Metro staff report on proposed improvements to Pico Station for Blue and Expo lines to serve Farmers Field

Pico Station Improvements staff report

Interesting item that will be heard in the Board of Director’s Finance committee on Wednesday afternoon (1 p.m., Metro Board Room, 3rd floor) on a proposed agreement with AEG to add a second platform to the Blue and Expo lines’ Pico Street station (pdf download here). That’s the station, of course, that’s two blocks from Staples Center and the proposed Farmers Field football stadium.

The Metro staff report proposes that the new platform be on the west side of the tracks and that it would eliminate one lane of traffic in that spot on Flower Street, as studied in the environmental documents for the stadium. The report also looks at the issue of street closures near the tracks during big events in order to minimize the number of cars crossing the tracks.

AEG is paying for the improvements and additional staffing that will be needed. All of this is conditional on an NFL team relocating to Los Angeles. And, might I add, if it’s the Chargers, let’s hope last night’s second half was a terrible, horrible aberration.

18 replies

  1. As someone who lives in South Park and takes the Expo daily, I don’t understand why 12th street intersection of track is not permanently closed to cars. For a train to have to wait or pay attention to the light there as it is going in and out of the tunnel is unsafe and inefficient. If 12th was closed to cars (there are plenty of other crossings north and south) trains would be faster, it would be safer, and for Farmers Field there would be less of a need to have staff and police watching the intersection to manage people/cars/trains. Close 12th and create a pedestrian tunnel under the tracks for the east side (center?) station so pedestrians don’t have to cross the tracks. Otherwise you’ll have what you have on Saturday’s for USC home games, a giant MESS of people/cars/trains trying to cross Expo and the need to pay tens of Metro staff and police to manage the intersection. Furthermore, during USC gameday, trains begin to stack as the hordes of people (many inebriated) don’t necessarily heed police demands to stop crossing. I’ve been stuck on a train in the Expo/Jefferson tunnel as the train ahead is stuck at the crossing. With the current plan this is whats going to happen at Pico and its not only going to be Expo trains but Blue line trains (and the Regional Connector routes by the end of the decade)! Please have the forsight to see how big of a problem this is going to be and realize the solution is not just an cheap extra platform that AEG is going to put the money up for. METRO needs to redesign the entire Pico station for the amount of trains and people going through it. Little Tokyo (the norther Y intersection) on the north end of the Regional Connector is getting a new station, Pico (the southern Y intersection) on the south end needs a new design as well.

  2. A bigger station with wider platforms, hopefully a platform dedicated for Expo and Blue Lines separately are some of my ideas that I would like to put onto the table. An aerial crosswalk over to the Staples Center area would also be great to avoid the street level pedestrian traffic to the platforms. Ideally the rail should also be changed to be grade separated to avoid street car traffic as well.

  3. Yes, AEG should pay for the whole station to be grade separated.
    At-grade stations next to large stadiums are not a good idea. When 80,000 people leave an event, the light rail cars need to be lined up to handle all the people. How’s that supposed to happen without blocking surface streets?

  4. Grade separation is expensive, even for pedestrians. Look at the red line north of Hollywood. It took ten years to get pedestrian grade separation, and one of them is a five story climb to a bridge. This is still, and given the priority of transit projects, will be in the foreseeable future, a car dominated culture. To consider closing down surface streets for transit lines is asking for a political riot.

    The estimated number of people who will ride public transit to the games seems unreasonably high. It is optimistic to think that people will drive most of the way to the stadium, and than park and ride metro for the last leg. The only way that will happen is if parking is made limited and expensive, and even than more people would just avoid the stadium than make the switch to inconvenient rail lines.

  5. (Note: most people using Pico station arrive from the south, for now.)

    Two platforms (as proposed) will help with traffic leaving after an event. This is because people waiting for a southbound train will be able to access the train from either platform.

    However, the proposed change will do very little for traffic arriving before an event. This is because the northbound track will still be served by only one platform.

    Ideally there would be one larger central platform, rather than two smaller ones. This would balance the load better. But I understand, enlarging the current platform would require track and overhead power relocation, and $10 million probably wouldn’t pay for that.

    The other option is to add a third track to the west of the proposed new platform. The middle track would then be an overflow/rush-hour track, and create lots of new operational opportunities.

    • Hi Joel;

      Good point about the before-game traffic. I think one thing that may help is that people may arrive for games over a period of a couple hours whereas after games there may be more of a push for everyone to get to the train at the same time. On a related note, I think the SF Muni platform outside AT&T Park in San Francisco is a single platform in the middle of the tracks and it somehow works.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. another good example where planning not done with the future in mind. Pico should have been expanded or separated when the Staples and LA Live was build. The station was just enough for the convention center. Now you go and add the Expo Line riders and Farmers field. Not well thought out and I agree, this is a cheap fix. Need to extend the current tunnel past Pico to a point just past the Santa Monica freeway somehow. This is going to be a big mess that will make the junction at Washington seem small by comparison. I really feel sorry for Expo Line riders now. You are in Santa Monica and want to go downtown or in reverse. Just don’t do it any time something is going on at the Coliseum/USC, Convention Center/Staples/LA live or worse, if there are events at 2 of this places at the same time !!! You trip will be forever.
    -I understand why a grade separate at USC not really needed for 5-6 home games, but the combo of convention center,Farmers field, Staples, Nokia and LA live is too much, and that doesn’t count the hotels now going up and the housing nearby .. This location needs a grade separation/Subway

  7. AD,

    You also have to take account to irrational fare policies. I live only 2 miles away from Staples Center but I still vanpool with my buddies to the games because it costs everyone $6 roundtrip per person just to travel there using Metro. Did I mention it’s only 2 miles of travel? People from Long Beach get to travel to the game cheaper than us.

