Transportation headlines, Tuesday, August 7

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

Transit riders could be victims as unions fight pension reform (Daily News)

This editorial doesn’t mince words about the ongoing dispute that could cost Metro $2.2 billion in federal grants, including money for operations, maintenance and the Purple Line Extension and Regional Connector. This story in the LANG newspapers yesterday explains it well — basically unions have complained to the U.S. Department of Labor that pension reform in California violates their collective bargaining rights. In turn, the Department of Labor is holding federal grants for Metro and some other transit agencies in California.


The Teamsters and other unions representing California transit workers argue that the changes in government employee pensions passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year violated their collective bargaining rights. They’re backing a bill introduced in January to exempt about 20,000 transit workers from the changes. The bill, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, a Democrat from Watsonville, is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

That bill should be defeated and the unions’ complaint withdrawn, freeing the grant money and removing the threat of service cutbacks and fare hikes.

Imagine how many hard-working Southern California commuters the unions and their allies in Sacramento would be willing to inconvenience if the 2012 pension reform were really something to complain about.

Excellent point. If Metro has to reduce service or projects, many workers of all stripes will likely suffer.

A tip to Metro at 7th/Metro Center: signage needed for your wheelchair passengers (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The Hope Street exit at 7th/Metro Center does not have an elevator — meaning that passengers who use wheelchairs may exit through the gates and then be stuck in a dead-end exit that does not allow them to reach the street. The only solution would be to pay to re-enter the station in order to reach the elevators or to use the help phone to gain re-admission.

I have passed along the story to Metro officials this morning who say they are aware this is a situation that needs to be corrected.

Beverly Hills Council to review all Metro construction permits (Beverly Hills Courier) 

Three members of the City Council, including Mayor John Mirisch, told city staff that they don’t want any work permits granted for Metro unless approved by the Council — which is an unusual step for a construction project. The first phase of the Purple Line Extension will run to the border of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills at Wilshire and La Cienega boulevards. “I don’t think Metro should get a free ride,” [Councilmember Nancy] Krasne said. “Let’s extend the same courtesy to them that they’ve extended to us. When they want something, they can come in and ask for it.”

The city of Beverly Hills has sued Metro in both state and federal court, alleging the environmental study for the project was flawed. The city and the Beverly Hills Unified School District, which has also filed two suits, is trying to stop the second phase of the project from tunneling under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus.

Small paper in Beverly Hills has a big voice (L.A. Times)

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times profiles Clif Smith, the publisher of the Courier and asks questions about whether the Courier plays fair when it comes to covering local news. The Courier’s coverage of the subway project is briefly discussed.

Getting to know new Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois (L.A. Streetsblog) 

Damien Newton interviews Lakewood Councilmember DuBois, who has served on the Metro Board the past three years. Key excerpt:

When I sat down with DuBois last week, it was clear that under her leadership the Metro Board would focus on what needs to be done to keep the momentum moving towards building a transit system that works for all of Los Angeles County. While she looks forward to a future where Los Angeles County has an “extraordinary multi-modal transit system,” she also recognizes that many of Metro’s most exciting projects are currently slated to be completed decades from now.

“A lot of the things we have on the books, I’ll not live to see,” she replied.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do right now. Will there be another Measure J, the just missed effort to extend the sales tax to promote a better bonding atmosphere? “I would think so, we came too close.” In the meantime, she believes that Metro staff can be better utilized to keep projects moving through the pipeline.

“We have a very ambitious Measure R program,” DuBois says of the projects being planned and built in-part because of a county-wide sales tax passed in 2008. “In order to do that (get all projects constructed on time,) we’ve placed a lot of pressure on our employees…and that’s created some tension in the organization. I want to make this a kinder and gentler place to work.”

12 replies

  1. Ron, every city in L.A. County get a proportional share of local return funds from the 3 sales taxes. Plus of course it funds bus services in your area.

  2. I wish Diane Dubois well but, as I am a Lakewood resident and she a Lakewood City Council Member, our city receives exactly zilch in Metro Transportation funds. Measure R meant nothing to us.

  3. “What I’m most curious about and what I don’t know is how much the Dept of Labor and White House are on the same page about this.”

    Yeah. Dynamics at the federal level can be opaque to discern.

  4. A lot of bikes like to use the wheelchair turnstile, though, since it eliminates the need to lift the bike over the turnstile. Some people can lift something a foot off the ground, like going up the stairs, but not three feet over a turnstile. The same goes for someone carrying luggage, which could be set on the escalator.

  5. On the hope street entrance, why not just have only conventional turnstiles there so that wheelchairs don’t try to go out that way in the first place.Of course there should also be a sign.

  6. I think it’s about time to start talking about realigning the Purple Line from Wilshire/Fairfax diagonally down to Pico, then back up to Century City. BH doesn’t want a subway? Fine, they don’t get one.

  7. Should have share this before — via the Board box a mind-numbingly lengthy compilation of Metro’s engagement on the pension issue

    AFAIK Santa Barbara MTD is the first agency in our area to seek help from riders in re this situation

    Maybe all this attention will pressure the various parties to get out of the coner they have worked themselvs into.

    • Hi Dana;

      I think “mind-numbingly” is a very perfect description. Tough issue. What I’m most curious about and what I don’t know is how much the Dept of Labor and White House are on the same page about this. I think that would be a very interesting media angle.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  8. Can’t wait for the day Google perfects driverless car technology so that the Teamsters will be out of a job. Though I’m pretty sure the Teamsters will fight tooth and nail to prevent cash strapped bus operators and truck companies to prevent driverless technology to be implemented for the sake of preserving their jobs.

    They’ll probably cite “safety reasons” or whatever BS they can think up of, drag the system along with more frivilous lawsuits and lobby with hefty political donations. You can see it coming from a mile away already.

  9. I’m pro-union but they increasingly seem to be extremely greedy. Makes me think about whether unions have surpassed their original purpose to get their employees FAIR treatment and benefits and moved on to becoming A BUSINESS designed support the union itself which in turn cripples the institution which their agents(employees) are a part of. Really! There’s a point where it becomes a little much. The workers’ rights struggles and movements of the 1800’s we’re right on and that is why I support unions in theory but then I see and hear about the demands of certain unions and it gets me thinking. If this affects our ability to build out or run transit effectively then…. it isn’t fair to the tax payer that wants to implement and take advantage of these public services. There is a movement across the country against unions and corporations for this reason. In my opinion they’re oversteping their boundary and this continuous need for more may lead to huge setbacks in the future not only for unions but also for workers rights….

    • Hi Jose;

      It’s on hiatus for a while. I thought it was getting a big tired and wanted to see if readers in fact missed it or maybe there was a better way of doing it. Still thinking about it.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source