Potential future ballot measure discussed at Move LA conference today

I spent the morning at Move LA’s annual conference, held this year at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. The activist group led by Denny Zane, the former Santa Monica mayor, this year focused on Measure R 2, an interesting choice given that the Metro Board has yet to decide whether to put an extension of the existing Measure R or a new sales tax on any ballot.

That said, some Board members have certainly voiced support and Metro is in the process of collecting transportation wish lists from cities across Los Angeles County for a potential ballot measure that likely wouldn’t happen until November 2016.

Four Metro Board Members spoke at the conference:

•Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that he wants to pursue more regional transportation solutions and that he wants to lead a more humble city of Los Angeles that can work with other cities, both following their advice and taking the lead when appropriate (perhaps in that spirit he indicated his support earlier this week for extending the Gold Line to Claremont). He indicated he was open to a ballot measure but didn’t dwell on it.

Garcetti also said he wants to get a rail connection in our lifetimes to Los Angeles International Airport and that he supports the LAX Connect proposal by the airport to bring Metro Rail into a facility where passengers could check their bags and then transfer to a people mover that would run every two minutes and stop at each terminal. 

•Metro Board Chair and Lakewood Councilmember Diane DuBois said any new ballot measure would be on the 2016 ballot in order to give time to build a consensus across the country. She said she wanted a process that was transparent, inclusive and followed a bottoms-up approach focusing on the needs of neighborhoods. Any potential measure, she said, must include subregional mobility projects.

Chairwoman DuBois also urged a note of caution, saying it’s appropriate to consider the impact of higher sales taxes and how they might impact retail sales and where businesses decide to locate. “Please don’t get me wrong,” she said. “I’m not opposed to asking if the voters of L.A. County to decide. However, I do believe that we should fully consider the impacts of increased taxation.”

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No injuries after construction incident at Division 13

After the collapse of the third level of the multi-level bus parking garage under construction at Division 13. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

Project area after the construction failure at Division 13. There were no injuries to any workers on site. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

At approximately 8:50 a.m. today a construction failure occurred at Metro Division 13, a new bus operating division being built in downtown Los Angeles.

Workers were pouring concrete in the upper parking deck of the southeast corner of building B when pour watchers noticed something was amiss. The workers on site immediately cleared the area before the top level collapsed. Thanks to these safety measures, there were no injuries and all 180 workers on the project site were accounted for.

Construction work on the project has stopped and no work will resume until an investigation is conducted by Metro, the contractor and the design firm.

Division 13 has been under construction since late 2012. When completed, the facility will serve 200 buses and approximately 500 employees.

Transportation headlines, Friday, March 28

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Bullet train won’t meet targeted travel time, lawmakers told (L.A. Times) 

The High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group told legislators in Sacramento that it’s very unlikely a bullet train will be able to provide regular service between Los Angeles and San Francisco in two hours, 40 minutes — as voters were promised in 2008 before approving the sale of $10 billion in bonds to pay for the project. I count this one as the non-shocker of the day as those kind of travel times never sounded terribly plausible at any kind of realistic price-tag. Whether the Peer Review Group’s statements impact the project remains to be seen.

Apple’s new texting idea means never having to look up from your phone again (The Atlantic Cities) 

The lede says it all:

Apple has filed a patent for “transparent texting” technology, which would be a handy new mobile service that will replace a text message’s white background with a live feed of the things literally happening right in front of your face.

The technology is designed to be used to protect texting pedestrians, allowing them to walk and text without bumping into things like lampposts or moving cars. In describing the need for such game-changing technology, the patent describes the “rather unique predicament” of the text message-ers:

“A user who is walking while participating in a text messaging session may inadvertently collide with or stumble over objects in his path because his attention was focused on his device’s display instead of the path that he was traversing. Even if a user remains stationary while participating in a text messaging session, that user may expose himself to some amount of danger or potential embarrassment if he is so engaged in his device’s display that he becomes oblivious to changes in his surrounding environment.”

 

Sounds awful.

Washington Metro Board approves fare increases (Washington Post) 

A typical rail fare will be $2.90 while on the bus side the fare was set at $1.75, with the surcharge eliminated for those who use cash. Transfers from bus to bus are free for two hours for riders who use electronic fare cards similar to Metro’s TAP cards.

Reminder: public hearing is tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. for Metro’s fare change proposal. More info here

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Go Metro Weekends, March 28 − 30

Attend the Downtown Book Fest in the lovely Grand Park this Saturday (image via Creative Commons).

Attend the Downtown Book Fest in the lovely Grand Park this Saturday (image via Creative Commons).

Welcome to the latest edition of Go Metro Weekends!

Buses and trains are for so much more than your weekday commute. This Friday-Sunday, let Metro take you beyond your workday routine to fun, informative, and inspiring events across the City of Angels. Here are a few ideas to get you going.

Friday

Kick off the weekend with Amoeba Record’s free, live DJ series: Rotations. This Friday, DJ Paul V (of Dragstrip 66 and Indie 103.1 fame) guest spins starting at 8 p.m. Browse or shop to your heart’s content and save $3 off purchases over $5 with your TAP card. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Vine Station, Metro Rapid 780 to Hollywood/Vine, Metro Bus 2/302 to Sunset/Ivar.)

Saturday

Calling all bookworms: the Grand Park Book Fest takes place this Saturday from 12-5 p.m.! The event is free to attend, and with valid TAP card, save 10% on purchases at the Writ Large pop-up shop (representing local authors and presses including Red Hen Press) or The Library Store on Wheels. (Metro Red/Purple Line to Civic Center/Grand Park Station, or numerous Metro buses stopping at the park on Grand, Hill, Broadway and Spring.)

