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.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 2

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! 

Photo: Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Photo: Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Garcetti’s anniversary spin (on Metro) includes World Cup stop (L.A. Times) 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recognized his first anniversary in office by tooling around L.A. on Metro Rail on Tuesday, including a stop at Buffalo Wild Wings in the Crenshaw District to watch the USA-Belgium match. Excerpt:

On the trip, Garcetti lamented getting “stuck in City Hall,” saying quick, unplanned encounters with people help him gauge people’s concerns and can build trust with residents, particularly in his early years as mayor. “Most people don’t want a half-hour meeting with the mayor,” he said.

The mayor will also serve as the Chair of the Metro Board for the next year (the Board Members take turns). It will be interesting to see what kind of agenda he pushes at Metro — and think a good starting place is to talk to folks who ride the system and pay the bills here. Semi-related: a great way to gauge people’s concerns about Metro is to also read our general Twitter feed, including tweets from riders.

Metro commits to deal ensuring subway won’t hurt Disney Hall acoustics (L.A. Times) 

The agency and Disney Hall agree to several mitigations to ensure that the Regional Connector — running 135 deep underground and adjacent the concert venue — won’t cause vibrations that could impact acoustics. Tests last year established the ambient noise in Disney Hall and Metro has agreed to limit vibrations to well under those standards.

Burbank-Palmdale segment added to bullet train timetable (L.A. Times) 

In response to criticism and doubts from state lawmakers, the California High-Speed Rail Authority wants to accelerate construction of a Burbank to Palmdale segment of the bullet train project. Such a segment could reduce travel time for trains from more than an hour to 14 to 16 minutes.

That said, there remains considerable challenges. The first is finding the funding — the L.A. to Palmdale segment is estimated to cost more than $13 billion and that could rise if a more direct tunnel to the Antelope Valley is built under the San Gabriel Mountains. The segment would presumably later connect to Union Station and Bakersfield and the segment being planned between there and Madera.

My three cents: I think there are plenty of reasons to remain skeptical about the ability to build a $68-billion project between San Francisco and Los Angeles with the major funding source a $10-billion voter-approved bond. That said, if funding is limited, it sure would be great to see commuter rail get a boost in populated and taxpayer-heavy Southern California, an area where commuters are already riding trains on a daily basis.

Contractor for 405 sues MTA over cost overruns, delays (Daily News) 

Kiewet filed the lawsuit in May, seeking $400 million in costs, according to the Daily News. Excerpt:

In a statement, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said that “Metro does not believe this claim complies with those contract requirements. However, Metro continues to negotiate in good faith with Kiewit to resolve specific outstanding claims under terms of its contract.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents this portion of Los Angeles and has publicly blamed Kiewit for the project’s delays, declined to comment Tuesday.

 

Jenna Hornstock shares refinements to Union Station’s Master Plan (The Planning Report) 

Jenna is heading up Metro’s team of planners working on the Union Station Master Plan. In this interview, she talks about the many details of the emerging plan that were released last month (Here’s a Source post about the plans).

The Planning Report saved perhaps one of the juiciest questions for last, asking Jenna how the Master Plan would be funded and if there could be money available from a potential Measure R 2 sales tax. As Jenna wisely pointed out, the key word with Measure R 2 is “potential” and that it’s impossible at this time to say what will or will not be funded by it. As if often the case at Metro, projects are planned before all the funding is secured — the agency often needs to have firm plans in in order to get money to build them.

Donald Shoup, parking guru, on how L.A. should manage its meters (L.A. Times) 

Interesting interview with the UCLA professor who literally wrote the book on big cities and parking policies (a book highly critical of big cities, that is). There’s nothing fantastically new in the interview but it’s always fun to revisit the question of whether developers should be required to build parking or not (they almost always are for both residential or commercial properties). Parking is very expensive to build and maintain and folks such as Shoup believe it results in a lot of expensive, free and unnecessary parking that consumes a lot of space that could be better used for other purposes.

In other words, if someone in a city wants a car badly enough, they’ll find a parking place and the money to pay for it. Agree or disagree, Angelenos?

