Above: pics of community outreach and audits done to identify first/last mile issues around Blue Line stations. Photos: Metro.
The Blue Line First/Last Mile Plan was adopted Thursday by the Metro Board of Directors (staff report). This is a big document — and a first-of-its-kind one for Metro and other transit agencies in terms of its breadth and the community partnerships involved.
Over the last two-plus years, Metro staff and community members and stakeholders literally pounded the pavement together, walking the many neighborhoods surrounding the Blue Line’s 22 stations. Their goal was simple: identify barriers that make getting to and from the stations more difficult and focus on the improvements needed to make reaching the Blue Line — by foot, bike and transit — safer, easier and more pleasant.
The full Blue Line First/Last Mile Plan is here. Among the improvements the plan calls for are better sidewalks, more and safer crosswalks, more lighting for pedestrians, better and safer bike lanes and facilities, more trees to supply shade, bus stop improvements, pickup/dropoff locations near stations and landscaping.
Below is a presentation given to the Metro Board that covers the basics:
The real meat-and-bones of the plan in terms of infrastructure improvements is in Appendix A, where you can see the station-by-station recommendations, along with the audits done of the many issues near the stations. These are not short lists, people. For example, here are some of the pages for the 103rd Street/Watts Station:
How will the plan be implemented? Metro intends to prepare multiple applications for funding different parts of the project to the state’s Active Transportation Program. The gist of it: projects in the plan won’t be funded and built all at once. Instead, the plan will be broken into smaller pieces and implemented over time by local jurisdictions with support from Metro as funding becomes available.
Again, I want to stress that this is a new way of thinking for a transit agency. In the past, most transit agencies — including Metro — would focus on building a transit project and that was it. As the years passed it became evident that wasn’t enough and that stations had to be better connected to surrounding neighborhoods. On that front, Metro in 2014 adopted its First/Last Mile Strategic Plan to provide best practices to Metro and other jurisdictions in our region (The plan, by the way, won an American Planning Association Best Practices Award).
Point of emphasis here, folks: this is not a plan that burped forth from planners inhabiting the Metro Mothership. Rather, it’s a plan assembled by Metro in partnership with community members. The plan is a good example of a process that sought to address equity concerns and ties in to Metro’s new Equity Platform — smarter planning, an increased commitment to environmental justice, more innovative community engagement and achieving better outcomes for everyone in Los Angeles County. Especially communities that have historically been left behind.
The Blue Line First/Last Mile Plan is a big step — endeavoring to acknowledge the history around Metro’s oldest and busiest light rail line that traverses areas that have not exactly received the long end of the stick. One more thought: there are more of these type of plans to come, including for the second and third sections of the Purple Line Extension between Beverly Hills and Westwood.
Thoughts, readers? Do you think Metro is barking up the right tree?