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Old July 28th, 2015, 04:24 AM   #1741
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I think the LA light rail system is under appreciated by the people who participate in the SkyscraperCity transport thread.

The whole "what is a tram" "what is light rail" debate is a yawn...

Streetcar/tram/train/metro/subway/commuter....these words are old (and relevant) but don't necessarily reflect changes in use and form of rail based transport...

I have been to Los Angeles twice in my life, the first time in 1983, and public transport wise it was a shock...no trains of any kind ,and buses that hardly ran, so I was not that impressed when I heard that LA was building a tram system in the 90's, why didn't they build more subway/metro lines like the Red Line? (heavy rail, faster, underground)

Well of course underground heavy rail costs megabucks and even a rich country like the US doesn't have that much money (and people don't want to pay more taxes to pay for it) so "light rail" was the compromise...a hybrid of tram/metro/commuter rail based transport, designed for lower density urban living.

Large trams, coupled together, street running but also significant ROW corridors, station spacing similar to commuter rail and station design mimicking "traditional commuter stations"......the hybrid had found its form....I think the most appropriate name is "light metro"

And should other countries of the world take notice ? Yes, because this "hybrid" rail form is most relevant in the sprawl/suburbia of countries like Australia/NZ/Canada/UK and of course the US.
Maybe not so relevant in Europe and Asia (but it does depend on your cities density)
The LA system is not perfect, but it's lower cost rail template is now another option on the transport menu.

If any of you are interested in my thoughts on the LA and Portland systems I have posted a link to an Australian forum where I discuss them in greater detail.
http://www.sensational-adelaide.com/...hp?f=18&t=4804
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Old July 28th, 2015, 04:52 AM   #1742
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Quote:
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Well of course underground heavy rail costs megabucks and even a rich country like the US doesn't have that much money (and people don't want to pay more taxes to pay for it) so "light rail" was the compromise...a hybrid of tram/metro/commuter rail based transport, designed for lower density urban living.
I'm not sure why there would be a dichotomy between underground heavy rail and above ground LRT. Above ground, either ground level or elevated, is also a lower cost compromise compared to underground heavy rail. Remember, we're not talking about a city the size of Portland here. This is one of the largest urban areas in the world. LA didn't just compromise, it cheaped out.

Btw, when i said the rest of the world would laugh, I didn't mean laugh at the size of the system, I meant they'd laugh at the things a previous forumer said differentiated LRT from trams. In most places none of those distinctions really exist and any combination of those characteristics could apply to any type of system.
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Old July 28th, 2015, 08:51 AM   #1743
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This is one of the largest urban areas in the world. LA didn't just compromise, it cheaped out.
It only really 'cheaped out' in the sense that it didn't decide to blow a ton of money tunneling under Long Beach, Pasadena, etc. just to have less accessible stops and a little bit more segregation.

Seriously, what separates the Green Line from a heavy rail solution on the exact same tracks?

LA didn't 'cheap out', it made the sensible choice for the Blue, Gold and Expo corridors that maximise service, rather than blow a ton of money for something that is only better because of the stigma that LRT gets from what I've called 'type-2' trams. Now would mostly-segregated LRT work on major corridors in other very large cities? Probably not in many, but in LA it was the best option.
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Old July 28th, 2015, 02:30 PM   #1744
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I'm not sure why there would be a dichotomy between underground heavy rail and above ground LRT. Above ground, either ground level or elevated, is also a lower cost compromise compared to underground heavy rail. Remember, we're not talking about a city the size of Portland here. This is one of the largest urban areas in the world. LA didn't just compromise, it cheaped out.

Btw, when i said the rest of the world would laugh, I didn't mean laugh at the size of the system, I meant they'd laugh at the things a previous forumer said differentiated LRT from trams. In most places none of those distinctions really exist and any combination of those characteristics could apply to any type of system.
There's a dichotomy between the service characteristics of HRT and LRT, as has been repeated over the last few pages...

In any case, I fail to see how the city "cheaped" out when 1) the Blue Line was undertaken when the UMTA was still offering something like an 80% federal match, 2) the Green Line came on a silver platter thanks to the lawsuits over the Century Freeway which mandated that CalTrans incorporate transit into the median (i.e. LACTC didn't really need to pay much to implement the service, but only decide between rail and bus), etc...

