Preview of October Metro Service Council meetings

The San Fernando Valley Service Council leads off Halloween month (how did we get here so quickly?) with the first of our five monthly Service Council meetings beginning tonight. Fortunately, none of the meetings will be held on a Friday the 13th.

All Service Councils are scheduled to receive the monthly Director’s report, which provides statistics on ridership, performance and other measures of Metro service. Two of the Councils — San Fernando Valley and Westside/Central — will receive updates on the implementation plan for Line 788, a new express service scheduled to begin in December that will link the San Fernando Valley and the Westside using the Sepulveda Pass HOV lanes on the I-405.

For more information about each Service Council, click on the name of the Council to view their web page. Meeting topics for Service Council meetings this month also include:

San Fernando Valley (6:30 pm, Wednesday, 10/1) – Recognition of Dr. Richard Arvizu and Kymberleigh Richards for their service to the San Fernando Valley Service Council; Update on Line 788 Implementation.

Westside/Central (5 pm, Wednesday, 10/8) – Swearing in of Maria Sipin as a new Westside/Central Service Council member, Update on Line 788 Implementation, Election of 2015 Chair and Vice-Chair for Westside/Central Service Council.

Gateway Cities (2 pm, Thursday, 10/9) – Presentation on First – Last Mile Connectivity, Report on Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 public hearings.

South Bay (9:30 am, Friday, 10/10) – Recognition of Division 18 Bus Operators Gordon Green and Rickey Griffin; Presentation on Access Services.

San Gabriel Valley (5 pm, Monday, 10/13) – Presentation on Access Services; Report on Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 public hearings.

For a detailed listing of all Service Council meeting dates, times and locations, click here. As always, the public is encouraged to attend and share their comments with the Service Councils on improving bus service throughout LA County. If you would like to provide input to a Council but cannot attend a meeting, you can submit your comments in writing through the Service Council web page or send them to servicecouncils@metro.net. If your comments are for a specific Council, please make sure to indicate which one you are addressing in your e-mail.

Zocalo Public Square tackles the can-we-fix-traffic question at last night’s event

From left, UCLA's Brian Taylor, FAST's Hilary Norton, Metro CEO Art Leahy and KCRW's Kajon Cermac. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

From left, UCLA’s Brian Taylor, FAST’s Hilary Norton, Metro CEO Art Leahy and KCRW’s Kajon Cermac. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Zocalo Public Square and Metro held a panel discussion Monday night at the Petersen Automotive Museum with an appropriate topic for the venue: what, if anything, can be done to speed up traffic in our region?

A podcast of the discussion is above. KCRW traffic reporter Kajon Cermac served as the moderator with the panel including Metro CEO Art Leahy, UCLA Director of Transportation Studies’ Brian Taylor and Hilary Norton, executive director of Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic.

Can traffic be fixed or seriously improved? The short answer: probably not much can be done unless the region embraces drastic and politically unpopular measures such as heavier tolling across all lanes on freeways to reduce peak hour traffic, passing laws to greatly restrict driving, building many billions of dollars of new freeways (which includes the challenge of finding places to put them) or going the Detroit route by shedding jobs, residents and the local economy.

In other words, as UCLA’s Taylor put it, the status quo of traffic congestion is the least bad option for the politicians who frequently ask him how to fix traffic.

Which is not to say that things can’t be done to improve mobility and even some traffic.

Taylor praised the congestion pricing projects on freeways in our region (which Metro’s ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110) and said they are improving capacity and speeds in the toll lanes, as well as Metro’s Rapid Buses and the Orange Line. Norton pointed to the increasing number of people taking transit to big events.

And Leahy noted that thanks to Measure R, Metro is currently in the midst of the largest transit building boom in the nation (one that will include a subway station next door to both the Petersen and LACMA on Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile). He said the goal is to keep expanding the transit network and making it work better so that people can use it travel far and wide and get out of their cars.

The conversation covered a lot of ground and I’m interested in feedback and comments from those who listened or attended the event.

My three cents: I felt like it was a good, albeit brief, adult conversation about traffic and urban planning — and the fact that traffic is not something easily “fixed” without serious consequences. I also thought UCLA’s Brian Taylor did a good job pointing to the fact that a lot of the traffic stereotypes about our region are total bunk and that concentrating density around transit and high activity centers may not fix traffic — but often makes places nicer, happier places to live and visit.

 

 

Monday’s Zocalo forum will ask: Is traffic L.A.’s destiny? (We certainly hope not!)

