The Rosa Parks station on the Blue Line. Photo by Sean_Marshall, via Flickr creative commons.
It’s kind of an obvious statement: rail and busway stations are the gateway for the tens of thousands of passengers entering the Metro system each day. And since most people have to spend at least a few of minutes at stations, the quality of time spent there is crucial to the overall transit experience.
In that vein, a motion by Metro Board Chair and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seeks to improve rail and bus stations across the Metro system with specific mention of Blue Line stations. The motion would also put aside $10 million in the Metro budget to pay for upgrades.
The Metro Board of Directors will consider the motion at tomorrow’s Board meeting at 9 a.m. at Metro headquarters.
I think there’s a lot of interesting things in this motion and I encourage you to read it. Among the issues tackled in the motion are wayfinding and signage, network connections to stations, noise at Green Line stations (most are in the middle of the 105 freeway) and expanding a Metro grant program to help cities zone and plan transit-oriented developments.
We’ll have more tomorrow after the Board considers the motion.
Here is the agenda for the regular monthly meeting of the Metro Board of Directors on Thursday at Metro headquarters adjacent to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. (The html version of agenda is here).
The big item for this Thursday is the consideration by the Board of the Regional Connector’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report. A discussion on locking the turnstiles at some Metro Rail stations is also the on agenda.
This update from Metro’s government relations staff doesn’t make it sound as if a bill will be burping out of the Senate anytime soon:
U.S. Senate Holds Procedural Vote on Surface Transportation Bill
Earlier today, the U.S. Senate failed to invoke cloture (54-42) on an amendment offered by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that sought to consolidate language for the surface transportation bill that had been adopted by the Banking, Commerce and Finance Committees. Sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture. The vote today ensures that the surface transportation bill will remain pending before the body for a number of weeks as Senate leaders seek to limit the number of amendments that will be offered to the underlying bill (S.1813). Over one hundred fifty amendments have been offered to the bill, with Leader Reid claiming that a number of them are non-germane. Among the most prominent non-transportation related amendments expected to be offered during consideration of the surface transportation bill is an amendment by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) which, if adopted, would permit health insurance plans to decline to cover an item if it is against the issuer’s religious beliefs.
Move L.A. is a transit advocacy group that made a big push for Measure R in 2008 and has continued to push for more transit — and more transit funding — in Los Angeles County. The group’s fourth annual transit discussion next Friday promises to be an interesting one with panels discussing America Fast Forward and the possibility of asking voters to extend the Measure R sales tax past its 2039 expiration. Several prominent Metro staffers will be speaking, including CEO Art Leahy. Here’s the link for tickets to the event for those interested in attending.
81 MILLION REASONS TO BE HAPPY: All things considered, I thought it was pretty amazing that President Obama’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year included $31 million in federal funds for the Regional Connector and $50 million for the Westside Subway Extension.
Both, of course, are excellent and needed projects that will give hundreds of thousands of people a good alternative to sitting in traffic in the years after they open. I’m not the biggest fan of ridership projections — predicting the future is generally hard — but this federal document shows that both the Connector and the Subway Extension are expected to have some of the heaviest ridership of any transit projects getting federal funds in the nation.
On the federal funding front, the challenge for both projects has been the long and drawn-out environmental review process. Generally, transit projects don’t get federal money until the environmental studies have been approved by local agencies and then certified by the feds in a “record of decision.”
There’s a good reason why: the studies, after all, spell out in excruciating detail what exactly is going to be built. The feds, naturally, want to know what they’re spending their dollars on.
We’ve been tracking the progress of the latest multi-year transportation spending bill in Congress — a bill that includes funding for Metro and the nation’s other transit agencies.
The Obama Administration on Thursday backed the Senate version of the bill co-authored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California). As we’ve been reporting, there remains considerable opposition from transit advocates to the House version of the bill.
Here is the legislative alert from Metro’s government relations staff:
As we shared in a Legislative Brief yesterday, the Senate has voted to invoke cloture on Senator Boxer’s surface transportation bill by a margin of 85 in support and 11 opposed. By invoking cloture on the bill, the Senate cleared the way for the consideration of amendments to the measure. Shortly after the Senate invoked cloture on the Boxer bill, the Obama Administration issued a State of Administration Policy (SAP) outlining their support for S.1813, popularly known as the Moving Ahead For Progress in the 21st Century Act. In part, the SAP outlined that “the Administration supports Senate passage of S.1813 to provide much needed certainty and funding for the Nation’s surface transportation programs. The reauthorization of the programs funded by the Highway Trust Fund is critical to the safety of the traveling public and the Nation’s ability to facilitate commerce and trade.”