Blue and Expo lines resume normal service

Regular service resumed a few minutes ago after an earlier issue involving the overhead wires that power the trains. There will be some residual delays through about 5:30 p.m. this afternoon. Thanks for your patience with the delays.

Service alerts are available through Metro’s primary Twitter feed, the agency’s service alerts Twitter feed, the homepage, via text message or through the Go Metro smartphone apps.


Must-Read: A Guide For Engaging and Winning on Climate And Clean Energy

Betsy Taylor of Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions has put together an excellent messaging guide on climate and clean energy, “Climate Solutions for a Stronger America.”

She first “commissioned a national survey of likely voters to determine how leaders can engage and win on climate and energy in key races around the country.” She then consulted with leading communications experts to weave together a coherent narrative from the threads of those findings.

Readers know I’m a big believer in coherent narratives. Taylor’s guide is a must-read.

Here is more on the three major messages:

Key Finding 1: Extreme Weather

Voters have taken note of the nation’s unusual and severe weather—the tornadoes, heat waves, wildfires, and drought. The public clearly gets that something is going on with the climate because they see it in their own lives and on the news. Some are still uncertain about the causes of climate disruption, but three out of four now recognize it is real

Underlying Value: Responsibility

Message: We can’t ignore the increasingly severe weather: It’s already causing billions in damage and looks like it’s only getting worse. We owe it to our kids to protect them and their futures, and that means addressing climate change before it becomes irreversible. Running away from tough problems only makes them worse.  That’s not how America works. We need to implement common sense strategies now. We know what’s right, we know how to implement clean energy solutions, and we know that reducing fossil fuel dependence will make America stronger. It’s time to step up and get it done

Talk about current and recent weather. Spend less time talking about what may happen in the future and more on severe weather and impacts happening now. Use local examples, but also refer to the wildfires, drought, and major storms that have been in the national news.

Introduce “climate disruption.” Begin to use “climate disruption” instead of climate change when speaking about extreme weather and local impacts. “Disruption” makes it slightly harder for people to dismiss unusual events as being caused by natural weather cycles.

Focus on destructive weather, not just heat. Destructive, costly, and unpredictable weather events are more unsettling to voters than just record high temperatures. Voters do connect higher temperatures to destructive wildfires and drought.

Talk about kids and grandkids. In America, we put families first and that means making sure we leave a healthy, secure world for our kids and grandkids.In early August, the nation’s top climate scientist at NASA reported that things are going to get worse and that climate change must be addressed now if we want to make sure our kids have a safe future.

Message Pivot: Use the message triangle to link to messages grounded in the other two core messages of patriotic pride (#2) and accountability (#3). “We have a responsibility to act, and American ingenuity can drive the solutions.  It’s time to break the stranglehold that Big Oil and Coal has on Washington – a stranglehold that is preventing us from taking action on climate change.

Certainly it’s key to focus on increasingly extreme weather since we know linking that trend to climate change is scientifically accurate — see “Trenberth on How To Relate Climate Extremes to Climate Change” - and since it resonates with people:

Here’s the second finding, on solutions:

Key Finding 2: American Ingenuity and Solutions

Voters are hungry for optimistic solutions and confident leadership regarding climate change and clean energy. Voters believe in the potential of clean energy and in our nation’s ability to overcome challenges: Two-thirds disagreed that “given the tough economy, we can’t afford the high cost of transitioning to clean energy” and that “there is nothing we can do about climate change.”

Underlying Value: Patriotic Pride

Message: No one should doubt America’s ingenuity and resolve.  Those who say nothing can be done about climate change forget who we are and what we can do. We already have the energy technologies to run our economy cleanly and affordably.  American businesses and scientists have developed amazing renewable energy technologies, including solar mirrors that magnify the power of the sun, efficient wind turbines and jet fuel from algae.  America can build a healthier, more secure future by leading the world in clean energy solutions.   Developing clean energy creates jobs, strengthens local economies, and helps us gain control of our energy future.

Voters are seeking confident leaders who are willing to take on the complex problems of our times.  Without strong leadership, climate change can be intimidating.  Remind voters about practical, available clean energy technologies and solutions available today instead of focusing primarily on solutions projected for the future.

To counter messages that portray clean energy as unrealistic, take the patriotic high ground.  Make the case that the United States has already developed the technologies and has the solutions we need to make the transition to renewable energy. Give simple and visual examples of solutions.  Here’s one:  many technologies have been developed to take advantage of geothermal energy—the heat from the earth.  Instead of drilling for more fossil fuels, we can drill down to the steam and hot water in the Earth and use that heat for our homes and office buildings.

