Hearing on fare changes adjourns after 165 or so public speakers

Click on a photo to see larger. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro

The hearing adjourned about 2:15 p.m. after more than four hours that included a brief staff presentation on the fares, about 165 public speakers and a brief disruption near the end of the meeting that resulted in two arrests for disturbing the peace. One of the people arrested may also face a charge of assaulting a peace officer. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TWO FARE CHANGE OPTIONS.

Order was quickly restored at the urging of both Metro Board Members and members of the public who wanted the chance to testify before the Board. A vote on the fare changes is scheduled for the Board’s May 22 meeting — and before the meeting ended many Board Members indicated they will have plenty of questions  between now and then about the fare proposal and Metro’s finances.

Metro staff explained the fare changes, which are designed to prevent Metro from facing future deficits and to prevent service cuts. As staff explained, the changes would raise the base Metro fare but include transfers for 90 minutes — presently passengers must pay a full fare to transfer, even for a short ride.

As for the public testimony, it’s hard to summarize the views of 165 different people. While the Bus Riders Union was certainly present at the meeting, others appeared to be everyday riders who had something to say about the fare change proposal.

A few things I heard from speakers more than once:

•Bus service in some parts of Los Angeles County is not frequent enough or good enough to warrant a fare increase. Trips involving multiple bus legs, a few speakers said, can take several hours.

•There was no support for the second fare option which would have different fares for peak and off-peak hours.

•Several people complained fares should not be raised until the agency clamps down on fare evasion; during their presentation, agency staff said that work on reducing fare evasion is already underway.

•The most common complaint: affordability — many people said they make too little money to spend any extra on transit. “Some of you are lucky enough to have gotten an education. Think about the people you representing,” said one woman.

RELATED POSTS:

Some audio and video from today’s fare proposal hearing

Pictorial part 2: the public speaks at today’s fare change hearing

Pictorial part 1: the public speaks at today’s fare change hearing

Public hearing on Metro’s proposed fare changes is underway

A look at what some riders and readers are saying about Metro’s fare proposals

 

Some audio and video from today’s public hearing on fare changes

The public hearing on fare changes saw many Metro riders and community leaders turn out to let the Metro Board know what they think.

Video featuring a few of today’s public speakers:

And here’s audio-only from some speakers earlier in the morning:


Reminder: public comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. today at PublicHearing@metro.net.

Pictorial, part 1: riders speak at public hearing over proposed Metro fare changes

Click on photo to see larger

Some of Metro’s riders who took the time to travel to Metro this morning to testify to the Metro Board of Directors at the public hearing over proposed fare changes. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro.

More photos and text later.

RELATED POSTS:

Public hearing is underway

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

option1

option2

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.

Other actions taken by the Metro Board of Directors today

It was a very quiet and relatively quick meeting today of the Metro Board of Directors owing to a light agenda. Don’t fret: I suspect the April and May meetings will be far busier — the May 22 meeting, in particular, is when the Board is scheduled to consider fare changes.

As for today, a couple of items of potential interest:

•The Board approved amending Metro’s Customer Code of Conduct to explicitly prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in Metro buses, trains and other facilities. The Code already prohibited smoking, so this is basically a clarification of that rule.

•The Board approved the motion by Board Members Eric Garcetti and Don Knabe seeking Metro to implement a number of technology upgrades, including potentially internet access on buses and trains. Here’s the motion and an earlier post.

•The Board voted to receive and file a staff report on Metro’s executive reorganization plan.

Yaroslavsky motion pushes for creation of San Fernando Valley-Westwood Express bus

We posted last month about proposed route changes for buses in the San Fernando Valley. One of the proposals is for the creation of a new 588 bus that would operate at peak hours that would run between Westwood and Nordhoff Street in North Hills, mostly along the 405 freeway and Van Nuys Boulevard. This new line still requires funding.

Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky submitted a motion to the Metro Board today about the 588 bus; the motion was approved unanimously by the Board today and asks that staff continue the studies needed for the line and to report back to the Board in May. Here’s the text of the motion:

Motion by Director Yaroslavsky

Valley-Westside Express Bus

The San Fernando Valley and Westside are two of Los Angeles’ largest economic engines—places where millions live, shop, work and play. However, there is currently no express transit connection between the regions, which are separated by the Santa Monica Mountains.

This summer, the 405 Project is expected to complete construction and open High Occupancy Vehicle lanes that will create a new avenue for express bus service through the Sepulveda Pass.

Earlier this month, the San Fernando Valley and Westside/Central Local Service Councils held public hearings and made recommendations on proposed changes to bus service in their respective regions. Among the recommendations was the creation of Line 588, an express bus offering nonstop service through the Sepulveda Pass via the I-405 HOV lanes. The line would connect Westwood to the Orange Line and extend north along Van Nuys Boulevard to North Hills. When Phase 2 of Expo Line opens, it would extend south to meet it, providing a connection to Santa Monica, USC and downtown L.A. The proposed line received strong support from the public.

Line 588 promises an immediate solution for Metro patrons while plans for a more extensive future project through the Sepulveda Pass are being evaluated. Because funding has not yet been identified for the bus line, staff is not currently conducting the tests, studies and analyses that are needed to operate it. While efforts to fund the line continue, staff should make these preparations to ensure that Line 588 can begin serving the public as soon as possible.

I, THEREFORE, MOVE that the Board direct staff to:

1.    Prepare studies, tests and analysis for launching Line 588, an express bus connecting the San Fernando Valley and the Westside via the I-405 HOV lanes; and

2.    Report back on the status and progress of the preparations at the May, 2014 full Board meeting.

Metro Board meeting is underway; here’s the agenda

Gavel and wood have met, in nonviolent fashion, meaning the March meeting of the Metro Board of Directors is underway. The agenda is above; view it as html with links here.

If you want to listen to the meeting from afar, please dial 213-922-6045.

As per usual, I will post any interestingness from the meeting later today on the blog.

Metro and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department begin effort to reduce loitering and improve safety at North Hollywood Red Line station

Here’s the news release from Metro:

NORTH HOLLYWOOD – Fulfilling a request from Councilmember Paul Krekorian, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s (LASD) Transit Services Bureau, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) North Hollywood Division and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) have joined in efforts to enhance safety at the North Hollywood station of the Metro Red Line by installing new security cameras and “No Loitering” signs.

Temporary video surveillance cameras have been in place around the ground level plaza while preparations are made for permanent installation of dedicated security monitoring. Metro maintains security cameras and monitoring within the North Hollywood station, at the platform and inside Metro Red Line trains. In addition, “No Loitering” signs have been installed to prevent persons without valid transportation business from remaining in the area for extended periods of time.

“The people of North Hollywood have a fantastic resource in the Metro Red Line subway and we want to make sure it remains safe and easy to use,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian. “Metro, the LASD and LAPD have done an excellent job keeping the neighborhood and the North Hollywood station safe and we are always looking for ways to enhance the experience of riders on the subway.”

Constituent feedback to the Council District 2 office has included complaints that there have been people loitering around the plaza and unauthorized vendors setting up shop. If left unaddressed by law enforcement, Metro and the Council office, these things could lead to litter, disruptive public behavior and crime.

Temporary video monitoring is conducted through five trailer-mounted cameras on a telescoping mast that provide high level views of the plaza and parking lot. The “No Loitering” signs comply with Metro’s Code of Customer Conduct prohibiting unnecessary lingering in Metro facilities or vehicles were it interferes with use.

Transportation headlines, Friday, February 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! 

One way to make traffic vanish: long exposures! The view late Thursday from The Source's window on the world. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

One way to make traffic vanish: long exposures! The view late Thursday from The Source’s window on the world. Click above to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The transit plaza at Union Station last night. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The transit plaza at Union Station last night. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

CicLAvia: our story

Click above to check out a very nice photo essay.