Audrey and Agent Cooper put their heads together in Twin Peaks.

Remember Source Readers: “The owls are not what they seem…” (image via Creative commons)

Starting at 12:15 p.m., the Paley Center for Media presents a marathon screening of David Lynch’s cult-favorite series Twin Peaks. The screening is free with price of admission. (Metro Rapid 704, Metro Bus 4 or 14/37 to Santa Monica/Canon, Metro Bus 16/316 to S. Santa Monica/Canon, or Metro Rapid 720 to Wilshire/Beverly and walk northwest about 8 minutes to destination.)

Cheer on the L.A. Kings as they face off against the Winnipeg Jets at the Staples Center. Puck drops at 7 p.m. Ticket prices vary, but all Metro riders save 10% on official merchandise at the team store. (Metro Blue/Expo Line to Pico Station.)

Sunday

Long Beach’s first-ever Restaurant Week begins this Sunday and runs through Saturday, April 5. For a list of participating venues, prices, and hours, visit the Eat LBC website. (Metro Blue Line to various Downtown Long Beach stations.)

All Weekend

Get experimental at LACMA this Friday and Saturday with The Least Important Things, Emily Mast’s procession of theatrical vignettes based on the work of Spanish Poet Joan Brossa. The performances unfold throughout LACMA’s campus and are free if you pick up a timed ticket an hour before the show. Then, if you haven’t already, check out the much-lauded James Turrell Retrospective before it leaves L.A. in just two weeks! LACMA is open from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. (Metro Rapid 720, Bus 20 or DASH Fairfax to Wilshire/Fairfax, Metro Rapid 780 or Bus 217 to Fairfax/Wilshire.)

Rock out with Neil Young at the Dolby Theater this Friday or Saturday at 8 p.m. Ticket prices vary. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland Station, Metro Rapid 780, Metro Bus 212/312, 156/656, 217, or 222 to Hollywood/Highland.)

City of Malibu broke ground on two Measure R funded traffic safety improvement projects

Photos: Ben Jong/Metro

The City of Malibu broke ground this week on two new new traffic improvement projects along the Pacific Coast Highway. One project will replace traffic signals at Big Rock Drive to include a left-turn phase and improve the bus stop and pedestrian access. The other project will realign, extend and widen the truck arrester bed–the gravel lane that helps stop runaway vehicles–and improve signage in the area at Kanan Dume Road and PCH.

Both projects are funded by Measure R. Big Rock Drive received approximately $300,000, and Kanan Dume received $900,000. These are the first Measure R funded roadway improvement projects to begin in the City of Malibu.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, March 27 (part 2)

I missed this one earlier and I’m going to be tied up tomorrow morning at the Move LA conference, so I thought it best to add now:

More buses and highways across the region will ease traffic gridlock, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says (Daily News) 

Speaking at a transportation forum on the San Gabriel Valley on Wednesday, Mayor Garcetti indicated that he wants to pursue regional solutions — including the extension of the Gold Line from Azusa to Claremont and the Los Angeles County-San Bernardino County line. As many readers know, the Pasadena to Azusa segment is under construction and is being funded by Measure R.

The Azusa-Claremont segment is in Metro’s long-range plan but remains unfunded and has been controversial in the past because many in the San Gabriel Valley thought it should have been funded by Measure R.

Excerpt:

Funding for a second extension of the Gold Line, from Azusa to Claremont, has not materialized. Yet, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority is moving ahead on engineering and designs this summer.

“Our project will be ready in 2017. If there is a sales tax initiative passed in 2016 we will be shovel ready and could complete the project by 2022,” said Habib Balian, CEO of the Authority.

The mayor of Los Angeles announced that he fully supports the Gold Line extension from Azusa to Claremont.

In the past, smaller cities in the county clashed with former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, but on Wednesday Duarte Mayor John Fasana, who represents the 31 San Gabriel Valley cities on the MTA board, welcomed the regional message brought by Garcetti to the inland areas.

“At times we’ve had to bare our knuckles and fight for the resources,” Fasana said. “Now, we see an unprecedented opportunity. This new era really bodes well for us.”

All that said, funding is likely to depend on whether the Metro Board — which includes Garcetti and three of his appointees — ultimately decides to pursue a new sales tax increase to Los Angeles County voters to consider in Nov. 2016. While some Board members have openly discussed the possibility, they certainly have NOT yet voted on going forth with a ballot measure.

The activist group Move LA is holding a conference on Friday in downtown Los Angeles in which a “Measure R 2″ will be the focus of discussion. I don’t know how much or how little anyone in elected office is prepared to commit to such a notion, nor do we know what projects would ultimately be funded. Metro has been, and continues, to work with Councils of Government across the county to find out more about their transportation priorities.

In the meantime, it is certainly interesting to hear the mayor support a Gold Line extension that is entirely outside the city’s boundaries, although the Gold Line certainly has a busy segment in the city and will ultimately run through downtown Los Angeles after the Regional Connector is built.

Tentative agreement on new contract reached between Metro and union leaders representing maintenance workers

Here is the statement from Metro:

Tentative agreement on a new labor contract has been reached between Metro and the leadership of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1277, which represents Metro’s maintenance employees.

Details will not be released pending an ATU membership vote. That should take place over the next month.

ATU Local 1277 represents 2,291 Metro employees ranging from service attendants who fuel and clean buses to bus mechanics and rail maintenance specialists. In addition, ATU represents 1,101 retirees. Their last labor contract expired July 1, 2013. ATU has since honored terms of the old agreement. If approved, the new multi-year pact would be retroactive to last July 1.