Statement from Metro on upcoming release of spending plan for potential ballot measure

From Metro:

As Metro continues to build for Los Angeles County’s transportation future, there is a lot of excitement growing around the update to our long-range plan and the projects and programs that will be part of it. It’s great that so many people are so interested! 

The plan is being finalized and will be released on Friday, March 18. We can tell you that the plan seeks to fix bottlenecks on freeways and local streets, extend rail lines, speed up buses, help pedestrians and cyclists, improve connections to schools and airports, repair potholes, synchronize traffic signals, keep fares low for those who most depend on public transit and maintain bridges and tunnels in a state of good repair.

“Metro is finalizing a plan that will reflect feedback from stakeholders from throughout the region. The Board has called for a plan that is regional, rational and equitable,” said Metro Board Chair and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We anticipate that it will provide an exciting vision for how to ease congestion and improve transit options for millions of Angelenos.”

Metro will host public meetings and provide other opportunities for public feedback.

“Our staff has worked hard at developing a plan that delivers much-needed projects in all areas of the region,” said Metro CEO Phillip Washington. “I strongly believe this is an opportunity for our county to build a transportation network for today and generations to come.”  

22 replies

  1. “The plan is being finalized and will be released on Friday, March 18.”
    “Metro will host public meetings and provide other opportunities for public feedback.”
    —–

    The public meetings will be held after the plan is “finalized”? Is this a model of public engagement that seeks to empower the public, or one which seeks to inform us of a set of decisions that has already been made without our feedback?

    Rhetorical questions aside, seriously, you need to consult with the public through an open process before you put something on the ballot, unless you want it to get shot down. Getting a 2/3 vote is not easy. My suggestion would be to release a “draft” plan and then put it through the ringer of public feedback, then refine it and put a “final” plan before the Metro Board and then on the ballot. Maybe I missed it, but I read this blog pretty regularly and I haven’t seen any public outreach from Metro geared towards gathering input on this plan. Reach out, especially to the people who ride transit the most. They’ll tell you what’s working and what isn’t!

    • The draft plan is being finalized before its release. Then the public comment period. Metro Board has the final say on the plan and whether to put it on the ballot. That decision is scheduled for June.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. I really hope this doesn’t include a orange line bus to rail conversion but instead a grid separation of the line. That way speed is increased and the money is instead spent on making the van nuys/405 rail line to westwood and beyond as grid separate as possible 🙂

    • Steve Hymon, could you please clarify – if public comment leads to adjustments in the ‘Final’ plan, would that adjustment, by definition, come at the cost of missing the ballot access deadline? Is Metro willing to adjust proposal and review timetables to ensure that we’ve got a compromise that can win in November?

      A lot of the categories of stakeholders Metro has included in the process have fairly narrow regional or financial interests. I can only hope that whatever comes out of this process is politically astute and environmentally sustainable.

  3. I really hope this doesn’t include a orange line bus to rail conversion but instead a grid separation of the line. That way speed is increased and the money is instead spent on making the van nuys/405 rail line to westwood and beyond as grid separate as possible 🙂

  4. Sounds like a good, comprehensive plan, with much more than just continuing building out rail service, although that is important. Very good, if there is greater emphasis on repair and maintenance of the infrastructure, which in many locations is greatly in need of it. Can’t wait to see the details.

  5. “fix bottlenecks on freeways” is a euphemism for constructing more freeways. I.E.: Expand the I-710 and extend the SR 710 freeways.

    • Metro has already said publicly — many times — that the SR 710 North project will not be part of the plan.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. “Metro is finalizing a plan that will reflect feedback from stakeholders from throughout the region. ”

    Who, or, whom, are the “stakeholders” that you mention, please? I ask because the term, “stakeholder”, is a curious word to use for customers using Metro products.