They didn't cheap out, they went with the service they could sell the public on and what was in their means to deliver; remember, the first "Metro" line was still in deliberation during this time, as was not at all a given. That was Bradley's pet project....if anything got screwed (or, "cheapened"), it was HRT: the Red Line, that was forced out to Hollywood instead of down Wilshire to Santa Monica.

LRT serves a legitimate purpose, other than being cheaper. Not everything needs to be a subway. Now, if the city implemented Hamilton's "Centers" plan, changed zoning and land use regulations, then I would agree that HRT, linking these areas would have been better. As it stands most of the current LRT corridors make sense as-is.
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Old July 28th, 2015, 08:14 PM   #1745
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Hey guys, so you might have already heard, the US Olympic Committee has officially rescinded Boston's bid for the 2024 Olympics, which opens the doors for the LA bid (which they should've just gone with in the first place). Garcetti has already announced he's committed to rekindling the bid if the USOC decides it's the right move... the alternative of course being just not having a US bid.

Assuming the USOC at least gets its act together, LA would still have to beat out some heavy-hitting cities including Paris and Rome, but it's a strong contender. And in order to make the bid even stronger, the city and county will be pushing to get many infrastructure projects greenlit and funded, including potentially several rail projects.

This is honestly the biggest reason I'm a proponent for a strong LA bid; it will create extra incentive to hurry along projects like the Purple Line to Westwood (or even Santa Monica), the Crenshaw extension to WeHo, and an LAX/Sepulveda pass tunnel.

Fingers crossed.
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Old July 28th, 2015, 08:49 PM   #1746
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Originally Posted by phoenixboi08 View Post
There's a dichotomy between the service characteristics of HRT and LRT, as has been repeated over the last few pages...

In any case, I fail to see how the city "cheaped" out when 1) the Blue Line was undertaken when the UMTA was still offering something like an 80% federal match, 2) the Green Line came on a silver platter thanks to the lawsuits over the Century Freeway which mandated that CalTrans incorporate transit into the median (i.e. LACTC didn't really need to pay much to implement the service, but only decide between rail and bus), etc...

They didn't cheap out, they went with the service they could sell the public on and what was in their means to deliver; remember, the first "Metro" line was still in deliberation during this time, as was not at all a given. That was Bradley's pet project....if anything got screwed (or, "cheapened"), it was HRT: the Red Line, that was forced out to Hollywood instead of down Wilshire to Santa Monica.

LRT serves a legitimate purpose, other than being cheaper. Not everything needs to be a subway. Now, if the city implemented Hamilton's "Centers" plan, changed zoning and land use regulations, then I would agree that HRT, linking these areas would have been better. As it stands most of the current LRT corridors make sense as-is.
Well, yes, they did the best they could afford. In a developing country this would have been understandable. The US however sees itself as wealthier than that. For one of the leading cities of the developed world, this was really not an appropriate PT strategy but a "cheaped" one.

I know US Americans don't want to pay taxes and things like that are the result of it. Apparently many like it that way. One has to respect that but that doesn't mean that one can not call the end results by its name.
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Old July 28th, 2015, 09:24 PM   #1747
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Well, yes, they did the best they could afford. In a developing country this would have been understandable. The US however sees itself as wealthier than that. For one of the leading cities of the developed world, this was really not an appropriate PT strategy but a "cheaped" one.

I know US Americans don't want to pay taxes and things like that are the result of it. Apparently many like it that way. One has to respect that but that doesn't mean that one can not call the end results by its name.
That's not why they went with LRT...
It had nothing to do with voter opposition.
And, as I pointed out, those projects received funding during the short period when the Federal Government was matching mass transit at levels comparable to roads/highways.

LRT was chosen due to preferences of certain council members and a disbelief that a subway could work in the city.
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Old July 29th, 2015, 02:16 AM   #1748
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Now that Toronto's Pan Am Games are over, Toronto may bid for the Olympics so with Boston out of the way, I think Toronto will be your biggest contender if it doesn't go to Europe.
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Old July 29th, 2015, 03:23 AM   #1749
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phoenixboi08 View Post
There's a dichotomy between the service characteristics of HRT and LRT, as has been repeated over the last few pages...

