Agenda for Thursday’s Metro Board meeting: it’s going to be a long one, folks

UPDATE: The gavel has dropped on the meeting and it’s now underway.

This is a big meeting, folks, with tons of interestingness (relatively speaking) and a lot of important items. For those attending and media: might be a good idea to have a few Red Bulls along with your coffee for breakfast.


Three of the tall ones, please!

You can also view the agenda with hyperlinks on or view or download it as a pdf. The meeting is, as always, open to the public and begins at 9:30 a.m. at Metro headquarters adjacent to Los Angeles Union Station. To listen to the meeting on the phone, please call 213-922-6045.

Some of the more interesting items on the agenda:

•Item 76, asking the Board to set a public hearing on March 29 to review two fare restructuring proposals released by Metro staff on Friday. Important to note: THE BOARD IS ONLY CONSIDERING SETTING A PUBLIC HEARING; THEY ARE NOT VOTING ON THE FARE CHANGES. At this point, the Board is scheduled to vote on the changes at its meeting on May 22. Source post including charts and staff report.

•Item 15, asking the Board to narrow the list of options to four for the Airport Metro Connector, the project that seeks to connect Metro Rail to the airport terminals via a combination of light rail and people mover. A motion by Board Members Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas seeks to restore two options that Metro staff wanted to eliminate that would build light rail directly to the airport terminals. Staff report and earlier Source post with the four proposals favored by Metro staff and another Source post on the Knabe-Ridley-Thomas motion.

•Item 6, a motion by Board Members Paul Krekorian and Zev Yaroslavsky directing Metro to investigate adding gates or partial gates to the Orange Line to reduce fare evasion. Motion and Source post with staff report on two December crackdowns on fare evasion on the Orange Line.

•Item 67, asking the Board to approve the development of two options for ballot measures to take to voters in 2016 to accelerate existing Measure R projects — either an extension of Measure R or a new sales tax, which may also include new projects. Staff report and earlier Source post.

•Item 39, establishing a $33.4-million budget to refurbish Blue Line stations, including new canopies. Staff report.

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Transportation headlines, Wednesday, November 27

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!

ART OF TRANSIT: Again, from our Instagram feed

Tracking holiday travel misery (FlightAware)


That’s a screen grab from 8:55 a.m. Looks like a good day to avoid Atlanta. Then again, it’s always a good day to avoid Atlanta, right? :)

LAX and Metro call for minor changes to future light rail station (Daily Breeze)

Forgot to post this one earlier in the week. Airport and Metro officials are working to make some minor changes to the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Aviation/Century station that would make it easier in the future to connect the platform to future airport facilities at Manchester Square and to extend 98th Street across Aviation Boulevard. The Metro Board will consider an MOU with the airport at its meeting on Dec. 5.

Denver’s East Corridor rail line to leave Crenshaw to near LAX project in its prairie dust (L.A. Streetsblog)

A look at the 22-mile commuter rail line under construction that will link downtown Denver to Denver International Airport. The writer Roger Rudick compares the new line to the Crenshaw/LAX Line, pointing out that Denver is building a one-seat ride to its airport from downtown, whereas the trip from downtown L.A. to LAX will require more time and more transfers. He would have rather seen a project built from downtown to LAX using the old Harbor Subdivision rail right-of-way.

One quick note: Denver’s FasTraks program, funded by a sales tax increase in 2004, is a great transit program — but it has suffered cost over-runs and delays. And one quick thought: the Crenshaw/LAX Line will probably also serve a lot of people not going to the airport.

And one addendum: Denver’s airport line is using a public-private partnership to help fund part of the project. I’ve read various things about it — both good and bad — but something must be working because the project is aiming for completion in 2016.

Campus tracks cycling with first digital bike counter at a university (UCLA) 

The digital bike counter — working from sensors embedded in the roadway — allows everyone to see how many bikes are using the Strathmore Place bike lane. Very cool. The counter is apparently the first of its kind in Southern California. Might be fun to put one of these on one of the region’s new bike lanes to see how they’re doing! :)

Brisbane rail tunnel all show and no substance, says rail expert (Brisbane Times) 

Transportation officials want to build a massive tunnel under the Brisbane River that includes a rail line and roadway for buses. This article finds a skeptic to rail extensively against that plan. On our side of the Pacific, it’s interesting because one of the early options that has been explored for the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project is a tunnel that would have both a rail line and tolled lanes. That project is still in its initial planning stages with public-private financing being looked at to supplement seed money from Measure R.

