Transportation headlines, Friday, February 21

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Metrolink to roll out collision avoidance system (L.A. Times) 

Initial runs by trains using the Positive Train Control system began this week and Metrolink plans to expand it to the rest of their system well before a December 2015 deadline. It’s important because Metrolink trains must share their tracks with freight trains and Amtrak.

Freewaves debuts “Long Live LA” on Transit TV (L.A. Streetsblog) 

Videos by Los Angeles Couty-based artists that tackle a range of health issues will be shown regularly on Transit TV on Metro buses. Damien has posted one of them — if the TVs must be there, sounds like good programming.

Portland: the citizens’ priorities for transportation (Human Transit) 

Transportation planner Jarrett Walker parses the results of what appears to be a thorough survey that asked Portland residents to prioritize their transportation needs. Number one on the list was safer pedestrian crossings. The number one transit priority: more frequent bus service.

Walker sees this as a sign of tension between Portland residents and the regional transit agency that actually runs bus service. Excerpt:

Core cities have higher per capita transit demands than their suburbs [see Chapter 10 of my book Human Transit] so they always tend to be underserved — relative to demand — by regional transit agencies that aim for some concept of “regional equity.”  In many cases, the only solution is for core city voters to step up and vote, for themselves, the additional service that only they know that they need.  This doesn’t have to mean breaking up the regional agency, but it does mean giving up on the idea that any service distribution formula that a suburb-dominated region would agree on will meet the core city’s expectations for transit, based on the core city’s economy and values.

Such tensions certainly exist in sprawling L.A. County, where Metro serves both the urban core and suburban areas — some with and some without their own city bus service. The public policy question is where is it best to put service? Bulk up in the busiest areas ridership-wise? Or try to spread it around in recognition of the fact that folks who are transit dependent live in the ‘burbs, too? I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this one.

Bill would add two members to Metro Board of Directors (California bill tracker) 

The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Chris Holden, whose district includes Pasadena, Altadena and other parts of the northern San Gabriel Valley. The bill proposes adding two voting members to the Metro Board of Directors, bringing the total to 15 — and those two members would be appointed respectively by the Speaker of the Assembly and the Senate Rules Committee.

That’s a radical departure from the current practice with every Board member either being someone who was elected by voters in parts of Los Angeles County or appointed by someone who was elected by voters in our area. In other words, the bill (as written now) could allow elected officials from outside Southern California to choose who sits on the Metro Board, which is the deciding body on many countywide transportation issues.

By law, the Metro Board is comprised of each of the five County Supervisors, the Mayor of Los Angeles and his three appointees and one City Council member or Mayor from four subregions in the county.

So what’s this really about? The very same issue discussed in the above item about tensions between core urban areas and suburbs when it comes to transit service and where to build projects. An example: the proposed Gold Line extension to Montclair that is in Metro’s long-range plan and is currently unfunded (along with other projects), which some in the San Gabriel Valley have alleged is the result of the the Board being too L.A.-centric.

Is it? The city of L.A. has its four members on the Board in addition to representation from the five County Supervisors who all have part of the city of L.A. in their districts. Each of the five supervisors also have other cities in their districts, meaning they have to consider a lot of different and often competing interests.

City of Los Angeles officials have long countered that the current arrangement makes sense, given that Los Angeles tends to be the densest and the part of the county where transit is most used. Others counter back that the city has about 38.5 percent of the county’s population, meaning 62.5 percent of Los Angeles County residents are not living in the nation’s second-largest city but are helping pay for transit service there. (It’s also worth noting that existing law would take away one of Los Angeles’ appointees and give it to another city if L.A.’s population falls under 35 percent of the county’s total).

We’ll see if the bill gets any traction and whether the Metro Board takes a position on it; the issue has come up in the past. I’m guessing the bill will also attract the interest of other transit agencies who have a view one way or the other whether the Legislature should be involved in selecting their Board members. One thing to keep in mind is that transit agency boards don’t just make decisions involving what gets built transportation-wise — they also choose contractors and approve of labor contracts. Under the proposed bill, the Assembly and Senate could potentially gain a say in those matters.

13 replies

  1. Private security guards regularly carry hand guns on MTA buses at night going to and returning from work.

  2. The conceal carry weapons permit question is an interesting one, worthy of a Transportation Headline article all by itself.

    After fact checking on Google, as of today, there doesn’t seem to be any law or restrictions against it.

    The only places licensed conceal carry weapons are off-limits in CA are legislative offices, gun shows, courtrooms and polling places. It makes absolutely no mention of public transit. Licensed carry holders can even bring their firearms to school if they wanted to.

    Shocking indeed, isn’t it?

    Metro’s Code of Conduct has no force of law attached to it; it’s based on the assumption that people who are carrying guns in public are doing so illegally because up until now, only the police were legally allowed to carry firearms in public, especially in Los Angeles.

    The Ninth Circuit overturning the practice would in effect create a more liberal stance on issuing conceal carry permits. Legal carry permit holders in Los Angeles throws a new wrench into the issue.

    In Illinois, they passed legislation last year to ban conceal carry in public transit. All it did was create a lot more confusion on what is legal and what is not.

    If shall issue conceal carry comes to Los Angeles, it will be another set of problems that Metro and lawmakers need to figure out.

  3. That’s insane. I don’t want people packing guns legally or illegally onto our buses and trains.

    Metro needs to step up to the plate and clarify this. No guns on Metro, period.

