Other actions taken last week by the Metro Board

I think my brain was in long-weekend mode a little early last week — I wrote this but forgot to post this from Thursday’s meeting of the Metro Board of Directors:

•(Item 31) The Board approved a contract modification worth up to $55 million with Cubic Transportation Systems for TAP card systems maintenance between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2019. Staff report

•(Item 26) The Board approved a contract not to exceed $83.85 million with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to provide law enforcement services for Metro between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014. Staff report

•(Items 57 and 58) The Board approved adopting a resolution of necessity to use eminent domain to acquire two parcels needed for construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Staff report 1 and staff report 2

•(Item 28) The Board continued consideration of a budget for Access Services until next month due to a lack of quorum. Staff report

Transportation headlines, Monday, Jan. 28

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.

Sparks fly at open house on 710 extension study (Pasadena Star News)

Some folks protested the study, others found the open house informative. Those who attended the meeting had the chance to visit different ‘stations’ and ask Metro and consultants questions about the ongoing study that is considering alternatives to improve traffic in the area around the 710 gap between Alhambra and Pasadena. Five alternatives are under study: the usual no build option, traffic signal and intersection improvements, bus rapid transit, light rail and a freeway tunnel. No decision has been made to build or not build anything yet — and there are no formal designs yet for any of the alternatives.

Newton: The city that could be (L.A. Times)

Editorial chief Jim Newton asks the four leading mayoral candidates — (in alphabetical order) Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James and Jan Perry — what the nation’s second-largest city would look like if they win the mayor’s job and hold it for eight years. Transportation is a frequent topic.

I especially like this kicker from Newton:


It may be tempting to dismiss the importance of a mayor’s physical vision for Los Angeles. But imagination matters, as L.A.’s history well attests. Rear Adm. John Walker recommended placing a port in San Pedro, and L.A. officials tethered it to the city by annexation; the port is still the region’s most important economic force. William Mulholland eyeballed an aqueduct from the Owens Valley, and it still supplies our water. Tom Bradley imagined a center of commerce on Bunker Hill, and there it is. Richard Riordan could not bear the unfinished parking lot on Grand Avenue and, together with Eli Broad and others, raised the money that paid for architect Frank Gehry’s building of genius.

Where would we be without those?

Metro and Metrolink find solution to rider transfer issue (KPCC)

This brief article looks at the paper TAP tickets that Metro and Metrolink are developing to get Metrolink riders through the turnstiles when Metro begins latching them later this year. Here’s last week’s post with a look at the ticket prototypes.

Cubic buys Nextbus (Transit Wire)

Always interesting when one Metro contractor buys another Metro contractor. In this case, it’s Cubic — the contractor that installed the TAP system — purchasing Nextbus — the contractor that supplies real-time bus arrival info for smartphones.

Other actions taken today by the Metro Board of Directors: contract to buy new buses, TVMs for El Monte Station

Here are a few other items of interest tackled at today’s meeting of the full Metro Board of Directors:

•The Board approved a $302-million contract with New Flyer of America for the purchase of 550 new 40-foot buses powered by compressed natural gas. Staff report (pdf)

•The Board approved a contract modification up to $610,000 with Cubic Transportation Systems for the purchase and installation of four ticket vending machines for the El Monte Transit Center. Staff report (pdf)

•The Board approved a series of contract modifications totaling about $13.5 million with outside firms, including URS Corporation, for continued work on the I-710 South Corridor Project’s environmental studies. Staff report (pdf)

•The Board approved giving Metro the authority to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with three developers seeking to build a mixed-use project that would partially occupy Metro-owned land adjacent to the Red Line’s Vermont/Sunset Station. Staff report (pdf)

TAP improvements proposed by Metro staff

First, some good news: A number of changes are in the works for Metro ticket machines.

Among them: allowing customers to purchase stored value amounts of $3 (for those taking round-trips), new messaging on the machines to help customers make their first purchase, as well as some minor changes in the way fares are described in order to make it easier to understand.

In addition, several other notable changes are proposed by Metro staff as part of a contract modification with Cubic, the vendor that provides TAP equipment (The taptogo.net website is overseen by another vendor, Xerox, and there are talks scheduled about updating that). Many of these changes involve issues with TAP raised by both Source readers and the media.

Among the improvements proposed in the Metro staff report:

• Simplify TVM screens to make them more user-friendly.

• Update and clarify the existing “Help” options and directions.

• Incorporate up to six languages in addition to the existing English and Spanish options currently provided.

• Enable the purchase of multiple rides on a single TAP card and/or the purchase of multiple TAP cards in a single cash/credit card transaction for families and groups. (Note to readers: TAP cards can hold up to eight single rides. The issue here is that the machines currently require customers to buy a single ride and then start over with a new transaction in order to buy a second single ride — i.e. the equivalent of a round-trip purchase for those using one bus or train to get somewhere and back).

• Install an additional TVM [ticket vending machine] next to the Metro Customer Center in the East Portal at Union Station to help expedite customer purchases and provide service when the center is closed, as well as an additional TVM at the Culver City station.

Another proposal: relocate some of the standing TAP validators in rail stations to more convenient places to help traffic flow better through the stations.

Here’s the staff report:

TAP contract modification