Metro Recovery Task Force releases draft final report and recommendations to improve county’s quality of life post-pandemic

In April 2020, Metro created a Recovery Task Force to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to recommend actions the agency can take in the wake of the nation’s public health crisis in over a century.

The Recovery Task Force has now delivered a draft of its final report — the report is posted above and you can download here. The report includes research on how the pandemic has impacted Metro and Los Angeles County, updates on progress toward the Task Force’s initial recommendations and a new set of final recommendations with implementation plans.

The report acknowledges that Metro still faces significant challenges and uncertainties with the number of COVID-19 cases surging in our region. Yes, vaccinations for COVID-19 are beginning but there remains many questions about when and how the pandemic ends and when daily life will get back to normal (or a new normal). 

That said, the Task Force strongly believes that Metro can come back stronger and that its recommendations could help prevent a return to conditions prior to the pandemic — that is, horrible traffic, dangerous streets, dirty air that also causes climate change and long-standing inequities that make it vastly more hard for low-income people and people of color to get around and access the things they need to survive and thrive.

The task force has tracked data on key pandemic impacts:

  • People of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in terms of illness, death and loss of jobs and income. Working moms have born the brunt of school closures.
  • Metro transit ridership fell sharply, partly rebounded and is currently about 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Remaining transit riders are predominantly essential workers: low-income people of color with little access to private vehicles.
  • Our annual budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year fell by approximately 16 percent due to lower local sales tax revenues.
  • Vehicle traffic is returning faster than transit ridership, and many regions have seen increased car purchases.

This chart from page 10 of the draft final report shows the use of Metro services in 2020 through September.

Task force recommendations were developed as a direct response to these impacts. The recommendations are unmistakably ambitious and were designed to result in meaningful change that improves the quality of life for all L.A. County residents.

The 17 final recommendations include proposals to improve mobility and to pay for these improvements. Many expand upon actions that Metro and its stakeholders are already pursuing. These recommendations also draw upon global best practices that are in line with Metro’s mission of providing world class transportation.

Metro is seeking public input on these 17 recommendations. Use this link to take a survey and leave comments on the Task Force’s recommendations. The comment period closes January 8, 2021.

•Improve HOV lanes so that they move faster than general lanes, expand ExpressLanes and run express buses on select HOV and ExpressLanes.

Accelerate networks of complete streets that prioritize buses and are safe and appealing for all users — including pedestrians and bicyclists.

Fully-integrate transit in L.A. County. To put it another way, imagine a world in which there’s one great transit map, a standard fare (or maybe no fare) across our county’s transit systems and there are easy transfers between all transit systems.

Offer incentives to reduce car ownership in L.A. County. The number of registered vehicles in our county is more than eight million and has grown steadily for decades. We’re running out of room to accommodate more vehicles and expanding roads is expensive, often widely opposed by residents and impacts our environment and quality of life.

Improve station amenities with more retail and restrooms at rail stations have more shade, comfort and better arrival information at bus stops.

Improve public engagement and strengthen rider voices so that Metro can quickly target and fix common issues.

Gather more comprehensive data on equity and travel patterns to better understand where people are going and when. This kind of travel data helped shape our recent NextGen Plan and helps Metro figure out when and where to bolster service. More demographic info can help Metro advance equity.

Share data and information more openly and effectively. This is just good government and could lead to better products for riders (such as our official app, Transit) and helps taxpayers see how we’re doing and encourages the public to suggest improvements.

Accelerate joint development and transit-oriented communities because living near transit provides more residents with more options besides driving.

Expand the region’s broadband infrastructure so all residents have access to information, telecommuting and education via the Internet.

Create more green jobs and green infrastructure to improve our region’s environment and bolster our local economy for the long term.

Reimagine Metro’s Destination Discounts to incentivize taking transit to key businesses and cultural offerings.

Study how Metro can reduce capital construction costs to expand the system faster and free funds for other purposes.

Build Metro staff capacity; the thinking here is that the more agency staff can do, the less the agency will have to rely on contracting for services.

Use the Measure M and R sales taxes to help cities respond to the pandemic (while, of course, abiding by the rules that govern spending of these revenues).

Expand revenue opportunities to help fund, for example, improvements such as better bus stops and more affordable housing near transit.

Identify funding for incentives to reduce car ownership — we think there are plenty of people who don’t want to deal with the expense and hassle of car ownership.

What do you think of these draft recommendations, readers? Leave a comment please.