Talk about clean energy solutions as a source of job creation, a strategy for America to take control of our energy and economic future, and a way to avoid carbon pollution. Use local examples of solar, wind, environmental buildings, or carbon-reducing transit systems that have generated jobs in your community or state. Renewable technologies are positive, clean, and forward-looking — suggesting a better tomorrow.  Naysayers are selling America short and underestimating our capabilities.

Message Pivot: Use the message triangle to link to the other core two messages grounded in responsibility (#1) and accountability (#3):  Americans don’t run away from big challenges.  We turn them into big opportunities. We have a responsibility to our kids.  But Big Oil and the Koch Brothers are  standing in the way:  corrupting our political process and blocking American clean energy innovation.  It’s time to take our future back, and clean energy’s a great way to do it.

The solutions and clean energy jobs message has always been among the most important, as pretty much every poll makes clear. See CP’s 2011 post, “Independents Support Federal Investment in ‘Green Jobs’ 2-to-1 Despite Solyndra Media Storm,” which quoted this finding:

In dozens of focus groups we have conducted this month across the country on a wide variety of subjects, when voters are asked where they would like new jobs in their state to come from, the first words out of their mouths are almost always the same – clean energy and related technology.  Voters believe that the clean energy economy is here and is growing, and they want their state to have a part of it.

Returning to Taylor’s guide, here is the final message:

Key Finding 3: Big Oil and Coal are Blocking Clean Energy

Voters recognize that big fossil fuel companies have an unfair amount of influence over energy policy decisions in Washington. They see Big Oil as a greedy corporate actor that coordinates with SuperPacs, the billionaire Koch Brothers, and corrupt politicians to manipulate our government, pad their profits, and suppress clean energy innovation.  Voters understand, correctly, that the undue influence of fossil fuel interests is an obstacle to progress.  This finding allows us to construct a powerful narrative that puts climate and clean energy champions on the offensive (with messages 1 and 2), and associates opponents with fossil fuel interests that voters deeply distrust.  Nearly six out of ten voters are troubled a lot or a fair amount by “oil companies pouring tens of millions of dollars into so-called superPACS advertising campaigns in order to influence key elections.”

Underlying Value: Accountability

Message: It’s time to break the stranglehold that the oil and coal companies have on Washington.  They are rigging the system to pad their profits, block clean energy innovation, and prevent responsible action to protect our kids from climate disruption.  They pay for deceptive campaigns to spread doubts about climate science and the role of fossil fuels in causing climate change.

Call for political leaders to hold oil and coal companies accountable and fight back against corporations that are “rigging the system” against clean energy and “not playing by the rules.” Remind the public that, “What’s best for the oil companies is not what’s best for the American economy and the American people.  And especially not what’s best for our children’s future.”

Challenge the credibility of opposition claims by letting voters know that the fossil fuel companies are conducting a deceptive media campaign to spread doubt – distorting science, manipulating our political system, and blocking America’s progress toward a reducing dependence on oil and coal.  It’s the same strategy the tobacco companies used to hide the deadly impacts of smoking, and some of the same people are behind it.

If it’s felt like we haven’t made fast enough progress in this country in tackling climate change because there’s been a lot of uncertainty in the science — Guess what?  There’s been a coordinated, well-funded effort by the petroleum industry to MAKE the American public feel confused and to delay progress in this critical area.    I’m reading from a memo from the American Petroleum Institute, stating “Victory will be achieved when average citizens ‘understand’ uncertainties in climate science. National Academy of Sciences calls the science behind climate disruption “settled fact.”

Message Pivot: Use the message triangle to link to messages grounded in the other two core messages of responsibility (#1) and patriotic pride (#2). Oil and coal companies can never convince us that fossil fuel dependence is a good thing. So they deny climate science and undermine clean energy. The truth is that clean energy is abundant and affordable and essential to a healthy future..   No one should doubt America’s ingenuity and ability to meet this challenge. Those who say that nothing can be done about climate change forget what America is capable of. We can’t ignore the growing reality of severe weather – and we owe it to our kids to protect them, and that means addressing climate change before it becomes irreversible.

This final message is an important one and should be included in some form in major presentations on climate.

There is more in this guide, including “Key Supporting Facts,” examples of how to respond to specific attacks, a sample op-ed and a variety of soundbites. Kudos to Betsy Taylor and Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions for putting together this must-read report.

