Hockey fans whistle Metro for game misconduct

The above tweets pretty much sum it up: it was slow going both to board the Stadium Express and reach Union Station after the Kings-Ducks game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.

Obviously, Metro apologizes for any inconvenience to fans. As is often the case when these type of things go south, there were several issues. I’ll do my best to explain:

•First and foremost, the game was sold out on Saturday and traffic was very congested in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, particularly in the post-game crunch. In that traffic, buses were treated no different than cars and a lot of our buses were stuck in the crawl out of the parking lot. The more buses that got stuck, the longer the wait for those who were waiting at the stadium for buses to return from Union Station.

•Another contributing issue: there was no enforcement by city of Los Angeles of the bus/carpool lane on Sunset Boulevard outside the stadium. Why?

•Metro usually pays the city of Los Angeles for the bus lane enforcement from a state air pollution grant that funds the Dodger Stadium Express. (the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department also helps ensure buses get into and out of the stadium). The grant, however, only pays for service to baseball games and Metro didn’t have a mechanism in place to pay for the bus lane enforcement for the hockey game. Metro did manage to find a sponsor (KNBC) to help pay for some of the Stadium Express bus service.

•The NHL — which organized the game and rented the stadium for it  — raised the price of parking at Dodger Stadium to $20 for general parking (and more for premium parking), which is $10 more than the Dodgers charges. The NHL also issued a press release last week encouraging fans to take the bus to the game or to carpool because of expectations there could be a parking shortage. That probably led to increased demand for the Stadium Express. 

•Metro usually runs 12 to 20 buses for baseball games. For the hockey game, Metro had 16 buses in service before the game and 20 after the game — thereby raising the question that perhaps more are needed to handle the sold out events at the ballpark. For those who asked, Metro can’t use its articulated buses in the Dodger Stadium parking lot due to weight restrictions put in place by the team. 

I know these answers may not satisfy everyone but I hope the post does shed some light on the challenges involved in running service to the stadium. On the Metro end of things, agency officials say they are aware of the complaints and will keep working to improve service to baseball games and other events at the stadium.

13 replies

  1. In the old days, employees were trusted and empowered to make good decisions – like the transit supervisor you described. Today, it’s all about CYA from the top of the food chain. Employees are no longer allowed to make decisions without a whole boatload of supervisors to approve. This is really noticeable as a bus rider in L.A.

  2. ” there was no enforcement by city of Los Angeles of the bus/carpool lane on Sunset Boulevard outside the stadium. Why?”

    Odd choice of words since the ‘Bus Only’ lane during the time in question had no restrictions to enforce — parking is permitted in the lane outside of regular peak traffic hours. Since the funding was not secured to deploy any city support staff, is it also safe to assume that no advance coordination was done with the city to notify residents and post the required temporary parking restriction signs to clear the lane for Saturday’s game?

  3. I don’t believe Viola or any other MTA contractor have any where near 20 MTA 40 foot buses. The majority of MTA buses the contractors have are 30 foot 3100 series buses. Up until a couple of years ago there were no “buses only lanes” to Dodger Stadium on Sunset Bl.

    When the RTD/MTA operated the Dodger Stadium service buses going to the stadium made more than one trip carrying passengers there. The supervisor handling the event would then determine how many buses were needed to take the passengers back to downtown and order the additional service. The same method was used for the race tracks and Hollywood Bowl. Service especially for the Hollywood Bowl was treated as a priority and regular service would be canceled or delayed in order to fill those assignments.

  4. This is where too many jurisdiction get involved. The Bottom Line is:
    “LA City: Give us the money upfront, we don’t care about our citizens stuck in gridlock.” But since this was a special event, the promoters as part of their contract with the Dodgers and the Ex-Dodger owner who still owns the parking lot should have a clause that would require such a payment be made. Otherwise, no matter where the money comes from, we stakeholders are paying for it!

  5. @Just a person

    Traffic officers are used to enhance traffic flow, but enforcement for moving violations is directly under the purview of the LAPD. When it comes to enforcement capacity, LADOT Parking Enforcement officers can only issue citations for parking violations. The author specifically cited enforcement of the bus lane as the issue that led to congestion, thus, LAPD.

