Metrolink introduces 91 Line weekend service

From our friends at Metrolink:
A New Way to L.A.

Traveling to L.A. and Orange County on the weekends just got easier. Beginning July 5, Metrolink will offer weekend service from Downtown Riverside to L.A. with stops in between at La Sierra, North Main Corona, West Corona, Fullerton, Buena Park and Norwalk. Experience L.A. and beyond like never before with day trips to Chinatown, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Pantages Theatre, L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Universal Studios, L.A. Live, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Old Town Pasadena and much more when you take the 91 Line to L.A. and connect on the Red, Purple, Expo and Gold lines. The 91 Line weekend service offers a new way to see L.A. and experience all that L.A. has to offer.

Due to this schedule change, San Bernardino Line weekend trains (351, 367, 364, 376) will no longer start or end at Riverside-Downtown, also effective July 5.

Metrolink $10 Weekend Day Pass

Metrolink offers a Weekend Day Pass for only $10. This pass allows a passenger to ride anytime, anywhere systemwide on Saturday or Sunday. The Weekend Day Pass includes free connections to most rail and bus lines throughout Southern California.

Inbound to L.A. Union Station 751 753
RIVERSIDE-DOWNTOWN 7:40 AM 9:00 AM
RIVERSIDE-LA SIERRA 7:50 AM 9:10 AM
NORTH MAIN CORONA 7:58 AM 9:18 AM
WEST CORONA 8:04 AM 9:24 AM
FULLERTON 8:29 AM 9:49 AM
BUENA PARK 8:36 AM 9:56 AM
NORWALK/SANTA FE SPRINGS 8:44 AM 10:04 AM
LA UNION STATION (arrival time) 9:20 AM 10:40 AM

Outbound to Riverside-Downtown

752

754

LA UNION STATION 3:15 PM 7:15 PM
NORWALK/SANTA FE SPRINGS 3:36 PM 7:36 PM
BUENA PARK 3:42 PM 7:42 PM
FULLERTON 3:49 PM 7:49 PM
WEST CORONA 4:13 PM 8:13 PM
NORTH MAIN CORONA 4:20 PM 8:20 PM
RIVERSIDE-LA SIERRA 4:29 PM 8:29 PM
RIVERSIDE-DOWNTOWN (arrival time) 4:52 PM 8:55 PM

Leg update: Highway Trust Fund still going broke but three-position bike racks bill in good shape

Two pieces of legislative news below from Metro CEO Art Leahy and the agency’s government relations team.

The first is bad news. Due to Congress’ inability to pass a long-range transportation funding bill, the Highway Trust Fund is going broke and states on average could lose 28 percent of federal funding if nothing is done. Blah. If this keeps up, we’ll have more soon on potential impacts to Metro.

In case you’re wondering about a solution: Congress needs to either raise the federal gas tax (it hasn’t been increased in two decades) or find other revenues to keep the Highway Trust Fund in the black.

The second is good news: state legislation that would allow bike racks that could hold three bikes on 40-foot buses is moving along nicely.

The update:

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Planned Cuts In Highway Trust Fund Payments

As shared in a Legislative Alert yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office is estimating that it will take over $8 billion in additional revenues to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent through December 31, 2014.

Earlier today, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx issued letters to major transportation stakeholders around the nation outlining how the U.S. Department of Transportation anticipates Highway Trust Fund payments will be distributed if Congress does not act to make the fund solvent in the coming weeks.

Secretary Foxx stated that the Federal Highway Administration will begin implementing cash management procedures starting August 1, 2014. No specific date has yet been set to implement cash management procedures for the Mass Transit Account.

States will receive their first notice of available funds on August 11, 2014 and thereafter every two weeks as the federal gas tax receipts are deposited into the Highway Trust Fund.

According to Secretary Foxx, “on average, states will see a 28 percent drop in federal transportation dollars. Depending on how they manage the funds, each state will feel the effects differently, but everyone will feel the impact sooner or later.”

To read the correspondence from Secretary Foxx on the federal Highway Trust Fund please click here. We are currently compiling a document that will be shared with all Board members, that includes an assessment of what a slowdown in federal transportation funds would mean for our agency.
State Legislative Update

AB 2707 (Chau) – Three Position Bike Racks
Yesterday the Assembly approved AB 2707, Metro’s sponsored bill, which would allow three position bike racks to be installed on our 40’ buses, passed the Senate floor unanimously 36 to 0. The bill now heads back to the Assembly floor for concurrence vote.

Other actions taken by Metro Board of Directors today — station names, L.A. River in-channel bike path, promoting discounted fares

Three other actions taken by the Metro Board of Directors at their meeting today that might be of interest:

•The Board approved the following official name changes to Metro Rail stations, although signage will often continue to reflect shorter names:

–The Blue Line’s Grand Station becomes the ‘Grand/Los Angeles Trade-Technical College Station.’

