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Metro Fail: Taps For A TAP Card

May 2, 2012 in Mass Transit, Transportation

Way back near the end of the aughts — July of 2009 to be more exact — is when my disenchantment with Metro’s TAP cards began, producing two posts, linked below should you be interested in what a pain in the ass it was:

The card’s usage on various bus and rail lines in the interim since had been entirely without incident, until yesterday when I biked downtown to 7th Street to take my first trip on the shiny new Expo Line. The thrill at riding fresh rails into the westside was somewhat buzzkilled when I went to purchase my one-way ticket with my TAP card only to have the machine tell me that it had “expired,” and suggesting I visit a Metro customer service center for assistance.

Though I’m predisposed to some pretty elaborate grousing displays, I kept my outward petulance to a minimum and instead fished out the $1.50 needed for the fare. With ticket in hand I boarded the appropriate train, deciding that I’d bike back up to the Metro customer office on the corner of La Brea and Wilshire to have a representative answer me as to why the fuck does a damn TAP card still loaded with about $13 of my own money expire?

Short answer: So Metro can rip off TAP card-holding riders every three years.

Longer answer after the jump. Oh yeah: and it turns out the card hadn’t expired yet.

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by frazgo

Tenth Annual Pasadena Earth and Arts Festival Saturday 4/14/12

April 12, 2012 in Art, Crafts, Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, Mass Transit, San Gabriel Valley, Shopping, Transportation

pasadena earth and arts

Pasadena Earth and Arts Festival poster, click to embiggen

You’d think I live in Pasadena given how often I post about the place, I don’t, but they always have something of interest going on.  This Saturday its the 10th Annual Pasadena Earth and Arts Festival to be held in and around the Armory Center for the Arts across from Memorial Park.  Here’s the run down of things that will be at this FREE festival:

For gawds sake take public transpo to the Gold Line and exit Memorial Park Station…you’ll be right at the park and only a very short walk to the Armory Center.  Show your metro pass or ticket at the Transportation Booth and they will have a gift for you…well a gift as long as the supply lasts.  Beats the difficulty in finding parking in the area which can be expensive when you do find a space and don’t forget that PPD does patrol hard for scofflaws.

Details:Saturday April 14, 2012 11AM-5PM, 145 Raymond Street, Pasadena CA, MAP HERE

Make Way For The Expo Line

March 21, 2012 in Biking in LA, Mass Transit, Transportation

Go ahead, call me a train geek, I won’t deny it. While biking toward downtown along Exposition Boulevard yesterday, I got my camera out just in time to catch a brand spankin’ new Expo Line train on the move eastbound (raced by a hearse of all things). The line is not yet open to the public and there is yet a firm date set as testing of it continues, but this was sure a purty sight to see.

UPDATE (3.23): Streetsblog Los Angeles reports that an April 28 opening date for the Expo Line has been announced!

And Now A Metaltastic Review Of Our Regional Mass Transportation System Shredfully Brought To You By It’s Casual

January 12, 2012 in Mass Transit, Music, Transportation

“The Red Line (The Freeways Are Not So Nice),” by It’s Casual. Found at LA Taco

Don’t Forget: Travel Safely (and for Free) This Holiday Season!

December 22, 2011 in Holidays, LA, Mass Transit, Transportation

sleigh picture

Image from Creative Tools on Flickr, used via Creative Commons license

Metro will offer free fare rates on the Eves of both Christmas and New Years. Here is some information from the press release, as found at Metro’s The Source blog:

The free fare program will be in effect between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. on the nights and early mornings hours of December 24-25 and December 31-January 1.

Patrons boarding a Metro Bus, including the Metro Orange Line, or the Metro Red, Purple, Blue, Green or Gold rail lines during the hours designated will receive a free ride to their destination.

Have fun; be safe. Happy Holidays!

Irony Alert: Avoiding the Traffic to Get To and From the Car Show

November 17, 2011 in Driving, Events, Mass Transit, Transportation

MINI Coupe

MINI Coupe: all fun, no mess

Like many Los Angeles area folks, I’m crazy about cars. Fortunately, I’m able to incorporate my love into my work, and covered the L.A. Auto Show on Press Day 1 yesterday. Unfortunately, my day was ruled as much by the cars on the roads outside than by the shiny new models inside the Convention Center.

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The Ebb ‘N Flow Of The Come ‘N Go

August 28, 2011 in Biking in LA, Driving, Mass Transit, Transportation

Need an 8-minute frivolous diversion?

