Reminder: Metro Board of Directors meet tomorrow — station name changes to be considered

The final Thursday of the month is upon us, meaning the full Metro Board of Directors will convene at Metro HQ in downtown Los Angeles tomorrow at 9 a.m. for their regular meeting. The meeting, of course, is open to the public; the Metro building is adjacent to Union Station.

Here’s the agenda, along with links to staff reports and motions related to the various items.

As Board meetings go, this one doesn’t appear to be action-packed. Most of the items are administrative in nature — there are no big-ticket project approvals as we’ve seen in prior months.

Thumbing through the agenda, four items stand out — the links below are to staff reports:

•The Board will vote on whether to make the following name changes to Metro rail and bus stations:

A. “Imperial/Wilmington/Rosa Parks” to “Willowbrook/Rosa Parks;”

B. “103rd Street/Kenneth Hahn” to “103rd St/Watts Towers/Kenneth Hahn;”

C. “Vermont Av/I-105” to “Vermont Av/Athens;”

D. “Hawthorne Bl/I-105” to “Hawthorne Bl/Lennox;”

E. “Venice/Robertson” to “Culver City;”and

F. “Artesia Transit Center” to “Harbor Gateway Transit Center.”

Here’s an earlier post about that issue.

Keep reading for more items and a map of potential bus rapid transit corridors in the county.

•The Board will vote on hiring a consultant to identify bus rapid transit corridors around Los Angeles County. This item is in response to an earlier motion by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is currently the Board Chair. The staff report includes the map below and mentions many corridors that could be candidates and recommends hiring a consultant to build upon an earlier study of bus routes in the county.

•The Board will be asked to consider a contract worth up to $57.5 million to extend the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department contract to patrol Metro trains, buses and stations.

•Four Board Members have submitted a motion asking that testing of locked gates be continued at busier rail stations, including 7th/Metro in downtown L.A. The idea is to generate more data about the type of fare media that Metro patrons are using, as well as better numbers on fare evasion and the types of Metro passes that customers have.

•The Board will consider a $37.3-million contract to CH2M Hill Inc. to prepare the environmental studies for the 710 gap project, which will consider a variety of alternatives for improving traffic in the 710 gap area between Alhambra and Pasadena.


26 replies

  1. A few points that I think need to be made:

    1. If those screaming about the cost of renaming stations would take the time to read the staff report, they would discover that the renamings will not happen immediately, but instead when other funded projects involving those stations take place. There are still three Gold Line station renamings that were approved by the Board over five years ago that have not been implemented, for precisely that reason. But the new names need to be approved in advance so that the renaming can be incorporated into those future projects.

    2. @John McCready: Apparently you have bought into the BRU rhetoric that there would be plenty of money for bus service if various construction projects were cancelled. This is NOT the case; only certain funding sources are legally operations-eligible (primarily fare revenue, advertising revenue, lease income from Metro-owned properties occupied by non-Metro concerns, specified percentages of local sales taxes, and the State Transit Assistance Program). Metro uses every penny of those funds on service operation. Construction projects are entirely funded by sources that legally cannot be shifted to service operation. The projects you cite are funded with money that CANNOT BE USED TO RUN BUS SERVICE. (And it is not Metro that made the determination of what is and is not operations-eligible … that determination is made in Sacramento and Washington.) An “Occupy the MTA” movement wouldn’t do anything to change those legal realities.

    But thanks for playing. Don Pardo will tell you what your consolation prizes are.

  2. @Mospeada

    “Metro makes a significant amount of revenue from people who actually pay to ride the short trip on the red/purple line to transfer between the blue and gold lines”

    Of course that is based on the assumption that transit riders will continue to pay whatever flat rate amount the public transit agency sets without regards to distance.

    But as shown in other transit agencies, there is a limit to what people will pay and eventually ridership numbers stagnate by seeking alternative methods for shorter rides.

    A good example is the NYMTA: flat rate fares keep on increasing, but the net effect is that on a per distance calculation, flat rate fares becomes a worse deal for shorter rides and more people would opt to start bicycling. In the end, the pay-per-boarding becomes contradictory to the increased ridership goal.

  3. Every addition of a new line into the Metro system has had a project built in singularity with thought about how it would fit into the system as a whole.

    As a result we ended up with the current red/gold transfer @ Union station, the blue/green transfer @ Willowbrook, the Red/Orange transfer @ North Hollywood, and the expected transfer of the At-grade Expo line with the Below-grade Crenshaw line at Exposition and Crenshaw. These types of transfer stations make it difficult to provide a secure zone free transfer ala Tokyo or London.

    The best way to deal with the current transfer penalty between rail/brt lines without having to spend massive amounts of money on redesigning the transfer stations is to implement a free time-based transfer. That way if a customer has to leave the fare zone to transfer to another line they would not be penalized. Of course this should also be done in conjunction with a zone/distance base fare system so as not impact revenue.

