Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Metro Can Now Upgrade the Orange Line to Light Rail (when funding becomes available)

Horray!  Governor Brown has signed AB577 which repealed the law banning surface rail along the Chandler Right-of-Way in the San Fernando Valley.   

Now that this law has been passed, and there are no legal restrictions, the Orange Line may now be planned for a light-rail upgrade.

Of course, there is no such funding for such an upgrade, and any such upgrade will have to compete with all the other proposed rail projects competing for funding.

But the good news is that the Valley will not be condemned to BRT only transit planning while the rest of the county sees rail expansion.

And the San Fernando Valley deserves an east-west light-rail line and a north-south light-rail between Sylmar and LAX.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Any progress on passenger rail to Palm Springs?

I regularly get asked if there is any progress on getting daily passenger rail between Los Angeles to Palm Springs.

Here is what I have been able to find.

The Riverside County Transportation Commission passed a resolution in October 2013 supporting daily intercity rail service from Los Angeles to the Coachella Valley.

Here is the current RCTC Fact Sheet on the project.

In the maeantime, I am wondering how that Sunline Transit Commuter Bus 220 service is fairing.  Also, I have friends who occasionally take Amtrak from Los Angeles to Fullerton and then catch the Amtrak bus to the Coachella Valley and then back the same way when returning.  Those Amtrak buses are nice and have WiFi.. 

Two big questions remain:  

(1) Should passenger rail service between Los Angeles and the Coachella Valley be a Metrolink operation or an Amtrak operation?  If there are sufficient people who would commute daily to work from the Coachella Valley and Riverside or even Los Angeles, the Metrolink makes sense.  If this is more resort and holiday travel, then perhaps Amtrak is the more suitable carrier.  Either way, we all want to Palm Springs and Coachella Valley having daily stops in the morning and evening.  And if that happens will Palm Springs upgrade its station with amenity or two?

(2) Competition with Freight Rail for use of those tracks.  Right now the freight rail carriers do not want to share the tracks for daily passenger rail service.  Approximately 40% of America's incoming goods go through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, so you can see why.  Is the answer for the federal government to make them share the tracks with passenger rail through regulation or is it to find the money to build more tracks or both?  

That is where we are at and as soon as I know more I will let you know.