The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) holds dedication ceremony for K Line’s Fairview Heights Station in Inglewood. Also, art installation at Bay Area Rapid Transit’s (BART) Warm Springs/Fremont Station captures beauty of station’s surroundings; Metro Transit in St. Louis, Mo., announces that service is returning on MetroLink’s Blue Line; and Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) issues new study regarding the changing patterns of violence on public transport.
On Aug. 20, Metro joined local, county and federal officials and community leaders to dedicate the Fairview Heights K Line Station, which will provide the Inglewood community with a new rail connection to the city’s affordable and supportive housing, key entertainment venues and Metro’s 5.5-mile pedestrian and bicycle path now under construction.
The K Line, also referred to as the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, is officially expected to open later this year, according to Metro. The station, which is located between the intersections of Redondo Boulevard and West Boulevard in the Fairview Heights community in Inglewood, will serve as a bridge between Inglewood and the greater Los Angeles region. The station is also less than a mile from Edward Vincent Jr. Park, a park that contains the historical Centinela Springs, as well as soccer fields, basketball courts, baseball and softball diamonds, picnic areas, and Olympic-size pool and veterans center. Also nearby are several housing developments, local mom-and-pop businesses and schools, including Centinela Elementary School and St. Mary’s Academy.
As an additional station amenity, Metro says it will also open a 200-space park-and-ride lot directly across the street, making auto/transit trips easier for commuters in Fairview Heights and surrounding communities.
“With a park-and-ride lot and planned connections to a new Metro active transportation corridor, Fairview Heights Station will play a prominent role in meeting Inglewood’s future multi-modal transportation needs,” said Glendale City Council Member and Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian. “It will add tremendous convenience for residents and visitors who want to avoid congested streets and highways by choosing instead to walk, bike and ride Metro Bus and Rail.”
Metro says it is now building a 5.5-mile pedestrian and bicycle path that will connect directly with the Fairview Heights K Line Station, Silver Line and A Line (Blue) Slauson Station. The $143 million project, called the Rail-to-Rail Active Transportation Corridor Project, will be built along the former Harbor Subdivision, and represents a “substantial local and state transportation investment for the underserved communities of South Los Angeles.” The project is expected to be completed in 2024.
“These and other projects make it much easier to get around South Los Angeles, especially for those who depend on walking, biking and transit as their primary means of transportation,” said Metro Board First Chair Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker. “Metro is making a huge investment in better mobility for South Los Angeles communities that will benefit future generations of residents.”
Metro has also had a hand in building new affordable housing near Fairview Heights Station. Just across the street from the station are the Fairview Heights Apartments, a transit-oriented development built jointly by Metro and the County of Los Angeles. The 101-unit apartment complex provides 50 units for permanent supportive housing for people who were once homeless, and 50 affordable housing units for low-income families.
Additionally, Metro says, the Fairview Heights Station will also provide an essential transit link for commuters heading to other key downtown Inglewood destinations, as well as Los Angeles and the Westside via connections with the E Line (Expo). Another nearby station, Aviation/Century, is projected to open in fall 2023 and will provide access to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), hotels and is one stop away from the C Line (Green), according to Metro.
The Metro Airport Metro Connector Project, which will provide a connection to LAX, is planned to open in late 2024, giving Fairview Heights community members close access by train to the airport for the first time.
The Fairview Heights station also offers residents and riders quicker, car-free access to Inglewood’s entertainment venues, such as The Kia Forum and SoFi Stadium.
“L.A. Metro’s Fairview Heights K Line Station brings rail transit to the doorstep of residents who will eventually benefit from an array of rail, bus, bicycling and walking connectivity never seen before in Inglewood,” said Metro CEO Stephanie N. Wiggins. “I am looking forward to the immediate benefits this station will bring Inglewood, especially for those who are trying to improve their quality of life.”
During Metro’s station dedication ceremony, the agency also celebrated the importance of station art. Officials recognized Fairview Heights station commemorative pin contest winner, high school student Isabella Gonzalez. All K Line stations include artwork commissioned through the agency’s Metro Art program. Artists were selected through an open, competitive selection process following the recommendation of a panel of community-based arts professionals.
Artwork commissioned for the Fairview Heights station features murals by Kim Schoenstadt that portray hybrid structures based on existing and historical buildings from the surrounding neighborhood.
To enter BART’s Warm Springs/South Fremont Station from the eastern side, passengers will find themselves under a rotunda covering the escalators that go to the platform. And if you stop for a few moments and look up–or even down at the refracted light on the ground–you may have an undeniably transformative experience, the agency says, thanks to artist Catherine Widgery’s art installation.
Encrusted into the station’s rotunda are “jewels” of color depicting a blue sky with white clouds. Glass panels set into the windows poke out above the mountains, bathing the platform in color.