    From what I heard Metro makes a significant amount of revenue from people who actually pay to ride the short trip on the red/purple line to transfer between the blue and gold lines,

  4. @Connor

    The transfer at Imperial/Wilmington between the Blue and Green Lines and the Red to Gold transfer at Union Station also have to be considered as well.

    This is one of the failings of Metro’s pay-per-boarding payment system; it fails to account for “secure zone” transfers between rails.

    This is a stark contrast to say, the London Underground or the rail system in Tokyo where once you tap into the secure zone, you’re free to move and do as many transfers as you wish without paying again until you actually tap out of the system at your final destination.

  5. @GaryB

    Part of which I agree with you is that the gates itself are those narrow spinning turnstiles similar to what they have at Magic Mountain entrance as opposed to wider fare gates like those used by BART.

    Wide fare gates that remain open but slam shut without properly tapping in helps keeps a smoother and seamless flow of human traffic through the gates. In contrast, narrow width turnstiles which one has to physically push with your hand or belly causes human traffic jams. A big contrast is seen on what’s in place for automated fare checks on the NYMTA (old narrow width turnstiles) versus the London Underground (wide width fare gates).

    Not to mention the turnstiles are a pain in the butt to carry large items through like bicycles or rollerboards.

    But I guess turnstiles were what Metro could only afford at the time. At least the wider fare gates are used for wheelchair passengers, so I’m sure those who get the “hang” of it will go tap through them instead of dealing with annoying metallic turnstiles.

  6. About the transfer at 7th/metro:

    Um what?! I assumed that the lack of turnstiles between the red/purple lines and blue/expo was intentional to facilitate an easy and free transfer like most other metro systems already have. Does Metro seriously expect patrons to exit the turnstiles, re tap or buy a new ticket, then re enter the system?! If so, that is the most nonsensical approach to fares I have ever seen. People rightfully assume that it’s just a simple transfer, no catch 22s, hence no fare “evasion”. Why would anybody assume you need to exit the system to pay a second fare that should not even be there in the first place. Metro needs a sensible one way fare structure which charges per trip, not per line especially where there is no place within the system (at 7th/metro) to tap between said transit lines.

  7. I still say that without Metrolink on TAP (which seems unlikely anytime soon), locking Union Station and 7th Street will be problematic. It always casues a large back up when the Sheriffs do fare checks at the turnstiles during peak hour and I can’t imagine this will be any better. If people have to go through weeks of “testing” that cause them to repeatedly miss their Metrolink train or show up late to work, it could cost ridership on both systems. But then maybe I’m biased because I love the ease and speed of walking through without digging around for my monthly Metrolink pass.

  8. @Erik G.

    If the hearing results say otherwise, it seems we’ll have the results in two weeks.

    Furthermore, this test isn’t just about locking the gates. There are other things going on behind the scenes such as data collecting how Metro riders commute and simulating the revenue stream on a distance fare system.

    IMO, this gate locking experiment is doing a lot more than what Metro has been doing for the past ten years. You can’t start off something without hard data collecting, and analyzing data is a vital key in strategizing how to manage and fund public transit especially at a time of budget cuts.

  9. Steve Hymon,

    Could we have some honest and tranparent numbers concerning how much staffing (i.e. how many people) these “locked turnstile” exercises are utilizing? What are the salaries/pay levels of the persons involved (A reminder this is public record, so it can be looked up)?

    That way we can do the math and figure out how much the per second or per minute costs are for the 50-odd citiations and 5 arrests credited to “locked turnstiles”.

  10. @Frank M

    “Wilshire/Vermont change name to East Koreatown = RL06
    Vermont/Beverly change name to Thai Town = RL07″

    How about we first consult the people from the community before we give the station an arbitrary name that’s not even an accurate description of the area?

    When I get off at Vermont/Beverly, lessee, I see a Korean-owned hotel, a Filipino fast food joint, and an El Salvadoran gift shop.
    Dude, it’s NOT Thai Town. You’re three stops off (Hollywood/Western.”

  11. Say Steve,

    Why is Union Station deleted from the Locked Turnstile motion? I’d love to see LA Metro lock those gates, but instead of 1pm to 4pm, why not, say, 6am to 9am?


  12. @John McCready

    The opinion of Metro wasting taxpayer money on things that “do not move” is a gross underestimate.

    Public transits across the world do not rely on fare revenues alone. Many public transit agencies receives additional sources of income from utilizing real estate that they own, which includes economic activity from train stations and transit centers. Revenue earned from things that “do not move” puts money into Metro’s budget to keep our transit system running.

    With that regard however, Metro does need to do a much better job in maximizing the revenue earning opportunities from their existing real estate that they own. The Hong Kong MTR makes billions in revenue from real estate income from the properties that they own, mainly rental and profit sharing income from businesses at the train station. In contrast the LAX/Aviation Green Line station is totally void of any business activity which otherwise would be put to better use by demolishing the plant spaces there and building a mini-CVS Pharmacy or something.