    “there was no enforcement by city of Los Angeles of the bus/carpool lane on Sunset Boulevard”

    That aside, it still comes down to a funding issue since even deployment of traffic officers requires funding. It was the event organizers that dropped the ball here, not the city.

  6. @Bob Patterson

    Traffic control by the City of LA is doen by Parking Enforcement. They are the ones that are specially trained and experienced. So no LAPD patrol officers would have been needed extra for this. Parking Enforcement already does work reversing lanes, etc. for events like ths.

  7. The main reason why Metro didint use it’s high capacity buses is because Metro does not run the stadium express directly. It is contracted out to southland transit. The buses used are old 4ft foot buses that Metro gave to this contract service. If Metro used its own operators, believe me, u would see the new 45ft buses going to the event. The 45 ft busses are lighter and are built for high capacity. As for weight restriction I will need to check my sources, I dont recall the artics being an issue.

  8. And once again, the occupant(s) of working motor vehicles are prioritized over those who were trying to help this event lessen its impact. Who didn’t know this extravaganza was going to happen? Who is it that thought hockey in Southern Californa just isn’t popular? Who didn’t think this would be the “see and be seen” event of the winter?

    Nah, why treat this just like a Dodger game? The automotive dealers of Southern California thank you for yet another endorsement, Metro.

    Buses get stuck in traffic? Who’d a thunk?

  9. First off, thank you Metro for even providing the Stadium Express service in the first place. It’s not something Metro has to do, but it’s a great alternative to parking at Dodger Stadium.

    While I also wish that the 60-foot articulated buses could be used for the bigger events held at Dodger Stadium, I understand that they can’t. From my observation, the buses used are the ones contracted out to Veolia for the Metro-contracted services, and as far as I know, none of the articulated buses are in the contract fleet. (Sorry, getting a bit too technical there.)

    One improvement I would like to see is improved communication and coordination between the involved organizations and with the public. Nowhere on the Metro site did it mention when the shuttle service would start. It took some time to find a website that said when the shuttle service would start (which was 5pm, or 2 hours before faceoff). With the heavy promotion of the Stadium Express service, I’m sure a lot of people also wanted to go to the pre-game festivities that started at 3:30pm, only to be disappointed that shuttle service didn’t start until 5pm. I think it would have been nice to start the shuttle service at 3:30pm to give people a chance to go to the pre-game festivities. There was also no one from Metro stationed at the Union Station stop to inform people about when the service would start.

    There’s always room for improvement, but I also appreciate that you guys will work on improving this service.

  10. Way to try and blame the city for the failings of the NHL & Metro in coordinating this event. Special events require additional officers for selective enforcement, hence the established funding for baseball games. Can you imagine the fallout if officers were moved from call response to bus lane enforcement for this event? They would be accused of ignoring their safety roles in order to cater to the needs of persons with expendable income. Alternatively, do you believe that the city should have allocated additional officers at their expense? I have a feeling that the majority of angelenos may balk at the idea of subsidizing that effort.

    Who was responsible for securing funding to provide additional officers for special enforcement of the bus lanes? Did the NHL assume that Metro would provide the bus service or did Metro indicate that the service will be provided and then drop the ball when it came to funding? Why didn’t Metro plan for the increased demand given the sold out game + increased parking rate?? Did the NHL not notify Metro of the anticipated demand or did Metro just not properly forecast it?

  11. I just hope no one got stuck at Union Station waiting for an Amtrak train to head back. OCTA and Metrolink heavily promoted that option and delayed the late Amtrak train a few minutes in case the game went into overtime.

    Shuttles at special events seem to fail to work out. When the Dodgers played an exhibition game at the LA Coliseum several years ago, there were stories of people waiting several hours for return buses back to Dodger Stadium (which was used as a park and ride lot).

  12. I appreciate that Metro acknowledges the issues and will work to improve them. Better than many government agencies out there. (Also, good to know about the articulated buses. I was curious!)