TAP validator test at entrance to Gold Line at Union Station

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Those entering or exiting the Gold Line at Union Station recently may notice something different: there are TAP validators now arranged across the bottom of the stairs. The validators, up until now, have been against both walls and next to the ticket machines.

What’s going on? Metro’s TAP team is trying a different arrangement of the validators to see what works best at the entrance to the stairs leading to the train platform. As you know, it’s an area that can get quite crowded at peak hours with people headed both up and down the stairs.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have a preference!

U.S. House adopts amendment to allow ‘local hire’ policies for transit agencies

The amendment was authored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles). It’s still not the law of the land, but is significant. The issue is that receiving federal funding for projects comes with strings attached in terms of restrictions on local hiring preferences.

Here is the news release from her office:

WASHINGTON–The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation today authored by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) that would allow local transit agencies like Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to prioritize hiring local residents for highway and transit projects. The amendment was adopted as part of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.

Currently, federal regulations bar transit agencies that receive any federal assistance from implementing local hire policies for construction and operations projects. If signed into law, state and local transit agencies will also have the flexibility to focus their hiring in low-income and underemployed neighborhoods by applying geographically targeted preferences.

“Chambers of commerce, local government officials and economists all agree that allowing transit agencies to adopt local hire policies just makes sense,” said Rep. Bass. “Local taxpayers are funding the majority of transit projects, like the Crenshaw-LAX Lightrail Line. This policy will ensure that local tax dollars are creating local jobs in the communities that need them the most.”

“Metro is extremely appreciative of Representative Karen Bass for championing this amendment.  This amendment would allow transportation agencies, like Metro, to establish local hire programs to build transportation projects with significant non-federal funding, to help create jobs by incentivizing the development of non-federal projects by leveraging the federal investment,” said Arthur T. Leahy, Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “With Los Angeles County voters repeatedly voting to direct a portion of their local sales taxes to be used for transportation projects, Metro would welcome the ability to establish local hire programs on partial federally funded projects to build a better, stronger and more mobile Los Angeles. We also believe that passage of this amendment will incentivize other metropolitan areas in the country to follow Los Angeles County’s self-help transportation model, a model that is bringing mobility and tens of thousands of good-paying jobs to our region.”

Currently, federal regulations bar transit agencies that receive any federal assistance from implementing local hire policies for construction and operations projects. As the economy continues its recovery, transit agencies have the potential to spur job creation in their local communities. Limiting these transit agencies from being able to adopt local hiring policies when making hiring decisions hinders their ability to generate job growth, which is detrimental to local economies across the United States.

In his 2015 Budget, President Barack Obama proposed changing this policy to allow for local hiring practices by transit agencies.

To see Rep. Bass presenting her amendment on the House Floor, click here.

Metro announces break-through program to help small businesses compete for contracts

This is an important article for readers who wish to do business with Metro. As the monthly agenda for the Metro Board shows, the agency contracts out quite a bit of work — and the following is about an effort to give more businesses a chance to compete for that work. The article was written by folks in the Small Business Enterprise program:

In January of this year, the Metro Board approved an agency-wide Small Business Set-Aside Program as a breakthrough initiative to level the playing field for Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) so that they can compete as prime contractors, consultants and suppliers. 

The program covers competitively negotiated contracts, sealed bids and public works that range from $3,000 up to $5 million and meet certain criteria, depending on the type of procurement. Certain informal and formal procurements will now be set aside for competition among SBEs when there is a competitive pool of three or more SBE firms available to perform the work.  

The Set-Aside Program was developed in response to a recent mandate by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to improve competition by SBEs on FTA-funded procurements. Metro also expanded the program, which launched June 2, 2014, to include other procurements (i.e. they don’t have to be federally-funded projects) under its Small Business Enterprise Program.   

“Small business participation is essential to our procurement strategy as we sharpen our focus on increasing SBE competition,” said Stephanie Wiggins, Metro’s Executive Director, Vendor/Contract Management.  “Under Metro’s groundbreaking Small Business Set-Aside Program, SBEs will have improved access to learn about and respond to solicitations, competing only against other small businesses on applicable contracts.” 

To be eligible, small businesses must be certified by Metro as SBEs in the applicable North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes at the time of bid or proposal submission, and must perform a Commercially Useful Function (CUF) – meaning SBE primes must perform at least 30 percent of the total cost of contract value with their own workforce.  

Businesses interested in participating are encouraged to become certified as SBEs with Metro as soon as possible. Those firms that are already certified are encouraged to review their current data to ensure that their NAICS codes and contact information are up-to-date. 

“This unprecedented access to Metro’s contracting opportunities significantly boosts small business competition, leading to more contract awards, increased job creation and accelerated growth for the local economy,” Wiggins added.  

You can learn more about Metro’s Small Business Set-Aside Program at the Metro Diversity and Economic Opportunity Department web page. 

Century Boulevard Bridge to be demolished July 25-28, 2014

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Here’s a traffic and construction alert that is still a little down the road. But it’s important, especially for those trying to reach LAX: the old rail bridge over Century Boulevard has to be demolished to make way for the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Aviation/Century station.

The demolition will close Century Boulevard at the intersection of Aviation Boulevard from Friday night, July 25, through Monday morning, July 28.

A detour map and alternative routes will be posted as they become available. We wanted to provide ample warning for those who already know they need to travel to or from the LAX terminals that weekend.

The company in charge of the demolition project will be Penhall, the same company that demolished the Mulholland Bridge during the Carmaggedon closures on the 405 freeway in 2011 and 2012.