New UCLA study finds Gold Line and Orange Line produce less smog and fewer greenhouse gases in both near- and far-term


One of the arguments frequently made for building more mass transit — in particular rail projects — is that it will help reduce pollution and, as a byproduct, greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change. The above chart comes from a Federal Transit Administration report updated in 2010 that considers the impacts of cars versus transit. Although in some circles this remains a disputed issue (mostly by critics of rail transit), the FTA finds transit is the clear winner.

Comparing the emissions of cars versus transit is not always a clear-cut issue because of the number of variables involved. Which brings us to a new study by several UCLA researchers that drills down deeper on the subject by comparing the Orange Line, Gold Line and average automobile in Southern California. The study was published in Environmental Research Letters and is posted below.

The study found that in both the near term and long-term, the Orange Line and the Gold Line produced less smog and greenhouse gases than the average auto driven in L.A. County. In addition, the Orange Line and Gold Line used less overall energy than cars and will create less particulate matter than cars in the long-term, although the Gold Line currently produces about the same as cars, due mostly to its electricity coming from coal-fired power plants used by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Four key points from the new study:

•Both cars and transit are expected to get cleaner over time as fuel mileage increases for cars and transit relies on cleaner energy sources, i.e. solar, wind, thermal and natural gas.

•Construction remains a big challenge for transit projects because things such as pouring concrete and the use of heavy equipment tends to result in high emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollution — and it can take years, if not decades, for transit to make up for the big cost in terms of greenhouse gases made up front.

•Transit vehicles spend far less  of their time parked than cars, which spend 95 percent of the time sitting around. That means that the energy and emissions needed to manufacture, transport, and park transit vehicles are spread over a lot more passenger miles and hours of operation.

•Transit needs to shift 20 percent to 30 percent of its riders from cars to transit order to have less impacts than cars and, as the study says, “the larger the shift, the quicker the payback” when it comes to meeting environmental goals.

Getting people out of their cars onto trains is crucial to improve efficiency of transit. Photo of Expo Line by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Getting people out of their cars onto trains is crucial to improve efficiency of transit. Photo of Expo Line by Steve Hymon/Metro.

I think that last point is crucial for policymakers. To put it another way: if transit agencies and politicians want transit projects that truly improve air quality and such, they have to build projects that will appeal to motorists and pry them out of their cars.

It’s always difficult to compete with the door-to-door convenience of the automobile, but I think it’s do-able but it means building projects that stop where people want to go, making it easy to get to and from stations by car, foot or bike and either designing projects that are fast and/or operate frequently enough to reduce the time-munch that is standing around and waiting at a station.

One other point: earlier this month, it was reported that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere probably haven’t been this high in the past three million years. Carbon dioxide is a primary greenhouse gas and it’s a byproduct of burning fossil fuels for things such as transportation, heating, construction etcetera. Seems to me that transit agencies across the world — many of which shun being political — could market transit as a way to help people perhaps make a difference when it comes to climate change.

Sermon over. The study is below. Kudos to Mikhail Chester, Stephanie Pincetl, Zoe Elizabeth, William Eisenstein and Juan Matute for putting this together. Finally, Metro issues an annual sustainability report that details its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases used by the agency’s transit vehicles and facilities. In fact, Metro cut its greenhouse gas emissions five percent between 2007 and 2011, the last year numbers are publicly available. 

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Transportation headlines, Friday, April 5

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.

There’s finally light at end of Expo Line Phase 2 legal battle (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The California Supreme Court has set a May 7 hearing date to consider the long-running lawsuit filed by Neighbors for Smart Rail against the Expo Line Construction Authority. The group alleges that environmental documents for the second phase of the project are flawed because they considered future traffic conditions when analyzing rail crossings instead of current conditions. There has been conflicting rulings on similar cases in other courts, thereby earning the interest of the state Supreme Court.

The bus lane en route to Dodger Stadium. Photo: Metro.

The bus lane en route to Dodger Stadium. Photo: Metro.

Trying to beat Dodger traffic blues (ZevWeb) 

A good look at the 1.5-mile bus lane on Sunset Boulevard being used by the Dodger Stadium Express this season. The lane comes courtesy of the city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation, which admits that traffic hasn’t been peachy in downtown on game days. LADOT also says it is considering allowing carpools of four or more to use the lane.

