Metro: what’s in store in the year ahead

Last year was a little busy around here, ‘little’ being a vast understatement. I’m guessing 2015 won’t be much different. Metro is in the midst of a $14-billion capital program — thanks to Measure R — and, of course, the agency is running one of the nation’s largest transit systems.

A few things on the slate in the year ahead:

A Gold Line train before clearance testing began on the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

A Gold Line train before clearance testing began on the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

•The scheduled completion later this year of two rail projects, the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Once work is done, the respective Construction Authorities building the projects will begin the process of handing them over to Metro. Both projects are forecast to open in the first half of 2016.

•With Metro CEO Art Leahy announcing his departure earlier this week, a new chief executive will need to be hired. Art is planning on staying until April 5.

•Heavy construction will continue or begin on three other Metro Rail projects under construction: the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector.

•On the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the tunnel boring machine to be used on the northern section of the line will be lowered into the ground. The machine was delivered last year.

•The draft environmental document for the SR-710 project is scheduled to be released later this winter. The project aims to improve traffic caused by the gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena.

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The view of Division 13 as of 1:30 p.m. Friday. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

•The new Division 13 bus maintenance facility in downtown Los Angeles adjacent to Metro headquarters is scheduled to be completed.

•Work continues on the I-5 widening project between the 605 and the Orange County border. Caltrans is the lead agency; Metro is a major funder of the project.

•Also ongoing work on other transit projects, including the pedestrian tunnel under Lankershim to make it easier to transfer between the Orange Line and Red Line in North Hollywood and the bridge over Lankerhshim between the Red Line’s Universal/Studio City Station and Universal Studios.

A bike share station in the Bay Area. Photo by Naotake Murayama, via Flickr creative commons.

A bike share station in the Bay Area. Photo by Naotake Murayama, via Flickr creative commons.

•The Metro Board will likely consider a contract for a firm to run a pilot bike share program in downtown L.A.

•Work on the Wilshire Boulevard peak hour bus lanes project is scheduled to be completed later in the year. When done, there will be 7.7 miles of peak hour bus lanes between Wilshire & Centinela (the border between the cities of Santa Monica and Los Angeles) and Wilshire & Valencia, just west of downtown L.A. with buses running in regular traffic lanes in the Condo Canyon section of Wilshire and Beverly Hills.

•On the TAP front, Big Blue Bus is scheduled to start accepting TAP cards in March. Also, new screen prompts will debut on Metro ticket machines and a new regional TAP website is scheduled to premiere.

•Work is soon to begin on the installation of equipment that will allow for wifi and cell phone access in underground rail stations, with initial work in the Red/Purple Line in downtown L.A.

•Delivery of the first completed new light rail vehicles being built by Metro contractor Kinkisharyo.

•And the first delivery of new electric 40-foot buses built by BYD for Metro.

•Metro and the Metro Board will likely be discussing and possibly deciding whether to go forward with a ballot measure for November 2016 to accelerate or fund new projects.

•The Metro Board will have to consider contracts for policing the Metro system. The current contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department expires at the end of this fiscal year (the end of June).

•Metro and the Federal Transit Administration will continue to negotiate a federal grant and loan to help build the second section of the Purple Line Extension between Wilshire/La Cienega and Century City. The FTA recently gave Metro the go-ahead to enter into the engineering phase of the New Starts program, a positive sign for Metro’s grant/loan application.

Again, this is basic list of things-to-expect-in-2015. I’m probably missing a few things. We’ll certainly try to chronicle it here on the blog and Metro’s social media streams on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Check back often please for the latest updates!

16 replies

  1. “…and a new regional TAP website is scheduled to premiere.”

    Which was promised by end of 2013.

    Your own words, Metro:
    http://i.imgur.com/um5srH4.jpg

    Source: http://thesource.metro.net/2013/06/18/gates-to-be-latched-at-union-station-subway-entrances-on-wednesday-here-is-the-sources-qa-about-the-turnstiles-and-tap/

    Am I now to expect the webpage to be updated and easier to use at 2017?

    All I want is a simple webpage:

    1. Log in
    2. See how much is in my TAP card
    3. Load up in any amount I want via a credit or debit card
    4. Option: Setup up auto-reload when funds get low
    5. Forget about it

    Just like a Starbucks Card, nothing fancy.

    • ……………………………………………… crickets from Metro ……………………………………………………
      Fully agree, @K-Towner.
      This shows how ineptly Metro still handles IT related issues, likely due to internal politics. Huge disincentives for direct IT employees while overpriced, mismanaged subcontractors fumble any upgrades. In the Taj Mahal no one hears you scream!

  2. Thanks for the “look ahead” summary for 2015. Metro has accomplished a lot during 2014 and I know that 2015 will be a productive year as well.

  3. Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 study, East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project, High Desert Corridor Project, and way down the road West Santa Ana Transit Corridor

  4. Without a firm number one priority proposal on the next ballot tax increase requested by the MTA to build a Light Rail Line between at least West Los Angeles and Downtown Los Angeles along Santa Monica Bl. I will aggressively oppose the measure. Santa Monica Bl. is one of the heaviest travel corridors by both private vehicles and buses in Los Angeles County. Instead what we see is Light Rail being built along corridors that have little traffic and low bus passenger loads. A case in point. Crenshaw Bl. is only grid locked near the 10 freeway and bus service is not as frequent as that on Santa Monica Bl. Also Santa Monica Bl. has 24 hour service every 20 minutes all night long while Crenshaw has service only until around mid-night with a one hour headway. And no one is sure where to build another extension on the Gold Line since no matter where it goes it cannot provide relief to a none existent grid locked or overcrowded situation.

