Metro and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 127 have approved a new contract that will provide three percent annual raises for about 2,300 maintenance workers for the next four years. The new contract will cost Metro roughly $36 million with agency officials saying that it’s important to retain and fairly pay the skilled workers who keep buses and trains moving each day. Union officials say the contract is fair but that workers are still paid less than their counterparts in New York and Chicago.
The story concerns a question asked in Metro’s annual Customer Survey that was released this week. Excerpt:
The sexual harassment question was prompted, in part, by a national discussion about safety on public transit that followed a fatal gang rape on a New Delhi bus in 2012, Boberg said. A study by London’s transit agency the following year found that 15% of women riding transit there had experienced “unwanted sexual behavior,” but 90% of them had not reported it, according to the Guardian.
Metro staff members who read stories online about such data realized they had very little comparable information, Boberg said, and decided to add the question to the most recent passenger survey. He added that Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti and his transportation staff also indicated they were interested.
One of the biggest surprises in the data was that men reported feeling unsafe because of sexual behavior nearly as often as women, Boberg said About 18% of women felt unsafe, as opposed to 16% of men.
Obviously, Metro takes this issue seriously and, as a Metro spokesman notes in the article, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has increased patrols on Metro buses in addition to deputies that patrol Metro Rail trains and stations. Metro asked the question on the survey to better discern the number of actual incidents versus perception of the problem.
Here are some key statistics. According to the LASD, there were 103 sex crimes including one rape on Metro buses and trains that was reported in 2013. Metro Customer Relations has received seven sexual harassment complaints in the past three years. Metro had 478.1 million boardings on its buses and trains in 2013.
Agency officials stressed this to me today: Metro takes seriously the perception that people feel unsafe for any reason. Sexual harassment is obviously a societal issue that also exists beyond the bounds of transit and Metro wants to stay ahead of the curve. The agency encourages anyone to let the bus operator, LASD deputies or any Metro personnel know if they feel harassed or threatened. On trains, passengers can use emergency intercoms located on rail cars and in rail stations. All bus and rail passengers can report problems via the TransitWatchLA app for smart phones or contact Metro Customer Relations by calling 323.GO.METRO (323.466.3876), emailing email@example.com or filling out the online form.
As we noted, harassment is certainly an issue beyond transit in Los Angeles County. For some helpful context, sexual harassment on transit received some attention a few years ago in New York when a survey by the then Manhattan borough president at the time suggested that harassment on the New York subway system was extremely widespread. Here’s a New York Times article about a New York City Council meeting on the issue in 2009 with some statistics and anecdotal quotes.
The article looks at a project being studied by Caltrans and Metro to improve traffic along the southern stretch of the 710 freeway between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the 60 freeway (where much of the freight traffic begins to head east). As noted in this news release, alternatives include widening the 710 freeway up to 10 lanes (five in each direction), modernizing and reconfiguring the I-405, SR-91 and a portion of the I-5 interchanges with the I-710; modernizing and reconfiguring most local arterial interchanges along the I-710 and looking at a provision of a separate four-lane freight corridor to be used by conventional or zero-emission trucks. Some nearby community members want to see more traffic diverted from the freeway, better transit and bike paths along the 710 corridor and the zero emission corridor come to fruition. Click here to visit the study’s home page.
How I learned to stop worrying and love the train (The Poston Report)
Writing on his personal blog, L.A. Times reporter Ben Poston reports on the evolution of his commute over the past couple of years. He used to bike to work in DTLA, but got tired of being hit by cars. He then went back to driving — and wrote about it — but took a lot of heat from readers who said he should either stick with biking or try something else.
And the something else? Excerpt:
Since I started riding the Metro two months ago, I haven’t looked back. It’s now my preferred mode of travel and I only drive when my job requires it.
With gas prices typically at more than $4 a gallon, I know that I’m saving serious cash every month, not to mention the wear and tear on my car.
Though I have to leave earlier than before, I’m enjoying the slower pace of transit commuting. During my 20-minute morning walk from my apartment to the Red Line stop I usually stream National Public Radio or listen to music on my smart phone.
I read magazines and newspapers on the train, which is relaxing. It’s also nice to walk among my fellow Angelenos instead of being isolated in my car bubble. The best part is the ride home: I don’t have to sit in traffic or deal with it at all, which is much less stressful.
So that’s it. My LA commuting sage is over. I’m taking the train as often as possible and enjoying it. I’d encourage anyone else to give it a try.
The new L.A. Register asks whether it’s appropriate for government agencies to support the home team and tweet about sports, using Metro’s tweets (read: my tweets) about the Kings and the Stanley Cup Playoffs as an example. One attorney interviewed says that a pre-Game 7 tweet I wrote about the Sharks that included a chart on the Heimlich Maneuver may not have been appropriate. I obviously disagree. The Sharks’ lousy playoff record speaks for itself and the Kings, in fact, overcame a three games to zero deficit to win the series. As for the bigger question about why tweet about sports? Well, the Kings have had a Destinations Discount deal with Metro in the past, many Kings fans take Metro to games at Staples Center (using Pico Station shared by the Blue and Expo lines) and who says that everything government says has to be boring?
Mileage tax for California drivers proposed in State Senate (Mercury News)
The article — picked up from the Los Angeles Newspaper Group — looks at SB 1077 by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) that would allow a pilot program for a device to be used to track mileage in cars and then tax the motorist based on miles driven. Motorists are currently taxed in California by paying 5.9 cents per gallon for fuel. Proponents of a by-the-mile tax say it would more accurately tax motorists for the true cost of driving by taxing those who use road space the most.