Critics sue over UCLA’s hotel plans (L.A. Times) 

The plan to build a 250 room hotel and conference on the site of an existing parking garage on campus results in a lawsuit from the group Save Westwood Village, a group that includes nearby homeowners. The suit alleges that UCLA should have to occupancy taxes — the school says it should be exempt — and financing for the structure is illegal due to the use of tax-exempt bonds. The suit is further proof that it’s difficult to build anything of any size in Los Angeles without it resulting in a lawsuit.

UCLA continues to make progress in reducing car trips to Westwood campus







UCLA recently released its annual State of the Commute report. The gist of it: even as enrollment has climbed in the past 20-plus years, the number of car trips to and from campus has fallen. The folks at UCLA credit this drop to several factors, most notably policies to encourage students and staff to take transit to campus or to carpool or vanpool.

I’ve plucked a few graphics from it that I think are interesting; the ones above and the nifty info-graphic posted after the jump that sums up the report’s major findings.

The campus population at UCLA is about 68,000 people — about 41,000 students and almost 27,000 faculty and staff. About 56,000 students and staff commute to the campus on a regular basis. The nearest rail stations at present aren’t so near: the Culver City Expo Line station (eight-plus miles by the most direct route) and the Purple Line’s station at Wilshire/Western (11 miles from campus).

Of course, rail transit is on the way to UCLA. The Westside Subway Extension will stop at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards, albeit that won’t happen until — gulp — 2036 under the current funding scenario. Unless, of course, Metro can find a way to accelerate the project.

In addition, the second phase of the Expo Line will have a station at Westwood Boulevard, just south of Pico Boulevard. It’s a 2.2-mile walk between the station and the intersection of Westwood and Le Conte (the south side of the UCLA campus) or, at present, a 15 to 16 minute bus ride on the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus’ 8 or 12 lines. In the future, let’s hope that there’s speedier bus service between Expo, the Westside Subway and UCLA’s campus, not to mention safe and fast bike routes.

Big, entertaining graphic after the jump — please check it out!

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New York City’s transportation boss offers a few lessons on making the big changes actually happen

Janette Sadik-Khan at last night's event. Photo by Juan Matute/UCLA.

Janette Sadik-Khan at last night’s event talking about closing parts of Times Square to traffic in favor of pedestrian plazas. Photo by Juan Matute/UCLA.

I had the good fortune of attending a forum last night with Janette Sadik-Khan, the innovative Transportation Commissioner for New York City. She was the featured speaker at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs Complete Streets Initiative, an effort to make local streets more user-friendly for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and motorists.

New York has taken a number of bold steps since Sadik-Khan began working for Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2007: building new public plazas in places that were once streets (including parts of Times Square), creating new bus rapid transit lines with the New York MTA, adding 300 miles of bike lanes and implementing traffic calming measures to reduce fatalities and injuries caused by motor vehicles in New York City’s five boroughs. The New York MTA is also building a new subway line and extending another.

In other words, New York City made a lot of significant changes quickly, not letting distractors or controversy get in the way even when things didn’t break their way (such as a plan to implement congestion pricing in Manhattan). I think most of what she discussed is highly relevant here, given that some big changes are underway in L.A. County courtesy of Metro’s Measure R program along with many other local initiatives and projects that are either being discussed, studied or implemented across the county.

I few things I heard that I really liked:

•”Just remember the headlines don’t always translate into the opinions of actual people,” said Sadik-Khan. Couldn’t agree more. It’s difficult in some media reports to gauge the degree of opposition or support for a particular projects and many media outlets either don’t offer the context or disclosed they rely on the same people for years for quotes.

•”Safety and sustainability go hand in hand,” she said. “You won’t get more people walking or biking if they don’t feel safe.” Several cities in L.A. County are quickly putting in new bikes but I haven’t seen a lot of data about which are being used and which are not — and why not. For example, there are new bike lanes directly next to three lanes of freeway-like traffic on Huntington Boulevard in El Sereno. It’s great to have the lanes, but I have seen very few people actually using them and non-productive lanes could harm the overall program. 

