Recap of today’s Board of Directors meeting; action taken on December 15th

Here is a recap of today’s Metro Board of Directors meeting.  The Board took action on the following items:

•The meeting began with an update on yesterday’s tanker truck explosion on the 60 Freeway at Paramount.  The massive fire took out a portion of the eastbound overpass, which will need to be demolished and replaced.  Estimated time to rebuild the eastbound overpass is 6 months.  As a result of the fire there is a slight detour on Metro bus lines 84 and 176.  Lesson: Leave your car at home and go Metrolink or carpool!  Click here for more information from Metrolink and Caltrans.

• Moving on to the Chair’s Report, Mayor Villaraigosa said he believes Metro should take the FTA’s audit findings seriously. “We need a first class bus system,” said the Mayor, before expressing a commitment to maintain the current fare structure and the bus schedule for the year.

Regarding the master planning of Union Station, the Mayor said he looks forward to seeing the plans that are presented by the architectural firms.

Villaraigosa also expressed support for transit-oriented development (TOD) at stations.  He expressed the opinion that as Metro expands the rail and bus system, the agency needs to build more transit-oriented development, planning TOD concurrent with Metro’s planning and construction of Crenshaw, Expo and the Foothill Extension.

•(Item 59.1) Motion By Mayor Villaraigosa regarding Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

By far the liveliest part of the meeting was the Board’s discussion of the FTA compliance review.  The Mayor initiated discussion with the introduction of a motion asking Metro to complete and submit a corrective action plan, with monthly status reports, that complies with all the FTA Title VI audit findings and requirements no later than April 2012.

Board Member and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas noted that he finds it embarrassing that FTA and its Civil Rights Division have arrived at these findings with regard to Metro compliance with Title VI.  Ridley-Thomas expressed disappointment in the Metro staff in terms of the agency’s compliance plan.  He went on to voice his support for the motion presented by the chair, urging that more review is warranted with regard to service cuts and the decision to eliminate various bus lines.

CEO Art Leahy reporting on the FTA Title VI audit noted that the FTA has been supportive so far with regard to the Civil Rights Corrective Action Plan. Metro will be taking corrective action on most of FTA’s concerns between now and June 2012.  Some of the changes will take more time to implement.  There was also some discussion about whether or not it was sufficient to just improve policies and procedures to comply with the compliance review.

At the end of the lengthy discussion, the Board passed the motion prompting the BRU as it left to disrupt the meeting with a loud chant, “Give us a million hours back.”

•(Item 25). With the Mayor conflicted out, the Board considered approving a recommended short list of candidates to compete for the Master Plan for Union Station. Metro purchased the landmark rail terminal earlier this year. It is customary in design competitions to provide a stipend to the participants in the vision boards.  Paying participants a $10,000 stipend means that Metro can use all of the creative ideas and intellectual property presented by the applicants.  Each of the entities will be required to enter into a stipend contract releasing their ownership interest in the ideas presented.  With some objections Board adopted the motion.

•(Item 32) With regard to a motion concerning Metro executing an agreement with BNSF Railway Company to abandon its interest in the Crenshaw Segment of the Harbor Branch right-of-way.  This will help Metro move forward with planning and construction of the Crenshaw line. Metro is to pay $4.5 million to BNSF for the release of the right-of-way. The Board approved the motion to move forward.

•(Item 35) The Board considered approving a motion by Board Member Don Knabe to add an at-grade Crenshaw/LAX Line station in Westchester.  The motion calls for the station being built near the intersection of Florence Avenue and Hindry on the condition that the contractor with the winning project bid can build the station within the project’s budget of $1.7 billion.  Board Member Ridley-Thomas shared his concern, and those of a South LA community group, that the Leimert Park station, be built in advance of a Westchester station.  Ridley-Thomas also underscored his concern about the agency’s “vulgar inconsistency” with regard to the location of stations and provision of service to different parts of the city.

Knabe’s original motion proposed a pecking order for additional stations such that, if a contractor could only build one additional station, the Leimert Park station would be built first.  With slight modification per Ridley-Thomas’ concern, the motion was unanimously approved.

•(Item 45) concerned the Board’s consideration of new service standards for bus and rail that dictate the level of service including frequency on different bus lines that will be provided on different lines. The BRU requested that the Board pull Item 45 and open it up to a community review process that incorporates the public’s input into the plan.  Adopting new service standards for all transit modes addresses one of the deficiencies in Metro’s Title VI compliance audit.