    Being said that, with six of us paying $6 each costing us $36 total just to get to and from the game, it’s far cheaper to vanpool and pay $15 for parking and split that cost among the six of us. That way it’s only $2.50 per person, less than half the cost of using Metro.

    Even if prices of parking double to $30 per vehicle, only then it’s finally even with the Metro day pass rate of $5 per person. But by the time that happens, we’ll just bicycle 2 miles to the Staples Center.

  8. If you want to serve a large percentage of the people attending the event, you really need a couple of things that don’t seem to be on the table:
    – grade separation (if you have 20,000 people that want to ride the train, you can’t have them all crossing at grade)
    – a place to store special service train consists that are called into service after the event ends

    Here, the ideal (dream) solution would be for Blue/Expo to be underground until it’s south of Pico, if not south of Venice, with a spur to event-only station platforms located on the site of the parking lots between Flower and Figueroa. That would give an off-line place for trains to wait during the event, and for passengers to queue up after the event ends. $10m doesn’t come anywhere near buying you this idea though…

    For an example of an LRT system that does serve a large portion of patrons, see the MBTA Green Line at Kenmore Square, which serves Fenway Park. Anyone who has ever been to a Red Sox game could tell you that trying to have that volume of people use Pico Station just isn’t going to work.

  9. Make AEG pay for grade separation? OK, bue how about making AEG pay fair market value for the Farmers Filed properties? Pardon my French, but to hell with this corporate welfare pitch for an NFL franchise. Why not remodel the Coliseum? The Expo line already goes there and the remaining transit resources vis-a-vis the theoretical NFL team can go prioriting the Crenshaw Line with connections to an extended Purple Line and to LAX and the South Bay, along with the Green Line.

  10. Steve,
    Can you post a link to the 5 previous ideas that were published a while back?

    Pedestrian bridge(s) [not tunnels] and enough platform space for 2 (full length) trains on each side are must-have items. 12th street can be closed during game times.

    • Hi Just a Person;

      I’m running out the door to Rail-Volution. Can you better refresh my memory about the five different ideas? I don’t recall that. But my brain/hard drive may be malfunctioning. Thanks,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  11. Another idea i would have is bury the pico station and extend the tunnel a few more blocks and make the resulting below grade platform a very large center island like what is commonly seen on the red line. Then Metro could put pedestrian access out of the way of train and auto traffic. Of course the issue here is money and a severe disruption of Blue/expo line service while the station is constructed.

  12. I live right by the Red Line and if I’m going to be going to a football game at Farmer’s Field, I’m just going to exit at 7th/Metro Center and walk the rest of the way down. The crowds would not be worth it for the one-station transfer south to Pico, and I would guess most spectators coming inbound from the Red or Purple Lines would do the same. I’ve done just that for the recent Lakers and Kings championship parades.

    On that note, it might be worth it to consider some sort of direct shuttle bus service to 7th/Metro Center to aid in the mitigation measures.

  13. Eliminate money from the equation, and of course grade separation beats at-grade for both speed and safety in all cases. This applies to putting Pico Station underground, building pedestrian tunnels and building an elevated walkway to the stadium/ LACC.

    However, we must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I’d rather see extra station platforms for the new stadium and for major events at the convention center than no stadium and no improvements at all.

    I do rather wonder, however, if AEG could afford at the very least a bit more for transit and Pico Station than the amount they are putting in? The NFL is a huge, money-making business after all, and even a permanent pedestrian bridge would be a huge improvement.

  14. I don’t have an opinion one way or the other as far as the proposed extra platform for the Pico Station in LA for a proposed Farmers Field. I can tell you, though, that in the northeast (I’m from NYC, by the way), more people take public transportation to baseball, basketball and hockey games than they do football games. Not that no one takes the train (subway/commuter rail/light rail/streetcar) to NCAA or NFL games, but tailgating outside the parking lot before a football game is so popular for those who can drive to the stadium.

    When MetLife Stadium (in East Rutherford, NJ) opened two years ago, NJ Transit opened a rail connection at the stadium for commuters going to and from Giants and Jets games (as well as special events at MetLife Stadium). The catch is that passengers have to transfer from Secaucus to ride the train to the Meadowlands Sports Complex & that could be problematic: many fans from NYC alrady taking a subway to Penn Station then have to take NJ Transit to Secaucus then switch to yet another train to the stadium–that’s 3 different trains NOT including any other transfers from other NYC subway trains.

    Other cities in the northeast are much better transit-wise. Lincoln Financial Field (& the entire sports complex) in South Philadelphia are served by SEPTA’s Broad Street Line subway (at AT&T Station, formerly Pattison). Baltimore’s LRT goes to M&T Bank Stadium (Hamburg Station). The Patriots’s Gilette Stadium is served by MBTA’s commuter rail system where passengers get a direct ride from Boston’s South Station. And although it’s a bit of a walk to FedEx Field (in Landover, MD), ‘Skins fans could use the Metro to the Morgan Blvd. Station. Football venues in Chicago, Cleveland, San Diego, Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston are also accessible via subway and/or light rail and/or commuter railroad.

  15. Incidentally, Martin’s comment is why I support the Industry stadium a lot more than AEG’s proposal. You can have direct trains from wherever Metrolink operates – similar to the race track trains to NASCAR at California Speedway – while offering lots of parking for those who want to tailgate or do similar activities.