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New UCLA video targets new commuters to Westwood campus

Here’s a new video from UCLA that school officials say is specifically aimed at new employees to familiarize them with alternative transportation options available at UCLA before their first day of work. The video will be incorporated into the new employee orientation process campus-wide.

Of course, at some future juncture, the video will need a big update when the Westside/Purple Line Extension’s Wilshire/Westwood Station opens. The station will be a short walk into the heart of Westwood Village and/or a nice walk, bike or short bus ride into the heart of UCLA’s campus.

The news release is after the jump.

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UCLA students learn the ropes of L.A.'s transit system

Here’s a nice, short video from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, which each fall provides an “L.A. Transit Tour” to incoming students to help them get a better handle on the lay of the land here. Take a look. The video includes footage of former Source writer Carter Rubin preaching the gospel (of transit) while aboard Metro Rail.

Go Metro Weekends, Sept 21 to 23

Autumn Lights at Pershing Square. Photo by johnwilliamsphd via Flickr

Fans of 3D movies won’t want to miss the 3D Film Festival taking place all weekend at L.A. LIVE. The event celebrates 3D filmmakers and content creators from around the world. Catch the 3DFF Horror Show Double Feature on Friday night at Regal Cinemas. Piranha 3DD shows at 10 p.m. and Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation begins at 12 a.m. With Metro running late on weekends, you’ll have plenty of time to catch your bus or train after the gore-fest. Tickets for single movies are $10, show your TAP card at the box office and get 50% off admission. Single-day passes and general admission badges for the whole weekend are also available. (Expo or Blue Line to Pico Station, Metro Bus 81 to Figueroa/11th)

Plenty of football is happening this Saturday. After their devastating loss to Stanford last week, USC takes on Cal at the Coliseum at 3 p.m. and undefeated UCLA goes head to head with Oregon State at the Rose Bowl at 12:30 p.m. Metro will be running enhanced service on the Gold Line to accommodate fans going to either game (or both!). Extra service will also be added to the other rail lines. To avoid waiting in long post-game lines at the ticket machines, get a day pass or load up your TAP with cash before heading out. Free shuttles to the Rose Bowl are a short walk from the Memorial Park Station and the Coliseum is well served by the Expo Line.

With the weather cooling off slightly, it’s time to start thinking about autumn, and Autumn Lights LA is a great place to start. Local and international artists will show off their light installations at Pershing Square on Saturday. Go and enjoy live music, interactive blacklight live painting, photo booths and more. The event lights up at 6 p.m. and is open to all. (Red or Purple line to Pershing Square Station, Metro Bus 14 to Olive/5th)

Swing by University High School for ZAMFEST on Sunday. Plenty of kid friendly activities will be offered, so go have fun and get creative. General admission tickets are $8, children 3 and under are free. ZAMFEST lasts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Santa Monica BBB 2 to Westgate Nb/Texas Ns, check Trip Planner for connections)

Big Blue Bus service changes coming next week to better serve Expo Line

The idea is to better connect the Expo Line to both downtown Santa Monica and Westwood and UCLA. Here’s the news from the Big Blue Bus website:

Big News: Fall Service Begins August 26 & 27

Read all about new Rapid 12 and Rapid 20, and changes to Routes 2, 5, 11 and Rapid 10:

New! Starting August 27, use Rapid 20 to ride non-stop between downtown Santa Monica and the Expo Culver City station via the 10 Freeway for only $1 (regular cash fare; $0.50 for S/D/M)! Hop on at one of the three Rapid 20 stops:

Broadway at 6th St.

4th at Santa Monica Place

Robertson between Washington and Venice (just around the corner from the entrance to the Expo Culver City station)

New! Starting August 27, Super 12 becomes Rapid 12 for an even faster ride between Westwood/UCLA and the Expo Culver City station! Some stops are being eliminated (but will still be served by Local 12) and the Culver City stop is being relocated to northbound Robertson between Venice and Washington.

Route 5: Starting August 26, trips to Century City/Expo Culver City will be permanently rerouted in downtown Santa Monica due to Expo rail construction. Please board at either the stop on Arizona at 5th St. or at the stop on Colorado at 7th St. Route 5 will no longer stop on: 4th St. at Broadway, Wilshire or Santa Monica Blvd. or on Colorado at 4th St.

Maps and schedules are coming soon. Have questions in the meantime? Call customer service at (310) 451-5444 or send us an email.