It’s a week of anniversaries at Metro: The Metro Red Line began operating 20 years ago this week just a few days before Day One of Metro on Feb. 1, 1993. The above timeline is the first of two that we’ll post on The Source; you can scroll right and left on the one above or see a larger version here.
The next timeline, which I’ll post next week, will focus on key policy decisions and other milestones for the agency.
Of course, Metro did not begin as “Metro.” In 1993, Metro was known only by its formal name, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The new agency was a merger of two other agencies with clunky names: Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (CTC) and the Southern California Rapid Transit District (RTD). The idea behind the merger was to cut the inherent red tape that came with two government agencies trying to operate and/or plan transit and transportation in one county.
The irony is that there had already been a Los Angeles MTA, a city agency which in 1964 was merged into the RTD. The big idea then was that the region needed a regional transportation agency, an idea that didn’t last very long as separate agencies were subsequently created for Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino counties and last, but not least, Los Angeles County.
A big thanks to the Dorothy Peyton Gray Metro Transportation Library & Archive for doing the research that made assembling this timeline very easy; here also is their page on the history of transportation agencies in Los Angeles County. If you click on the ‘more’ button in most of the timeline bubbles, I’ve included photos, videos or links to media stories about some of the events. If there’s anything you would like me to add, please leave a factoid or link in a comment; photos must be in the public domain.
I love the question posed in the opening of this 1989 video, suggesting that city planners could not have possibly been thinking of what Los Angeles had become: TrafficVille.
My two cents: I think this video gives city planners too much credit. I’m not sure they were thinking of anything except, perhaps, how to cram a few more strip malls into L.A. Zing!
When watching the video, also take a few moments to enjoy the music. Memo to our younger readers: there actually was some very good music created in the 1980s. This just isn’t it. This is.
If you missed it earlier, here’s Dave Sotero’s excellent analysis of the Red Line’s 20th anniversary and what the subway has done for Los Angeles — and what it will likely do in the years and decades ahead. Also, here’s another pair of videos documenting opening day on Jan. 29, 1993.
Here are a pair of videos on the opening of the first segment of the Red Line on Jan. 29, 1993 — so 20th century! Thanks to the Metro Transit Library & Archive on digging these up and for all the helpful information on the 20th anniversary of the Metro Red Line.
Please see Dave Sotero’s post earlier today on the big anniversary. There are a lot of interesting factoids about the original project along with a great photo gallery and more video.
On January 29, 1993, former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley stood among a swarm of public officials and transit agency staffers on the cramped Pershing Square subway platform. Standing shoulders above everyone else, including then-California Gov. Pete Wilson, Bradley proudly inaugurated the opening of the first modern subway in Los Angeles.
“Twenty years is a long time. That’s how long we have been pushing on this dream, this vision of what we should do in Los Angeles County,” Bradley said, referring to the subway’s quixotic path to reality in ‘93. “I made a promise when I ran for mayor in 1973 that in 18 months, we’d deliver by breaking ground for rapid transit. Well, I missed by only a few months…”
Today, Metro marks the 20th anniversary of the Metro Red Line’s first phase from Union Station to MacArthur Park, a nearly 4.5-mile construction milestone that began a brand new chapter in regional rail construction and placing L.A. among other major cities across the globe with high-speed, high-capacity subways.
We've heard from several readers in recent weeks about the condition of the parking lot at the Expo Line's Culver City station — specifically, that the lot has become dusty and bumpy when it's dry and muddy when it's wet, such as today.
The good news: The Expo Line Construction Authority just approved a contract to pave the lot (see below). Given this, immediate action to correct this problem has begun with the goal of completing this lot in February. The Source will keep you updated as work progresses.
Here are a few other items of interest tackled at today’s meeting of the full Metro Board of Directors:
•The Board approved a $302-million contract with New Flyer of America for the purchase of 550 new 40-foot buses powered by compressed natural gas. Staff report (pdf)
•The Board approved a contract modification up to $610,000 with Cubic Transportation Systems for the purchase and installation of four ticket vending machines for the El Monte Transit Center. Staff report (pdf)
•The Board approved a series of contract modifications totaling about $13.5 million with outside firms, including URS Corporation, for continued work on the I-710 South Corridor Project’s environmental studies. Staff report (pdf)
•The Board approved giving Metro the authority to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with three developers seeking to build a mixed-use project that would partially occupy Metro-owned land adjacent to the Red Line’s Vermont/Sunset Station. Staff report (pdf)
The Metro Board agreed to hold a motion for 60 days — until the March Board meeting — by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky that proposes to eliminate the $3 monthly maintenance fee on FasTrak accounts that use the ExpressLanes three or fewer times per month. This will give Metro staff time to collect more data about the number of infrequent users of the ExpressLanes.
It is important to note that the fee has yet to take effect — it will begin when the ExpressLanes open on the 10 freeway on Feb. 23.
Metro staff told the Board that of the approximately 81,000 transponders issued so far, about half have not yet used the ExpressLanes. Staff believes that some of those numbers are due to motorists getting transponders in preparation of the ExpressLanes opening on the 10.
The Metro Board approved on a 7 to 2 vote a contract modification worth about $30.5 million dollars for Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., to provide preliminary engineering services and other work on the first and second phases of the Westside/Purple Line Extension, as well as final design services for modifications to the Division 20 subway rail car maintenance yard.
The modification brings the contract total for Parsons Brinckherhoff, Inc. to $120.6 million. The first phase of the project will extend the subway from Wilshire/Western to Wilshire/La Cienega and the second phase to Constellation and Avenue of the Stars in Century City.
Board Members Don Knabe and John Fasana voted against the modification, saying that spending money on the subway extension's second phase at this point was not consistent with construction timelines listed in Metro's long-range plan.
The Metro Board voted Thursday morning to direct staff to continue planning on second- and third decade Measure R projects — the idea is have projects ready to be constructed if funds become available to accelerate them.
Click above to see larger.
The Board also approved the following amendment by Board Members Diane DuBois, Gloria Molina and Mel Wilson:
•After two-plus months of operation, the ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway have allowed for travel speeds of 45 mph or over 100 percent of the time, reported Metro officials. That's important because the federal grant that allowed Metro to construct the lanes is dependent on speeds remaining over 45 mph at least 90 percent of the time. As motorists likely already know, officials also reported that congestion remains in the general lanes.
•Metro CEO Art Leahy also said that progress toward latching of the gates at Metro Rail stations is being made and he showed a prototype paper ticket for Metrolink riders that is TAP enabled — it has a chip embedded in it — and can be dispensed from Metrolink ticket machines. Here's a pic:
And the Metrolink folks just emailed over a look at some of the design prototypes they're working on for TAP-enabled tickets:
•LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey said that LAX continues to make progress on its specific plan amendment study, the document that has to be completed before the airport can launch any kind of effort to build a people mover or light rail station on airport property. She said that LAWA staff continues to work closely with Metro staff on the Airport Metro Connector project to connect the airport to the larger Metro transit system. Alternatives being considered by Metro include bus rapid transit, light rail and a people mover.
Lindsey also made the point that LAX remains the busiest in the United States in terms of the number of passengers who start or end their trips at LAX.