City of Westlake Village holds groundbreaking for Lindero Canyon Bridge Widening Project

Metro Highway Program's Lan Saadatnejadi speaks at the Lindero Canyon/101 bridge project groundbreaking. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

Metro Highway Program Executive Officer Lan Saadatnejadi speaks at the Lindero Canyon/101 bridge project groundbreaking. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

The City of Westlake Village held a groundbreaking ceremony this morning for the Lindero Canyon/101 Freeway bridge project. When the project is completed, the Lindero Canyon Road/101 bridge will feature an additional travel lane in each direction of traffic and a series of unique aesthetic improvements. Funding for this project is provided by Measure R.

“Westlake Village has been a strong partner with Metro to quickly and effectively move forward congestion relief projects like the Lindero Canyon Bridge Widening Project using the Measure R funds collected in Los Angeles County,” said Metro’s Executive Director of Highway Project Delivery Doug Failing. “We want all of our local partners to be this effective in providing congestion relief for their residents.”

To get the latest info on the project, visit the city’s website.

Metro starting to prepare for possible shutdown of federal government

The federal government may or may not be open for business one week from tomorrow. That is potentially a problem for Metro and many other transit agencies that are receiving or are set to secure funding for transportation projects and other programs.

Here’s the latest update from Metro’s government relations staff:

Congressional Gridlock on Continuing Resolution Leads Federal Agencies to Update Plans for Shutdown

With less than two weeks before a potential shutdown of the federal government, the U.S. House of Representatives moved today to pass a continuing resolution that would defund the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Earlier this week, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy making clear that the President’s advisors would recommend that President Obama veto the House measure that was adopted today.

The U.S. Senate, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), has vowed to adopt a continuing resolution without provisions that defund the ACA. The considerable gap between the House and Senate is leading some observers to conclude that a shutdown of the federal government is likely if a continuing resolution is not adopted by September 30, 2013.

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In response to PEPRA issue’s temporary solution, Moody’s confirms good credit rating for Metro

This issue is an excellent example of the domino effect. Metro and other California transit agencies were threatened with losing billions of dollars in federal funds because of a dispute between the state and the U.S. Department of Labor over whether the state’s pension reform violated the rights of transit workers.

As a result, Moody’s had threatened to downgrade the credit ratings for Metro and other agencies. That, in turn, would have made it very difficult for Metro to negotiate loans and bonds. Losing federal funds and lending ability would have spell doom for several Metro projects, including the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector.

A state bill, AB 1222, approved by the Legislature last week solves the problem for now. Some transit workers will be exempted from pension reform, the state-Labor Department dispute will be resolved in court and now Moody’s has confirmed Metro’s credit rating.

Thank whew-ness! Here’s the update from Metro CEO Art Leahy:

PEPRA/13(C) Update: Moody’s Investor Service Confirms Credit Ratings for California Transit Agencies

Earlier today, Moody’s Investor Service confirmed the credit rating for our agency and other California transit agencies, and revised their outlooks to stable based on legislation (AB1222) recently adopted by the California State Legislature. Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill into law in the very near future. Last month, Moody’s issued a notice that it had placed the ratings for our agency and other transit agencies in the State of California under review for downgrade due to the ongoing PEPRA/13C dispute. The Moody’s notice cited the U.S. Department of Labor’s potential delay in certifying federal transportation grants (capital and operations) as the rationale for placing the transportation agencies under review for downgrade. I would like to extend our appreciation to our Board members, Governor Brown, members of the California State Legislature, our U.S. Senators and Members of the House of Representatives from Los Angeles County and senior officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation for working cooperatively with our staff to favorably resolve this matter. Please find here a copy of Moody’s notice.

Staff report on Measure R second and third decade projects

Measure R 2nd/3rd decade update

The Metro Board of Directors is gearing up for its September meetings and agendas are now posted for Board Committees.

Of those, I thought the above Metro staff report above was the most interesting. It provides an update on the status of Measure R transit and road projects. It also explains a policy decision that the Board may make this month on moving ahead with the planning documents for a variety of projects due to be completed in the second and third decade of Measure R — i.e. the 2020s and 2030s.

On the transit side, this includes projects such as an extension of the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 (a possible Gold Line extension), the South Bay Green Line Extension and a transit project to span the Sepulveda Pass, among others. There’s more info on metro.net’s planning page.

The item is scheduled to be discussed at the Board’s Planning Committee meeting this afternoon at 2:30 p.m.  If you have questions about any of the ongoing studies, I’ll try to answer them on the comments page.

AB 1222 passes the state Assembly

Here’s the update from Metro CEO Art Leahy:

PEPRA/13(C) Update

AB 1222 (Bloom) passed the Assembly unanimously today with a vote of 72-0. This measure creates a 15 month exemption from the state’s pension reform law and will lead to the release of our federal funding. This final step completes the legislative process for this measure and it will now be transmitted to the Governor for his consideration. We will continue to work with the Governor’s office and our federal partners to ensure a smooth implementation of this measure and to quickly access our vital federal funding. I would like to thank Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois and Metro Board Directors Eric Garcetti and Zev Yaroslavsky for their efforts in both Sacramento and Washington.