11 replies

  1. The MTA has long overlooked the potential for local advertising on its buses. The interior of buses have little to no advertisement posted except those pertaining to the MTA. Buses operate in limited regions, i.e. Westside -Central. Cultivating local businesses not only will help the MTA but will help those businesses as well. Perhaps those advertisements could point out the nearest MTA stop to get to them. Adding to the program could be designating certain buses for certain lines. Not a new idea but one from the past when public transit was popular and the preferred mode to shop and to work. The MTA may also save valuable money by performing rail upgrades and maintenance in house. Not only would funds be saved but a training program could be created putting our counties youth to work with carrier jobs at the MTA. Where would the initial workers come from? With mergers, reduction in staffs and retirement from our nations railroads experienced workers with vast knowledge of track maintenance and upgrades would not only save money because they are in-house but they would bring the efficiencies our nations railroads have developed that put the slow inefficient building practices the MTA and its contractors have endured for decades to bed.

  2. New EXPRESS ROUTES OPERATED BY METRO. AGAIN, NEW EXPRESS ROUTES OPERATED BY METRO IS LONG OVERDUE. SADLY, METRO’S “NEXT GEN” BUS STUDY DID NOT ENHANCE OR EVEN ATTEMPT TO GROW METRO’S EXPRESS NETWORK. IT IS TIME FOR METRO TO PILOT WITH NEW POTENTIAL POINT TO POINT EXPRESS ROUTES. SOME OF THE POTENTIAL ROUTES I WOULD LIKE TO SEE METRO EXPERIMENT WITH INCLUDE:

    – PILOT LINE: 505 > 405 FWY EXPRESS LINE LINKING PANORARA CITY MALL OY SYLMAR METROLINK STATION WITH LAX VIA 405 FWY. EXPRESS LINE WOULD SERVE THE SEPULVEDA ORANGE LINE STATION, UCLA, EXPO/SEPULVEDA STATION, CULVER CITY TRANSIT CENTER AND LAX. THIS COULD HAVE BEEN POTENTIALLY LINE 788 WHICH IS NO LONGER OPERATING. THIS EXPRESS LINE WILL LIKELY WARRANT HIGH RIDERSHIP DEMAND DUE TO THE NOTORIOUS 405 TRAFFIC AND HIGH DEMAND SERVICE BETWEEN THE WESTSIDE AND THE VALLEY.

    -PILOT LINE 590: SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN EXPRESS LINE LINKING MAGIC MOUNTAIN AND THE NORTH HOLLYWOOD RED/ORANGE LINE STATIONS VIA THE 170 AND 5 FWY; WOULD SERVE THE SYLMAR METRO LINK STATION; SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN REMAINS AS THE ONLY THEME PARK IN THE LA AREA WITHOUT A DIRECT AND EFFECTIVE BUS SERVICE.LONG OVERDUE FOR METRO BUS SERVICE TO SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN. SERVICE TO KNOTT’S BERRY FARM AND DISNEYLAND IS PROVIDED BY METRO EXPRESS LINE 460. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD SERVICED BY THE METRO RED LINE AND SEVERAL METRO ROUTES.

    -PILOT LINE 551: SOUTH BAY CITIES 405 FWY EXPRESS LINE LINKING UCLA, LAX CITY BUS CENTER, SOUTH BAY GALLERIA AND THE HARBOR GATEWAY TRANSIT CENTER , LONG BEACH AIRPORT OR DOWNTOWN LONG BEACH. THIS WAS A PROPOSED ROUTE METRO WAS LOOKING INTO OPERATING BEFORE THE NEXT GEN STUDY WAS IMPLEMENTED.

    -PILOT LINE 591: 91 FWY EXPRESS LINE LINKING HARBOR GATEWAY TRANSIT CENTER , CSUDH, ARTESIA BL STATION, LAKEWOOD MALL (OPTIONAL), CERRITOS MALL, KNOTT’S BERRY FARM AND DISNEYLAND. LINE WOULD OPERATE ON THE 91 FWY.

    -PILOT LINE 510: SOUTHERN 405 FWY EXPRESS LINE RUSH HOUR SERVICE LINKING HARBOR GATEWAY TRANSIT CENTER, LONG BEACH AIRPORT, CSU LONG BEACH AND SEAL BEACH OPERATING VIA 405 FWY.

    -PILOT LINE 515: 710 FWY EXPRESS LINE LINKING DOWNTOWN LONG BEACH OR WILLOW STATION OR LONG BEACH AIRPORT TO CAL STATE LA AND NORTHEAST TO DOWNTOWN PASADENA VIA 710 FWY.

    PILOT LINE 570: 210 FWY EXPRESS LINE LINKING SYLMAR METROLINK STATION, LA CANADA FLIGHTRIDGE, DOWNTOWN PASADENA TO PASADENA CITY COLLEGE OR ARCADIA STATION VIA 210 FWY

    AGAIN METRO CAN EXPERIMENT WITH THESE POINT TO POINT EXPRESS ROUTES AND SEE WHICH ONES ARE A POTENTIAL SUCCESS.

