Metro to host industry forum on May 1 to discuss public-private partnerships to help build the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor

Sepulveda Pass Event Invitation

On May 1, Metro will host an industry forum for potential concession partners to discuss public-private partnerships that could be used to help build the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project. The forum, to be held at Union Station, is a chance for invited officials from the development, investment, finance and construction industries to meet with Metro and learn more about the project.

Several potential concepts have been studied previously for this corridor, including bus rapid transit, light rail and managed lanes. One scenario involved building a tunnel or tunnels that would carry tolled lanes for motor vehicles and a transit facility. See this earlier Source post that includes a chart on the different concepts.

Very preliminary estimates indicate that the tunnel scenario could cost at least $6 billion, and likely more, depending upon the length of the tunnel. Measure R is scheduled to provide about $1 billion for the Sepulveda Pass Corridor, and under Metro’s long-range plan this money would not be available until 2030 with the project not completed until 2039. If Metro waits until the 2030s, when the Measure R funding becomes available, it will probably be too little, too late to build a project that could really make a difference for commuters.

Therefore, to accelerate much-needed additional capacity in the Corridor, Metro is investigating a public-private partnership, in which a consortium of private firms would design, build, finance, operate and maintain a project. Because of the significant investment required to build a project, the facilities would be privately operated so that the concession could generate sufficient revenue to repay their investment.

The forum on May 1 is an opportunity for interested parties to discuss the project and financing concepts with Metro. Attendance is expected to be high, with partipants coming from across the United States and the world.

12 replies

  1. I hope a rail line is included and I hope the rail line doesn’t charge more for tickets then every other line. Anything less would be the orange bus mistake several folds worse.

    I do fear that private companies will balk at the equitable rail option since it may take too many cars off the 405 thereby improving traffic and lessening demand for the tunnel and its tolls. In the long run, demand will once again exceed supply and the tunnel will be at capacity. But a business isn’t likely to support anything that will decrease cash flows, especially on the front end.

    If an equitable rail option isn’t built, then it would seem that Metro is essentially double decking the 405 (more lanes for cars only). I’m curious what benefits tunneling has vs. building over the existing freeway, which is what CalTrans has thought of doing.

  2. Metro needs to turn the 405 Fwy carpool lanes into Fast Track lanes as soon as possible to raise more money for the Sepulveda pass transit project.

  3. @AD – While I agree with you in principle about a free rail line, I’m just not sure how it would work for a private company if they’re going to be charging tolls for cars. It’d be like forcing a company to provide a free product that reduces demand for the only product they can sell. I can’t imagine any construction company spending 6 billion dollars under those restraints.

    And it’s easy to say “well, they can just charge whatever tolls necessary to cover losses from rail,” but that puts them in an impossible position of not being able to fully respond to the market. There’s only so much people are going to pay to drive through this tunnel, because they still have to get to the mouth of it, and then they still have to get where they’re going when they get to the other side. What will the connections be? Is it really going to save that much time to be worth it? That’s the kind of things the market will have to figure out, and handicapping the companies going into it just doesn’t seem like the right answer.

  4. @AD and @Eric R

    The Sepulveda pass project has 6 options, BRT are the first 4. Option 5 is LRT with a cost of about $6 Billion and Metro operated.

    Option 6 is the PPP (public/private partnership).and to quote the Metro report:
    “In order to maximize profitability, the rail component is envisioned by the PPP team to operate as PRIVATE SHUTTLE that would begin near the Van Nuys Metrolink Station and continue south into the tunnel and continue through the Westside to LAX.”

    Option 6 is estimated to cost 16-18 Billion. It is a combination heavy rail with highway tunnel.

    Bottom line, if PPP is chosen, a Sepulveda Pass-West LA line WOULD NOT be a part of Metro; the private company is free to determine rates.

    The quote is on page 5
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/97966991/Sepulveda-Pass-Transit-Corridor-study-update

    • Hi In the Valley;

      The staff report you quote shows different concepts. The key word is concepts. Nothing has been decided yet and there’s a long way to go before a PPP is negotiated and approved, if that should eventually happen.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. @ Eric R.

    There is something distasteful about having a certain area pay more for infrastructure when other areas get the same thing without have to pay premiums, and especially when The Valley historically gets less from government then it pays in (like the 2 billion dollar deficit The Valley has from Measure R).

    I haven’t heard of the purple line wanting to charge a premium for its multi-billion dollar extension that will serve about the same number of riders as a Sepulveda Pass rail line.

    Perhaps distance based fares will be implemented by the Pass’ opening and Valley people will pay a premium due to the distance, just like someone going from Pasadena to Santa Monica would, which would be fair.

  6. Steve,

    I understand the concept of “concepts” but Metro has already held public outreach meetings which in turn provided these “concepts”.

    I am merely using Metro own report as to these “concepts”. I doubt that Metro would begin at square one for the planning of this project or concept.

  7. What about federal loans? Wasn’t “America Fast Forward” (aka “30/10 plan”) under serious consideration? Meaning… with federal loans couldn’t the Sepulveda rail tunnel be completed by 2022?..
    And yes, I think the ONLY option to consider should be a rail tunnel under the mountains (LRT or HRT).

  8. While Metro is still in the planing stage of the Sepulveda pass Transit Corridor it should use the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) plan along with the Express Lanes until the project is completed.