    • Yeah, that will do us all a lot of good. This “only-if-they-promise-to-do-my-pet-project” attitude is at least partly to blame for the near-miss on R2 a couple years ago. People need to grow up and think about what’s best for the county as a whole rather than thinking only of themselves and what personally benefits them.

      • Exactly.

        There isn’t even a right of way on most of Santa Monica Blvd., so a light rail line is all but impossible here.

  5. What about the new BRT service it suppose to start link up North Hollywood Station with the Gold Line via Burbank & Glendale. You guys have stated that it will begin in February. Will Metro exercise the option to order additional 350 new buses when the current contract of the 550 buses are fully delivered?

    • Hi Ivan;

      I believe that BRT line is still being studied — I’m unaware of it being launched but let me check next week to see if I missed it.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. “The draft environmental document for the SR-710 project is scheduled to be released later this winter. The project aims to improve TRAFFIC CAUSED BY THE GAP in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena.” Your own words, Metro, again proving that the ONLY “solution” you see for the supposed “GAP” between 2 freeways is…more freeway!! Wow, you’re not even trying to hide the fact that you’re pushing a $10 billion+ highway tunnel in the 21st century..so much for “looking at all options” including, god forbid, a TRANSIT alternative!

    • Hi Transit Rider;

      I don’t see how stating the traffic issue is the same as saying what the solution or solutions will be. There are five alternatives on the table, including the no-build option. And a lot of the traffic issues involve the 710. In any event, the Metro Board of Directors will ultimately decide what, if anything, to build and that’s after considerable public input. I encourage everyone to take a look at the study when it’s released and let their opinions be known.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  7. I support Transit Rider’s comment. Sadly, I feel that METRO doesn’t really seek comment and input from those of us who live in the area. METRO gives the illusion that they are interested, but simply do what they want, when they want. If METRO really wanted input, into such things as the SR-710 project, they should hold meetings at manageable times and locations. most of the meetings METRO holds are usually during rush hour and in some hard to reach location!

    and one thing that I do not see metioned in the article above, How will METRO lower fares for us riders? why take METRO when gas prices are so low? I can save more by driving!

  8. First I want to say the LA County Sheriff’s Dept will be no lose. In my opinion, they have not done the job and I think Metro would be better off having their own Transit Police like they once did and that way they can operate it the way the agency wants it to be.

    Also, on the Tap card issue, when you load additional fare on your tape care; it should not expire within 30 days of not using the remainder on the card. Frankly, I feel having the money on the Tap card expire within 30 days of non use is a disservice to your customers. I would like to see the Metro Board work on this issue as well.

    • 1. I completely agree with the comments from Rick Beaver. I already think that the LA County Sheriff do a poor to insufficient job, and it appears that I am not alone in that thinking. The LA County Sheriff do not take their job along the METRO lines seriously. They do not issue citations out consistently(unless its the end of the month and they have to meet thier quotas) and they turn their back on fare evadors or simply give them a verbal warning which DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to give people second thoughts on doing it again. And most of the time, the LA County Sheriff are simply huddled up in a small group with their peers sipping their Starbucks and gossiping about their social life!

      2. i did NOT know that loaded fare on a TAP card will expire within 30 days if not used. THIS is a complete disgrace by METRO! METRO should not treat their riders in this manner! If I put money on a TAP card, that TAP card should have that money there and available until I use every last penny! Not until METRO feels I should have used it and wipes out what I haven’t used! Talk about corrupt, shady and greedy!

      • Concerning the Sheriffs. The MTA only funds a certain number of Deputies. They are spread thin and more are assigned to the rail lines than bus lines although bus lines provide the majority of transit. Initially when the Transit Police were abolished Transit Services was divided up between the LAPD and LASO. With those contracts many former transit Police Officers were hired by both agencies. But with two agencies problems arose. The LAPD could not go into neighboring cities and the LASO was all but banned from enforcing laws and responding within the City of Los Angeles. This proved to be especially troublesome when a bus’s Silent Alarm was activated.

        The Transit Police started out using former officers from other agencies. Some had been terminated by those agencies. They were a tuff bred and just the mention of requesting them by a bus operator usually resulted in the problem being resolved. Bus the RTD was forced to terminate them as well and most of the new officers came from Rio Hondo Community College. They ran a program that was accepted by the State of California certifying them as trained police officers. This program however was not recognized by many departments including the LAPD and LASO. If someone had graduated from Rio Hondo both departments still required these individuals to go thru their academies. A waiver was granted to the former Transit Police Officers as part of the contracts. These Rio Hondo graduates in my opinion were not professional and lacked common sense. As a RTD/MTA Supervisor I had almost daily contact with them and at times had to assist them in making decisions and arrests. At a major incident in Beverly Hills they were not even allowed to direct traffic. The Highway Patrol was requested. And it was the LASO that ultimately killed the suspect on the bus.

        While many police officers from major agencies do seek to go to smaller agencies that experience less crime, the RTD Transit Police was not one of them. To be perfectly frank, they were considered clowns.

        There is still ill feelings by some members at the LAPD after they lost their contract and also from those former officers that were disqualified by both the LAPD and LASO.

        What needs to be done is fund more deputies. Los Angeles County is a very big place. The city alone is 475 square miles. When there is a incident they will respond as quickly as possible. With the Transit Police sometimes they would never showed up with excuses that there was a change in shifts. It seems there were only three shifts and everyone on that shift pulled in at the same time.