Introducing, the “Measure J Page”

For a much larger version of the Measure J map, in a high resolution pdf, click here.

As we approach election day, there’s going to be a lot of discussion of Measure J. Measure J is the proposed extension of the 2008 Measure R transit tax that is set to expire in 2039. Measure J would extend, not increase, the tax until 2069 allowing Metro to bond against future revenue to build the projects promised by Measure R in a shorter timeline.

To best inform our readers, we’re launching a new page on Streetsblog, the Measure J Page. The purpose of the page isn’t to endorse or oppose Measure J, but to provide a non-biased informational page with outgoing links to news and views on the ballot measure.

The Streetsblog Editorial Board has not discussed taking a position on Measure J, so it’s unlikely we’ll have an official position before November 6th. As a result, you won’t see us pushing for or against the ballot measure. We will try to inform voters, politicians, opinion makers and even other journalists. A major part of that effort will be continuing to update and promote this page.

If you have any links or other information you’d like us to add, please let me know in the comments section or by emailing damien at streetsblog dot org. Every time we update the page, we’ll make announcements on social media and in the next day’s Today’s Headlines.

Service delays on the Blue and Expo lines this afternoon

Metro Blue Line patrons are experiencing delays of up to 20 minutes due to problems with the power line that feeds the trains. Metro is implementing single tracking and also has implemented an emergency bus service for Blue Line passengers between 7TH St/Metro Center and Grand stations, and for the Expo Line, between 7th St/Metro Center and 23rd Street Station. Repairs are estimated to take a couple of hours. For Service Alerts go to or follow us on @MetroLAalerts on Twitter.


USA Today: Homebuilders Pass On Garages, Build Front Porches

USA Today reported today that more and more homes are being built without garages or carports. That stands to reason, as developers are (belatedly) building what the market wants: denser housing in walkable urban centers near transit. Copious parking and driveway curb cuts simply don’t mesh with that model.

My front porch. Photo: Tanya Snyder

At the peak of the housing boom in 2004 — when the exurbs were still thriving — 92 percent of new homes had a car shelter. By 2010 it was down to 87 percent, and held steady in 2011. National Association of Home Builders’ Stephen Melman told USA Today it was a positive sign “about public transportation if new construction is starting to be built closer to employment centers or transit.”

Almost as exciting: Front porches are making a comeback. “Two-thirds of new homes built in 2011 had a porch,” write USA Today’s Haya El Nasser and Paul Overberg, “a trend that has been on a steady rise for almost 10 years, according to a Census survey of construction.”

Impressively, they don’t take this trend at face value, assuming it’s nothing more than a housing fad. They dig deeper into emerging consumer preferences for how we want to live and what kind of society we want — one with “smaller houses and dense neighborhoods that promote walking and social interaction.”

Bingo! Using real estate prices as a guide, developer and walkability guru Chris Leinberger shows that walkable urban places, which he calls WalkUPs, have tremendous and growing appeal. Dr. Green admitted he was surprised by how high the premiums are for walkable neighborhoods. Office space in WalkUPs can (and does) command a 75 percent premium over the drivable suburbs. And residential rents are 71 percent higher in walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods.

The increased sociability of those sought-after neighborhoods may have something to do with the fact that porches are displacing back decks as the outdoor hangout of choice. Despite overwhelming evidence that what Americans want most is privacy, more and more people are opting to face the street and see their neighbors, rather than hide behind hedgerows.

Siemens Lays Off Wind Workers, Citing Expiring Tax Credit Romney Wants To Kill; Romney Campaign Blames Obama

Here’s a little story about wind you might have heard.

First we’ll tell it the way it happened. And then we’ll tell it the way Mitt Romney’s campaign thinks it happened.


Chapter 1: Since 2008, U.S. wind generation has increased 171 percent, bringing in nearly $20 billion in private investment and supporting 75,000 American jobs.

Chapter 2: Partly helped by a bi-partisan tax credit originally crafted by a Republican Senator from Iowa and championed by President Obama, wind accounts for 32 percent of new capacity in 2011.

Chapter 3: That development helps fuel new growth in manufacturing. In 2006, only 35 percent of components for wind turbines came from American companies. Today, with 500 manufacturing facilities operating around the country, 67 percent of components for turbines now come from American companies.

