Metro Board to consider changing official names of two rail stations

I know readers are always interested in station naming news — and there are two station naming motions before the Metro Board of Directors this month:

•To rename the Gold Line’s East Los Angeles Civic Center Station the East Los Angeles Civic Center/Gloria Molina Station.

•To rename the Red Line’s North Hollywood Station the North Hollywood/Zev Yaroslavsky Station.

The motions are posted above. They were authored by Metro Board Members Ara Najarian and Pam O’Connor. The Board’s Construction Committee approved the motions this morning and the full Board will consider them at its Oct. 2 meeting.

Here is Metro’s property naming policy. It’s worth noting that even when station names are named after people, the geographic names are the ones commonly used in announcements on buses and trains and on maps and agency literature.

Staff report on short- and long-term improvements to Orange Line

The Orange Line is Metro’s second-busiest bus line behind only the 720, the Rapid bus service along Wilshire Boulevard. With the Orange Line often crowded at peak hours, the Metro Board in July approved a motion asking Metro to investigate short-term fixes to speed up the Orange Line and add capacity, the feasibility of a possible bus rapid transit line between North Hollywood, Bob Hope Airport and the Gold Line in Pasadena and a possible conversion of the Orange Line to rail.

The above Metro staff report explains how the agency plans to go forward.

The gist of it: as for the question of rail conversion and extending bus rapid transit to Burbank and Pasadena, Metro plans to have those issues studied as part of an ongoing “mobility matrices” process. Yes, that’s a mouthful. In plain English, the matrices are evaluating potential transportation projects around Los Angeles County to see which should be included in an update of Metro’s long-range plan.

An update of Metro’s long-range plan, in turn, could be used to select projects to be funded by a possible ballot measure in 2016 that Metro is considering, as this report explains.

The matrixes are currently scheduled to be presented to the Metro Board in April.

The staff report also lists some possible immediate, short-term and long-term improvements that could be made to the Orange Line (see pages 3-4 of the staff report) and are in need of more study and/or work.

Among those: getting bus operators to maintain a more consistent speed to get more green lights, possibly extending peak hour service, possibly adding service between North Hollywood and Reseda stations, possibly increasing bus speeds across intersections from 10 mph to no more than 25 mph, possibly removing some seats on the bus to accommodate more bikes, studying whether buses longer than 60 feet can be used and investigating grade separation of some of the larger Orange Line intersections.

From the Department of From What It’s Worth: I spent the better part of a day in August riding and photographing the Orange Line. I think the bus is a very comfortable way of getting around, but it’s also obvious that the bus has mixed success hitting green lights consistently (some of the red lights did quickly turn green). Some pics I took on one ride between Sepulveda Station and Warner Center:

 

 

 

Open during construction: California Ticket Masters

Construction continues along Crenshaw Boulevard for the Crenshaw/LAX Line, which means fencing and blocked lanes in order for work to proceed on the underground portion of the rail line. Though the area around the west side of Crenshaw south of Rodeo Road may be difficult to navigate, the businesses located there are absolutely open during construction and worth visiting.

Some of the businesses in the area have been around for quite some time and provide important services for those in the neighborhood — and many of the merchants also live in the community. The video below features California Ticket Masters, located at 3679 Crenshaw Boulevard.

For motorists traveling on Crenshaw, turn west on Rodeo Road and use the parking lot located in the back of the businesses. You can also get there from the Expo/Crenshaw Station – from the station, walk south on Crenshaw Blvd. It takes about two minutes.

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Healthcare S&E
Excel Fashions
First Choice Driving & Traffic School
Love’s Furniture
Malai Hair Store
Women, Infants and Children’s Center 

Gastropub proposed for Fred Harvey Room at Los Angeles Union Station!

Some exciting news to pass along this morning: The Metro Board of Directors this month will be considering a lease for a new gastropub to be located in the Fred Harvey Room at Los Angeles Union Station. Here is the Metro staff report on the proposed lease.

The lease is with Cedd Moses and Eric Needleman, who have been very successful with other downtown Los Angeles bars and eateries, including Seven Grand, the Golden Gopher, the Broadway Bar, Coles, Casey’s Irish Pub and several others that have helped fuel DTLA’s revitalization in recent times.

If the lease is approved by the full Metro Board at its Oct. 2 meeting, the new restaurant would be the first to occupy the Fred Harvey Room at Union Station since the original Harvey House restaurant closed in 1967. The space, which has been very well preserved (see the above photos), has since been used for special events and filming. Fiona Apple’s video for “Paper Bag” does a great job of showing off the Fred Harvey Room:

As for the timeline for a prospective restaurant opening, it will probably take several months to a year. Most notably, the kitchen area needs to be completely redone and the necessary permits secured from the city of Los Angeles. Metro staff say that all renovations and/or restorations will be done under the watchful eye of an architectural historian.

