Board roundup: motions call for tech push, rail-to-Rams report and Gold Line-express bus study

It was a fairly quiet meeting Thursday of the Metro Board of Directors, the 13-member body that decides many issues large and small at the agency.

In his opening remarks, Metro CEO Phil Washington did briefly respond to the L.A. Times article on Thursday on declines in ridership at Metro and other transit agencies. Phil’s three main points:

•Metro created a ridership task force last year to work on ideas to retain riders and attract new ones.

•Transit ridership is cyclical and he expects it to continue to go up and down in future years — and that declines at Metro are similar to declines at other agencies.

•Phil also said that Metro is taking a long-term view and preparing for a growing population in Los Angeles County. “Now is the time, we believe, to invest in transportation needs for decades to come,” he said.

As for the Metro Board meeting, the Board took action on these items that may interest everyday riders:

•The Board approved a technology motion (below) by Eric Garcetti, Hilda Solis, Mike Bonin and Ara Najarian that directs Metro:

-Accelerate the installation of cell service and wifi in all underground stations and tunnels.

-Improve real-time arrival information, including a goal of fixing all broken displays at stations within 24 hours (an issue we            frequently hear about from riders).

-improve bus speeds by better utilizing traffic signal priority technology.

-begin development of next generation TAP that would allow TAP to be used for payment of such things as Metrolink, taxis, ride-hailing, bike share and parking garages.

Here’s the entire motion:



•The Board approved a motion asking Metro by Mike Antonovich, Hilda Solis and John Fasana to study potential express bus lines between the new Gold Line Foothill Extension stations and other transit lines/stations in the area. Here’s the motion:




•The Board approved a motion by Mark Ridley-Thomas, James T. Butts, John Fasana and Mike Antonovich to create a “Metro Line to Goal Line” task force to study the best way to use transit to get fans to Rams games at the Coliseum beginning this August and, after 2019, the new stadium in Inglewood, which supporters say could host 50 to 60 games and events a year.

The Coliseum is, of course, is a tight spiral from the Expo Line. The new stadium and surrounding development in Inglewood will be about a 1.5-mile walk from the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Downtown Inglewood Station. The Crenshaw/LAX Line is also forecast to open in 2019.


A rendering of the Inglewood stadium and some of the new development expected to be built surrounding it.

In addition, the Board approved a second motion — by the same authors above and Don Knabe and Sheila Kuehl — asking Metro to study building a rail line or spur to the Inglewood Stadium, possibly using Prairie Avenue. Board Members added a friendly amendment to clarify that this project is not intended to replace a possible South Bay Extension of the Green Line to Torrance, which is a project with Measure R funding (and not due to be finished until the 2030s).

Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey told the Board that he supports the study and looks forward possibly to a “Torrance to Florence” rail line — the Crenshaw/LAX Line runs along Florence through Inglewood.

Here’s the second motion about the rail study:




•The Board approved an ExpresssLanes toll policy that would allow Metro to increase tolls on segments of the 10 or 110 by increments of 10 cents when speeds repeatedly fall below 45 mph. Several Board Members said they would like a clearer explanation from staff on how tolls are set so they can pass along information when asked.

Here’s the new policy:


17 replies

  1. I suppose cell service in the subways is inevitable but what would be great is to establish a “no talking policy.” The idea of riders being subjected to a bunch of people talking — nearly all of whom will raise their voices to compensate (wrongly) for the ambient noise around them — makes me shudder.

  2. It would also be extremely helpful to have GPS tracking on the buses that riders can see on their phones in real time so they know if their bus is on the way or not. The public buses in Davis CA have this feature and it was extremely useful.

  3. The motion to approve next gen TAP is interesting because it includes, Metrolink, ride-share and parking garages whose charges are done variably (distance and/or time) instead of a flat rate like Metro. This will greatly open the doors to possibly charging buses, trains, and ride-share services by the mile and drastically improving parking payments which are done by the hour (or fraction thereof).

    But the keyword here is actually “including, but not limited to.” If we can look at examples of what contactless cards can do abroad, TAP can do a lot more, like becoming a regional debit card for the unbanked and having it used across merchants and retailers here in LA, in which Metro can gain additional revenue from transaction fees like the major credit and debit card networks. Imagine where you can buy a bottle of Sprite at 7-Eleven with your TAP card. Imagine paying for a movie ticket with a TAP card. Imagine a TAP app being used with your iPhone or other NFC enabled smartphone so you don’t even need a TAP card to begin with. All of this is doable and are being used today outside the US.

  4. How about this for a bold idea…. Rather than a traditional light rail across all of Prairie just to get the the new Rams Stadium, what about a Hyperloop line from the new Crenshaw Fairview Heights Station.
    Hear me out… If the upcoming test track to be tested THIS YEAR is successful, it will be five miles long and cost $170 million. If such a system can be built that quickly and be less that 25% of the cost of a traditional light rail line, only a two-mile hyperloop costing even less could be concievably be ready by the Rams’ opening game in Inglewood.
    Why not give a futuristic stadium that will make L.A. an example to the world a futuristic way to get there?

  5. Which bus lines will serve which new Gold Line Station? There is no announcement from any Metro or muni agencies.

    The Express Lanes
    Can Metro and Caltrans increase to the number of people in a vehicle from three people to five people during rush hours? The idea is to pack more people in each car and bus. If the traveling speed is still falling, then Metro can think about charging more at a later point.

