New study ranks L.A. metro area 3rd in U.S. in connecting people to jobs via transit

MinnesotaStudyMap

The darker the shade of orange and red, the more jobs that can be reached within 30 minutes using transit. Click above to see larger. Source: University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies.

Los Angeles

Earlier this month, the University of Minnesota released a study that found that the Los Angeles metro area ranks third behind New York and San Francisco when it comes to the number of jobs reachable by transit within an hour’s time. The study looked at 46 of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States and Metro scored better than some older cities with established transit systems — places such as Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.

Here’s the top 10 according to the study through January 2014:

  1. New York
  2. San Francisco
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Washington
  5. Chicago
  6. Boston
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Seattle
  9. Denver
  10. San Jose

I wasn’t surprised that the Los Angeles area was in the top 10. After all, we live in the nation’s second-largest metropolis and our region — despite is reputation for traffic — boasts a considerable amount of transit. Metro, for example, runs the nation’s second-largest bus system in terms of ridership behind only New York. That said, I was mildly surprised to see that our metro area ranked third.

I asked study co-author Andrew Owen, the director of the Accessibility Observatory for the University of Minnesota, if the results surprised him. The answer: not really. His main points were:

•The Los Angeles region has a ton of jobs — vastly more than many other metro areas in the U.S.

•Because of geography — i.e., mountains and oceans — we’re actually more densely populated across the metro area than (for example) a place such as Chicago, which
doesn’t have anything to constrain its sprawl.

•The Los Angeles region actually has a lot of transit (particularly buses) although that is often overlooked because of the region’s reputation for traffic. On that note, I’ll add this: Metro is just one of many bus providers in our region and Metro’s bus ridership alone is the second highest in the nation behind only New York City.

“Los Angeles has a lot of stuff — a lot of jobs and a lot of people,” Owen said. “Of course, it would be possible to have a city and a lot of people and none of them could get anywhere by transit. But look at downtown Los Angeles and the areas south and west. There are huge amounts of jobs that people can reach by transit because transit is run there. If transit wasn’t there or it wasn’t run frequently and didn’t connect people to jobs, this ranking would be far lower than it is.”

Owen also pointed to another interesting thing captured by the numbers: while our region ranked second in the number of jobs, it ranked third in terms of transit accessibility to them. That suggests that the L.A. area has some catching up to do in terms of reaching more jobs via transit. Still, Owen said, we’re already better off than a place such as the Atlanta region that ranked ninth in the total number of jobs and 30th in terms of accessibility.

I also asked Owen if about the map at the top of this post. It’s important to understand what it shows: the areas that are darker shades of orange and red are the ones that are closest to the most jobs via a 30-minute transit ride or less (it doesn’t matter whether it’s train or bus). That’s why the areas around downtown Los Angeles and the Westside — the number one and two jobs areas in our region — are so dark. They’re near a lot of jobs and there’s enough transit to reach those jobs.

The map also suggests that the Measure R-funded transit projects that Metro is building or plans to build are serving a real purpose — better connecting our region to jobs. Look at the “Under Construction” map after the jump.

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All 14 street crossings now complete for Gold Line Foothill Extension!

Photo: Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

The Foothill Extension crossing of Mountain Avenue near the Monrovia and Duarte border. Photo: Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

Here’s the news release with the good news from the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the independent agency building the 11.5-mile project between Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border:

MONROVIA, CA – On the heels of last week’s completion of all light rail track installation for the Foothill Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa, the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority (Construction Authority) announced today that the agency has achieved another major milestone for the project – completion of all 14 at-grade (or street-level) crossings for the 11.5-mile light rail extension. The final grade crossing work, at Mountain Ave., was completed this week – three months ahead of schedule.

Work began on the grade crossings in February 2013, and required long-term closures of each street. Each grade crossing received upgrades to underground utilities, the roadway, sidewalks, curbs and gutters, in addition to installation of light rail track, signals, and communications and safety equipment.

“Completing the at-grade crossings is an important milestone for the project, keeping us on time and on budget,” stated Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian. “We are now less than a year from turning the project over to Metro, and having the crossings complete means that most of the risk on the project is behind us.”

Construction took place at the following at-grade crossings:

•First Avenue and Santa Clara Street, Arcadia

•Mayflower Avenue, Monrovia

•Magnolia Avenue, Monrovia

•Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia

•California Avenue, Monrovia

•Mountain Avenue, Monrovia & Duarte

•Buena Vista Avenue, Duarte

•Highland Avenue, Duarte

•Virginia Avenue, Azusa

•San Gabriel Avenue, Azusa

•Azusa Avenue, Azusa

•Alameda Avenue, Azusa

•Dalton Avenue, Azusa

•Pasadena Avenue, Azusa

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Other actions taken Thursday by the Metro Board of Directors

It was a mostly quiet agenda, but these three items may be of interest:

•Item 20. The Board approved a motion by Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas to provide $2.8 million in funding to continue environmental studies and planning work for a walking and bike path on the Harbor Subdivision right-of-way that Metro owns. The path would run between the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Florence/West Station and the Los Angeles River. The project is not funded at this time. Several Board Members said that they hoped to attract funding by further refining plans for such a project. Here’s more information from a Source post earlier this year.

