Notes from today's Metro Board of Director's meeting; Director Diane DuBois calls for staff report on fare restructuring

A few notes from today’s mostly uneventful meeting of the Metro Board:

•Board Member Vice Chair Diane DuBois offered a motion — approved by the Board — that Metro staff produce a report for the April meetings that looks at fare restructuring. She asked that the report include a variety of possible scenarios, including time-based fares, low cash fares, premium fares for premium services and other ideas that would fully utilitze the capabilities of TAP cards.

DuBois wants the report as part of the item to be heard next month on issuing a public notice to change the Measure R expenditure plan to accommodate a future project acceleration plan. “As we move forward with acceleration plans we have to make sure we are financial stable,” she said. “I know this is a very sensitive subject, but I also know we have to pay for what we do.”

As regular Source readers know, this is a subject debated frequently by readers on our comment board. I want to emphasize that the motion calls only for a report by staff next month; no action will be taken to actually restructure fares.

•Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas complained about lack of diversity on the workforce performing utility relocation work for the Crenshaw/LAX Line. “The public comment this morning is not without basis,” he said, referring to speakers who complained about lack of opportunities to find work.

Metro staff said the contractor handling utility work has not fully complied with federal diversity law and that staff is meeting with the contractor to fix that. Metro is also trying to comply with federal rules that place limits on local hiring. In following public comment, longtime civil rights leader Pastor James M. Lawson, Jr., offered a strong rebuke of the Board and urged them to do more to create jobs for the black community.

•Glendale Ara Najarian announced that he was successfully re-appointed to the Metro Board of Directors. He said that he and fellow Board Member John Fasana have spoken and pledged to work together on the many issues they share and agree on.

•The Board voted to authorize Metro to enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement with the nonprofit A Community of Friends to develop 53 units of affordable housing — including some supportive housing — on vacant Metro property at 1st and Lorena in Boyle Heights. Supportive housing is providing apartments for people who have been homeless or others who need help living independently; there will be services staff to help provide for tenants.

Board Member and Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar complained there was not adequate public outreach for the project and that the development had substantially changed with a reduction in retail space. Board Member and Supervisors Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas both said that the developer has done good work in their districts.

A Huizar motion to deny the project and begin with a new RFP failed.

Here’s the staff report on the project.

7 replies

  1. What happened on the Yaroslavsky motion to waive the monthly maintenance fee for the Express Lanes and the Fasana amendment to terminate accounts after 6 months?

  2. If the intent is fare hikes, they can shove it.

    They they got rid of transfers, they got rid of semi-monthly passes what’s next?

  3. Distance based fares using TAP in and TAP out is by far, the most logical fare restructuring choice. It creates more equality by charging people by the distance they travel instead of how many rides they take. A person who takes short trips over two buses has to pay $3.00 over someone who gets to pay $1.50 for a long bus or train ride under the current system. It has been a issue for many people ever since Metro got rid of transfers. If transfers aren’t coming back, they need to look at maximizing what TAP can do by moving to a distance based fare model instead.

    One benefit to Metro is that they also can get to gather data where people get off. That would be of big help in coordinating and planning transfer times and route planning for Metro to see where people are going. You can’t figure this out by having an TAP in only system.

  4. Not just TAP, but NFC technology is also right around the corner with smartphones and contactless credit and debit cards. Metro needs to look at the future on what these technologies can handle and are capable of.

    A NFC enabled smartphone can also easily replicate what TAP can do with an app. Places like Japan and South Korea have been doing these for years now. Their cell phones were capable of doing these things way before iPhones and Android devices. Only now the rest of the world is catching up to such uses on our cell phones.

    Even better, contactless credit and debit cards like VISA PayWave, Mastercard PayPass, AMEX ExpressPay and Discover Zip makes direct open loop payments possible. London is starting to use them this year:

    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/projectsandschemes/19976.aspx
    http://youtu.be/Grzetxve92w

    This gets rid of the hassle of anyone even going to the TVMs or obtaining a TAP card to begin with. Significant cost savings can be possible for Metro because they don’t have to manage as many TAP accounts nor even buy new TAP cards for people to buy. Everyone could just use their contactless credit and debit cards directly to ride the trains and buses.

    And with a rapidly expanding system such as the Expo Line, Crenshaw Line, expanded Orange Line services, Regional Connector, and Gold Line Extension, I think it’s a serious time Metro looks at a zone or distance based system like they have in London and the DC Metro.

    In the past, these things were just not possible because it involved too much confusion. But things have changed. We can do these things with contactless technology. Why waste what technology is capable of if these things are possible?