What’s all this about? It’s a bill that would exempt transit workers from the state’s pension reform (PEPRA) in order to continue the flow of federal transit funds to transit agencies in California, including Metro, which has more than $3 billion at stake.

More background in our earlier post.


Metro’s August ridership estimates: Expo Line reaches new high, Red/Purple Line have second-best month

August Metro ridership graphs

UPDATE: Post corrected below in bold, 4:20 p.m. I need to double-check the Red/Purple Line ridership with Metro staff in the morning.

Both the Red/Purple Line and the Expo Line had their best months yet, with 164,081 and 27,280 average weekday boardings, respectively — slightly higher than their previous bests (see the graphs above). The Expo Line had its best month yet with 27,280 average weekday boardings and the Red/Purple Line had its second best month with 164,081 boardings. The Gold Line had its third best month with 44,451 average weekday boardings; the numbers for the Gold Line were a tad higher in both June and July of 2012.

While the bus system had more boardings than August in the previous two years, ridership on the Metro bus system remains flat.

Overall, August 2013 was a strong month for ridership with 41.22 million boardings on Metro buses and trains. That was higher than the previous two Augusts — there were 39.29 million boardings in Aug. 2011 and 40.78 million boardings in Aug. 2012. Ridership on Metro tends to fluctuate depending on the seasons and calendar (i.e. how many weekdays there are in any given month).

Graphs showing the last two years of ridership numbers for individual rail lines and the bus system are above and more precise numbers for August in the past three years is below.

Bus Ridership Estimates

Bus – Directly Operated

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 1,088,003 1,074,951 1,048,258
Average Saturday Boardings 739,531 723,663 728,213
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 564,750 552,120 547,722
Total Calendar Month Boardings 29,892,721 29,827,005 29,213,674

Directly operated bus ridership includes Orange and Silver Line ridership.

Bus – Contract

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 52,295 45,836 41,327
Average Saturday Boardings 31,088 26,702 24,266
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 23,458 20,881 18,727
Total Calendar Month Boardings 1,399,762 1,244,551 1,122,490

Bus – Systemwide

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 1,140,298 1,120,787 1,089,585
Average Saturday Boardings 770,619 750,365 752,479
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 588,208 573,001 566,449
Total Calendar Month Boardings 31,292,483 31,071,556 30,336,164

Directly operated bus ridership includes Orange and Silver Line ridership.

Orange Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 28,101 27,513 22,977
Average Saturday Boardings 17,678 17,776 14,187
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 14,269 13,601 11,420
Total Calendar Month Boardings 763,688 758,307 630,899

Silver Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 12,597 11,449 9,730
Average Saturday Boardings 5,379 4,441 3,825
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 3,951 3,168 2,517
Total Calendar Month Boardings 319,833 293,763 249,158

Rail Ridership Estimates

Red/Purple Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 164,081 154,025 159,302
Average Saturday Boardings 107,995 90,817 100,728
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 74,028 79,423 80,785
Total Calendar Month Boardings 4,445,878 4,223,540 4,389,998

Blue Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 87,723 92,006 82,189
Average Saturday Boardings 60,840 65,686 57,645
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 48,487 54,087 47,924
Total Calendar Month Boardings 2,428,066 2,595,229 2,312,624

Blue Line estimates do not include Expo boardings.

Expo Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012
Average Weekday Boardings 27,280 19,776
Average Saturday Boardings 20,063 12,569
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 15,014 10,722
Total Calendar Month Boardings 760,524 548,009  

Green Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 42,593 45,536 43,373
Average Saturday Boardings 27,691 27,291 23,058
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 16,142 16,143 18,901
Total Calendar Month Boardings 1,140,066 1,221,076 1,165,424

Gold Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 44,451 42,125 39,598
Average Saturday Boardings 21,506 21,050 24,460
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 19,033 17,075 20,868
Total Calendar Month Boardings 1,161,576 1,121,376 1,092,062

Rail Systemwide Ridership Estimates

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 366,128 353,469 324,462
Average Saturday Boardings 238,096 217,413 205,890
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 172,704 177,450 168,478
Total Calendar Month Boardings 9,936,110 9,709,229 8,960,107

Includes Expo Line ridership.

Systemwide Ridership Estimates

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 1,506,426 1,474,255 1,414,047
Average Saturday Boardings 1,008,715 967,778 958,370
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 760,912 750,451 734,927
Total Calendar Month Boardings 41,228,593 40,780,785 39,296,271

Includes Expo Line ridership.

AB 1222 approved by key Assembly Committee

For those following AB 1222, here’s the latest update from Metro’s government relations team:

PEPRA/13(C) Update

AB 1222 (Bloom) which would provide a 15 month exemption from the state’s pension reform law passed the Assembly Committee on Public Employees Retirement and Social Security committee today on a unanimous vote. The bill will now be considered in the Assembly which most likely will not occur until tomorrow.

What’s all this about? It’s a bill that would exempt transit workers from the state’s pension reform (PEPRA) in order to continue the flow of federal transit funds to transit agencies in California, including Metro. More background in our earlier post.