Metro photo

Metro photo

What could speed up traffic? We all have opinions, of course. But at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Petersen Automotive Museum some pretty good minds will tackle the subject as part of a Zocalo Public Square forum. The forum is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended.

Here’s how the Zocalo website describes it:

When people say that death and taxes are the only certain things in life, they are forgetting about Southern California traffic. Despite freeway widening and highway construction and newly synchronized streetlights, there’s still not enough room on the roads. We now get accident reports in real time and can change our routes to avoid jams, but Angelenos still spend more time in traffic than other Americans. However, there is more change still to come. The region is in the early stages of a 30-year transit transformation that began with the passage of Measure R in 2008, a sales tax increase that is funding a wide range of transportation projects. Will express lanes, fewer potholes, and improved interchanges speed drivers along? And will new rail lines, improved bus service, and bike lanes finally get millions of people out of their cars? L.A. Business Council president Mary Leslie, UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies director Brian D. Taylor, Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic executive director Hilary Norton, and Metro CEO Art Leahy visit Zócalo to ask whether traffic is forever L.A.’s destiny. KCRW traffic reporter Kajon Cermak will moderate.

What could speed up traffic? Taking Metro bus 720 or 20 down Wilshire or the 217 down Fairfax to the Monday night forum could help. Find out more at the forum.

Zocalo is an L.A. based not-for-profit group that blends live events with written and broadcast journalism. Metro and Zocalo are co-presenting the event.

Listen to Metro’s Social Media Week panel on how Metro uses social media to connect with riders

First, a big thank you to our panelists and everyone who attended yesterday’s “Metro Moves Forward: Engaging Customers of Public Transportation in L.A.” event at Union Station. The presentation and panel discussion were part of Social Media Week.

Above is the 49-minute panel discussion. I accidentally deleted a few seconds at the beginning (blame Garageband please!) in which my colleague Anna Chen introduces herself and explains how she landed her gig at Metro. The panelists are frequent Metro riders who also often write about transit and their experiences on Metro:

Alissa Walker is the Urbanism Editor at Gizmodo where she writes about cities, architecture, transportation, and technology and she blogs at awalkerinla.com. She is on the steering committee of Los Angeles Walks and relishes life in Los Angeles without a car. Follow her at @awalkerinLA. And you may want to read (or re-read) her great #lahaters series in which Alissa exposes the dumb stereotypes that media-types like to write, rinse and repeat about Los Angeles and the surrounding area.

Gann Matsuda covers the Los Angeles Kings and the National Hockey League at Frozenroyalty.net and uses the Expo Line to travel to and from Staples Center. He is also a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Follow him at @frozenroyalty. Check out his recent series on how Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi built a team that has won the Stanley Cup twice in the past three seasons (part one and part two). Short answer: draft young talent and develop them, something I think works at non-sports organizations, too.

Steven White is the Content and Media Manager for Bounce AEG. He manages digital media and social media projects for live events. A graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Steve lives in Downtown Los Angeles and regularly rides Metro for all of his transportation needs. Follow him at @stevenmwhite. Steve provided valuable input to Metro’s TAP team earlier this year when they were designing new screen prompts for the agency’s ticket machines (the prompts are due to debut later this year, btw).

Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro. If you need a Metro-related pic to use on the web, these are available for download at a variety of sizes at our Flickr page — along with a variety of other images.

Schedule of public hearings for Gold Line Eastside Extension study

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Here’s the news release from Metro:

A series of public hearings conducted by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is set to receive community input to a Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) on a proposed extension of the Metro Gold Line Eastside light rail system from East Los Angeles to either South El Monte or Whittier. In addition to the two alternatives, the Draft EIR/EIS analyzes a Transportation Systems Management proposal that identifies bus corridor improvements and a no-build option. The environmental document was released August 22, 2014.

Metro will conduct four public hearings during a 60 day public comment period, which is open until 5 p.m. October 21, 2014, each to include a 30 minute open house when the public can view the Draft EIR/EIS, see project display and talk to staff. They are:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pico Rivera Senior Center

9200 Mines Ave. Pico Rivera, CA 90660

Open House: 9 a.m. Public Hearing: 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Monday, September 29, 2014                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Quiet Cannon Banquet Center

901 Via San Clemente, Montebello, CA 90640

Open House: 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing: 6-8 p.m.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014                                                                                        

Uptown Whittier Senior Center

13225 Walnut Street, Whittier, CA 90602

Open House: 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing: 6-8 p.m.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014  

South El Monte Senior Center

1556 Central Avenue, South El Monte, CA 91733

Open House: 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing: 6-8 p.m.