•Item 7. The Metro Board adopted a Complete Streets policy. Metro doesn’t manage or maintain streets in our area — that’s up to local cities and the county in unincorporated areas. But there are some types of project in which Metro can influence what gets done to roadways and this policy is designed to ensure that safety, pedestrian, cycling and environmental improvements are considered by the agency in conjunction with those projects. Metro staff report

•Item 40. The Board approved a contract amendment with New Flyer to add two video monitors on the final 128 buses on order from the firm. The monitors can show images captured by cameras on board the buses — the idea is to remind Metro bus riders that security cameras are installed on the buses and criminal acts will likely be caught on video at multiple angles. Metro staff report

 

Metro Board approves Union Station Master Plan, allowing near-term projects to go forward

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors today approved actions to officially move the Union Station Master Plan, an ambitious long-range roadmap for L.A.’s single largest public transit hub, from planning to implementation.

Metro can now pursue its initial implementation strategy for near-term projects, which includes a programmatic environmental review of the recommended transit improvements as well as the commercial development program. Metro can also seek immediate funding opportunities for improvements to the station’s perimeter, and will form partnerships with the city and county, real estate and investment communities to support related implementation efforts.

“Today is a milestone day in our goal to bring ‘America’s Last Great Train Station’ into the 21st century,” said Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Mayor and Metro Board Chair. “Metro is now on the move to make Los Angeles Union Station a world-class transit hub.”

Planned improvements to Union Station’s perimeter include a series of streetscape, open space and transit stop improvements that soften the edges of the station, improve the pedestrian and cyclist experience, strengthen connections to and from the station’s entrances and create a more welcoming environment to transit riders and visitors. Foremost among these improvements is the planned removal of the surface parking lot on the northern side of the forecourt and the creation of a public plaza. This and other improvements will directly link with the El Pueblo Historic Monument, where apprxoimately $1 million in local open space funds has been identified to support the design and implementation of these improvements.

Metro was recently awarded other grant opportunities to improve four bus stops along Cesar Chavez between Alameda and Vignes, which includes creating shelters, additional seating and information, and bike facilities.  Metro has also received a grant from the Congestion Reduction ExpressLanes Net Toll Revenue Project and is providing matching funds to create a Metro Bike Hub on the west side of Union Station that will offer parking for about 300 bicycles, 24-7 secure access control, a space for bike retail and repair services, and a meeting/training space to conduct bike safety training workshops. This bike hub is expected to open in 2017.

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Metro Board awards contract for Business Solution Center for Crenshaw/LAX Line

Here is the Metro staff report and below is the news release from Metro:

In another unprecedented step today the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors awarded a two-year contract for $646,462 to Del Richardson & Associates, Inc. (DRA) to operate Metro’s pilot Business Solution Center (BSC) to help small businesses impacted by Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project construction. The contract includes two one-year options for $349,682 for total of $996,144.

“We’re finally making desperately needed investments to our public transportation system in South Los Angeles, but construction simply cannot come at the expense of our businesses,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti. “This Business Solution Center will ensure that businesses along the Crenshaw Line will be able to thrive despite any temporary inconveniences to customers and employees.”

“Rail construction is always challenging and it’s particularly difficult for nearby businesses, that’s why we are committed to standing with these merchants during the whole construction process,” said Metro Board 1st Vice Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This Business Solution Center – while not solving all problems – is an important first step toward helping the local business community survive and thrive during the difficult days. We are happy that we could make this happen.”

The Business Solution Center is expected to open in November, 2014 and will be located at the Los Angeles Urban League, 3450 Mount Vernon Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90008.

The Metro pilot Business Solution Center (BSC) will provide hands-on case management services for small businesses along the Crenshaw corridor between 48th and 60th streets.
Services will include marketing help, business plan development, financial planning, small business operations advice and legal assistance counseling. In addition, BSC will help small businesses apply for capital via existing loan programs. It also will help them gain certification as small, disadvantaged, disabled, veteran-owned, minority-owned and/or woman-owned businesses.

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Metro Board of Directors meets Thursday — here’s the agenda

UPDATE: Good morning! The meeting began at 9:15 a.m. and the Metro Board just voted to approve the items on the consent calendar.

The Metro Board of Directors gathers Thursday at 9 a.m. for its regular monthly meeting. The agenda is above.

The meeting, as always, is open to the public and will be held on the third floor of Metro Headquarters adjacent to Union Station. You can also listen to the meeting online by clicking here.

Or, you can listen over the telephone by calling 213-922-6045.

Alameda Corridor-East holds groundbreaking for Puente Avenue roadway underpass

Photos: Joe Lemon/Metro

The Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Construction Authority broke ground today on a four-lane roadway underpass of Puente Avenue that will be built beneath a Union Pacific railroad line that runs along Valley Boulevard in the City of Industry. The $99.6-million project will support 1,780 jobs over four years of construction with completion scheduled for early 2018, according to ACE.

The Puente Avenue project will eliminate crossing collisions, vehicle queuing and congestion, train horn noise and reduce emissions from vehicles waiting for trains to pass through the intersection. Metro is the largest single financial contributor to this project, providing more than 50 percent of the program funding through Measure R sales tax and Prop C funds.

Here’s the press release from the ACE Construction Authority:

(City of Industry, CA) – Officials gathered today to kick off construction of a four-lane roadway underpass on Puente Avenue and Workman Mill Road that will be built beneath a Union Pacific Railroad line in the City of Industry. A railroad bridge and loop connector road between Workman Mill Road and Valley Boulevard will also be constructed.  The $99.6 million project will create 1,780 jobs over four years of construction with completion scheduled for early 2018.

“The Puente Avenue project will eliminate crossing collisions, vehicle queuing and congestion and train horn noise and reduce vehicle emissions,” said El Monte Councilwoman Norma Macias, Chair of the Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Construction Authority Board of Directors. “We appreciate the support for this project from our funding partners.”

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