  3. “•Accelerate networks of complete streets that prioritize buses and are safe and appealing for all users — including pedestrians and bicyclists

    •Accelerate joint development and transit-oriented communities because living near transit provides more residents with more options besides driving.

    •Improve station amenities with more retail and restrooms at rail stations have more shade, comfort and better arrival information at bus stops.”

    All these have been recommended to Metro by every single Task Force/committee for the past 25 years.

    Yet nothing has been done. Go wait for the bus at Vermont/Santa Monica it is pathetic. Go ride a bike to a Metro Station it’s extremely dangerous. Go try to build a building without parking on top of a Metro Station, it’s impossible.

    I won’t hold my breath for these to be implemented.

  4. Less competing transit service if we are talking about a integrated transit system. I’ve long wondered why Foothill transit and Metro haven’t thought about merging and having one seamless system like RTD. You both operate the same service just different companies. The silver line and silver streak is all duplicated from el monte to downtown when it could just be one line. makes more sense to me to just be one big transit system

    • YES YES YES YES YES I AGREE. I would like to see Metro and Foothill transit merge and create the merged brand as Metro. Foothill transit was born from Metro. Only makes sense to merge them together back as Metro. If it does happen, the Silver Streak could be modified to operate between El Monte Station and Montclair.

    • I could be completely wrong as all this happen before I was born, but based on research, it seems like during the late 70s and early 80s, the RTD was cutting service left and right East of El Monte, leaving only the Express Lines available (that probably explains why the Line numberings on Foothill Transit are of that similar to Metro), so that’s where the creation of Foothill transit came into play.

      To be honest, I wouldn’t applaud the RTD if they were actually bullying the smaller agencies and starting turf wars with them as opposed to embracing them. Sure, the 1970s federal law prohibiting agencies from directly competing together played a role but there’s so much more to this story as well.

      I envied Seattle because they have Sound Transit which seems to be the umbrella and can serve the top 3 counties in the puget sound region, in addition to the county Metros, but what you are also suggesting could already be done under Metrolink as well as they could serve all 5 counties with bus and rail service going forward while Metro, OCTA, SANBAG, RTA, and VTC still operating in their own counties.

  5. Wait, what? Metro Express is making a comeback? Heh, I guess the death of Metro Rapid will be avenged after all.

    Just please implement it right, and enough with just simply “whaa! Let the munis handle it” because while I actually trust the Munis more than I trust Metro (Big Blue Bus and Foothill Transit buses are SOO much cleaner and reliable than Metro), people simply don’t want to be deal with multiple bus agencies. They are buses, not trains.

    Have a REGIONAL DAY PASS, I repeat, HAVE A REGIONAL DAY PASS, and as a matter of fact, have a REGIONAL MULTICOUNTY TAP CARD, or at the very least have all 5 county transit cards be compatible with each other. Do you know how stupid our region looks like transit-wise because of this compared to Portland & Seattle which IS actually doing transit right (has already implemented all this). This will actually make TAP finally compatible with Metrolink as well.

    And Lastly, KEEP THE 950 and make it an Express Version of the 910, skipping all freeway stops except the Harbor FWY & 37th st station for USC connections, and make it run limited stops in Downtown LA and San Pedro. Why on earth are you reverting back to how things were is just baffling. Who really actually wanted that change? I thought this was about the future here.

  6. I have already lost faith on Metro proposed NextGen plan because many rapid and express routes are being eliminated permanently or reduced at some point. Angelenos would like a rapid and fast commute service, but the new bus plan eliminates most of the rapid and express options. Many local stops are still being kept and are not consolidated as Metro suggested, which would dramatically increase travel time on the busy corridors. Generally when Metro cuts a service, ridership decreases because riders are disappointed with Metro plans and get a car instead. It will happen again this time and even accelerate due to covid-19 pandemic. Keep doing this and you will see a boost in car ownership across the region.

  7. I hope Metro will merge with Foothill Transit because Foothill is never on time and their drivers are rude and unhelpful. Before June 2016 with Lines 190 and 194, they were on time and most drivers are nice and helpful. As they said, that will be interesting if Metro comes back to the San Gabriel Valley and replace Foothill. But first, please clean your buses and have better security on them instead of discontinuing a lot of Metro Rapid and Express lines.

  8. Overall, a good list. What is lacking are kids though. Immediate free transit for students would be a win for many. How about additional funding for Safe Routes to School/Parks/Seniors/All? How much of the outreach was directed at or included students? Building improved systems for current users is good, but by time many of these come to fruition, students will be working adults. So where is their voice in all this?