  13. Here’s one for the Metro staff to fix – please change “Redondo Beach” station to “Redondo Beach Ave” Station. It provides confusion, especially for tourists who want to go to the beach…and then realize the staiton is not walking distance at all to the ocean. I understand Metro will be changing “Anaheim” station to “Anaheim St” station on the Blue Line…the same should be done for “Redondo Beach” station on the Green Line.


  14. How come there are no turnstiles to go through when transferring from the Red/Purple to the Blue Line at 7th/Metro Center?

    There must be tons of fare evasion going on, especially since to go to the ticket machine to buy the new ticket for the next line, you have to exit the exisiting turnstiles.

    (Which I am sure is what everyone is doing since you get to miss the connection and may have to wait up to 20 minutes for the next Blue Line train…right?)

  15. Unless the area around the station is named for some politician, how about not naming the station after any politicians?

    (Yes, I know it hurts their egos, but too bad)

  16. Why do we continue to have 2 different Slauson stations?

    Slauson Blue Line Station and
    Slauson Silver Line Station

    Please fix!

  17. Nothing on the agenda about INCREASING BUS SERVICE? Even after the MTA gets $126 MILLION from the feds to “buy new CNG buses” (like that is gonna happen!). The MTA is more interested in spending money on things that DO NOT MOVE (like EL Monte Station, or Union Station, or the Patasouras Transit Redevelopment!), then on things that DO MOVE, like the buses, or the people who ride them! Short of an “Occupy the MTA” movement, there will never be any changes to address rider concerns!

  18. @Y Fukuzawa

    I agree. Eventually LA Metro needs to consider adding subset station letters & numbers like the route map links that you gave especially when we have a convolution of multiple lines across the city.

    The NY Subway is a maze to navigate on the map itself let alone actually trying to navigate it physically. Alphanumeric subsets make the transit traveler easier to recognize station names than trying to memorize the actual station name in full, let alone much easier to identify which lines run through that station.

    If station names are to be done, I propose doing the alphanumeric subsets at the same time to reduce costs. Example for the Red Line would be:

    Union Station = RL01 (Red Line Station #1)
    Civic Center = RL02
    Wilshire/Vermont change name to East Koreatown = RL06
    Vermont/Beverly change name to Thai Town = RL07
    North Hollywood terminus = RL14 = OR01 (Red Line Station #14 = Orange Line Station #1)

  19. @kabir

    We have to stop associating places based on a car centric mindset. Many places across the world uses geographical names for station names instead of cross streets.

    A good example is the London Underground. “Westminster Station” is much easier and much more obvious than cross street of “Bridge & St. Margaret.” And obviously, Westminster Station is in…Westminster.

    Of course, I’d also move to consider adding a subset of alphanumeric letters and numbers to each station as it’s becoming the case with metros all across Asia:

    Tokyo Metro route map with subset alphanumeric station letters+numbers:

    Seoul Metro route map with subset alphanumeric station letters+numbers:

    Bangkok BTSC route map with subset alphanumeric station letters+numbers:

    Singapore SMRT route map with subset alphanumeric station letters+numbers:

  20. @ Frank

    Actually Metro does not even have to add parking meters in order to charge for parking. Just paint some numbers on the parking spots and have customers pay for parking at the ticket vending machines like BART does.

    Here is a nice video documenting the procedure

  21. seriously!?

    look, does anyone know where the “Venice/Robertson” stop is?

    i have a pretty good guess.

    but change its name to the “Culver City” stop, and you make it HARDER for people to locate.

    • Kabir,

      I can’t speak for those who are advocating for the change to “Culver City,” but I can hazard an argument. For one, this stop will be the closest to downtown Culver City. Culver CIty’s downtown is very much travel destination, with its various jobs, restaurants, theaters, nightlife etc., so calling the station “Culver City” would identify the stop with city’s destinations little more clearly than “Venice/Robertson” would.

      Just my two cents.

      Carter Rubin
      Contributor, The Source

  22. I’m still partial to whether the cost associated to station name changes are worth it especially at a time of budget cuts.

    Are station name changes such a high priority item as opposed to using the same amount of funds to invest in alternative revenue sources like putting parking meters to existing free park-and-ride lots? Said name changes can be done later through revenue earned from parking fees.

  23. Locking the gates at 7th Street will be a disaster if they try it during rush hour. There hasn’t been nearly enough PR to inform the sheer number of people, particularly those with Metrolink passes, who go through that station. Even with good PR, every evening I see hundreds go from 7th Street to Union Station. If they locked it during rush hour, Metro would be trying to cram them all through a single attendant to check their ticket and tap them through one by one, while they’re rushing to catch a Metrolink train. Good luck with that.