Ridley-Thomas tells crowds gathered at Leimert Park: ‘There’s a train a comin’

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Photos by Anna Chen/Metro

Lots of celebration this morning at Leimert Park, which the Metro Board voted yesterday to fully fund as a station on the Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line. L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Mel Wilson, all Metro Board members, joined other local dignitaries and residents of South Los Angeles to mark the occasion as singers chanted, “There’s a train a comin’. “

“It takes a village to get a train to stop in Leimert Park. We did it together and we ought to be proud of that,” Ridley-Thomas said to the gathered crowd of about 200. “And I’m delighted that the board has approved funding to make this historic community a train stop.”

As we posted yesterday the Metro Board approved a motion, co-sponsored by Ridley-Thomas, to commit $80 million for the station, which will be built in what is considered a historic enclave of black business and culture. The Board’s decision came a day after the L.A. City Council committed $40 million of the city’s share of Measure R local return funds to Leimert Park.

“This is a celebration of you,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “Of a community that is vibrant, that has always been important to this town. As I ride into the sunset for a bit, I wanted to make sure we did this right … and I think we have.”

Meet Me @Metro IV: Bringing it Home to Watts

941347_10151668494318900_566840833_nThe fourth annual Meet Me @Metro, an event that combines public transit with theater, will be heading back to the Metro Blue Line on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26. Join the Watts Village Theater Company for theatrical presentations of original poetry exploring the subjective theme of “home” with musical accompaniment.

“Scattered Joy” will be performed adjacent to 103rd Street Station and “Under the 105” will be performed, appropriately, under the 105 freeway, adjacent to Willowbrook Station.

Both shows will take place simultaneously at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., allowing audiences to see both performance pieces. The shows will range in length from 25 to 30 minutes, and there will be a 30-minute window afterward to allow for travel between venues. Guests can hop on the Blue Line or walk between stations. Program organizers will have guides near exits to Metro stations directing people to the performance locations. Audio description and interpretation will be provided for the Sunday performances.

Tickets are $25 for the performances on Saturday and pay-what-you-will on Sunday. Children of all ages are welcome to attend. To find more routes and connections to the event, use Trip Planner.


Metro Board adopts budget for 2013-14 fiscal year

Here's the news release from Metro — the big news is no fare increases and added service on the Orange Line, Expo Line and Gold Line:

The Metro Board of Directors today adopted a balanced $5.075 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2013-14 that begins on July 1, 2013.

The spending plan keeps fares at current levels, however, Metro CEO Art Leahy has urged Metro directors to begin discussing fare restructuring for future years. He notes Metro fares are among the lowest of any major transit agency in the world, and Metro riders only pay 26 percent of what it costs to operate their buses and trains.

In FY 14 more service will be added midday to relieve overcrowding on the Metro Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley. Additional late night service will be added on the Expo and Metro Gold Lines, and there also will be more weekend service on all Metro Rail lines.

Hundreds of new buses and rail cars are on order, and construction is underway for a new state-of-the-art bus maintenance facility in downtown Los Angeles. Augmenting these efforts, Metro will spend $261 million in the next fiscal year on deferred maintenance for bus and rail vehicles and facilities and another $37 million on capital improvements for safety and security including $20 million for gates and other safety enhancements on the Metro Blue Line.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 22

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Eric Garcetti’s moment (California Planning & Development Report) 

A short and interesting post from William Fulton, publisher of the report, longtime urban planner and former Ventura mayor. Excerpt:

What Garcetti has to do is seize the moment. The city is changing. The transit is getting built. A lot of people are already bought into the idea of “elegant density”. Even as he straddles, Garcetti can bring his constituents along by pushing the idea that new development in L.A. must revolve around the rail transit stations – responding to emerging market demand, improving those neighborhoods, and protecting existing single-family neighborhoods all at the same time.

Eric, it’s your moment. Jump on the train and get moving this morning.

The forgotten urban problem we should be trying to fix (The Atlantic Cities)

And that problem would be urban freight and, in particular, trucks delivering goods to businesses around towns or heading out of town from shipping centers.

Google Maps wants you to see all your transit options (Human Transit) 

An update tries to offer transit options that gets users where they’re going more quickly.

Seeking clarity on terrible tornadoes in a changing climate (New York Times Dot Earth blog) 

Because we discuss climate change and greenhouse gases often in this space — transit is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint — here is an interesting blog post pointing out the lack of science connecting deadly twisters to climate change. Here’s a recent chart from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

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Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti to join Metro Board of Directors on July 1

Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti on the Red Line on Monday. Photo: Eric Garcetti for Mayor.

Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti on the Red Line on Monday. Photo: Eric Garcetti for Mayor.

As you have probably heard by now, Los Angeles Councilman Eric Garcetti has won the mayoral election in Los Angeles and, as a result, on July 1 will be trading the Los Angeles Council Chambers for the Metro Board Room.

Mayor-Elect Garcetti will take the oath of office on July 1 and, at that time, also be awarded an automatic seat on the Metro Board, the 13-member body that oversees Metro  and has the final say on many of the large decisions made by the agency.

To put it another way, the Metro Board which projects to build and where to build them and also approves the agency’s budget each year. The proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-14 is $4.891 billion.