Metro purchased Union Station from a private firm in 2011 and has since been upgrading the station and planning for its future. The Metro Board on Oct. 2 will also consider approving the final version of the Union Station Master Plan, which seeks to preserve the station’s historic nature while expanding the station to handle the growing number of riders using the facility, as well as better connect it to surrounding neighborhoods. We’ll soon post more on the final version of the Master Plan.

The Metro Board earlier this summer also approved a lease for Cafe Crepe, which will occupy the space formerly used by Union Bagel and will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here’s the menu at their Santa Monica location. Of course, Traxx has been open at Union Station since 1997 and continues to be the fine dining venue at LAUS while also operating the Traxx lounge.

The Metro Board this month will also consider leases for two kiosks to be located in the East Portal. One will serve bento boxes and the other kiosk will offer coffee.

Reminder: new Metro fares take effect on Monday, Sept. 15

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As most of hopefully know by now, Metro’s fares are increasing effective Monday morning. The regular $1.50 fare will increase to $1.75 on Monday — but the new fare will also include two hours of free transfers for those that pay for riding with a TAP card.

That’s a key departure from the current fare system that requires everyone to pay a full fare every time they transfer.

All riders should consider whether it’s less expensive to pay per Metro trip or whether they need a pass. A quick example: if you only ride Metro between home and work and back home each weekday, it would be cheaper to pay $1.75 per trip (or $3.50 a day) rather than buy a monthly pass.

On the other hand, if you are a heavy user of the Metro system that rides multiple times a day or uses Metro buses and trains every day, a pass will remain the better option (albeit at a higher price than currently).

Where to buy a TAP card? At ticket machines at all Metro Rail and Orange Line stations, online at taptogo.net or at the 400 or so locations in Los Angeles County that sells them.

Here are two answers to two obvious questions about the new fares:

How do the free transfers work? The two hour free transfer period begins when you first tap your TAP card when boarding a bus or at a Metro Rail station. You can transfer as many times as needed in that two hour window for free with one key exception: you can’t ride the same bus or train line consecutively on the same fare. In plain English: no round-trips on the same fare. Please also continue to tap your TAP card before boarding each bus or train. 

What happens Monday to those who are currently riding on a valid weekly, monthly or EZ Pass? The short answer: nothing, your current pass will remain valid until it expires. You will pay the new higher price when purchasing your next pass.

I know many riders will have other questions. Please see this FAQ on metro.net or leave a question on our comments board and we will try to answer promptly. Please no comments or long arguments about different fare systems — we’ve already had plenty of that on the blog. You can also ask us questions on Twitter or Facebook. Please use the hashtag: #newfares

I also want to emphasize: please click here to see if you are eligible for Metro’s “Rider Relief” fares that provide up to a $10 discount on transit passes. The Rider Relief coupons for seniors and students provide savings on top of already reduced rates. Eligibility is determined by household income and the number of occupants in a household.

Please, please, please — check to see if you are eligible for a discount. There’s no point in paying more than you should and these discounts are available for one simple reason: there’s a lot of low-income folks who need them and the discounts help enhance mobility in our region. If you know of someone who may qualify, please pass along this information!

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Upcoming construction closure: 26th Street south of Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica

expo work3expo work4

Above is the good word from the Expo Line Construction Authority, the agency building the six-mile project that will extend tracks from Culver City to downtown Santa Monica with seven new stations.

The project is funded mostly by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008. It is currently forecast to open in early 2016.

Metro awarded $22 million in two federal TIGER grants to improve station access

 

Two projects to improve access to Metro Rail stations were awarded “TIGER grant” funding this week from the U.S. Department of Transportation:

•The Eastside Access Improvement Project will receive $11.8 million to help create a network of sidewalks and bike lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists to access the Regional Connector 1st/Central Station in Little Tokyo.

Proposed improvements include an enhanced network of crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists, improved pedestrian lighting, planting and street furniture along nearby streets. The above renderings show some of the possible improvements.

The Regional Connector is a 1.9-mile underground light rail line that will connect the Gold Line to the Blue and Expo Lines in downtown Los Angeles and is forecast to open in 2020. The Connector will allow Eastside Gold Line riders to take the train directly into the heart of downtown without first having to travel to Union Station and transfer to the subway.

•Metro also was awarded $10.25 million to fund a series of improvements for the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station that serves the Blue Line, Green Line, six Metro bus lines and other muni bus providers. The station sits under the 105 freeway, meaning it can be noisy, cavernous and dimly lit — all impacting the “passenger experience,” as Metro’s grant application noted.

Among the improvements to be funded by the grant money: increasing station capacity by lengthening the Blue Line platform and, according to Metro, “enhancing connections between rail, bus, bicycle and pedestrian facilities to create safer access to the station from the surrounding community.”

Metro continues to pursue a larger project that could include a new bus center, sheriff substation and pedestrian plaza. More funding will be needed for those improvements.

Please click here to see the news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation and here’s a nice USDOT map showing TIGER grants awarded around the country. Metro officials said they especially appreciated the support of Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein in securing the grants — the two largest awarded to agencies in the state of California.