Below are some of the most interesting actions taken by the Metro Board of Directors at their monthly meeting held Thursday. The full agenda is above.
As we also noted earlier on Twitter, Metro CEO Phil Washington congratulated the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority on reaching “substantial completion” of the project on Wednesday. Phil said that he expects to announce an opening date for the project within the next 30 days and most likely at the October Board meeting, which takes place Oct. 22.
•Item 49. The Board approved the following motion by Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas asking Metro to assess the feasibility of creating a community college TAP program. This is something that the group Move LA has been pushing for and it would work like this: all students would receive a heavily discounted TAP card as part of the college registration process unless they choose to opt out of the program.
At present, students must acquire a student TAP application and go through a somewhat lengthy process to get a discounted TAP card. The idea behind a “Universal Community College Student Transit Pass Program” is to greatly increase the number of students who have TAP cards with the hope that more of them would use transit. As the motion states, such a program could be funded by colleges with help from Metro and grants Metro could seek.
Also, below is a 2001 research synopsis by UCLA that found that transit ridership increased 71 percent to 200 percent at 35 universities who offered universal transit passes. Those are pretty impressive numbers and it should also be noted that many of the community colleges in our county are near major bus and/or rail lines.
•Item 59. The Board approved a parking ordinance to give Metro clearer authority to enforce rules at its parking lots and garages (the agency manages more than 22,000 spaces currently). As the staff report notes, “the recommended Parking Ordinance does not contain significant substantive changes from current parking law, policy or practices.”
As part of today’s vote, the Metro Board also adopted a parking fee resolution. The only change at this time will be at Union Station, where the daily fee will rise from the current $6 to $8 later this year.
•Item 61. The Board approved creating the “Chief Innovation Officer” job position at Metro with a salary range of $222,476 to $325,353. As noted in the Metro staff report:
This position will be responsible for improving mobility and accessibility in Los Angeles County through partnerships with innovative people, the international private sector community, organizations, and industries; support Metro departments in piloting new and experimental ideas and policies including an effective performance-based capital investment strategy for Metro; initiate a comprehensive strategic planning process that guides the authority for next 5-10 years; and direct and oversee the Public Private Partnership (P3) Program that will improve and accelerate mobility projects in Los Angeles County. This office and position will pay for itself with the anticipated level and degree of innovation and revenue generation that will be implemented at LA Metro and throughout the county.
•Item 60. The Board approved renewing a contract for five years for up to $323,000 a year with the West Angeles Church of Christ to lease spaces in their parking garage to serve patrons of the Expo Line’s Crenshaw Station.
•Item 67. The Board approved a motion by Board Members Sheila Kuehl and James T. Butts to dedicate the Expo Line’s future 26th Street/Bergamot Station in the memory of Army Private Joe Gandara, who was killed in action in World War 2 and received the Medal of Honor in 2014. The motion calls for placing a plaque at the station “recognizing Private Gandara’s heroism and sacrifice for our country.” Full text of the motion is here. Excerpt:
The City of Santa Monica has requested that the Metro Board consider dedicating the 26th Street/Bergamot Expo Station in memory of Private Joe Gandara, a Santa Monica native who grew up in the Pico neighborhood. Private Gandara perished in combat during World War II.
Private Joe Gandara enlisted in the US Army in 1942 and was deployed to Europe. On June 9, 1944 his detachment came under devastating enemy fire and was pinned to the ground for four hours. Private Gandara voluntarily advanced alone toward the enemy position, destroying three hostile machine-guns before he was fatally wounded.
•Item 58. After a long discussion, the Board voted 9-1-1 to continue developing affordable housing and business loan funds. The main concerns expressed by several Board Members involved Metro’s ability to make loans to develop more affordable housing near transit and support businesses near transit. Metro staff are directed to answer questions raised. Ara Najarian voted against the motion and Diane DuBois abstained.
•Item 39. The Board approved a motion calling for Metro to explore ways to save some service on the San Pedro Waterfront Red Car Line, which is operated by the Port of Los Angeles and is slated for closure Sept. 27.