Upcoming construction closure: 26th Street south of Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica

expo work3expo work4

Above is the good word from the Expo Line Construction Authority, the agency building the six-mile project that will extend tracks from Culver City to downtown Santa Monica with seven new stations.

The project is funded mostly by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008. It is currently forecast to open in early 2016.

Metro CEO Art Leahy letter to stakeholders on SR 710 North study

The letter from Metro Art Leahy was sent to stakeholders on Friday morning:

Dear Stakeholder,

As we approach the fall season, I wanted to provide you with an update on the release of the draft environmental impact document for the State Route 710 North Study.

Using Measure R funds, Caltrans and Metro are studying mobility and traffic congestion relief in the area between east/northeast Los Angeles and the western San Gabriel Valley.

Five alternatives are being equally evaluated: bus rapid transit, freeway tunnel, light rail transit, no build, and local street and intersection improvements.

Altogether, approximately 26 detailed technical studies are included in the draft environmental document that will be released in February 2015. The studies analyze traffic, noise, air quality, cost-benefit, health risk assessments, and other variables.

To provide the public with correct information on the Study, Metro has posted two new documents, Frequently Asked Questions and Fact vs. Fiction on the Metro website.

Caltrans and Metro are fully committed to an open and transparent process. To date, Metro has conducted 92 community meetings, participated in six city-sponsored community forums, and held over 200 briefings with community stakeholders — and we are not done.

In the next several months, Metro will continue to go out into neighborhoods and communities to talk to residents and businesses about the need to address traffic congestion in the area and about the alternatives being considered.

You can help us spread the word and raise awareness by talking to your neighbors, co-workers and fellow students, and by discussing the Study at your club and association meetings. These conversations will help increase public participation in the process and ensure that more people have a voice in this regional issue.

Thank you for your continued partnership in our effort to address traffic congestion. For continuous updates go to metro.net/sr710study, facebook.com/sr710study, or follow us on Twitter @sr710study.

Sincerely,

Arthur T. Leahy
Chief Executive Officer

Metro Presents: PARK(ing) Day at Union Station on September 19

Los Angeles themed Loetria cards

Los Angeles themed Lotería cards

Leave your cars in park and join Metro for PARK(ing) Day at Union Station on Friday, September 19. From noon to 5 p.m.artist Alexis Disselkoen will create a temporary park out of a corner of the station’s Alameda-facing parking lot.

Swing by anytime PARK(ing) Day afternoon to enjoy the pop-up park and participate in a game of Lotería led by Disselkoen. (Lotería is like Bingo, but with pictures instead of numbers.) Winners will receive prizes while supplies last, and it will be free to play.

Union Station is accessible via Metro Rail, Metro Bus and several municipal bus lines. Use the Trip Planner for routes and connections.

Continue reading

Metro awarded $22 million in two federal TIGER grants to improve station access

 

Two projects to improve access to Metro Rail stations were awarded “TIGER grant” funding this week from the U.S. Department of Transportation:

•The Eastside Access Improvement Project will receive $11.8 million to help create a network of sidewalks and bike lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists to access the Regional Connector 1st/Central Station in Little Tokyo.

Proposed improvements include an enhanced network of crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists, improved pedestrian lighting, planting and street furniture along nearby streets. The above renderings show some of the possible improvements.

The Regional Connector is a 1.9-mile underground light rail line that will connect the Gold Line to the Blue and Expo Lines in downtown Los Angeles and is forecast to open in 2020. The Connector will allow Eastside Gold Line riders to take the train directly into the heart of downtown without first having to travel to Union Station and transfer to the subway.

•Metro also was awarded $10.25 million to fund a series of improvements for the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station that serves the Blue Line, Green Line, six Metro bus lines and other muni bus providers. The station sits under the 105 freeway, meaning it can be noisy, cavernous and dimly lit — all impacting the “passenger experience,” as Metro’s grant application noted.

Among the improvements to be funded by the grant money: increasing station capacity by lengthening the Blue Line platform and, according to Metro, “enhancing connections between rail, bus, bicycle and pedestrian facilities to create safer access to the station from the surrounding community.”

Metro continues to pursue a larger project that could include a new bus center, sheriff substation and pedestrian plaza. More funding will be needed for those improvements.

Please click here to see the news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation and here’s a nice USDOT map showing TIGER grants awarded around the country. Metro officials said they especially appreciated the support of Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein in securing the grants — the two largest awarded to agencies in the state of California.

Go Metro Weekends, Sept 12-14

Friday

One Direction will be taking over the Rose Bowl tonight! The British heartthrobs will be performing along with 5 Seconds of Summer tonight at  7 p.m. Tickets are still on sale for  the special boy band-crazed person in your life. (Metro Gold Line to Memorial Park Station, then walk two blocks to Parsons for Rose Bowl Shuttle. Note: shuttle costs $10 for this event)

Kickstarter will be hosting a film festival at the Autry showcasing small films funded by the fundraising organization. Admission is free and the showings start at 6 p.m. (Metro Bus 96 to the Autry)

Saturday

Come out to the South Pasadena Moon Festival, taking place at the South Pasadena Library from noon until 4 p.m. Celebrate one of most important holidays in Chinese culture with exciting entertainment, games and moon cakes! Admission is free. Activities may require tickets sold at $1 each. (Metro Gold Line to South Pasdena Station, walk about 2 blocks west on El Centro Street) Continue reading

Transportation headlines, Thursday, Sept. 11

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! 

