Here is the agenda for the regular monthly meeting of the Metro Board of Directors that is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at Metro HQ in downtown Los Angeles. As usual, I’ll be at the meeting and will post about some of the more interesting items.
A few notes from today’s mostly uneventful meeting of the Metro Board:
•Board Member Vice Chair Diane DuBois offered a motion — approved by the Board — that Metro staff produce a report for the April meetings that looks at fare restructuring. She asked that the report include a variety of possible scenarios, including time-based fares, low cash fares, premium fares for premium services and other ideas that would fully utilitze the capabilities of TAP cards.
DuBois wants the report as part of the item to be heard next month on issuing a public notice to change the Measure R expenditure plan to accommodate a future project acceleration plan. “As we move forward with acceleration plans we have to make sure we are financial stable,” she said. “I know this is a very sensitive subject, but I also know we have to pay for what we do.”
As regular Source readers know, this is a subject debated frequently by readers on our comment board. I want to emphasize that the motion calls only for a report by staff next month; no action will be taken to actually restructure fares.
•Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas complained about lack of diversity on the workforce performing utility relocation work for the Crenshaw/LAX Line. “The public comment this morning is not without basis,” he said, referring to speakers who complained about lack of opportunities to find work.
Metro staff said the contractor handling utility work has not fully complied with federal diversity law and that staff is meeting with the contractor to fix that. Metro is also trying to comply with federal rules that place limits on local hiring. In following public comment, longtime civil rights leader Pastor James M. Lawson, Jr., offered a strong rebuke of the Board and urged them to do more to create jobs for the black community.
•Glendale Ara Najarian announced that he was successfully re-appointed to the Metro Board of Directors. He said that he and fellow Board Member John Fasana have spoken and pledged to work together on the many issues they share and agree on.
•The Board voted to authorize Metro to enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement with the nonprofit A Community of Friends to develop 53 units of affordable housing — including some supportive housing — on vacant Metro property at 1st and Lorena in Boyle Heights. Supportive housing is providing apartments for people who have been homeless or others who need help living independently; there will be services staff to help provide for tenants.
Board Member and Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar complained there was not adequate public outreach for the project and that the development had substantially changed with a reduction in retail space. Board Member and Supervisors Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas both said that the developer has done good work in their districts.
A Huizar motion to deny the project and begin with a new RFP failed.
Here’s the staff report on the project.
•The Board approved a $33.2-million, five-year contract with the California Vanpool Authority, Enterprise Rent-a-Car Company of Los Angeles and VPSI, Inc., to provide vanpool services to Metro. Metro staff report
•The Board voted to accept $26.1 million from the state of California’s Prop 1B to help fund the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project. Metro staff report
•The Board did not take a position of support of state bills that would lower the threshold needed for voters to pass a transportation sales tax from two-thirds to 55 percent. Although there were not seven votes (a majority) against supporting the bills, a motion to move the item to next month failed, meaning that a Board Member would likely need to make a motion to bring it back.
The yes votes came from Board Members Richard Katz, Ara Najarian, Pam O’Connor, Mel Wilson and Zev Yaroslavsky. The no votes came from Michael D. Antonovich, Diane DuBois John Fasana and Don Knabe. Absent for the vote were Jose Huizar, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Antonio Villaraigosa and Gloria Molina.
Metro staff had recommended supporting the bills as a possible way to help accelerate transit projects in the future; several Board members had issues ranging from lack of public input to an unwillingness to seek a change because of the narrow loss of Measure J last fall. Metro staff report
•The Board approved a revenue-generating contract with InSite Wireless to install equipment in the Red and Purple Line subway and other underground portions of the Metro Rail system to provide cell phone service and, eventually, wi-fi service for Metro riders. Metro staff report and recent Source post
The Metro Board of Directors holds their regular monthly meeting on Thursday at 9 a.m. at Metro headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. The meeting is open to the public. The agenda is above; here’s a link to see it directly on Metro.net.
As usual, I’ll be at the meeting and will post any news that burps out of it throughout the day tomorrow!
The Metro Board will be considering a contract this month that would bring cell phone and wi-fi service to the subway system in Los Angeles. The Metro staff report on the contract is above.
Once installed, cell service would be available throughout the public areas of the Red and Purple Lines — i.e. the station areas — and the underground portions of the Blue, Expo and Gold lines. The service would serve a dual purpose: it would enhance public safety by making it much easier to reach police while underground and it could also attract new riders who want to be online during their commute or public transit trips.
The contract is with a firm named InSite Wireless. Under the contract, InSite would install the necessary infrastructure and then charge individual cell phone carriers a fee to have their equipment and signal placed underground. Metro, in turn, would make a minimum of $360,000 a year in revenue from those deals — a typical type of arrangement in the transit world.
As for the cell phone carriers, they have a pretty good incentive to put their signal underground — if they don’t do it, one of their competitors may. And in the cell phone business, having the largest service area is a pretty big draw for prospective customers.
The contract will first be considered by the Metro Board’s Executive Management Committee on Thursday. It would then likely go to the full Board for their consideration at their meeting on Feb. 28.
If approved, it would take about two years to get the equipment installed in the tunnels, the challenge being that the subway runs most of the day and night. Cell phone service would be completed first with wi-fi coming later; keep in mind that the internet can be accessed via cell signals.