BART says passengers may be surprised to have such an affecting experience in one of its stations, but the location, according to Widgery, is key to the effect.
“I have come to feel more and more that in this world where we’re just rushing, and it’s all about getting from point a to point b, where everything is a commodity in a transactional way, that we need art more than ever to slow down and come alive again to our surroundings,” said Widgery, who added that the artwork also changes depending on the current weather and time of day. It asks of the viewer, Widgery says, her most valuable commodity–time to view the piece in its entirety–“interrupting the inevitable ‘heads down’ approach to commuting.”
The Warm Springs/Fremont Station–one of BART’s newest stations, having opened in 2017–is the centerpiece of the Warm Springs Community Plan, which seeks to further develop the 880-acre area. The station–a feat of architecture and engineering–is also environmentally sustainable, according to BART. Incorporated into its design are solar panels over the parking lot, as well as EV charging stations, and bioswales for draining stormwater and runoff, among other features. The station is also the neighbor of multiple Transit-Oriented Development projects, meaning housing built near the station enables BART riders to walk, bike, or bus to the station rather than drive.
The BART Art Program integrates artists to publicly accessible construction projects to enhance customer and community experiences of transit spaces. Widgery joined the team in the station’s early planning stages after responding to a request for qualifications (RFQ) put out by BART. She says she thinks she was picked after building a giant model of the rotunda that you could literally walk through, which she shipped to the West Coast.
“I think it was the experience of it that led to my being selected for the project,” she said. “It actually showed the effects of the piece.”
To design the installation, Widgery said she had to “imagine the space before it existed,” from drawings and plans. After presenting her concept, Widgery said the architects changed the plans for the rotunda, which originally had an opaque roof. The project expanded from there.
Initially, the colored glass panels were intended solely for the east wall of the station. After Widgery’s recommendation, the designers changed the plans and added the panels to the west wall as well, so that the sun could reflect through the glass as it set.
Widgery said that on opening day of the station, the architect told her, “Thank you for saving my building.” She remembers “flying high on that day,” as attendees congratulated her and even asked for her autograph.
The concept for the work harkens to community-based art projects. Widgery “crowdsourced” the imagery for her installation by incorporating images that people had posted online in the public domain of the natural areas surrounding the station. She then “wove” them together after breaking the images into “crystals” of color. The mind fills in the missing pieces, weaving the “crystals” into a seamless landscape, Widgery says.
After Widgery created the design, her images were translated into colors fired into glass–a “very labor-intensive, time-consuming process.” The colors were airbrushed and fired in Germany at Peters Studio, a family-owned glass studio that has been operating for a century. Next, the numbered and coded glass pieces were–very carefully–shipped to the U.S. and installed at the station.
The final piece changes, Widgery says, depending on the time of day, the position of the viewer, and the movement of the sun. Though made to last a long time, the artwork’s philosophy, in a sense, is ephemerality, she added.
“It represents a moment in time,” Widgery said. “How to find a way to have that manifested in my work is an interesting challenge. I think it comes from the idea that nothing is fixed. It’s really a Buddhist idea–that it’s all just a transient, ephemeral moment in time.”
“The world outside will last,” she continued. “It’s our perception that’s fleeting.”
Metro Transit announced on Aug. 18 that train service will return to all Blue Line stations on the 46-mile light rail system on Aug. 22 following record rainfall and flooding that heavily damaged the MetroLink system three weeks ago in the City of St. Louis and in St. Louis County, Mo.
While teams have worked “around the clock” to keep the St. Louis region moving on public transit following the unprecedented flooding, Metro Transit says restoring Blue Line service has been “especially challenging” given that vital MetroLink signal, communications and fiber optics systems were damaged or destroyed by floodwater.
Because of the signal and switching issues, Metro Transit says, operating partial service on the Blue Line has meant Blue Line trains have been unable to connect to MetroLink stations with Red Line trains. Blue Line customers were being transported on bus shuttles to access Red Line trains, but those bus shuttles will no longer be needed, effective Aug. 22, when the MetroLink team will implement a modified single-track operation that will allow trains to serve all stations on the light rail system.
According to Metro Transit, preliminary damage estimates from the flooding were between $18 and $20 million, but now that deeper assessments have been conducted over the last three weeks, the adjusted total is estimated at $40 million.
Most of the damage, Metro Transit says, is concentrated on a two-mile section of MetroLink between the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Station and the Delmar Loop Station. According to Taulby Roach, CEO and President of Bi-State Development, which operates the Metro Transit public transportation system in the City of St. Louis and in St. Louis County in Mo., and in St. Clair County in Ill., the transit organization is seeking state and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to help offset the losses and for further flood mitigation.
Repairs to the MetroLink system will be an “ongoing process,” Roach said, adding that Metro Transit will “rebuild the MetroLink system back with resiliency so even if another historic flash flood event occurs in the future, the light rail will be able to withstand it and critical signal and communications components will be protected.”