    • Civic groups, officials from cities, unions, business groups — all those who worked with the Councils of Governments in the county’s nine subregions to provide input for the plan.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  7. Out of curiosity, I took a look at all the special sales taxes that are already being collected for transportation in the county. It adds up to 1.5%. This measure would bump that to 2%. I think that might be the highest in the state (by county) for transportation. BART apparently runs on a whopping 0.5% sales tax (ok, I know… this is for a lot more than rail lines, but still). Take a look here: http://www.boe.ca.gov/pdf/boe105.pdf

    I know Metro just raised fares and all, but maybe it should look into distance-based fares and other means to get funding like renting out space at stations before asking the public for more. I’m honestly on the fence about voting for such an increase. I do hope Metro’s plan is solid and won’t take 30 years to implement.

    • Concerned, it doesn’t take 30 years to implement. Without explaining the whole bond process, Metro would spend the money today, and we’d pay for it over the next 30 years with a low interest rate. This is appropriate budgeting, because we’ll get the results sooner, and future generations will be benefiting from the infrastructure, so we’ll ask them to pay their part.
      As for distance based fares, we Angelinos want people with long commutes to seek out highly subsidized mass transit. They’re the people who are responsible for a greater share of externalities, like traffic and smog.

      • Dayle,

        No one has made you king to speak for the rest of Angelenos to assume that’s what we all want. The people who live farther away are far more wealthier than those who live within the denser core of LA which is what LA Metro was meant to serve. If it’s doable, I agree, I say we just jack up the prices for you long distance riders and make you pay more in parking fees. If you don’t like it, go back to driving, deal with the traffic and the high parking fees at DTLA. It’s either that or pay a little bit more extra in your cost of commute. Take your pick. You are not entitled to anything.

        • While I appreciate your passion and agree that suburbanites are not paying their fair share of urban infrastructure that they benefit from, you’ve got me pegged all wrong. In short, I want to see fewer vehicle miles traveled and fewer emissions.

  8. I’m curious to hear more details about the road projects. When I hear the term “fixing bottlenecks” I assume that means adding more road capacity, and very likely degrading the public realm even further for pedestrians. And as much as I want more transit, I can’t vote for any more road capacity in LA — we can’t afford to maintain the vast network we have today, let alone build more. #nonewroads

  9. I hope this plan has lots of metrolink expansion or express / limited overlays on existing metro rail lines. Metro Rail is great, unless you are going 7+ miles – then it takes forever.

    • Metrolink needs to have frequent service, including nights and weekends. Otherwise the suburbs (the majority of L.A. County) have no reason to support the measure.

      • Agree. If you want to get long distance commuters off the roads, you have to have quick long distance options. I’m here in Zurich for work and the train system is amazing because $$ went into rail not roads (and is on time to the minute). You have local lines and express lines everywhere. L.A. is severely lacking in express / commuter trains like metrolink. Selfishly I’d love a metrolink or Blue Line express from Long Beach straight to downtown (and then Burbank!).

  10. I will vote “NO” for any new taxes for public transportation. Why do we constantly pay to undo “bottlenecks” on our freeways? The bottleneck continues as soon as a road/freeway is widened. Metro should focus on better forms of public transportation, expand rail service to include more frequency of trains, more late night service and better customer service. (Use monitors to better inform the public re delays.) Metro should put their “boots on the ground” at key stations/bus stops to engage riders re feedback and ideas for improvements. (6:00 pm public meetings is woefully inadequate.)

    Finally, Metro has ruined my commute (and several others) to downtown. The motto for the Silver Line is “a faster way to downtown.” Well, my commute on the Silver Line (on a good day) has added almost 30 minutes to my evening commute. I also catch an earlier bus in the morning to arrive to work at around the same time prior to the demise of the 450.

    Also, the 910/950 is a joke! Okay, so it doesn’t stop at four stations on the Harbor Freeway. As soon as it hits Figueroa Street, it stops at every main intersection. Can Metro explain to me how this is an “express” bus? I will at times bypass the 910 and catch the 950 and wait for the 910 to catch up. On average, this results in about a five minute difference. Again, how is this an “express” bus?

    I was briefly tempted with the idea of driving to work. After careful thought and consideration, I came to the conclusion that there is no lesser of two evils. The only reason I catch the bus is to save mileage on my car.