Public hearing on Metro’s proposed fare increases is now underway

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Good morning, Metro riders and stakeholders!

Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois just dropped the gavel on the public hearing over Metro’s proposed fare changes; the two options by Metro staff are shown above. DuBois emphasized that no decision is being made today and that the Metro Board of Directors — the 13-member Board that oversees the agency — is scheduled to vote on the changes at their May 22 meeting.

Metro CEO Art Leahy in comments to the Board and public said that the decision over fare changes ultimately comes down to a decision between raising fares or cutting service.

Much more information on the fare changes can be found at this page on metro.net.

Metro staff will give a brief presentation on the fare changes and then public testimony will be taken. At this time, the Metro Board room is full; Metro has prepared space in overflow rooms where other members of the public can listen to the meeting.

Written comments are being accepted through the close of business today. How to submit comments:

Mail your comments:
Metro
One Gateway Plaza, MS 99-3-1
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Attn: Michele Jackson

All comments must be postmarked by March 29, 2014.

Email your comments:
publichearing@metro.net

All email comments must be received by 5pm, March 29, 2014

 

I’ll provide some updates and photos from the hearing throughout the day. You can also listen to the meeting by phoning 213-922-6045.

Update: track and equipment inspection on all Metro Rail lines is complete; no damage or injuries

The USGS is currently calling it a 5.1-magnitude earthquake, epicenter near La Habra at 9:09 p.m. It was preceded by a 3.6 quake at 8:03 p.m. There was a 3.4 aftershock at 9:11 p.m., a 3.6 aftershock at 9:30 p.m. and a 2.7 aftershock at 9:45 p.m., according to the USGS. Updates to come.

9:27 p.m. update: There are no reports of damage or injuries on the Metro Rail system.

9:54 p.m. update: Track + equipment inspection on all Metro Rail lines due to earlier is complete. No damage or injuries reported.

The USGS shake map:

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Service Advisory: Blue Line to run every 40 mins between DTLA-Willowbrook tonight

We wish we could say you read that wrong, Blue Line customers…

Unfortunately, due to essential track maintenance, Blue Line will run every 40 minutes between 7th Street/Metro Center and Willowbrook Station tonight after 8 p.m. Trains will serve the remainder of the Blue Line, between Willowbrook and Long Beach, every 20 minutes after 8 p.m. This means every other northbound train will turn around at Willowbrook Station, and its destination sign will either display “Willowbrook” or “Imperial.” Customers should expect all trains continuing to 7th Street/Metro Center to arrive on the Downtown L.A.-bound track between Vernon and Willowbrook stations. Expo Line will be unaffected by the track work, and will follow a regular Friday evening schedule, departing every 10 minutes.

Why the exceptionally long wait for Blue Line trains between DTLA and Willowbrook? It has to do with the location of the required maintenance. Typically, when work is being done on one track, trains will use switch points–or crossovers–to access the opposite track and navigate around work crews. Friday night’s maintenance is unique because it is actually being performed on one of these switch points, meaning trains traveling in both directions must take turns sharing a significantly larger segment of track than they would during routine maintenance.

For Blue Line departure times from 7th Street/Metro Center and Downtown Long Beach Station, please refer to Metro’s Service Advisories page. Please note these times may be subject to slight work-related delays.

If you arrive at 7th Street/Metro Center or Willowbrook with 40 minutes until the next train, consider using the Metro Silver and Green Lines as a travel alternative. Additional buses will run on the Silver Line after 9 p.m., Friday night, increasing the level of service to every 20 minutes (as opposed to the usual 40). Green Line will follow a regular Friday evening schedule, with trains departing every 20 minutes.

Metro customer service agents at 7th Street/Metro Center and Willowbrook Station will be providing single-use TAP cards that customers can use to take both the Silver and the Green Line for the price of a one-way Blue Line fare ($1.50). Customers using these temporary cards should TAP when entering the Green Line, and show them to their bus operator when boarding the Silver Line. Metro customer service agents will be on hand at 7th/Metro, Harbor Freeway (Green/Silver Line), and Willowbrook (Blue/Green Line) to assist riders from 8 p.m. to close of service. Please note, these temporary TAP cards will only function this Friday evening, and are only for travel between 7th Street/Metro Center and Willowbrook Station.

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.”

Continue reading

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.)