With my camera rigged up to the eyepiece of my spotting scope (with duct tape and adhesive putty), from my backyard I pointed it at Sunset Boulevard between Descanso (just out of view at the bottom) and the Maltman bend in Silver Lake (at the top) to timelapse capture the afternoon traffic flow.

Sometimes it Starts With a Facebook Page

July 18, 2011 in culver city, LAX, Long Beach, Mass Transit, The Valley, West Side

Valley-Westside Rail

You Should Like This

Before The Event That Never Was, I wrote about the need for a rail line along the 405 corridor. I exchanged a few emails with Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition, who shared some insight as to how to get such an important piece of the transit puzzle off the ground (or rather, under.) He said they have been in talks with Los Angeles Council Districts 6 and 11, and that they would begin promoting through social media sites.

The Valley-Westside Rail project is now up on Facebook. You should like it.

I asked Bart how people could get more involved. He said that we need to start by garnering support from neighborhood councils. So, that’s where I began, with a few emails of my own:

This past weekend, the closure of the 405 and the media attention it received resulted in a ripple effect on the entire freeway system. Drivers got lucky. Businesses did not. This further illustrates the need for viable transportation alternatives. Specifically, a more comprehensive regional rail network.

As a contributing author for Blogging.LA, I wanted to get your input on a newly envisioned Metro rail line from the Valley to the Westside, by way of the 405 corridor.

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Wolfpack Hustle Vs Jetblue

July 14, 2011 in Biking in LA, Mass Transit

The other day the entire world collectively pointed and laughed at the obvious publicity stunt unleashed by JetBlue, where they announced plans to offer $4 fares from Burbank to Long Beach to avoid carmageddon. But flying seems pretty fast right? I mean, you are in a plane and all. But how fast is it really? Fast enough to beat Wolfpack A? Seriously, easily the most elite street cyclists in LA, possibly in the country started doing the math and think they can make that trip faster on bike than JetBlue can in a plane. You know what? I think they are right. I’ve seen the hustle in action. I’ve seen Wolfpack A win race after race. I think this is totally legit. Several folks are already trying to get JetBlue to accept the challenge. Let’s see what happens!

UPDATE: IT’S ON! Details being finalized right this very second, but this is happening. Point to point. It’s a battle of commuters. A house in Burbank to the Long Beach Aquarium. More details soon!!!

It Caught My Eye: Slice O’ Life & Death

May 29, 2011 in Crime, ICME, Mass Transit, Social issues, Transportation

Had to go down to the Central Library Friday afternoon to pick up a book I’d put a hold on. Opted to leave the bike at home and instead catch the No. 4 bus from Silver Lake to Pershing Square, where I walk along Fifth Street from Hill past the park, Olive, the Biltmore and Grand. When I leave the library with book in hand, I decide not to return the way I came and instead step on Hope south to 7th and go underground, hopping the Red Line back up to Vermonica from there to stride the rest of the way home. On impulse I veer into the parking lot to make a stop at the Rite Aid, which puts me in the direct trajectory of a young lady who steps out from behind a car wanting to know if I speak English. I successfully fight back the urge to ask “What other do you think this loaf of Wonder Bread might speak?” and instead politely confirm that I do have a passing familiarity with that language. In turn, she casts out a weary line about trying to get Pizza Hut’s finest for her kids, but her debit card was refused and could I maybe spare some—.

“Sure!” I said, cutting her off. “I’ll buy the pizzas for you. How many you need?”

As expected she hadn’t set up for the curveball I pitched and the words stumble out of her mouth wondering if it would be OK if I just gave her the cash. I told her all I had was my debit card at which she shook her head. Her “Thanks anyway,” confirmed my suspicions that the pizza story was a fiction, and for their sake hopefully the children were, too.

Out from the Rite Aid the young lady starts for me again until realizing she’d hit me already and sharply turns away as if I don’t exist. As I head east on Santa Monica Boulevard I wonder if it’ll ever dawn on her that duh, she missed an opp for free pizza that if nothing else could’ve helped fuel the drive to her next fix. Oh well.

I pass the stately Cahuenga branch of the library where I startle a homeless woman who is changing clothes in the relative privacy of the library’s locked-up lower entryway. I pass the Little Temple club, cross Virgil, and look down upon the shack that used to be the beloved Jake’s Jay’s Burgers, but now since its eviction is home to the latest in a succession of nondescript and noninteresting eateries.