Gov. Brown signs bills allowing three-bike racks on transit buses (StreetsblogLA) 

“This new law allows 40-foot-long buses to be equipped with folding bike racks that can carry up to three bikes,” reports Streetsblog, in a bit of good news for some Metro bus riders. A few agencies had previously been using the triple racks due either to loopholes or exemptions in the law.

Efforts to change the law, however, had run into various roadblocks in recent years — including resistance from unions representing bus operators. The bill was authored by Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) and pushed heavily by Metro.

About half of Metro’s bus fleet is comprised of 40-foot buses, so hopefully this will help accommodate cyclists using those buses. As the article explains, there are still hurdles to converting to triple racks on longer buses.

Santa Monica Council picks Worthe as developer for Bergamot Station (Santa Monica Daily Press) 

The City Council on a 5 to 1 vote on Tuesday night selected the developer to pursue adding 44,000-square-feet of “creative space” and possibly a boutique hotel to the Bergamot Station arts complex in Santa Monica. The vote followed four hours of public comment that made it clear there was still considerable opposition from gallery owners and residents to further developing the site, where an Expo Line station is under construction (the line is forecast to open in early 2016).

I caught some of the meeting on KCRW on Tuesday night and among the concerns I heard were lack of parking, traffic and rising rents that could eventually squeeze out the galleries. It’s certainly an interesting story, given that the arts complex will include an Expo Line station with relatively easy connections to downtown Santa Monica and points east. The current complex is a very nice public space, although I’ve never been crazy about the big parking lot in the middle of the complex that occupies about half the space.

Bill Boyarsky also offers commentary on the Council vote at LAObserved.

Metrolink goes for animal attraction (L.A. Register) 

Why four farm animals took a ride from Union Station to the Los Angeles County Fair. Hint: it was a promotion to boost ridership! As promotions go, I like it.

Major changes discusses to expand, renew Union Station (Chicago Sun Times)

Chicago's Union Station is a little more workmanlike than Union Station here in L.A. Photo by Jeramey Jannene, via Flickr creative commons.

Chicago’s Union Station is a little more workmanlike than Union Station here in L.A. Photo by Jeramey Jannene, via Flickr creative commons.

I didn’t realize the Sun Times was still around (I worked at the rival Trib many, many moons ago)! Chicago is looking at big changes to its primary downtown rail station — expanding platforms, public space, etc. Denver already updated its Union Station and, of course, Metro is putting the finishing touches on its Union Station Master Plan. I believe there are some other similar efforts underway around the country — nice to see train stations being revived and prepped for a hopefully busy future.

 

Reminder: new Metro fares take effect on Monday, Sept. 15

Featured

fares_english-1

As most of hopefully know by now, Metro’s fares are increasing effective Monday morning. The regular $1.50 fare will increase to $1.75 on Monday — but the new fare will also include two hours of free transfers for those that pay for riding with a TAP card.

That’s a key departure from the current fare system that requires everyone to pay a full fare every time they transfer.

All riders should consider whether it’s less expensive to pay per Metro trip or whether they need a pass. A quick example: if you only ride Metro between home and work and back home each weekday, it would be cheaper to pay $1.75 per trip (or $3.50 a day) rather than buy a monthly pass.

On the other hand, if you are a heavy user of the Metro system that rides multiple times a day or uses Metro buses and trains every day, a pass will remain the better option (albeit at a higher price than currently).

Where to buy a TAP card? At ticket machines at all Metro Rail and Orange Line stations, online at taptogo.net or at the 400 or so locations in Los Angeles County that sells them.

Here are two answers to two obvious questions about the new fares:

How do the free transfers work? The two hour free transfer period begins when you first tap your TAP card when boarding a bus or at a Metro Rail station. You can transfer as many times as needed in that two hour window for free with one key exception: you can’t ride the same bus or train line consecutively on the same fare. In plain English: no round-trips on the same fare. Please also continue to tap your TAP card before boarding each bus or train. 

What happens Monday to those who are currently riding on a valid weekly, monthly or EZ Pass? The short answer: nothing, your current pass will remain valid until it expires. You will pay the new higher price when purchasing your next pass.

I know many riders will have other questions. Please see this FAQ on metro.net or leave a question on our comments board and we will try to answer promptly. Please no comments or long arguments about different fare systems — we’ve already had plenty of that on the blog. You can also ask us questions on Twitter or Facebook. Please use the hashtag: #newfares

I also want to emphasize: please click here to see if you are eligible for Metro’s “Rider Relief” fares that provide up to a $10 discount on transit passes. The Rider Relief coupons for seniors and students provide savings on top of already reduced rates. Eligibility is determined by household income and the number of occupants in a household.

Please, please, please — check to see if you are eligible for a discount. There’s no point in paying more than you should and these discounts are available for one simple reason: there’s a lot of low-income folks who need them and the discounts help enhance mobility in our region. If you know of someone who may qualify, please pass along this information!

14-2393_Rider_Relief_Rail_Poster_jp