In any case, I fail to see how the city "cheaped" out when 1) the Blue Line was undertaken when the UMTA was still offering something like an 80% federal match, 2) the Green Line came on a silver platter thanks to the lawsuits over the Century Freeway which mandated that CalTrans incorporate transit into the median (i.e. LACTC didn't really need to pay much to implement the service, but only decide between rail and bus), etc...

They didn't cheap out, they went with the service they could sell the public on and what was in their means to deliver; remember, the first "Metro" line was still in deliberation during this time, as was not at all a given. That was Bradley's pet project....if anything got screwed (or, "cheapened"), it was HRT: the Red Line, that was forced out to Hollywood instead of down Wilshire to Santa Monica.

LRT serves a legitimate purpose, other than being cheaper. Not everything needs to be a subway. Now, if the city implemented Hamilton's "Centers" plan, changed zoning and land use regulations, then I would agree that HRT, linking these areas would have been better. As it stands most of the current LRT corridors make sense as-is.
The issue is that the LRT has seen overcrowding and capacity constraints which cannot be easily addressed without expensive grade separation, plus there have been issues with the level crossings including many deaths. You don't need to dig that deep to discover such problems and they're even in the Wikipedia page.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wikipedia
The line often operates at capacity, and various options to increase capacity have been considered, such as four-car trains or more frequent trains. Both have problems: it would be difficult or impossible to lengthen some of the station platforms, and the number of trains already causes delays for other vehicles at level crossings. Thus it may not be possible to increase Blue Line ridership without an extremely expensive grade-separation project, either by elevation, by an entrenchment method similar to that used by the nearby Alameda Corridor freight rail "expressway", or by building another parallel transit corridor to relieve capacity strains from the Blue Line. When the Regional Connector project linking Blue and Expo Line tracks with the Gold Line tracks in Little Tokyo is completed, this may result in even more capacity problems, with ridership expected to grow even more once the connector is open for service.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_L...Current_issues

As far as the dichotomy, I was referring to the false dichotomy you were creating between LRT and UNDERGROUND heavy rail. You can have higher capacity services that aren't underground and aren't that much more expensive than LRT. They can be either elevated, at grade if there are suitable corridors, or a combination of various. There can be services like the Vancouver Skytrain (LA would probably need longer trains but it's the same principle) as well as systems similar to BART or Chicago L. A city the size of LA should have invested in such services from the start. It has the foresight to built heavy rail on the red/purple lines and it could also have built light metro in other places if it hadn't cheaped out.
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Old July 29th, 2015, 04:27 AM   #1750
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The issue is that the LRT has seen overcrowding and capacity constraints which cannot be easily addressed without expensive grade separation, plus there have been issues with the level crossings including many deaths. You don't need to dig that deep to discover such problems and they're even in the Wikipedia page.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_L...Current_issues

As far as the dichotomy, I was referring to the false dichotomy you were creating between LRT and UNDERGROUND heavy rail. You can have higher capacity services that aren't underground and aren't that much more expensive than LRT. They can be either elevated, at grade if there are suitable corridors, or a combination of various. There can be services like the Vancouver Skytrain (LA would probably need longer trains but it's the same principle) as well as systems similar to BART or Chicago L. A city the size of LA should have invested in such services from the start. It has the foresight to built heavy rail on the red/purple lines and it could also have built light metro in other places if it hadn't cheaped out.
And your version of events is false, because for the county to have "cheaped out," their only consideration for choosing LRT would have been cost; it wasn't.

There was a large, vocal, faction of county officials who supported LRT for various reasons. There's a good account of this, here. Construction on the Red Line didn't begin until the 80s, and was debated for a little over a decade...LACTC moved when the public desire for transit and Federal appetite for funding looked to be against the system.

Secondly, there is a dichotomy between LRT and HRT, the principal difference being the degree of grade separation.

Obviously, a system that's running underground is going to be totally grade separated (e.g. a subway)...once you've totally grade separated a line, it essentially ceases being LRT - despite the other characteristics of the system or LOS; all of the advantages of HRT flow from it having a dedicated ROW, and the disadvantages of LRT are directly attributed to its lack of complete grade separation.