Next I eye a small mural and double back to get this snap of it (after the jump; click for slight enlargification):

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Every Week Is Bike Week But This Next One Is The One That Gets All The Attention

May 14, 2011 in Biking in LA, LA, Mass Transit, News, Transportation

Bike Week 2011Having participated  in Bike Week going back to its beginnings in the mid-1990s, it’s good to see how far the events have come from such humble origins. But one thing that’s always perplexed me through those years is how big the collective emphasis is on biking “to” work, with pretty much a total divorce from that whole “from” part.

Though the Law of Commuting states, “What goes out, must come back,” year in and year out Bike Week organizers ignore that all-important second part. On the designated “Bike To Work Day” that “To” part is taken literally. Mornings are chock full of strategic events and pitstops and various freebies, sprinkled with the occasional councilpersons who’ll don helmets and grins and pedal under an MTA sign and past a camera pool. And if you’re in the right place as you pedal, you might find a few scattered Starbucks that’d give up a free drip coffee if you rolled there before 9 a.m.

But pretty much after that hour things are broken down and packed up and put away — which is literally half-assed; a willingly missed opportunity to keep the good vibrations and awareness going on for that integral return trip. Well, with this coming edition of Bike Week (May 16-20; with Bike To Work Day on May 19) I’m pleased to report some progress has been made. Not by the city or the county or Metro, but rather by the LA County Bicycle Coalition who for better or worse is gonna help returning cyclists get their drink on.

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High Speed Rail to LAX

May 4, 2011 in LA, LAX, Mass Transit

Chicago’s outgoing Mayor Daley wants high speed rail from the city’s downtown to O’Hare International Airport. It would be the first of its kind in the United States – meaning that it would be fast, convenient, and far too logical for American politicians to actually build.

Your move, @villaraigosa.

A few years back, I proposed the Metro Flyline – a rail network from Union Station to every airport in the region. It was kind of a joke, in that not many people need to hop a train from Downtown Los Angeles to fly their personal jet out of Van Nuys Airport. But what about a line that did service the major transportation hubs in the region? A high speed TRIANGLE, connecting LAX, Bob Hope in Burbank and Union Station.

Put it all underground. Run the whole thing elevated. Tunnel through every living room in Beverly Hills.

I don’t know where the money would come from. I don’t know ridership numbers. I don’t know environmental impact blahbitty blah. What I do know, is that people would use it. Isn’t that what mass transit is for?

The point here is that it’s time for Los Angeles to start thinking big again. No matter how far-fetched and ridiculous it may seem. Let other cities celebrate highway widenings and Target openings. We’re better than that.

Maybe someday, we’ll have a mayor that won’t mind rolling up his sleeves and putting in a solid 8 hours of work.

Everybody Into the Subway!

April 29, 2011 in Biking in LA, Mass Transit

Did you know there was a bike ban on Metro Rail during rush hour? That ban is gone, effective immediately. The Source wants to know how you feel about that.

With gas prices surging, the city’s renewed interest in a viable bike network, and increasingly popular events like CicLAvia, this can only be a good thing.

But, exactly how will Metro handle the possible flood of fixies? There has been some talk of removing seats from rail cars.  Instead of simply placating cyclists, why not encourage them by going a step further?

What Metro needs now is a multimodal rail car with bike storage. Sound far fetched? Plans were drawn up in 1976.

Mining The Gold Line

April 23, 2011 in Entertainment, Events, Mass Transit, Transportation

That a hearty band of like-minded pedventurers followed me through the Eastside at the beginning of last month for my 2nd Annual March March is old news, but what’s just come up is an awesome slow-mo video my friend Steven made of various aspects of the trek and I am helpless not to share it here:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

If the embed above doesn’t work, the video can be found here: http://vimeo.com/22766801

Red Line: Take the L?

April 7, 2011 in History, Mass Transit

Chicago is known for its L – a heavy rail transit line that is elevated through its downtown core. But, did you know that Los Angeles almost had it’s own L?

It would have been on Wilshire, the transit corridor currently known for its underground Subway To The Wiltern. It would have been part of the Red Line, from Union Station to the Miracle Miracle, up through West Hollywood, back to Hollywood, and on to NoHo.

The plans were drawn up in 1983. Twenty-eight years ago.

Metro has put up the renderings and maps for what could have been.