Google says $6.8 million for Muni youth passes just a start (San Francisco Chronicle) 

Wow. The tech giant donates the money to the agency that runs buses, light rail and streetcars — enough money to cover two years of free transit for low- and middle-class kids aged five to 17. The donation comes at a time when Google and other tech firms are being criticized for their free shuttles that take employees from San Francisco to offices south in Silicon Valley and the area. With real estate prices soaring in S.F., many citizens are feeling squeezed out and say the shuttles — with free wifi — make it easy for wealthy employees to live in the city and commute south.

Legislation would change composition of Metro Board (L.A. Streetsblog) 

Thoughtful post by Damien Newton on the implications and reasoning behind AB 1941, a bill by Assemblyman Chris Holden that would have the Legislature appoint two members to the Metro Board. Holden tells Streetsblog that it would help provide more equitable representation around the county and help plan projects that extend beyond the borders of Los Angeles County. Metro Board Member Ara Najarian, however, responds this way:

“The last thing we need on this already political board, is to inject two new players with no stakeholders and no constituents to answer to, only the politicos in Sacramento,” writes Ara Najarian, Glendale City Councilmember and the representative to the Metro Board from the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments. “A huge mistake and not a well thought out piece of legislation. Now, if we wanted to add directors who actually had constituents to answer to…then fine.”

I couldn’t agree more. Having two people on the Board who don’t even have to live in the region seems like a good way of asking for trouble when it comes to doling out contracts and making other decisions that could impact fund-raising for elected officials in Sacramento. Unless I’m hugely mistaken, I don’t see this bill going anywhere.

America’s 20 fastest-growing cities (Forbes)

Los Angeles didn’t make the list. But San Jose, Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta and Ogden (Utah) did.

Rep. Bill Shuster on federal role in transportation

The Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Transportation Committee talks to highway officials in Washington D.C. Rep. Shuster will play a critical role when it comes to passing the next multi-year transportation spending bill. President Obama’s bill proposal includes the America Fast Forward initiative. The most interesting remarks — embracing the federal role in mobility for goods and people — is after the introductory remarks.

Roundup of Thursday’s Metro Board of Directors meeting

A few items of interest tackled by the Metro Board at today’s monthly meeting:

•The Board approved Item 16 to provide $1.3 million for improvements to the Branford Street railroad crossing of Metrolink tracks in Los Angeles in the northeast San Fernando Valley. Improvements include pedestrian gates, roadway widening and additional warning signals.

•The Board approved Item 55 to rename the Blue Line’s Grand Station to Grand/L.A. Trade Tech and the Expo Line’s 23rd Street Station to 23rd St/L.A. Trade Tech. The Board also approved Item 56 to rename the Exposition/La Brea station to the Exposition/La Brea Ethel Bradley Station.

•The Board approved Item 58, a motion that asks Metro to implement an online database of previous Board of Director actions. At present, searching for motions and past actions is a crapshoot. The motion also asks for linking audio from Board meetings to reports — something that would, I suspect, be very useful to anyone who cares or is interested in actions taken by the Board of an agency with a multi-billion dollar annual budget.

•The Board approved Item 67, asking the Board to oppose AB 1941, which would add two members to the Metro Board to be appointed by the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Rules Committee, respectively. I included some background and thoughts on this legislation in a recent headlines — see the last item in this post.
•The Board approved Item 18.1, a motion asking Caltrans to report on difficulties that have emerged in the transfer of park-n-ride lots at Metro Rail stations from Caltrans to Metro. The motion begins: “Item No. 18 and Director Najarian’s accompanying Motion underscore the importance of Metro’s increasingly complex relationship with Caltrans.” If I am reading the remainder of the motion correctly, I think “complex” is a perhaps one way of saying “difficult,” at least on this issue.

•The Board approved Item 70, a motion asking Metro to seek ways to improve lighting and pedestrian access to/from the Universal City over-flow parking lot for the Red Line station.

Item 9, a motion to eliminate the monthly maintenance fee for ExpressLanes accounts that infrequently use the lanes and substitute a flat $1 fee on all accounts, was held and will be considered by the Board in April.