•(Item 58) The Board considered going forward with audits, to be completed by March 2012, by Metro’s Inspector General of the Expo Line Construction Authority, the Foothill Extension Construction Authority and the Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority. The audits will consider staffing at each agency and initiate a review of the contract with each agency’s CEO. Focus of the audit will include total salary, deferred salary, incentives, benefits and travel expenses.  The motion to conduct the audits was presented by Board Members Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe and Ara Najarian.  The motion was approved.

Categories: Transportation News

12 replies

  1. “ ‘We need a first class bus system,’ said the Mayor”

    I agree we need a better bus system but how to approach that answer is again, left out in the open with no clear directive.

    We can continue to utilize a carpet-bomb strategy by making taxpayers foot the bill for buying more buses, or instead we can look to Asian cities on how they efficiently manage bus services by collecting ridership numbers AND WHERE THEY GET OFF by implementing a tap-in/tap-out system aboard our buses.

    So as with any politician, it’s still empty words, empty promises.

  2. I really, really hope that they can find the money to build those stations in Leimert Park and Westchester.

    I also wish Congress would approve Mayor Villaraigosa’s 30-10 plan.

  3. Can’t we at least try tap-in/tap-out distance fares on some of our bus routes? We’ll never get anything done and we’ll never have a “first class bus system” unless we test this out first.

  4. What was the BRU screaming about? “Million Hours of WHAT”? Chanting? Drumming? Occupying something? Not very focused in their protesting are they?

  5. @Y Fukuzawa: There is no way at the moment for me to take transit on my commute. So, a tap-in/tap-out system would not capture what would work for me. I would love to ride to and from work, but with the current system I would have to leave the night before and spend hours in downtown. A true “first class” bus system would also have routes that are only a pipe-dream today. A freeway-flyer system with interconnects near interchanges would provide transit based upon the current car-centric infrastructure. Try living in the SFV or SGV and commutting to the other (we could pair some other examples). Try having to arrive at work before 6:30, somewhere other than downtown, almost impossible by bus. I rode the bus in the past to school and am more transit oriented than most of my friends, but I can’t take it on my daily commute. When I had to be in downtown for a few days for work, heck yeah I took transit.

    A “first class” system serves more than the current ridership. Doesn’t metro have access to all of those commutting information surveys that bigger employeers have employees fill out annually? That would be were to start. Maybe a an on-line (FB) transit survey that people could fill out voluntarily (with proper privacy), so that Metro could see where people are going from and to on their commutes.

  6. Here we go ago: paid TAP flacks demanding more TAP implementation, more TAP costs. Mandatory TAP in/TAP out would require an enormous expenditure of either additional equipment or a massive slowdown of bus service as riders have to go out the front door before anyone could board, adding to labor costs. A better strategy would be to Scrap TAP altogether!!!

  7. @Scrap TAP!

    And yet, the rest of the world seems to get it right. What makes you think TAP-in/TAP-out would slow down the system? Tap only takes 0.7 sec as opposed to fumbling around with exact change. Tap-in through the front, tap-out through the back seems to work all over the world and they have been proven to speed up boarding than exact change. You should just go visit Singapore and see how their bus system works on a distance fare tap-in/tap-out system.

    There’s only two ways to have a first class bus system:

    A. The carpet bomb approach that milks taxpayers for money.

    B. A more efficient real time data gathering system based upon distance based tap-in/tap-out.

    Care to guess which one seems to be working all throughout the world?

  8. BTW, this is a youtube video on how Singapore’s SMRT explains the whole distance fare process when they switched over from flat rate fares last year:

    http://youtu.be/dxPhNK8M_Eg

    Note how that distance fares make transit cheaper because it offers more flexibility. At the same time, Singapore SMRT also is able to make the bus system and the rail system more efficient by real time data gathering from the info on where people got on and off.

  9. Y Fukuzawa, more data is always better in assessing the effectiveness of the bus system, but it’s not likely to placate the Bus Riders’ Union if the data suggests certain routes be cut. The BRU isn’t data-orientated. They are emotionally invested in buses and only buses and they are not interested in a balanced transportation network that provides attractive and fairly priced service.

  10. @Spokker

    Why should the rest of Angelinos have to heed to the BRUs’ demands? Public transit is MASS transit; not BRU transit. By MASS, it doesn’t just mean moving a lot of people, it means representing the needs of transportation for the masses/the majority. The BRU does not represent the views of the majority of Angelinos.

    Put it in perspective; none of the Asian model transit cities remodel their transit systems revolving around a small focus group; they revolve around the needs of the majority of the population. Sooner or later, LA is going to face the same problem as gas prices rise, and if we don’t stop this nonsense, it’s only going to cost us more later to fix it.

    Fix the fare system, start collecting real data, efficiently manage bus routes. We can’t continue to blanket this city with a carpet-bomb strategy of more buses on taxpayer dollars.