The Draft EIR/EIS studied the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2, an extension of the existing Gold Line connecting Pasadena and East Los Angeles through Union Station to communities where commuting to work is expected to grow by 32 percent by 2035 and peak period travel times to increase 25 percent in the morning and 34 percent in the afternoon by 2035.

The Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 project includes proposals known as the SR 60 Alternative and the Washington Boulevard Alternative.

The SR 60 Alternative proposes a 6.9 miles extension of mostly elevated tracks running adjacent to the 60 freeway to South El Monte with four proposed new stations in Monterey Park, Montebello and South El Monte.

The Washington Boulevard Alternative would extend the Gold Line 9.5 miles, traveling south in an aerial configuration down Garfield Avenue, turning southeast on Washington Boulevard where it would transition to a street running operation at Montebello Boulevard before ending in Whittier. The alternative would include six proposed new stations in Montebello, Pico Rivera and Whittier.

Each of the two alternatives would begin at the Eastside Gold Line’s current terminus at Atlantic and Pomona boulevards in East Los Angeles.

Estimated ridership for the SR 60 Alternative is 16,700 boardings each weekday with a cost estimate of approximately $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion in 2010 dollars. Estimated ridership for the Washington Boulevard Alternative is 19,900 weekday boardings with an estimated cost of approximately $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion in 2010 dollars.

An EIR is required to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act and an EIS fulfills requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. The laws require government agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects. Information from public comments will be weighed before preparing the final environmental document.

Metro staff is scheduled to present a summary of technical analysis and comments received along with a recommended Locally Preferred Alternative to the Metro Board of Directors in November and the Board will decide how to proceed.

For more information about the project, review the Draft EIR/EIS and submit comments, visit the project web page at www.metro.net/eastsidephase2

New episode of Metro Motion: L.A. Mayor Garcetti shares his vision for better mobility

In the newest edition of Metro Motion, Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti explains why he thinks a regional approach to traffic management and business is the best way to lead us into a more mobile and prosperous future.

In another segment, we explore a neighborhood rich in culture and history along the Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line, which is now under construction. Leimert Park was designed as a model community and a center of African American art, music and culture. The artistic center has held and residents still celebrate what has made the neighborhood community strong and distinct.

Also join us for a taste of the Taste of Soul, the family food and entertainment festival (this year, Saturday, Oct. 18) in the neighborhood surrounding Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards, where the food is delicious and the welcome warm. Hear what inspired entrepreneur Danny Bakewell Sr. to begin the Taste of Soul, sample some of the best food L.A. has to offer and go away inspired to dine along the line. What do you do on the way to work?

Find out what three creative Angelenos do with the free time they earn away from the drivers’ seat. And then consider making a pledge to give up four wheels in a segment celebrating Rideshare Week, Oct. 6-10.

And finally, Metro Motion’s favorite two wheeler takes us on a tour of the beautiful Long Beach coastline. Find out what to do, where to go and how to pedal the LB coast, even if you don’t have a bike. For these stories and more go to metro.net/metromotion. Metro Motion is co-produced with Santa Monica City TV. It runs quaterly on cable stations throughout L.A. County.

 

Metro staff seeks approval to secure federal funding for Phase 2 of Purple Line Extension subway

Pre-construction is already underway on the first phase of the Purple Line Extension, which will stretch the subway from its current terminus at Western Avenue to La Cienega Boulevard with new stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. Earlier this year, Metro received $2.1 billion in federal grants and loans for the first phase and the agency this summer picked a contractor to build the project.

In the meantime, Metro is beginning to turn its gaze toward the project’s second phase, which will extend the tracks to a downtown Beverly Hills station and a station at Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Boulevard Century City. In the above report, Metro staff are asking the Metro Board for approval to seek federal funding for phase two in the form of a $1.1-billion grant from the federal New Starts program and a $307 million low-interest loan from the federal TIFIA program.

The target date for completion, with the federal funding, would be 2025. That’s one year earlier than the original target date for the second phase (the first phase to La Cienega Boulevard is forecast to open in 2023). Pursuing more federal funding as quickly as possible has other advantages — offsetting a higher cost estimate for the project, as the report explains.

The Purple Line Extension is also funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by nearly 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters in 2008. The full Metro Board of Directors will consider the staff proposal for Phase 2 funding at its Oct. 2 meeting.

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