The issues you're pointing out have nothing to do with LRT as a mode, but with the current LOS and other characteristics of the system (short platforms, timed-crossings/signal priority, etc). Those issues can be addressed, and should have been projected when the investment was made, but are a result of poor planning and/or foresight. Not cheapness.

I don't really understand your point, and your thesis doesn't hold up.
The county only needed to demonstrate public support for these early light rail projects in order to get, what was still generous, matching funds. Their concern was moving quickly, not cheaply.
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Old July 29th, 2015, 04:32 PM   #1751
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Your first statement is not true. To "cheap out" doesn't mean cost is the only factor. It can just as easily mean it's the deciding factor (ie influenced the process). And if your last statement is true, then they were too stingy on time rather than on money. But in any case, I agree with your assessment that it was poor planning.

As far the dichotomy, I am well aware of the differences between HRT and LRT. I was taking issue with PeFe's statement:

"Well of course underground heavy rail costs megabucks and even a rich country like the US doesn't have that much money"

This implies that the only choices are LRT or underground HRT, when in fact HRT doesn't need to be under ground, and of course it's not nearly as expensive to have metro, light metro, or high frequency commuter rail when it isn't underground. I apolgise for any confusion.

My criticism of the LRT lines is that they're not grade separated, and while it's true that this can be corrected, it would have been better to do it right from the start rather than to disrupt an active system and complicate the process by trying to overhaul it after it was already built.
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Old July 29th, 2015, 08:05 PM   #1752
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
As far the dichotomy, I am well aware of the differences between HRT and LRT. I was taking issue with PeFe's statement:

"Well of course underground heavy rail costs megabucks and even a rich country like the US doesn't have that much money"

This implies that the only choices are LRT or underground HRT, when in fact HRT doesn't need to be under ground, and of course it's not nearly as expensive to have metro, light metro, or high frequency commuter rail when it isn't underground. I apolgise for any confusion.

My criticism of the LRT lines is that they're not grade separated, and while it's true that this can be corrected, it would have been better to do it right from the start rather than to disrupt an active system and complicate the process by trying to overhaul it after it was already built.
I was actually surprised by how much grade separation there was considering I had heard LA was building "tram lines".....
The Blue line exits downtown LA into south-central LA for a few blocks then traverses its own ROW corridor until Long Beach
The Green Line is (mostly) in the centre of a freeway......
Expo straddles city streets before a long ROW (across some intersections though)
The Gold Line is really the biggest hybrid of all.....an underground section in East LA, straight down the middle of a suburban street north of downtown LA, then it's own ROW, then the middle of a freeway...

Surely this comes back to money...if LA had decided to build totally grade separated metro lines ( which probably would have to be underground) then the number of lines would be far fewer at this stage. How many would have been built and at what cost?

Getting the biggest bang for your transport buck is a natural all over the democratic world, only dictatorships get to build whatever they want at unlimited cost.
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Old July 29th, 2015, 09:13 PM   #1753
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Well it did seem to me that money was likely a major factor but phoenixboi08 seems certain that it wasn't. I just find it implausible that a city of such immense size and wealth would be unable to afford it - especially given how many poorer, smaller cities that apparently can, which is why my first reaction was tight-fistedness. But I accept the possibility of other factors.
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Old July 29th, 2015, 11:01 PM   #1754
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how is any of this related to LA?
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Old July 29th, 2015, 11:02 PM   #1755
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Well it did seem to me that money was likely a major factor but phoenixboi08 seems certain that it wasn't. I just find it implausible that a city of such immense size and wealth would be unable to afford it - especially given how many poorer, smaller cities that apparently can, which is why my first reaction was tight-fistedness. But I accept the possibility of other factors.
Because, as is the case in many metro areas, the city of LA was not making these plans, necessarily (other than figures like Mayor Bradley pushing them through).

Rather, it was a regional body - LACTC (now LACTA, I believe) - that was responsible for making a county-wide transit system a reality. As such, they were concerned with connecting the entirety of the county (some 80 odd municipalities).

