speeds, in pneumatic tubes. A cross-continent trip that today takes days could be completed in mere hours.

“It changes the perception of space it changes the perspective of time, it’s going to be revolutionary,” says UCLA Professor Marta Nowak.

And, as Full Frame Contributor Sandra Hughes found out, reinventing the way we all travel is no small challenge.

See Video http://www.cctv-america.com/2016/06/11/hyperloop-technologies-changing-the-way-we-travel

‘@Caltrain Sucks’: New Frontiers in Transit Agency Social Media

Just last month, BART — or should we say @SFBART — sent out a tweet that rocked the world for social media pundits and at least some customers.

Amid a service meltdown in the East Bay, the BART Twitter account let it be known that yes, the system’s infrastructure was old, frayed and kind of screwed up.

“This is our reality” became a mini-meme and hashtag, touched off a mostly thoughtful conversation with the system’s riders and made Taylor Huckaby, the BART employee who works the @SFBART account, a bit of a celebrity.

The general tenor of the ensuing coverage was laudatory: Just imagine a public agency being so real with the public! (Not everyone was buying BART’s “truth bombs,” though. Daniel Borenstein, a columnist for the East Bay WhateverYouCallIt who has long been a bruising critic of BART management, called the tweets “diversionary propaganda.”)

Anyway. That was last month. BART has run for several weeks with its usual crowding, normal delays and a mishap involving a brand-new train car. #ThisIsOurReality is all but forgotten.

Now another Bay Area transit agency is upping the ante for social media attention.

On Thursday, the guy running the official account for Caltrain noticed a tweet from someone who was debating whether to drive up the Peninsula to San Mateo, a trip that would take 48 minutes, or take the train, which would take 18 minutes. Here’s how @Caltrain responded:

The message there, of course, is that “Caltrain doesn’t suck, and you’d be crazy to drive.”

Caltrain’s gambit, as explained in a series of exchanges with Twitter followers who expressed amazement that the account had not been hacked, aimed to promote a conversation about its service. And the conversation included some @SFBART-like straight talk about the agency’s shortcomings, along with customer surprise and gratitude:

Screenshot of Twitter conversation between @Caltrain and some of its followers.
Screenshot of Twitter conversation between @Caltrain and some of its followers. (Twitter screenshot)

Caltrain spokesman Will Reisman confirmed Friday that the @Caltrain tweets were real and originated with the agency’s social media officer, Jeremy Lipps.

“The point is that Caltrain is a very reliable transportation source,” Reisman said. “He was using wry humor and a little sarcasm to make that point.”

What the Crenshaw/LAX-Green Light Rail Lines can bring to LAX

ntbraymer

By Noel T. Braymer

Construction is now well underway to extend Los Angeles Metro’s Green Line nearer to LAX while building a new Crenshaw/LAX Line to connect with the Green Line at its Imperial and Aviation station at the edge of El Segundo and LAX. This will allow connections on the Green Line to LAX and the Crenshaw/LAX line which also terminates at the Exposition Line . This new trackage will be in service by 2019. By 2022 the plan is to add a new station a half mile north of the Century and Aviation Light Rail station to connect with a new LAX People Mover. This is part of construction by LAX to create a consolidated rental car facility which will remove the many rental car shuttle buses on the crowded streets around LAX. This People Mover will also serve a large outlying airport parking lot and passengers transferring…

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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.

The Downtown Santa Monica Metro Expo Line light rail station under construction.
The Downtown Santa Monica Metro Expo Line light rail station under construction.
Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

“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.”

What California High Speed Rail May Look Like by 2025

ntbraymer

By Noel T. Braymer

The California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) recently proposed several changes to the draft of their 2016 Business Plan. This new business plan was  approved by the CHSRA Board in late April but still needs to be approved by the Legislature this May. These changes are designed to reassure cities supporting High Speed Rail service in their communities that they will not be left out with the changes proposed in the new business plan to serve the Bay Area and not Southern California first with their Initial Operating Segment (IOS). Merced was particularly upset not to be included as a stop in the new IOS. Along with Merced, many of the cities in the northern San Joaquin Valley were disappointed that more wasn’t done to help them in their efforts to expand service on ACE to connect Merced to the upper East Bay area. They also…

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