  6. A Prairie Avenue Extension would be interesting… It would take about 3 miles of aerial tramway to bridge the Green Line station at Hawthorn/Lennox with the Fairview Heights station on the Crenshaw line. If the stadium folks wanted to fund the station (or The Forum), it could cut into the parking lots and offer aerial stations steps from the gate. That would have the advantage of splitting the passenger load onto two lines with plenty of space to stage a crowd underneath. Presumably the line and stations would open only for special events.

    Steve, after the last discussion in the comments section, I went to look up capacity figures and could not find them. Does Metro release capacity numbers? If so, could you share them? How many passengers per hour could the Crenshaw line move away from the stadium, assuming the load was split in two directions and that extra gates could be put onto stations to handle the foot traffic? Can they run four-car trains? What about the Green line?

    I was also unable to get numbers for how many people use Metro to attend events at the Rose Bowl, which has a similar issue of being very close, but not really that close, to a light rail line.

    • Hey Todd;

      Good question. I believe that some of the project EIRs may — emphasize on may — have capacity numbers, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s really difficult to even guesstimate what a stadium train’s capacity would be, given that we don’t know what type of train could be built (and I have to emphasize that we still don’t know if this is going to happen), and how often those trains could be run. I think that, generally speaking, capacity for a typical light rail car is about 160 to 180 people depending on the type of car.

      Maybe it’s better to say it this way: a single rail line to a stadium is very unlikely to handle all the stadium’s capacity. That said, a rail line could certainly give many people the option of not driving and give a significant percentage of the crowd another way of getting there.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  7. The stupidity of having to be in constant connection to ones friends and family is laughable. How many times have we observed people with cell phones with their heads pointed down reading and texting while walking down the street sometimes into the path of vehicles. And now they are demanding they be able to scream into their phones while traveling on the subway. Oh, how they must suffer while flying unless they want to use one of those inflight phones. Thank god it’ s not popular.

    Pry your fingers away from your cell phone and put it in your pocket for the few minutes your traveling via the subway.

    • Bingo! Add the below comment about priorities – Metro should spend our money on other more basic needs.

      Light rail on Prairie Blvd is extremely premature, let the stadium operator prove that the venue can draw enough events to justify it. Also not a good sign that the city gov’t and most local residents prefer new chain stores that would attract NO ONE from out of town.

  8. I agree with cell service on subways, but honestly, it seems strange to be focusing resources on this while there are still hundreds of bus stops with no shade, seating, schedule info or covered trash cans. You’ve got to crawl before you can walk.

  9. Cell phone service is not the problem. No one talks on their cell phones anymore. It’s the data that matters. Just give us decent 4G coverage underground and we’ll just figure the rest out ourselves. We can do everything from Facebook and Twitter or Skype so long there’s data coverage. You can restrict voice calls just like the airlines Gogo inflight internet.

    And I agree with cmlmills that we need GPS tracking on buses so we know in real time when they’re coming, this needs to be done, pronto. The private sector already has this capability showing your Uber and Lyft ride coming on Google Maps. Why can they do it, but Metro can’t?

    Metro needs to get in the game of making technology work for them. They’re like 20 years behind the rest of the world and the private sector. We’re not paying you taxes so you can keep doing old and outdated methods using old and outdated technology, you guys need to do better with technology. It’s laughable how the rest of the world has better TAP systems but we’re way behind in this technology.

  10. For the Motion File ID 2016-0071. This is a no brainer. You can either make the Line 577 to start at the Monrovia Station and go to Long Beach.

    Make a Rapid Line out of Line 270 and connect it to three MetroLink Lines along the way.

  11. As for rail to the Rams stadium, a relatively cheap option would be to use a one way track center lane approach. From the green line a train could turn north onto Crenshaw blvd up to intersect and continue north on the Crenshaw light rail line. The other track would be From the Crenshaw light rail line near downtown inglewood for a one way. It could go South along Prarie linking up with the green line and continue to the South Bay.

    If this is all too cheap, just put in an elevated inglewood to LAX people mover from LAX wrapping around to the stadium and turning north to downtown inglewood Crenshaw station

  12. Techie Rider, the MTA has had the ability and has been able to track the location of buses within a couple of feet for years. This one of the ways they monitor “On Time Performance” and are able to respond to emergencies on buses with little delay. Check out your facts before you attack.

  13. I think the cost vs the benefits of serving the privately owned stadium needs to be seriously taken into consider. I suggested a street car from the light rail stations to the stadium with the cost to build in mind. The estimated cost to build a streetcar is a lot less than building a light rail. I base this on the proposed Street Car project in Downtown LA:
    Downtown Streetcar.

    Los Angeles’s Downtown Streetcar project, in the works since 2008, took a big step forward last week when the City Council’s Transportation Committee voted to move ahead with the preliminary engineering phase, which will look at concrete options for building the line—the general plan is for a 3.8-mile loop down Broadway, First, Eleventh, Figueroa, Seventh, and Hill. The main trouble with the project has been the budget, with an initial estimate of $125 million ballooning to $327.8 million, then shrinking again to about $270 million. The latest number discussed last week—estimated by private contractor AECOM—was $281.6 million


    Another Billion dollar project is not very wise especially when the green line will have a spur that will connect to the Crenshaw line. The Green and Crenshaw lines can both travel north to the Expo Line and beyond in the future. Also, isn’t the Crenshaw line connecting to the Green line heading south into the south bay? A new line is unwarranted at this time.