As mayor, Garcetti will also have the opportunity to appoint three others to the Metro Board. One of those three is usually a member of the Los Angeles City Council. The mayor plus the three appointees makes for a considerable voting bloc given that seven votes are usually needed to approve items before the Board. 

Each of the Los Angeles County Supervisors also has a seat on the Board, with four other seats coming from cities in different parts of the county. Here is the current roster of Board Members. The current city of L.A. representatives on the Board are Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilman Jose Huizar, former-Assemblyman Richard Katz and Mel Wilson.

RELATED: A list of the many big decisions confronting the next mayor of Los Angeles as a member of the Metro Board.


Transportation headlines, Tuesday/Election Day, May 21

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Happy Election Day to those voting today for mayor and other candidates/issues in the city of Los Angeles. To add a point to the first headline of the day, if you’re eligible to vote and fail to fulfill your civic duties, then you don’t get to gripe later about the many crucial decisions the next mayor will make about transportation in our area. Here’s the list of those issues!

If you don’t vote, you’re the problem (L.A. Streetsblog)

Take it away, Ted Rogers!:

If every eligible bike rider were to get up and vote today — and vote their self-interests as cyclists — they would be the single most dominant and powerful voice in L.A. politics.

More than the unions, more than any political party or interest group.

A force strong enough to ensure the election of a bike friendly candidate in every race, from mayor through city council, city attorney and controller.

And that’s just bicyclists.

Add to that a few hundred thousand daily transit users. As well as pedestrians — which includes all of us at one time or another.

Great post. The Source bows before Ted Rogers!

A decade later, Blossom Plaza breaks ground (Downtown News)

Ten years and a Great Recession later, a new building will finally rise next to the Chinatown Gold Line station. It will have 240 residential units, 20,000-square-feet of retail and restaurant space and a walkway connecting the station to Broadway. The Source is always pleased to hear about new housing near transit — and hope such trends continue to spread north to other Gold Line stations where no development has occurred. I’m talking to you Heritage Square and Highland Park stations!

Metro uses social media in the planning process (The Transit Wire)

An interview with Metro’s Jody Litvak about the use of Facebook to collect official comments on the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project. As far as Metro knows, it was the first time that social media was actually used for official comments. The idea is to make it as convenient as possible for more people to comment on impending projects.

Density: Census numbers betray an L.A. cliche (KCET)

D.J. Waldie does a nice job explaining the issue of density and how L.A. compares to other American cities, most notably New York. The gist of it: while New York has much higher concentrions of density in Manhattan, L.A. has an overall higher level of density over a larger area. It’s a salient point and a good argument for investing in transit here, but I also fret that people use this stat to wrongly suggest that L.A. is becoming Manhattanized. As a former Manhattan and Brooklyn resident, I don’t recall ever seeing one part of either borough that reminds me of Los Angeles. Or vice versa.

Transportation headlines, Monday, May 20

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Mayor candidates on transportation: innovation versus tried and true (L.A. Times)

With Election Day tomorrow in Los Angeles, the Times tries to tease apart the differences on transportation policy between Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel. If not much difference on the issues, there may be an issue in style, says one of the academics who is quoted.

As the article points out, the biggest source of influence for the next mayor will be the four seats on the Metro Board of Directors directly under their control (the mayor gets one seat and then can appoint three others). I think perhaps the most interesting revelation, however, was this:

Among likely L.A. city voters in Tuesday’s election, nearly half said they thought policymakers should focus on public transportation, compared with 35% who favored spending on roads and freeways, according to a new poll by the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and the Los Angeles Times.

 

I think that’s pretty interesting given the car-centric reputation of the area and, of course, interesting if there’s another Measure R or Measure J down the road.

 L.A.’s next mayor to have a regional impact (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) 

Of course, you can say that about any mayoral election in Los Angeles because of the mayor’s voting bloc on the Metro Board. This article makes two points pertinent to the San Gabriel Valley: the next mayor could play a big role in deciding who manages Ontario’s airport in the future (it’s currently run by L.A. but locals want control) and the next mayor plays a big role in decisions made by the Port of Los Angeles, a major driver of freight traffic on roads and rails in the region.
The most provocative part of the article — at least the part in which my coffee almost ended up in my lap — comes from a Montclair council member who says that money for the Purple Line Extension would be better spent on a Gold Line extension to Montclair, a small city in western San Bernardino County. I think a smarter quote would have been to argue that L.A. County needs a transit network that spans almost the entire width of the county; I think that’s something voters get while pols tend to focus only on projects in their district. Shocking, I know.
The Los Angeles Mayor says he has worked closely with the City Council to find $40 million the city could contribute toward a Leimert Park station for the Crenshaw/LAX Line, although it will cost more than that. As part of the bidding process, Metro is seeking a construction firm that can build the optional station within the project’s $1.76-billion budget.
The Metro staff recommendation is supposed to be released soon and the contract could possibly be voted on at the June meeting of the Metro Board — which will also be Villaraigosa’s last Metro Board meeting as mayor. If a vote occurs, it’s a pretty dramatic way for Mayor V to end his eight-year tenure in office. If the issue isn’t decided in June, then Eric Garcetti or Wendy Greuel will confront a big vote early in their term — and they’ve also made some interesting statements about not just adding a station, but also undergrounding the line through Park Mesa Heights, an expensive proposition.