–The Expo Line’s 23rd Street Station becomes the “Los Angeles Trade-Technical College/Orthopaedic Institute for Children Station.”

–The Expo Line’s La Brea station becomes the “Expo/La Brea/Ethel Bradley Station.”

Metro staff were also instructed to implement the changes at minimal cost without using operating funds.

•The Board approved a motion by Board Members Mike Bonin and Gloria Molina instructing Metro to launch a multi-lingual ad campaign to promote fare subsidy programs prior to the fare increase scheduled to take effect Sept. 1 or after.

More information on reduced fares for seniors, disabled/Medicare passengers, K-12 students and college/vocational students and applications in nine languages can be found by clicking here.

•The Board approved a motion by Board Members Mike Bonin, Eric Garcetti and Gloria Molina to take steps needed to launch a study on building a bike path within the Los Angeles River channel between Taylor Yard (just north of downtown Los Angeles) and the city of Maywood, along with bike/pedestrian linkages to roads and sidewalks near the river. Motion

Metro projects helping improve commuter rail service in San Fernando Valley

There has been a nice variety of commuter rail projects in the San Fernando Valley on Metro Board agendas in recent months, including one that was approved today to add a new pedestrian bridge for the Metrolink station at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

To help provide a bigger view of projects that Metro is helping plan, fund and coordinate, here is a quick list:

•A pedestrian bridge between Bob Hope Airport and the existing Metrolink station along Empire Avenue. The bridge will also connect to the airport’s new Regional Intermodal Transportation Center, that will include bus stops and a rental car facility. Metro staff report

•A new station to serve Bob Hope Airport along Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line. This will allow both Metrolink lines in the San Fernando Valley — the Antelope Valley Line and the Ventura County Line — to provide service to and from Bob Hope Airport. Earlier Source post

•A second track  for 6.5 miles approximately from Woodley to DeSoto streets along the Ventura County Line. This will help eliminate a long-standing bottleneck in the Valley and increase capacity of trains along the Ventura County Line. Staff report

•A new center platform between the two tracks at Van Nuys station and a pedestrian under-crossing to help passengers reach the new platform. This will provide service to both existing mainline tracks rather than the existing single track service. Staff report

There is another project in the works that will benefit all Metrolink riders: Metro is planning to eliminate a long-standing bottleneck at Union Station that requires all trains to enter and exit the station via tracks on the north side of the facility. It currently takes trains about 15 minutes of turn-around time because of the current track configuration.

Metro’s Southern California Regional Interconnector Project (known as SCRIP) 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. In other words, trains would be able to enter and exit the station in either direction.

There are several benefits. The turnaround time of trains would be greatly reduced, increasing capacity by 40 percent to percent and allowing trains to get into and out of the station more efficiently. Also, the reduction of idling times for locomotives will decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

The SCRIP tracks would also improve train capacity at Union Station by 40 to 50 percent and, equally important, allow trains to get into and out of the station more quickly. That should benefit all Metrolink and Amtrak riders in the future.

Metro’s Regional Rail team is looking at other projects in the SFV that will better serve Metrolink customers increase safety and mobility. More projects are planned for the area such as additional double tracking and grade crossing enhancements.

 

 

Metro Board approves new station at Aviation/96th as best option to connect to LAX people mover

newa2map

The Metro Board of Directors on Thursday unanimously approved a new light rail station at Aviation Boulevard and 96th Street along the Crenshaw/LAX Line as the best option to serve as the “gateway” transfer point to an Automated People Mover that would take people to terminals at Los Angeles International Airport. The people mover is being planned by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), which would build the project.

The next steps: Metro must environmentally clear the station, design it and identify the funding before anything gets built. The Crenshaw/LAX Line is currently under construction and the new station would be added to that project. That project is scheduled to be completed in 2019; the people mover could be completed as early as 2022 according to the Metro staff report and officials with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office said Thursday that the city will attempt to possibly accelerate that date.

“This is a historic day for LAX and a historic day for our city because we’re finally on the way to bringing rail to LAX,” Garcetti told the Metro Board on Thursday. “I think we’ll be able to fix a historic mistake of our past.” 

The Metro Green Line infamously came up two miles short of LAX and requires a shuttle bus ride to reach airport terminals. The new Aviation/96th station would also serve some Green Line trains; please see the conceptual operating map below.

People movers are a type of train and are used to connect to regional transit systems by large airports in the U.S. and abroad. The chief advantage of the people mover over the existing shuttle bus: the people mover would run on an elevated guideway above traffic while the shuttle bus shares roads with traffic.

The new Aviation/96th station would be about .4 miles north of the station to be built at Aviation and Century boulevards as part of the Crenshaw/LAX Line. The idea, according to Metro, is that the Aviation/96th station would be the gateway for passengers headed to LAX while the Aviation/Century station would connect riders to the many businesses along the Century Boulevard corridor.

Metro Board Members made it clear that the Aviation/96th station needs to be extraordinarily designed to serve as the airport gateway.

