Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

Discussion on developments interstate and overseas.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
PeFe
Legendary Member!
Posts: 929
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:47 am
Has thanked: 40 times
Been thanked: 118 times

Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#1 Post by PeFe » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:02 pm

I have recently returned from a holiday in the US and whilst in Los Angeles and Portland I checked out their light rail systems.
In the US a "streetcar" is a small tram with frequent stops in a limited area, and "light rail" usually means a large tram (with the ability to couple cars) with widely spaced stops (replicating a subway/metro/commuter rail style service). The Americans call both "trains".

Los Angeles has 1 subway (totally underground) and 4 light rail lines. I initially believed that the Los Angeles light rail system would be like a tram system in a big European city, but that is not the case, it is more of a hybrid metro/tram system and I believe it is a good example to follow should the Adelaide O-Bahn be replaced by light rail.

The Blue Line is a microcosm of the system in general....32 kilometres long!! running between downtown LA (the LA CBD) to Long Beach.
The train starts underground at the Metro Center interchange, then surfaces onto the streets of the southern edge of the CBD before heading into south-central LA for about 1 kilometre before running along it's own right of way for 20 kilometres (LA had a huge tram system pre-WW2 and the modern light rail routes usually follow an older path) and finally returning to the streets in Long Beach. All major intersections are grade separated, there are some crossings but these are minor streets. The "stops" feel more like train stations with appropriate level of design and safety.

Blue Line train at Long Beach Terminus
Image

Train passing new apartments, note the length of the train
Image

Other LA light rail lines go down the centre of 12 lane freeways, really not a very pleasant travelling experience when you are waiting on an island platform with thousands of cars going by and the stations are always "distant" from housing and employment centres.
The Gold line train heads down a suburban street on its way to Pasadena! The route is an old LA streetcar pathway which must have had some its space sold off for housing, so instead of building an expensive tunnel, they merely sent the train down the street (very slowly of course). The street itself is restricted to local traffic.

Gold Line train in Pasadena
Image

Expo Line train at Culver City
Image



PORTLAND (Oregon) is about the size of Brisbane (2.2 million) and has 4 light rail lines. Similar setup to Los Angeles except in the centre of town they all run along the street (slowly)...sound familiar.
When the trains leave the inner city they speed up considerably and the distance between stations increases. The train station at the airport was about 30 metres from the exit door.....great service in a beautiful city.
Portland also runs an inner city streetcar, which travels slowly, stops too often and is not frequent enough although it services the newly renovated Pearl district and the South waterfront, very successful inner city urban renewal schemes.

Light rail in centre of Portland
Image
Different line
Image
Portland Streetcar (ie small tram)
Image
(All photos are mine)

User avatar
Nathan
Super Size Scraper Poster!
Posts: 3143
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 1:09 pm
Location: Bowden
Has thanked: 195 times
Been thanked: 621 times
Contact:

Re: Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#2 Post by Nathan » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:24 pm

Portland's MAX is excellent. One additional thing is that each tram car has space at the ends for hanging bikes (likewise, the buses have a rack on the front for carrying two bikes).

Incidentally, former thinker-in-residence and current head of RenewalSA, Fred Hansen, was general manager of TriMet for over 11 years.

User avatar
PeFe
Legendary Member!
Posts: 929
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:47 am
Has thanked: 40 times
Been thanked: 118 times

Re: Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#3 Post by PeFe » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:39 pm

Oh yes, I had forgotten about the "hanging" bike racks. I saw some mid-40's men get on the train one day and "hang" their bikes up.
The bike racks on the front of buses seems to be pretty standard across the US these days, I saw that in at least 3 other cities, even Los Angeles (not one place I would choose to ride a bicycle around, the distances are vast and the traffic is horrible)

zippySA
High Rise Poster!
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:29 pm
Been thanked: 8 times

Re: Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#4 Post by zippySA » Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:31 am

Thanks PeFe.

Your post has given me a better understanding with a few pictures and words on Portland than anything I've seen locally on the city that we are apparently working hard (or at least were under Mike Rann's Gov) to emulate.

Great post

User avatar
PeFe
Legendary Member!
Posts: 929
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:47 am
Has thanked: 40 times
Been thanked: 118 times

Re: Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#5 Post by PeFe » Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:41 pm

Thank you for your kind words, zippySA.
Portland is certainly the "poster boy" for urban regeneration in North America at the moment.
I was genuinely surprised on how aesthetically pleasing the city is - there are trees everywhere, the CBD has been almost totally renovated in the last 20 years (according to a local I was talking to one night),the industrial waterfront has been replaced by parks and apartments, the transport is reliable and cheap, the centre of town is full of cafes and pubs (with their own breweries) and of course now tourism is big business because the city is seen to be "cool".
And there are few tall buildings, like Adelaide, but a lot more street life and a considerably bigger CBD population.
And the ultimate compliment from me, not being a freeway fan, I saw a Portland freeway that had a large manicured garden on both verges !
Even the freeways looked better !

ml69
Legendary Member!
Posts: 852
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:16 pm
Location: Adelaide SA
Has thanked: 91 times
Been thanked: 69 times

Re: Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#6 Post by ml69 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:51 pm

PeFe wrote:Thank you for your kind words, zippySA.
Portland is certainly the "poster boy" for urban regeneration in North America at the moment.
I was genuinely surprised on how aesthetically pleasing the city is - there are trees everywhere, the CBD has been almost totally renovated in the last 20 years (according to a local I was talking to one night),the industrial waterfront has been replaced by parks and apartments, the transport is reliable and cheap, the centre of town is full of cafes and pubs (with their own breweries) and of course now tourism is big business because the city is seen to be "cool".
And there are few tall buildings, like Adelaide, but a lot more street life and a considerably bigger CBD population.
And the ultimate compliment from me, not being a freeway fan, I saw a Portland freeway that had a large manicured garden on both verges !
Even the freeways looked better !
Really interesting post PeFe ... in your opinion what are the handful of key things that Adelaide could do to regenerate like Portland has?

