How We Roll: potential ballot measure — everybody wants some

News flash!: Metro’s Universal Pedestrian Bridge Project has won the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Outstanding Bridge Project of the Year award. Congrats to the project team, consultants and the contractor for their work on the bridge, which opened this spring and offers a safe way across Lankershim Boulevard between the Red Line’s Universal City Station and Universal City.

Art of Transit: 

Editorial: L.A. needs a great public transit system. Is a permanent sales tax the best way to do it? (LAT)

The editorial suggests that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to asking voters to consider a new half-cent sales tax and extending Measure R beyond its mid-2039 expiration date. The crux of it:

Nearly 50 years ago, Los Angeles County voters rejected a half-cent sales tax proposal that would have built an 89-mile rail and bus network between downtown, Long Beach, the San Fernando Valley and Westwood, the San Gabriel Valley, and even a route to LAX. The Times Editorial Board at that time urged a no vote, saying “we are an automotive people, unlikely to change our habits.” Imagine if voters had said yes? How many hours of congestion might have been avoided? How much pollution might have been prevented? Now, five decades later, our habits will have to change, one way or another. 

The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled on Thursday to consider putting the sales tax measure before voters in November. We’ll be covering it live on the blog. Want to see what the ballot measure would fund? Here’s the revised spending plan released earlier this month.

Guest commentary: CSUN can’t be ignored in L.A. County’s transit plans (Daily News)

Speaking of the ballot measure, State Sen. Bob Hertzberg argues that it should include funding for an east-west bus rapid transit project that would make it easier to reach CSUN in the northwest San Fernando Valley.

For those keeping score at home, on Monday we had Inglewood Mayor and Metro Board Member and WeHo Council Member Lindsey Horvath arguing to accelerate the Green Line Extension to Torrance and the Crenshaw/LAX Line northern extension to WeHo and Hollywood. Also, State Sen. Tony Mendoza had been pushing a bill to expand the Metro Board as part of his efforts to get the potential Union Station-Artesia light rail project accelerated; the bill was shelved but the project would be built quicker under Metro’s revised spending plan for the ballot measure.

I mention all these because they could be a prelude to some of the discussions at the Metro Board meeting on Thursday.

FWIW, as part of Metro’s service changes, the Metro Rapid Line 744 will operate later service to better accommodate late-night class dismissals from CSUN. The last bus leaving Northridge will now be 10:20 p.m. on weeknights. Here’s the new timetable. Also, Metro is exploring the possibility of helping Metrolink move the Northridge Station closer to campus.

Op-Ed: Metro is giving L.A. County’s working-class hubs a raw deal (LAT)

Speaking of the Union Station-to-Artesia project, Karina Macias, a Huntington Park City Council member and a member of the project’s board, says that Metro still needs to build the project sooner. Why? Because it would serve more transit dependent riders.

For residents of the Gateway Cities, representation on Metro’s board and better transit service is about more than just fairness and social and environmental justice; it matters to our everyday lives. As a young woman growing up in Huntington Park, I thought of owning a vehicle as a luxury; this is still the case for many families in the Gateway Cities. I didn’t own my first car until I graduated from college in 2010, so bus and rail were the only transportation options available to me throughout my middle school, high school and college days. Yes, Los Angeles County has “progressed a long way toward developing a regional transit system,” as Yaroslavsky and Katz believe. However, that progress is still an elusive concept in my community.

The reference at the end is to an earlier op-ed in the LAT written by former Metro Board Members Zev Yaroslavsky and Richard Katz, who said the Mendoza bill to expand the Metro Board would not end favorably.

Major upgrades planned for Union Station (Urbanize LA)


A good look at the project that would allow Metrolink and Amtrak trains to enter Union Station from the south and the north — which would save time for rail riders. The project would also allow a new concourse to be built under the tracks (that’s part of the Union Station Master Plan project), as well as high-speed rail access to Union Station, should that come to pass.

6 replies

  1. If Metro wants 2/3rds buy-in for another new tax without a sunset, it’s really going to have to demonstrate competence with the newly opened Gold and Expo line extensions. People naturally assume a government organization will waste their money and produce poor results, so it’s on Metro to prove otherwise. The major hurdle I see to that right now is train speed. This has been a constant complaint for Expo, and it’s yielded a lot of negative press. There are tons of reports of the DTSM to DTLA trip taking an hour, even without the mechanical failures that have been common the last month. I know much of this is related to kinks that need to be worked out on a new line, but one thing Metro needs to fix immediately is the stop I’ve heard many trains are making at the maintenance yard to change operators. This sends the message to riders that Metro is uninterested in speeding up the train and doesn’t care about their riders’ time. That is terrible messaging when you’re asking those very people for more money. I would urge Metro to do all operator changes at stations going forward, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard complain about this stop. There is also quite a bit of room for improvement with signal timing in DTSM (trains leaving from there often catch red lights – it seems like this could be avoided with precise timing), but I know that is something takes some time.

    • I think Metro is still dealing with a train shortage that is slowly being resolved but that doesn’t excuse them from making some better operational choices such as implementing skip-stop service in the rush that bypasses lower-performing stations. On another note, I don’t think people naturally assume government orgs will waste their money- bad governance ultimately is the cause of distrust. A government for the people by the people right? Everyone needs to be held accountable to some degree.

    • The #1 cause of delays on the Blue and Expo lines is lack of signal priority while in LA City. LADOT wants to give preference to cars while Santa Monica and Pasadena realize that a train packed with 300 people is more important than a car or two that might be waiting at the light.

  2. Making the Metro Board bigger is not the answer to the concerns of the inner city communities, though. Also, the suburban areas do tend to have higher propensity voters than urban areas, which will skew projects that direction because of the 2/3 vote necessary to pass any tax increase. Measure R was passed on an election with a historic turnout, one that 2016 will not reach. Long term the agency needs to work with legislators to lower the bar for sales tax passage down to 55% or 60%, and add things like sports tickets, theme park admissions, and digital apps to sales tax eligible items to counter the shift from tangible goods to services.

  3. The current proposals fail to address the need for new light rail lines in areas where they are truly needed like on the westside. Perhaps the answer is to place a alternative measure on the ballot in November that is backed by the people instead of the politicians. There is ample time to get the signatures and I would volunteer my time to gather them and work to have said measure pass.

    • It seems like half of the proposals are on the Westside? Lincoln Blvd, Sepulveda, Green line extension, and Purple line acceleration. All that plus the Crenshaw extension is a lot of transit coming to or near the West Side right after the Expo line just opened to the Westside.