Chapter 4: All that new manufacturing activity helps some struggling Midwestern towns with high unemployment gain back their manufacturing jobs. It even helps Iowa get 20 percent of its electricity from wind.

Chapter 5: But that bipartisan tax credit, which maintained wind’s momentum even while natural gas prices hover near record lows due to a supply glut, is now set to expire at the end of the year. (Author’s note: Much of that new natural gas was made available because of key government support too.) In response, Republican representatives, governors, conservative county commissioners, and the largest companies in the world all send letters to Congress asking for a short-term extension of the credit.

Chapter 6: Congress balks.

Chapter 7: Mitt Romney says he supports killing the tax credit; Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says Romney’s position is “like a knife in my back.” Soon after, Paul Ryan says he opposes the tax credit. Ryan then goes back out of the campaign stump pushing his “austerity” budget, which preserves $40 billion in permanent tax credits for the fossil fuel industry.

Chapter 8: The wind industry starts frantically reminding people about projections from Navigant Consulting showing a loss of 37,000 jobs if the tax credit expires.

Chapter 9: The projections start playing out. As the expiration date for the wind tax credit approaches, wind companies start cancelling projects and laying off workers due to a slump in demand for 2013. Manufacturers and developers in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania cancel projects, lay off workers, or announce plans to lay off workers.

Chapter 10: On Tuesday, Siemens announces that it will lay off 615 wind workers in Kansas, Florida, and Iowa. The company blames political uncertainty around the production tax credit for wind. At no point does Siemens blame President Obama.

End reality.


Begin Romney campaign version:

Appendix 1: Responding to the Siemens wind announcement, the Romney campaign tries a different approach to the story — oddly blaming the layoffs entirely on Obama:

“Today’s layoffs at Siemens are yet another unfortunate reminder of the Obama Economy where American families have suffered from chronic unemployment, increased poverty and falling incomes.  There is a fundamental disconnect between President Obama’s philosophy of the need for redistribution of wealth and the free market economy which our country was founded on. President Obama has focused on attacking the success of others rather than applauding their accomplishments and urging others to strive for similar success. Mitt Romney’s plan for a stronger middle class will foster the dignity of work, champion innovation, generate new wealth, and create 12 million new jobs in his first term alone in a variety of sectors, including wind.”

Appendix 2: No one notices because everyone is too preoccupied with secret tapes showing Romney calling 47 percent of Americans “dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing.”

Let’s stop cell phone snatchers

Metro and L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies are asking patrons to watch for the person in these photographs. On July 16 at approximately 11:10 p.m. this suspect was captured on video grabbing an Apple iPad from a Metro patron as she was riding the Blue Line. When the train arrived at the Compton Station, the suspect approached the victim from behind, grabbed her iPad from her hands and fled the train car and platform northbound on foot. Please call the LASD Transit Services Bureau (323) 563-5000 if you recognize this man. He is thought to be 17-19 years old with black hair and brown eyes, 5′ 6″ or 5′ 7″, 140-150 pounds.

Aboard Metro buses and trains, thieves are snatching smart phones and other electronic devices at a growing rate and Metro officials and Los Angeles County Sheriffs are taking steps to stop it. But they need the public’s help in putting an end to these crimes of opportunity. Raising awareness is the first step.

“It’s a national trend. And we need to educate the public about how they can avoid being victims of this kind of crime,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Commander Patrick Jordan.

In L.A., as well as in New York, Washington D.C., Boston and Chicago, thieves are stealing cell phones and other electronic devices out of the hands of inattentive transit riders. Metro experienced a 47 percent increase in phone thefts during the first half of this year, compared with the first half of last year.

In looking at the thefts by month, they began to increase steadily in March of this year, with a low of 15 in February and a high of 34 in July. There have been 168 phone theft reports taken since the first of the year. The result has been 84 arrests.

And yet, the Metro system is safe and overall crime on Metro is stable. For every 100 million boardings in the first half of 2011, Metro had 250 crimes — the same number as for the first half of this year.

Phone and electronic device snatching is a crime of convenience and surprise is a key weapon of phone thieves. So Metro and the Sheriffs Department, which provides security on the Metro system, want passengers to be vigilant to avoid becoming victims.

Pay particular attention getting on and off trains and buses. That’s when thieves can quickly grab a phone and dash either onto or off of a departing train or bus. Stash phones and iPods away when arriving at or departing a station. It’s also a good idea to keep other valuables out of sight.