    • Hi John;

      The Code of Conduct clearly states that weapons are not allowed on trains. As I told the commenter, concealed carry permits usually carry restrictions and it’s incumbent on the permit holder to find out exactly what those restrictions are.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. The counter to the complaints about the State placing voting members on the Metro Board is that this is the structure that has continued for years at the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The AQMD has a Governor, Assembly and Senate appointee and seems to function well, and the State representatives are not politicians trying to seek higher office.

  5. I have a question that’s not related to this article.

    Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the long standing policy of most law enforcement agencies in California that one needs to state a “good cause” in order to apply for conceal carry weapons permits; one that up until now usually meant “unless you’re personal friends with the Sheriff, you’re not getting that permit.”

    The Ninth Circuit under Peruta v. San Diego overturned that on the grounds that open carry is illegal in the State of California, therefore the only option is conceal carry, stating an impossible to get “good cause” violates the Second Amendment and that “self defense” is a good enough reason for one to obtain a conceal carry weapons permit. What this does is make California a defacto shall issue state.

    The San Diego Sheriff’s Department has complied and will not seek an en banc or appeal of this decision. This ruling stands is now applies to all law enforcement agencies in California, including all of Los Angeles law enforcement agencies.

    That being said, it is likely that Los Angeles will see a major spike in conceal carry weapon applicants, license to carry holders and that there will be more legal concealed weapons in the public.

    Being said that, what is Metro’s policy with regards to legal licensed to carry firearms holders using the Metro system today and will you be changing your policies and guidelines to forbid conceal carry weapons on public transit?


    Mind that Metro is a taxpayer funded public agency, therefore it has to abide by the constructs of the law, including the US Constitution and the US Bill of Rights.

    • Hi Second Amendment;

      Here is the latest from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on the Peruta v. San Diego case and how it is impacting the permit process. There is also a link there to the application form.

      As for where you can and can not legally carry a concealed weapon, I encourage you to contact the law enforcement agency that issued the permit. As you probably know, permits usually come with certain restrictions – so it’s best to check with law enforcement, as I don’t want to provide you bad information.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. The problem with more “local control” idea is that it only adds to more differences in opinions, contradictory regulations and municipal codes to get nothing done.

    You’re already seeing this today with the City of Beverly Hills being at odds with Metro subway expansion plans or how even within the City of Los Angeles, the SFV opposition to the light rail idea in the 1990s created the stupid Orange Line BRT mess.

    If more autonomy and more local control were the answer, would you say that Koreatown should split off from City of LA and have them elect their own mayor and city council? Should the San Fernando Valley secede from the City of LA and have them do their things their own way?

    All it will do is create more problems than solutions.

    What LA County needs today is more unity, not as citizens of 88 cities, but as citizens of one county.

  7. LA City-County merger, who is going to carry the water on this merger bill? Lobbying Sacramento takes more than a blog post. Plus be ready for resistance from a lot of stakeholders. And is bigger necessarily better? San Francisco is on a peninsula. L.A. County covers a lot of territory. I see zero chance of this happening.

    My cynical side sees us saddled with ex-legislators added to the Metro Board whose chief interest being on it is using it for media attention while scouting for another office to open up to run for if the Holden bill is passed. What do we gain from that? How will the BART Board like this precedent that could then be used to have similar appointees made to it?

  8. Being involved with the Gold Line, formerly the Blue Line, since the beginning as a South Pasadena Transportation Commissioner, I would have to disagree with the implication of some from San Gabriel Valley (SGV) that the lack of funding for the extension of the Gold Line to Montclair is because the board is L.A.-centric. The irrefutable fact is that certain officials from the SGV COG and Board Member Fasana are favoring the multi-billion dollar (SCAG’s cost estimate is $11.8 billion) SR 710 toll tunnels over the extension of the Gold Line. For years they have been pushing for the tunnels, which is widely opposed, over the Gold Line extensions, which is widely supported.

    A geographic area like the SGV has three major projects on their list…ACE, Gold Line and SR 710 tunnels…only the first two are good sustainable projects worthy of funding consideration. The faster we fund and build the transit projects in LA to increase mobility, the better it will be for the everyone, including residents of SGV.

  9. The City-County of San Francisco would fit easily into the City of Los Angeles. Local control is much better for it’s citizens. West Hollywood is never in the red and has a excellent fiscal record. Why should we be lumped in with those cities including Los Angeles that continually cuts services to stay afloat?

  10. Funny that the poster above mentioned that LA should merge into one because there’s now a green light plan spearheaded by a venture capitalist to split California into six states.

    All it needs to do is collect 807,000 signatures to get onto the November ballot.

    If the plan falls through, Los Angeles County will be part of West California and there will only be 4 counties: San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles. Far easier to get LA objectives done than wheeling and dealing with state and federal funds to be dispersed through other counties in CA.

    Los Angeles as the most populous county could be come the new state capital for West Califonia and we’ll be free to make to get a fresh start to make own state rules rather than deal with Sacramento politicians.

  11. I say we should just introduce a bill to merge all of the 88 cities in LA County into one large LA City-County.

    It’s so stupid that we’re still running things like fiefdom domains where everyone from Lancaster and Palmdale to the north to Long Beach and Signal Hill to the South, Malibu and Westlake Village to the west to Pomona to Claremont to the east wants to do things their own way.

    Has anyone looked at the geographical map of the cities in Los Angeles County lately?

    That is the core of bureaucracy right there!

    If all these cities combined into one large Los Angeles City-County like San Francisco did in the past, we’ll be the most populous city in the United States overnight, outflanking NYC.