I would think that given Fred Hansen's role at Renewal SA (a great choice by the way) that he would have had considerable input into recent government policies in relation to the CBD, and also the tram extension strategy in the recently announced 30 year transport plan.

User avatar
PeFe
Legendary Member!
Posts: 929
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:47 am
Has thanked: 40 times
Been thanked: 118 times

Re: Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#7 Post by PeFe » Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:14 am

ml69 wrote
in your opinion what are the handful of key things that Adelaide could do to regenerate like Portland has?
Wow, I have been mulling over this question for a while........first of all I haven't investigated the "process" of how all it all happened and my observations were that of a tourist passing through for a mere 3 days.
Let me say that Adelaide certainly does have the will to regenerate, but does it have the money? Portland certainly had will and money, without even doing any research I would say Portland is a richer city (Nike is headquartered there).
From my conversation with a local, I summised that Portland (CBD) of 25 years ago was a dump, so when someone hatched a plan to change all this people basically said "yes please". Adelaide comes off a much higher base and there obviously a certain section of the population that love Adelaide as a "big country town" and are threatened by anything that challenges that.
The renovation of the Portland CBD is certainly something other cities could mimic, instead of renovating one street or one small area there was obviously a "master plan " on how the whole area should look in 20 years and in Portland's case it obviously went like this :
renovate and maintain the historic buildings, widen the footpaths and plant trees in every street, public transport has number 1 priority on city streets (allowing the light rail corridors to dominate several main streets), pedestrian needs are put ahead cars ie walkability and access to things like parks, car parks are NOT a CBD priority (buildings should be business, apartments or hospitality). The Portland CBD has far less car parks than Adelaide, yet Portland has a significantly busier night life. (Obviously the population difference of 800,000 adds to this) And success breeds success, and suddenly private finance is pouring money into new apartments and building renovations,then things like turning "warehouse" districts into new residential areas gets easier and easier.
Because of the interest this thread has generated about Portland I will upload some more pictures of the city in the near future.

ml69
Legendary Member!
Posts: 852
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:16 pm
Location: Adelaide SA
Has thanked: 91 times
Been thanked: 69 times

Re: Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#8 Post by ml69 » Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:55 am

Cheers PeFe ....

User avatar
PeFe
Legendary Member!
Posts: 929
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:47 am
Has thanked: 40 times
Been thanked: 118 times

Re: Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#9 Post by PeFe » Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:11 am

More Portland photos

Portland CBD
Image

South Waterfront development, former industrial area
Image

Closer view of new apartments at South Waterfront
Image

Light rail train crosses bridge into CBD
Image

Lunchtime crowd at food carts
Image

Sunset across the Convention Centre
Image
All photos are mine

ml69
Legendary Member!
Posts: 852
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:16 pm
Location: Adelaide SA
Has thanked: 91 times
Been thanked: 69 times

Re: Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#10 Post by ml69 » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:39 pm

Thanks PeFe. The first photo of their CBD shows they've got an unremarkable skyline. It actually looks a lot like Adelaide's - mostly flattish with one large brown building which is dominant!

However from most reports their CBD area is very cool with lots of microbreweries, small bars, food trucks, cafés etc.

zippySA
High Rise Poster!
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:29 pm
Been thanked: 8 times

Re: Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#11 Post by zippySA » Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:38 pm

Nice!

That dual elevated carriageway dwarfs our Superway - that is the most American part of all those pics! Imagine getting that allowed so close to the buildings in Adelaide - I think not (and don't really want it to either before I draw attention to that statement).

Interesting point about the strong economic base for Portland - at a lunch today (CEDA) about the future of SA - one idea that resonated with me was the desire to do "whatever it takes" to locate 3 (or more) corporate headquarters in SA (think AXS top 200 list - or better still, top 100 or 50 even if we get really ambitious). There was some good reasoning put behind why this would be important kick-starter for Adelaide.

I know we have had some dismal failures before (Motorola and JP Morgan spring to mind) - but they were still just large elements of those companies operations - not the heart and sole of a headquarters.

I reckon they were onto a great idea that drives a lot of what most people on these forums want - advancement of a great place.

Will
VIP Member
VIP Member
Posts: 5534
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 6:48 pm
Location: Adelaide
Has thanked: 664 times
Been thanked: 152 times

Re: Los Angeles/Portland Light Rail

#12 Post by Will » Thu Oct 31, 2013 7:37 pm

zippySA wrote:Nice!

That dual elevated carriageway dwarfs our Superway - that is the most American part of all those pics! Imagine getting that allowed so close to the buildings in Adelaide - I think not (and don't really want it to either before I draw attention to that statement).

Interesting point about the strong economic base for Portland - at a lunch today (CEDA) about the future of SA - one idea that resonated with me was the desire to do "whatever it takes" to locate 3 (or more) corporate headquarters in SA (think AXS top 200 list - or better still, top 100 or 50 even if we get really ambitious). There was some good reasoning put behind why this would be important kick-starter for Adelaide.

I know we have had some dismal failures before (Motorola and JP Morgan spring to mind) - but they were still just large elements of those companies operations - not the heart and sole of a headquarters.

I reckon they were onto a great idea that drives a lot of what most people on these forums want - advancement of a great place.
I think we already have more than 3 ASX top 200 corporate HQs in SA. Santos, Boart Longyear, Adelaide-Brighton, Beach Energy, Envestra come to mind. There are probably others. However, having said that, we should definitely aim for at least 3 top 50 companies in SA.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests