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Transportation

Expedited Wilshire Metro Work Continues in Beverly Hills

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Subway Tunnel - Photo by Claudia Soraya/cc

BEVERLY HILLS — With the temporary, full closure of Wilshire Boulevard between Crescent Drive and Beverly Drive, crews are making significant progress on completing extensive piling work on the Metro Purple Line Project.

The City Council earlier this month approved the closure and a new construction timeline due to reduced traffic flow in connection with the COVID-19 emergency.  

The piling work on the south side of Wilshire was originally scheduled to last through August.  Under the current expedited timeline, the piling work is expected to be complete by early May.

“While we recognize this work is some of the most difficult and impactful to date, it is happening at a more rapid pace and will reduce future congestion in our busy business district when merchants re-open following the COVID-19 emergency,” said Mayor Lester Friedman.  “We appreciate the community’s patience as crews complete this complex project as quickly and safely as possible.”

Map of detours around Metro construction on Wilshire in Beverly Hills

The current work hours are in accordance with the approved Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and were not adjusted for this expedited construction.  The project does include new hauling hours between 7 A.M. and 9 A.M. and 4 P.M. and 7 P.M. Metro may work on non-religious holidays such as Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Father’s Day.

Soft closures will be in place along Wilshire Boulevard within the detour area and local access to businesses will be maintained.

This specially authorized Metro work may continue until the City’s local emergency is cancelled or within five days of notice from the City Manager or designee. For more information, please visit www.beverlyhills.org/purpleline.

Other Purple Line work underway this week includes the following:

  • Wilshire Blvd./Western Ave. – Tunneling Support and Street Maintenance 
  • Wilshire Blvd./La Brea Ave. and Wilshire Blvd./Sycamore Ave. – Hauling, Deliveries and Tunneling Support
  • Wilshire Blvd./Rimpau Blvd. – Center Enclosure, Material Deliveries and Underground Construction
  • Wilshire Blvd. and Side Streets between Western Ave. and San Vicente Blvd. – Instrumentation, Environmental Testing and Street Maintenance 
  • Wilshire Blvd./Fairfax Ave. – Station Construction, Hauling and Concrete Pouring 
  • Wilshire Blvd./Crescent Heights Blvd. and Wilshire Blvd./La Jolla Ave. – Utility and Tunnel Investigation
  • Wilshire Blvd./La Cienega Blvd. – Station Construction, Material Deliveries and Instrumentation
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Transportation

New LAPD Guidelines Put Pause on Towing & Ticketing Vehicles

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LOS ANGELES (TMZ) — Los Angeles traffic cops are easing up on writing people tickets and towing away their vehicles … and you have coronavirus to thank for it.

L.A. City Hall sources tell TMZ … the LAPD just issued new city-wide guidelines as a result of the state of emergency in California and because of what City Council has ordered them to do … vowing to not issue any citations or haul anyone’s ride away for a lot of parking violations they normally would.

For example … 5 or more unpaid parking tickets are chillin’, so are the folks who park in one location for more than 72 hours, and yes — any inoperable vehicles aren’t going to be touched either for the time being. Just so long as none of these situations pose a threat, that is.

There’s more though — the police department says rush hour parking restrictions are scrapped, street sweeping violations in residential areas are exempt, and abandoned/oversized vehicles or those that park somewhere overnight won’t be hassled at the moment.

And, for those who are behind on their vehicle registration or who may have an expired driver’s license over the last 6 months … you’re good to go too. LAPD will leave you be.

These are fairly sweeping changes amid the pandemic — and considering L.A. is such a huge city, it’s likely other law enforcement agencies across the state (and maybe the country) will follow suit.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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Business

During Pandemic, Lime & Bird Pull Back; Spin Steps Up

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The scooter fleets could be stalled for a while during COVID-19 — unless advocates urge companies to keep them open. Image source: Derrick Pollack/Creative Commons

(Streets Blog USA) — The two largest micromobility companies are pulling their fleets in response to the exploding Covid-19 pandemic — but some smaller players are stepping up to provide citizens with the essential solo transportation services they need to weather the crisis.

Lime — the largest micromobility company in the world, with roughly 120,000 scooters in 30 countries — announced on Wednesday that it is pausing operations apart from a handful of cities in the Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

Bird, the second-largest scooter provider with fleets in 100 cities worldwide, pulled back this week, too, albeit only in Europe, San Francisco and San Jose.

And Uber’s scooter division, Jump, pulled out of Sacramento today; the company did […]

Continue reading at usa.streetsblog.org

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Health

Limiting Risks on Vulnerable Public Transport Overseas

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

by Yale Zhuxiao Wong for The Conversation

Public transport in our cities is highly vulnerable to disease outbreaks such as the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, public transport is the lifeblood of our cities, so it’s desirable to keep services running as long as possible.

Australia can learn from what has been done overseas, especially in China, where concrete strategies to reduce the spread of the virus on public transport helped eventually to contain the disease.

The confined spaces and limited ventilation of public transport vehicles could lead to infections among passengers, while frontline transport workers are particularly exposed. An outbreak among these workers could bring entire fleets to a standstill. It would also disrupt the travel of health workers who need to be mobilized during the pandemic.

Unions representing transport workers have rightly voiced their concerns and imposed actions including a unilateral ban on cash handling. The Australian government has offered guidelines for drivers and passengers. Transport authorities have engaged expert taskforces and begun the process of sourcing products like hand sanitisers.

While these steps are important, surely we need advice beyond general instructions to “practise good hygiene” and “use disinfectant wipes”?

What are other countries doing?

In China, despite most of the country being in lockdown, public transport was entirely suspended only in Wuhan and its commuter belt. Buses were then used to move medical staff and deliver goods.

Most other Chinese cities ran reduced public transport services, with a heavy focus on hygiene and sanitation.

In most cities, the temperatures of transport staff are checked daily. They are equipped with adequate protection gear like face masks and gloves. Masks are compulsory for all staff and passengers, as is common practice across Asia.

In a typical city like Shenzhen, the bus fleet is sanitised after each trip. Particular attention is paid to seats, armrests and handles. At depots and interchanges, this is done as often as every two hours.

Buses are filled to no more than 50% capacity (one person per seat). On-board cameras are used to enforce this rule. Floor markings (also adopted in Europe) provide a guide to minimum distances between passengers and encourage social distancing.

Across China, health control checkpoints are being used at train and metro stations (as well as in many public and private buildings). This enables temperature checks and the tracing of the movement of people, in case of contact with a suspected COVID-19 carrier. In many taxis, buses and metro carriages, passengers are encouraged to scan a QR code to register their name and contact number, to help with contact tracing.

China is using QR codes to help trace sources of viral contact and contraction. Joe Ma, Author provided (No reuse)

Constant public education reminders are broadcast to passengers.

Cities across Asia are providing hand sanitiser gel in public transport vehicles and interchanges. Cleaning of air-conditioning filters has been enhanced. To increase natural ventilation and reduce the risk of infection, some operators have retrofitted window vents to air-conditioned fleets.

Some bus operators have retrofitted opening windows to help increase air circulation. Kowloon Motor Bus, Author provided

Hong Kong rail operator MTR is even using a fleet of cleaning robots to disinfect trains and stations. In Shanghai, ultraviolet light is being used to disinfect buses.

In Europe, many public transport agencies have closed off use of the front door to reduce infection risk for drivers. Passengers now use the rear door (all-door boarding has been common practice).

What’s happening in Australia?

One of the best ways to reduce infection risk is to step up cleaning efforts. Public transport operators are already doing this, but not to the extent required during the course of the day.

Most private bus operators (contracted to government) are simply not equipped to take on the massive task if required to disinfect their vehicles, say, three times a day. For many operators, drivers are required to “sweep” their bus at the end of their shift. Buses undergo a full interior clean overnight.

There is no capability to clean buses en route during shifts. Extreme cases like biohazard incidents (blood and vomit) require vehicles to be taken out of service.

To increase the frequency of cleaning, perhaps a government authority could organise “rapid response” cleaners stationed at terminals. While this might cause delays between trips, it would reduce the pressure on individual operators. Having a cleaning crew work across multiple operators would also be more efficient.

The government could provide free health services via video consultation for frontline transport workers. The critical role of the transport sector also warrants their protection through government-issued face masks, especially given how hard it is now to source these in the community.

These proactive measures based on disease prevention should always be preferred to any reactive approach after a major outbreak hits our transport system. Industry associations like the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and International Association of Public Transport (UITP) have developed a suite of responses that can be adopted.

Our transport authorities and operators must step up in this critical time of need.


Yale Zhuxiao Wong is a Research Associate, Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at the University of Sydney.

The Conversation publishes knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence from academics and researchers in order to inform public debate with facts, clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.

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