Be aware of your surroundings. Sit or stand in an area that remains visible to the public and other transit riders and employees. Make a mental note of where the emergency notification buttons are located in the stations and on trains.

Trains appear to be the preferred venues for cell phone thefts, perhaps because trains can hold more passengers and buses are manned by bus drivers whose presence may deter some thieves.

Cell phone grabs can occur at all times of day but happen most often between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and then spike again for about an hour after 9 p.m. Victims and perpetrators are both male and female.

Most of the attacks are not armed robberies but are grabs of surprise, with suspects taking  phones from unaware passengers who may be talking on them at that moment.

Should you become a victim or witness a crime, try to note the train car number (posted on the outside of trains near the car corners and posted inside on the doors leading to train cars in front and in back), the time, the station and the line. Call LASD Transit Services Bureau immediately. There are video cameras on all trains and buses and train platforms. Working with photos captured from surveillance cameras, Sheriff’s deputies can search for robbery suspects. “We catch many of the suspects responsible,” Cmd.Jordan said.

Protests And Civil Disobedience Against Construction Of The Keystone XL Pipeline Continue

By Jessica Goad

This morning near Winnesboro, Texas, three protestors chained themselves to logging machinery used to clear trees in the pathway of the Keystone XL pipeline. It is the most recent in a series of protests designed to delay construction of the southern end of the controversial pipeline.

The northern leg of Keystone XL, which runs from Alberta’s tar sands south to Steele City, Nebraska, is under additional review by the State Department. The Department will likely complete its analysis by early 2013. Transcanada, the company behind the pipeline, agreed to reroute the northern section after major concerns were raised about the impacts it could have on Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer.

But construction has already begun on the southern leg of the pipeline, which runs from Cushing, Oklahoma to various refineries in southern Texas.  Construction on the “Gulf Coast segment” of the pipeline began in early August after President Obama directed his administration to “make this project a priority” in March. (A third, middle portion running from Steele City to Cushing is already online).

The group behind today’s protest is Tar Sands Blockade, whose goal is to delay, interrupt, and stop construction of pipeline infrastructure.  The group states on its website that:

We don’t make the decision lightly. The fact is, other tactics – lobbying, petitioning, and packing public hearings – have failed to halt the pipeline. State authorities have bent to every TransCanada desire, and they show no signs of stopping now.

This morning’s protest is the fourth demonstration of civil disobedience by local landowners, climate activists, and young people in Texas. In early September, near Saltillo, Texas, a handful of protesters chained themselves to logging equipment, delaying construction for a day. In August, seven protesters locked themselves to a truck carrying pipe to the construction site, right after Transcanada was allowed to seize private land using eminent domain for pipeline construction. And in early August, organizers hung banners at equipment staging areas in Texas and Oklahoma.

Transcanda has not commented on the protests, although its CEO said in July upon approval of the southern section that “TransCanada is now poised to put approximately 4,000 Americans to work constructing the $2.3 billion pipeline….”

Last September, more than 1,200 citizens were arrested in front of the White House to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. And NASA climatologist James Hansen has warned that exploitation of Canada’s tar sands is “game over for the climate.”

Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Public Lands Project.

Starting today, you can register to vote online

Great news! Starting today, Californians can register to vote online. Previously, voters could start the process online, but had to print and mail the form to register.

read more

Metro rider survey infographic

Instead of posting the plain text from the latest Metro survey of bus and rail passengers, we  decided to give the numbers a graphical twist. As for the results, they’re pretty much in line with previous surveys. More info on how the survey was conducted below.

How the surveys are done

Every year, Metro conducts a survey aboard their buses and trains.  This is how we take “the pulse” of our riders. We send surveyors onto a sample of enough bus lines to account for 98% of our weekday passenger boardings.

Surveyors in orange vests ride that randomly selected bus or train and hand out paper surveys to every person who boards the bus (see figure A?). The survey is printed in English and Spanish, and includes an opportunity to complete the survey in seven other languages online.

About half of the riders pass back their surveys completed, totaling between 15,000 and 20,000 surveys each year.  All this data is input by hand and compiled into a data file so that we can see feedback from riders that is statistically sound.

We use this data in many different ways: to inform division managers of the on-time performance and cleanliness of the buses, customer satisfaction with service, demographic information for research and media requests, to name a few.

The questions change a little bit each year, but most of the questions stay the same, so that we can observe trends over time.  We created this infographic using all of that data generated from riders like you!  Thanks for telling us what you think.  We hope this helps explain all that information we’ve been collecting.