The 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project is a light-rail line that will run between the Expo and Green Lines. The $2.058-billion Measure R transit project will serve the Crenshaw Corridor, Inglewood, Westchester and the LAX area with eight new stations, a maintenance facility and park and ride lots.

For more information on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project visit metro.net/crenshaw or by email to crenshawcorridor@metro.net, by phone at (213) 922.2736 or follow the project at facebook.com/crenshawrail or twitter.com/crenshawrail.

Video from the Purple Line funding event in Washington last month

Better late than never! Above is a condensed version of the many, many speakers at the Washington D.C. event on May 21 where Metro and the Federal Transit Administration finalized a deal for $2.1 billion in a federal grant and federally-backed TIFIA loan to help pay for the construction of the first phase of the Purple Line Extension.

RELATED:

New Purple Line Extension provides construction timeline and other key info

 

More details and renderings on the evolving Union Station Master Plan

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A rendering of the Union Station property in the future after the Master Plan is implemented. Click above to see larger.

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This rendering shows the new concourse and bus plaza, which would move from the eastern to western side of the station. Click above to see larger.

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Near-term plans involve replacing the parking lot at the front of Union Station with a civic plaza and streetscape improvements along both sides of Alameda Street.

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Far-term plans could include expanding the civic plaza, opening up access to the site along the corner of Cesar Chavez and Alameda and closing part of Los Angeles Street. Click above to see larger.

Progress continues on finalizing the Union Station Master Plan. As you may recall, the Metro Board of Directors last fall approved a basic concept for the station that included a greatly expanded concourse to run under the existing train platforms and both relocating and consolidating the bus plaza to the west side of the current tunnel under the tracks.

Metro provided a media briefing for reporters Monday afternoon that included much of the information that will be provided to the public at a community workshop this Thursday, June 5, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Union Station Board Room. No RSVP is necessary for those who wish to attend. 

First, some basic background: in 2011 Metro purchased the Union Station property, including about 47 acres of land from Catellus, the private firm that owned the facility. With nearly 70,000 people currently using the station on the average weekday — a number expected to grow to 100,000 by 2020 and to 140,000 by 2040 — Metro has been working on a master plan to improve how the station functions as a transit facility. The Master Plan would also expand green space at the station, accommodate potential development that would work alongside a bus and train station, preserve its historic architectural character and make Union Station more of a destination for everyone in our region.

Here are some of the refinements to the Master Plan:

•The new passenger concourse will greatly expand the existing passageway. The concourse will be significantly wider than the existing (and often crowded) pedestrian tunnel and there will be elevators and stairs accessing each of the rail platforms above. Those rail platforms will be spaced out differently and widened from their existing 23 feet to around 30 feet. The location of the current entrance to the Red/Purple Line will remain the same.

Here are three renderings of the new concourse.

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•Metro also plans to eliminate a long-standing bottleneck in a project separate from the Union Station Master Plan but moving forward in coordination with the plan. At present, Union Station is a dead end for Metrolink and Amtrak trains — all trains must enter and exit via tracks on the north side of the facility. Metro’s SCRIP project — now in its environmental and engineering phase — would allow trains to enter and exit the station via its south side by running four tracks over the 101 freeway and connecting to the existing tracks along the Los Angeles River.

The tracks would improve train capacity at Union Station by 40 to 50 percent, according to Metro. The project also gives Metro the chance to make improvements to the rail yard and concourse below.

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June Metro Service Council meetings kick off Wednesday in the San Fernando Valley

As usual, the San Fernando Valley Service Council will be batting lead off in our monthly line-up of Service Council meetings, on Wednesday, June 4, in Van Nuys at the Marvin Braude Center.

All June Service Council meetings will include a report from Metro Service Council Director Jon Hillmer, providing monthly and year-to-date statistics on ridership, performance and other measures of Metro service. June is also the month that each of the Councils will elect their Chair and Vice Chair for the upcoming year.

Other topics for Service Council meetings this month include:

San Fernando Valley (6:30 pm, Wednesday, 6/4) – Chair’s remarks to include recap of Division 15 AM Rollout and tour; Recognition of Operator Rafael Melgar; a staff report on the Motion to Reduce and Reallocate Line 166 Service; Approval of August Public Hearing dates for potential December service changes

San Gabriel Valley (5 pm, Monday, 6/9) – Update on Line 577 Rio Hondo Route Change Effect on Ridership; Recap of Board-Approved Transit Fare Restructuring and Follow up Actions

Westside/Central (5 pm, Wednesday, 6/11) – Update on the Wilshire Express Lanes; Approval of August Public Hearing dates for potential December service changes

Gateway Cities (2 pm, Thursday, 6/12) – Recognition of Gateway Cities Service Council Chair Marisa Perez and Member Cheri Kelley; Update on Line 577 Rio Hondo Route Change Effect on Ridership; Update on Blue Line Rail Replacement

South Bay (9:30 am, Friday, 6/13) – Update on Redondo Beach Station Refurbishment; Update on Crenshaw/LAX Green Line Rail Interface

Please note that changes may be made to meeting agendas, including potential new topics, prior to meeting dates. For a listing of the dates, times and locations of all five Service Council meetings, click here. For more information about each service council, click on the name of the service council listed above. To view the latest Service Council meeting agendas check the agenda listings web page at metro.net.

All Service Councils welcome and encourage public participation. If you would like to comment at any of the meetings, please fill out a speaker card when you arrive, noting the specific item you are there to address. General comments on issues that aren’t on the agenda are taken as a part of the “public comment” section of the agenda. 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.