The Metro Board approved on a 7 to 2 vote a contract modification worth about $30.5 million dollars for Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., to provide preliminary engineering services and other work on the first and second phases of the Westside/Purple Line Extension, as well as final design services for modifications to the Division 20 subway rail car maintenance yard.
The modification brings the contract total for Parsons Brinckherhoff, Inc. to $120.6 million. The first phase of the project will extend the subway from Wilshire/Western to Wilshire/La Cienega and the second phase to Constellation and Avenue of the Stars in Century City.
Board Members Don Knabe and John Fasana voted against the modification, saying that spending money on the subway extension's second phase at this point was not consistent with construction timelines listed in Metro's long-range plan.
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.
ART OF TRANSIT: A northbound Gold Line train leaving the Chinatown station last week at sunset. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.
Congressman says Najarian should remain on the Metro Board (L.A. Streetsblog)
Rep. Adam Schiff urges local officials to vote to keep Glendale Ara Najarian on the Metro Board of Directors. Najarian’s vote to put Measure J on the ballot and opposition to a tunnel to close the 710 gap has raised opposition to him serving another term on the Board.
Highland Park TOD to be discussed (The Eastsider LA)
A small apartment and condo complex near the Highland Park Gold Line station is to be discussed by the Highland Park Neighborhood Council. It’s been in the works for five years and features about 80 units to built atop city parking lots behind businesses on Figueroa Street. Seems like a great place to build — it’s literally a 12-minute ride on the Gold Line to Union Station — and having more residents in the area would help merchants on Figueroa. But it sounds like Highland Park is taking the same route as South Pasadena and minimizing the number of people living near its central business district and transit. Hmmm.
The disturbing and sometimes tragic challenge of walking in America (NRDC Switchboard blog)
Getting around on one’s two feet may be historic — but in too many parts of America, it’s also become inconvenient, dangerous, an afterthought or illegal. Watch this video about a pedestrian who “interfered with traffic” in Woodbridge, Virginia:
The Metro Board of Directors will be holding its committee meetings today and Thursday. I’m going through the agendas and will post staff reports and proposals that I think will be of the most interest to readers.
This one certainly qualifies. It’s a proposal by staff to install four ticket vending machines at the new El Monte Station. This is something that several Source readers requested after the station opened last fall as the machines are a convenient way to purchase TAP cards or replenish them without having to go online or go out of your way.
The final decision on the machines will be made by the full Metro Board at their regular monthly meeting on Jan. 24.
Some interesting news on Monday from Los Angeles World Airports, the city of L.A. agency that oversees LAX: airport planners for the first time are proposing three possible sites for a light rail station at or near the airport. The above report to the Board of Airport Commissioners shows the possible station locations.
First, it helps to understand the background. Metro is in the midst of planning a transit project — called the Airport Metro Connector — that would connect the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the airport terminals. Metro planners are studying a variety of alternatives, including bus rapid transit, a people mover and light rail.
The Crenshaw/LAX Line will have a station at Aviation and Century boulevards. It’s closer to the LAX terminals than the existing Green Line Aviation station — but Aviation/Century is still more than a mile to the beginning of the horseshoe-shaped road that serves the nine LAX terminals.
In the meantime, LAX planners have been working on the “LAX Master Plan Specific Plan Amendment” that will guide future renovations and development at the airport.
That plan amendment will likely include a people mover to connect the terminal to future LAX facilities, such as a consolidated rental car center. As part of that study, LAX planners are working with Metro to identify the best ways to tie the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the airport terminals — perhaps with the people mover or a combination of people mover and light rail extension.
There’s still a lot of work to be done; here are stories in the Daily Breeze and the L.A. Times. One of the big issues — as with all transit projects — will be securing funding. Measure R allocates $200 million to the Airport Metro Connector project and LAWA is expected to contribute funds and/or resources, but that amount is not known.
But any type of light rail project — especially one involving rail tunnels or underground stations — will be very expensive and will cost north of $1 billion. Under Metro’s long-range plan, adopted in 2010, the Airport Metro Connector is scheduled to open in 2028. Both funding and Metro Board approval would be needed to accelerate the project.
Below is the news release from LAWA:
Metro Board Member and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky submitted the following motion at today’s meeting; it will be discussed at the Board’s Systems, Safety and Operations Committee in January.
The I-110 Metro ExpressLanes opened on November 10, 2012. With these ExpressLanes everyone — including those who carpool — must purchase a $40 transponder. These transponders are used to exact tolls and can be used throughout the State of California for any toll road or bridge.
With Metro’s program, tolls are only assessed on solo drivers. Those who carpool must also have a transponder, but they ride for free. Everyone pays the same initial fee to participate in the program.
There is a minimum account balance required to maintain your account. This is standard practice with most agencies. However, we also asses a $3.00 monthly maintenance fee, but only to those who use the ExpressLane less than 4 trips in a one month period.
This discourages the participation of subscribers/occasional users from outside the immediate corridor, and acts as a negative disincentive. Thus, a motorist who is an occasional driver on the I-110 is penalized with a fee. This fee is unfair and discourages new users. We should treat all subscribers equally.
I, THEREFORE, MOVE that we eliminate the monthly maintenance fee from the program all together in order to treat all participants in the program equally and fairly.