“It is truly remarkable that I can say less than four weeks after we experienced this historic rainfall and devastating flash flooding event, that both Blue Line and Red Line trains will be serving the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Station and all of the MetroLink stations on the light rail system,” said Roach. “That is nothing short of amazing and it shows you how determined and talented our transit team is about restoring service for our MetroLink customers in the St. Louis region.”
According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report, Roach also warned riders that commutes would “exceed their typical duration” with the system running on its weekend schedule indefinitely. He also added that “significant” damage remains on the system and repairs will take four to six months.
According to MTI, the threat of attacks on public surface transportation and staff in the U.S. and other economically advanced countries has “changed so significantly throughout the past 20 years, there is a need to rethink current security strategies.”
That is the primary finding of MTI’s new study, Changing Patterns of Violence Pose New Challenges for Public Transport, which found that countries with advanced economies (Group 1) account for a growing percentage of incidents worldwide, with the U.S. taking the lead in the total number of incidents and number of fatalities in those countries.
The report’s authors, Director of the MTI’s Allied Telesis National Transportation Security Center Brian Michael Jenkins and Senior Transportation Security Researcher at MTI and former Director of Aviation Security Operations at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bruce R. Butterworth, say that while developing countries (Group 2), especially in South Asia, continue to account for most of the attacks with the highest number of fatalities, advanced economies are seeing a surge in low-level attacks carried out by lone attackers.
By analyzing data from 5,611 attacks against all public surface transport targets that occurred worldwide between January 1970 and July 2022, Jenkins and Butterworth observed a “growing problem” of violence against passengers and staff on passenger trains and at train stations, buses and bus stations, rail infrastructure, and operating and security staff. They not only included explosives and incendiaries, but physical attacks, such as stabbings, shootings, arson, unarmed physical assaults, and other acts of random violence.
“Our analysis indicates a fundamental shift in the threat facing public surface transportation,” said Jenkins. “At the beginning of the decade, the people responsible for security were worried about suicide attackers, particularly those motivated by Jihadist ideologies and bent upon causing mass casualties, with large scale bombings, as well as the possibility of chemical or biological attacks. However, controls on explosives and precursor chemicals have been strengthened, especially in economically advanced countries,” explained Jenkins.
The authors were quick to warn that large-scale attacks, such as Madrid (2004) and Mumbai (2008), should not be dismissed as a potential threat and that bombings continue to constitute more than 55% of all attacks on public surface transportation in developing countries–particularly in South Asia. However, in economically advanced countries, according to Jenkins and Butterworth, security planners now face a more complicated and insidious threat in the form of increasing attacks by individual criminals, persons described as mentally disturbed, or, in many cases, unknown attackers. The violence is increasingly random, they say, and carried out by lone individuals, who can make potentially lethal bombs, which very often do not work. At the same time, according to the authors, there has been an increase in incidents of sabotage by anarchists and environmental extremists.
“Many of the attacks are not ordinary criminal activities, such as armed robberies, and most have no political nexus,” explains Butterworth. “The increase in violence at transportation venues appears to parallel a general increase in random public violence and reflects broader societal trends occurring on the streets and elsewhere. Some observers blame the behavior on the pandemic, but the trends precede COVID-19, and are contributing to a sense of insecurity.”
As most attacks appear to be random, “risk reflects exposure.” According to the authors, passengers are more numerous than operating personnel but are exposed for shorter periods, so their risk is lower. However, well-publicized events contribute to an atmosphere of fear. There are far fewer operating personnel, but they spend longer times on the job, therefore their exposure to risk is greater. Transportation employees are on the frontline in dealing with violent incidents–often on their own or as targets of the violence. They require protection and training.
“A public fearful of traveling adds to economic difficulties for transportation operators and reduced resources for facilities improvements, service and security. The fact that there are fewer riders may contribute even further to a sense of insecurity and it is possible that increased ridership actually contributes to security,” said Jenkins.
According to Jenkins and Butterworth, the increasingly individual and spontaneous nature of attacks on surface transportation targets make such attacks less predictable and harder to detect. Intelligence operations, while essential, are less likely to obtain warnings. Attacks are only identified when they begin. Rapid intervention, they say, is required to prevent or mitigate casualties, but that in turn requires greater security presence, which is costly to maintain.
While the study is limited to public surface transportation, the phenomenon of increasing violence appears to be much broader and notes that unruly, and sometimes violent, passengers are also a growing problem in civil aviation.
Butterworth stated: “The shift from terrorist to anti-social violence particularly in economically advanced countries is probably far greater than what we include in this report, which is why we call on the governments and transportation operators to better record what is happening to passengers and staff so that we can rethink our security strategies, preparedness and training.”
The full report can be read here.