“The question before us is can 96th Street do what it needs to do to be a world class experience?,” asked Board Member Mike Bonin who co-authored a motion (posted after the jump) directing Metro to make the station an enclosed facility with a number of amenities including concourse areas, restrooms, LAX airline check-in and public art, among others. The motion was co-authored by Garcetti and Supervisors Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas.

LAWA is scheduled to finalize details on the people mover alignment and the number of stations near airport terminals in Dec. 2014. In a presentation to the LAWA Board in May, LAWA staff showed options that included two or four stations for the people mover within the central terminal horseshoe. Should LAWA move the people mover alignment back to 98th Street — as was previously studied — Metro would seek to make the Aviation/Century station as the primary connection point to the people mover.

Metro — in coordination with LAWA — has in the past couple of years looked at a number of options for connecting the airport terminals to the Metro Rail system. Among those was bringing light rail directly to the terminals or building a spur to a new airport transportation hub that is being planned east of LAX.

Ultimately, Metro studies found that a Metro Rail-people mover connection took about the same time and resulted in about the same ridership as having a light rail line run directly into the airport terminals. The Metro Rail-people mover connection also cost billions of dollars less and resulted in speedier train rides for Crenshaw/LAX Line passengers not heading to the airport.

In the future, it’s expected that about 57 percent of airport bound passengers would arrive by private car, 33 percent by shuttles, taxis and limos, eight percent by the Flyaway bus and one to two percent via transit buses and trains, according to the Metro staff report. About 66.6 million passengers used LAX in 2013, meaning even small percentages can add up to a lot of riders.

Metro Board Member Don Knabe raised a salient point several times in recent months: what guarantees are in place that LAWA will actually build the people mover? LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey told the Metro Board on Thursday that traffic has gotten so bad in the airport’s horseshoe — up to 200,000 vehicles a day — that the airport must build the people mover, a consolidated rental car facility and a new ground transportation hub to steer more vehicles away from the terminals.

The Airport Metro Connector is one of the dozen transit projects to receive funding from the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase approved by 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

140529_amcoperations_2

Please see the motion on the Aviation/96th Street station that is posted after the jump.

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Metro Board of Directors June meeting is underway; Airport Metro Connector item to be considered today

Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois has dropped the gavel on the June meeting on the Metro Board of Directors. The agenda is above. Click here for the regular online version here with links to staff reports.

If not here in person, you can listen to the meeting over the phone at 213-922-6045. You can try to listen online by clicking here.

For those at the meeting trying to watch the USA-Germany World Cup game over Metro’s wifi…good luck.

Perhaps the item that will interest the most people today involves the Board considering whether to approve a new light rail station at Aviation and 96th Street as the locally preferred alternative as part of the Airport Metro Connector project. The station would serve the Crenshaw/LAX Line and some Green Line trains and would be the transfer point to a people mover planned by LAX that would connect to airport terminals. More at this recent Source post.

The Los Angeles Times published an editorial today on the preferred alternative.

This is Diane DuBois’ final meeting as Board Chair. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti takes over chair duties in July.

 

U.S. Conference of Mayors backs America Fast Forward

The U.S. Conference of Mayors last week voted to back a resolution by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti that “urges Congress to create a new category of qualified tax credit bonds to fund $45 billion over 10 years for transportation to stimulate infrastructure investment.”

Not exactly earth-shaking news. But it’s good news nonetheless.

Let me explain. Metro has been pursuing the America Fast Forward (AFF) initiative for four-plus years. AFF includes two parts: an expanded federal loan program and a new bond program.

The loan program — called TIFIA — was expanded by Congress in 2012. TIFIA loans help provide local transit agencies such as Metro with low-interest loans that can be used to help pay for big, expensive projects — and, in fact, TIFIA loans are being used to help finance the building of the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the first phase of the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector.

The bond program has been garnering support, but Congress still hasn’t made it part of a multi-year transportation funding bill. In a nutshell: those who invest in transportation bonds receive federal tax credits instead of interest, a good way for investors to lower their tax burden and a good way for transportation agencies to save on interest costs.

america-fast-forward-bonds

Will Congress go for it? Hard to say as partisan politics have prevented Congress from approving of a truly long-term transportation funding bill since a four-year bill was signed into law by President Bush in 2005. That bill expired in 2009, was extended several times and then replaced by a two-year bill in 2012 that expires this year.

Earlier this year, President Obama released a bill proposal that embraced the AFF bond program as well as the TIFIA program. Congress hasn’t exactly embraced the President’s bill but there have been indications of support for the AFF bond program. In the meantime, mayors continue to push Congress to do something, as many cities are trying to expand transit systems and need help financing pricey projects.

As Mayor Garcetti wrote about the Conference, “As gridlock continues to paralyze our federal government, it’s America’s mayors who are increasingly leading the charge to improve quality of life across this country.”