 

@Metrolosangeles Twitter Tuesday, July 1 edition

You know the drill: To get our attention, tweet us at @MetroLosAngeles tag to your tweets and subscribe to our feed if you haven’t already. For specific complaints and customer service, please use the Customer Comment Form on metro.net.

Metrolink to offer new 91 Line weekend service, adjust San Bernardino Line

Metrolink riders will now have more weekend travel options. Metrolink is adding new 91 Line weekend service between Downtown Riverside and Los Angeles. From their press release:

This Saturday, Inland Empire travelers will now have additional options to reach destinations in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, with Metrolink beginning new 91 Line weekend service.  Four new trains will now run between Downtown Riverside and Los Angeles on both Saturdays and Sundays, with interim stops at the Riverside-La Sierra, North Main Corona, West Corona, Fullerton, Buena Park and Norwalk stations.

With this added service, San Bernardino Line weekend trains 351, 367, 364, and 376 will no longer start or end at the Riverside-Downtown Metrolink station. The first 91 Line weekend train leaves the Riverside-Downtown station at 7:40 a.m., while the final train returns at 8:55 p.m. For a complete schedule, visit metrolinktrains.com.

The added service will give Inland Empire residents more options to travel into Los Angeles and Orange counties.

As always, once riders reach Los Angeles Union Station, individuals can transfer to the Metro light-rail and many bus lines at no additional cost to access attractions such as Chinatown, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Pantages Theatre, Universal Studios, L.A. Live, Old Town Pasadena and others.

The 91 Line weekend service also offers riders access to attractions near Orange County stops such as Knott’s Berry Farm and Downtown Fullerton. The San Bernardino Line and 91 Line weekend services complement the existing Inland Empire-Orange County Line, which provides two round-trips between San Bernardino and Oceanside each Saturday and Sunday.

Go Metro to the Colorado Street Bridge Party July 12 and receive a free poster

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Images courtesy of Pasadena Heritage

Celebrate the historic Colorado Street Bridge at a party hosted on the bridge itself! Pasadena Heritage invites the public to an evening of live music, dancing, vintage cars, and children’s activities atop the iconic span on Saturday July 12 from 6 – 11 p.m. A variety of local vendors will offer food and beverages for purchase, including dumplings, BBQ, Mexican fare and drinks.

If you didn’t know it already, bridges + trains = best friends. Getting to the festivities via Metro is easy and convenient. Hop on the Metro Gold Line to Memorial Park Station and walk two blocks south to the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Raymond Avenue to connect with the free Pasadena ARTS Route 10 shuttle. The Route 10 shuttle will run every 17 minutes starting at 5 p.m. until 11:15 p.m. the evening of the party.

It is also possible to reach the celebration on foot—head west on Colorado from Memorial Park Station and walk for approximately fifteen minutes. Show your valid TAP card at the event merchandise table to receive a free commemorative Kenton Nelson poster while supplies last.

Tickets to the Colorado Street Bridge Party can be purchased in advance online for $16 adults/$8 kids or for $18 adults/$9 kids the day of the celebration. For additional info about the festivities, click here.

Summer Metro Motion explores unique So Cal journeys via Metro

In the summer edition of Metro Motion, we hear from two millennials – one a scientist, the other a teacher – and find out how climate change inspired their journeys to lives without cars. Sure, they’re saving money. But that’s not their point. They see public transit, bikes and walking as the best ways to take care of our ailing planet and ourselves.

Summer is here and that means peak produce and time for a trip to L.A.’s fabulous farmers markets via Metro. The produce and prepared food is primo and these modern markets offer tools to teach healthy eating and cooking skills.

Looking for the quintessential So Cal biking experience? Watch as cyclist Mike Ryan loads his bike onto the Expo Line to Culver City, jumps on the Ballona Creek Bike Path and cycles to Marina del Rey for a free concert with the ocean and the stars as backdrop. Beautiful!

We also travel back in time to bid a fond farewell to I-405 construction as the Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project opens the completed HOV lane. We look back at Carmageddon I and II, Rampjam and Jamzilla — and at the same time we look forward to smoother sailing through the pass.

Metro Motion runs quarterly on cable stations throughout Los Angeles County. It’s co-produced by Metro and Santa Monica City TV.