Latest update on AB 1222, bill designed to ensure Metro and other agencies can continue to receive federal funding

Long story short: The U.S. Department of Labor says that California’s pension reform (known as PEPRA) violates the collective bargaining rights of transit workers. Therefore, transit agencies such as Metro are ineligible to receive billions in federal funding.

A bill is working its way through the Legislature — it cleared the Senate on Friday — that would exempt transit workers from pension reform and clear the way for the state and the Department of Labor to resolve the issue in federal court.

Here’s the latest update from Metro’s government relations team:

PEPRA/13(C) Update

AB 1222 (Bloom) will be considered tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. in the Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee. Metro’s advocacy team is prepared to speak in support of the measure at the hearing. The language of the bill includes a provision which establishes the timeframe for the duration of the exemption. The bill states that the exemption will be in place until either the federal district court decision or January 1, 2015, whichever is sooner. This means that should the court case take longer than expected, it may be necessary to extend the exemption in next year’s legislative session. Staff will continue to work very closely with the Governor’s office and legislative leadership as the litigation proceeds and we will be prepared to work toward an extension next year should one be required. Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois today transmitted the attached letter supporting AB 1222

Bill to help Metro resume receiving federal funds is approved by state Senate

A bill is making progress today through the state Legislature that would help — at least for now — preserve $3.6 billion in federal funding for Metro, as well as millions of dollars for other transit agencies in California. (For more background, please see this post from earlier this week).

The bill exempts transit workers from California’s pension reform law (known as PEPRA) for 15 months. The U.S. Department of Labor has said that pension reform violates the collective bargaining rights of transit workers, thereby disqualifying many transit agencies in the state from receiving federal funding.

Here are the three updates thus far today from Metro’s government relations staff:

PEPRA/13(C) Update

AB 1222 (Bloom) was unanimously approved by the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee earlier this morning. AB 1222 is the measure which provides a 15 month exemption from the state’s pension reform law. A number of labor unions spoke in support of the bill along with a number of transit agencies from around the state. Metro’s state advocacy team is working to move the bill through the legislative process and one of our representatives spoke in support of the bill this morning. The bill will next be considered in the Senate Appropriations Committee and then be considered on the Senate Floor. These two votes are expected to take place later today.

PEPRA/13(C) Update

Moments ago the Senate Appropriations Committee approved AB 1222 (Bloom) on a 5-1 vote. The measure now heads to the Senate floor for consideration by the full State Senate.

PEPRA/13(C) Update

AB 1222 (Bloom) just passed the State Senate on a 32-6 vote. The measure will now be transmitted to the Assembly for consideration.

New article asks does stopping sprawl meaning stopping growth?

Sprawl as seen from an airplane. Photo by Premshee Pillai, via Flickr creative commons.

Sprawl as seen from an airplane. Photo by Premshee Pillai, via Flickr creative commons.

A super interesting opinion piece by Gerhard W. Mayer about sprawl, transit and development in Southern California was posted to the Architects Newspaper website.

The thrust of the piece: sprawl isn’t a reason for our region to stop growing. If anything, it’s the exact reason we should continue to grow but in a denser fashion — to create more jobs, more jobs near transit and to give transit the riders it needs to survive and thrive.

The three key paragraphs:

These issues are connected. Popular lore is that we have gotten too big, too dense. NIMBY groups blame growth for most of our woes. But by protesting growth they are also cutting off the funds that have kept us going thus far; and NIMBY activist’s resolve is putting the fear of God into our politicians if they just think about new development.

Building public transit into a city with an automotive DNA is not nearly enough. Public transit needs ridership to sustain itself. In our car-based city, people are living too far apart from each other to make it possible for enough of us to walk to transit. Once we are in a car, not enough of us get out to switch over to trains. Metro calls this the first mile, last mile problem. There are lots of smart people working on this problem, but the only way to fully resolve it is not to limp along with the city we have, but build the city we need.

The right answer is density, even if “density” is the least popular word in post-war suburban America. We often throw the word out as a verbal firebomb against new development. However, the right density is really our solution. Not everywhere of course, only within walking distance of a transit station. To offset building concentrations, we can become less dense in between transit lines to the point where we can create new open space. Yes, a better, denser, and more sustainable city can also mean less dense areas and more parks! If we succeeded in creating a balance between higher density along public transit lines and new open space in other areas of the city, we’d once again create a model for the world to admire and imitate.

I highly recommend giving the entire article a look. If you’re reading The Source, it’s likely that you’re interested in this exact kind of thing and disputes about density remain a near constant in our area.

My three cents: Even with the expense of driving, I don’t think many people in our area are prepared to give up having a car. They’re too convenient and/or necessary for many people despite the hassles.

I do think, however, many people would love to drive less to save money on gas and depreciation of their expensive vehicles. I also think many people crave living in the kind of nice, walkable, bikable, transit-able (new word!) communities that Gerhard discusses in his article.

I also think Gerhard hits a home run on the article’s most important point: using sprawl as an excuse to shut down economic growth is a really bad idea that will harm our region far more than it helps it.