The point I'm getting at, is that in the late 60s and 70s when the first movements were being made, what we now know as the Red Line was a pet project of Bradley and mostly was prioritized for the city. LACTC was concerned with doing what they could, as fast as they could. The issues with the light rail don't exist because they chose to use light rail, but because they couldn't envision the system ever becoming as large as it is, or experiencing the usage it currently is.

As I said above, I concede that it was a failure in planning, not in putting money where it needed to be put. Remember, this was in the twilight of very generous funding: Federal Matching funds, State transportation funds, and county sales taxes (their repeated rejection before finally getting passed is a different discussion, entirely).

Edit: I really, really, suggest you read this book, if you're really interested in the detailed account of this.
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Old July 29th, 2015, 11:14 PM   #1756
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That's not why they went with LRT...
It had nothing to do with voter opposition.
And, as I pointed out, those projects received funding during the short period when the Federal Government was matching mass transit at levels comparable to roads/highways.

LRT was chosen due to preferences of certain council members and a disbelief that a subway could work in the city.
Ok, then I misunderstood the reasons for the choice of LRT. The end results remains the same however. LRT is not the appropriate answer for LA's future transportation challenges, not for the network backbone at least. For secondary lines LRT could make sense of course.
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Old July 30th, 2015, 05:33 AM   #1757
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Hey guys, so you might have already heard, the US Olympic Committee has officially , which opens the doors for the LA bid (which they should've just gone with in the first place). Garcetti has already announced he's committed to rekindling the bid if the USOC decides it's the right move... the alternative of course being just not having a US bid.

Assuming the USOC at least gets its act together, LA would still have to beat out some heavy-hitting cities including Paris and Rome, but it's a strong contender. And in order to make the bid even stronger, the city and county will be pushing to get many infrastructure projects greenlit and funded, including potentially several rail projects.

This is honestly the biggest reason I'm a proponent for a strong LA bid; it will create extra incentive to hurry along projects like the Purple Line to Westwood (or even Santa Monica), the Crenshaw extension to WeHo, and an LAX/Sepulveda pass tunnel.

Fingers crossed.
The preliminary documents leaked by the SCCOG last year said something about having 80% of the venues reachable via public transit, so I went ahead and made a chart/map of the venues layered by the under-construction map found on the Metro's site. Only 66% of the venues are gonna be reachable (by mass transit) if the current plans are completed by then. Fingers crossed that the Olympics will hurry projects AND make a whole bunch of new ones
(especially one that runs right through Beverly Hills, so those powerless NIMBYs can suffer )
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Old July 30th, 2015, 07:20 PM   #1758
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Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society

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Old July 30th, 2015, 08:57 PM   #1759
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^

ITS LACMTA, not LACTA, FYI.... just Metro now....
LRT and HRT are used interdependently in LA. Aside from the Purple and Red Lines (fully underground), The EXPO, GOLD line, BLUE line and the under construction CRENSHAW/LAX line all have Subway Stations at one point of the route. Its a Mix based on Density and smart urban planning by LA county. It reduces cost and NYMBY fears. Just cuz USA is rich does not mean its cheaper for the tax payer. Politicians have to be accountable for cost overruns, eminent domain issues, the FTSB regulations, safety standards and budget details..ect. Not in China were they just build around you and then displace you from your home. Its time, money smart growth and necessity in the new 21st Century LA.

---------------------------------------------------------

Expo Line clearance test train reaches Downtown Santa Monica!

http://thesource.metro.net/2015/07/2...-santa-monica/

A clearance test of an Expo Line test train reached Downtown Santa Monica Station on Wednesday afternoon, making it the first time that a passenger train has gone that far west in the L.A. area since the early 1950s.

The second phase of the Expo Line is scheduled to open next year (sorry, no exact date yet). Completion of construction is forecast for October to be followed by several months of testing and employee training.

The project is largely funded by the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.


The test train passes by Nin in Japanese Restaurant at 5th and Colorado on Wednesday. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro.










Looking east down Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica Beach from Lincoln Boulevard.


Looking west down the tracks toward the final Expo station and the Santa Monica Pier beyond. A pedestrian plaza is being built between the Downtown Santa Monica Station (at left in the photo) and Ocean Avenue.


The train just east of the Downtown Santa Monica Station.
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Old July 31st, 2015, 07:36 AM   #1760
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