COVID-19 update and Metro News; Jan. 12, 2021

Source: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Hard to say how many people are heeding the advice of L.A. County health officials. Feels like maybe traffic has lightened up a bit around my neck of the woods (western San Gabriel Valley) in the past few days.

•Metro continues to run regular service for essential trips. We are telling riders that some bus and rail trips may be canceled due to staff shortages — with workers out either sick with COVID-19, caring for family members or in quarantine.

From our Jan. 5 Source post:

We encourage riders to use Transit — Metro’s official smartphone app — to plan bus and rail trips and check crowding predictions. We also suggest allowing additional time for your travel.

These impacts to transit service will likely continue until the number of COVID-19 cases decreases in our region and more employees can return to work. Other transit agencies around the region — including LADOT and Foothill Transit — are experiencing similar challenges.

We believe the increase in cases at Metro is due to widespread community transmission of COVID-19 — and not tied directly to the transit system. Metro’s increase in cases is mirroring the county and state surge in cases.

•There is good chart here on Los Angeles County’s four phase plan for COVID-19 vaccinations. Metro is working on a plan on how to offer vaccinations to our staff — based on risk of exposure within different job classifications. Please see this Source post.

In other Metro-related news: 

•Out of sight but not out of mind…

•Help is needed for a cool Metro Art project that will grace the Regional Connector:

•Speaking of lovely art…

•The ridership numbers for 2020 have been posted on and show what we expected — in recent months the pandemic cut our ridership in half from the Before Times. Many other agencies around the U.S. experienced similar declines (some even steeper). Click here to see the nationwide numbers through the first nine months of 2020.

In the news…

•Homelessness is a regional issue that, as many readers have pointed out, remains a considerable challenge for Metro. Two items in the LAT today on that front:

Also — this LAT story about L.A. Council Member Kevin de Leon — who represents DTLA — and his desire to get more housing built for the homeless. As the story notes, details are light and speculation is that de Leon may run for mayor in 2022 when Mayor Eric Garcetti is termed out.

•A new draft environmental study has some new deets on the proposed people mover in Inglewood that would connect the Crenshaw/LAX Line to SoFi Stadium, the Forum and the planned new arena for the Clippers, reports Urbanize Los Angeles.

Pretty cool project idea albeit an expensive one — with a potential $1 billion cost. The three venues plus the new entertainment district at the football stadium will have no shortage of events. I know I’m looking forward to the Joe Burrow-led Cincinnati Bengals taking on the Rams in next year’s Super Bowl in Inglewood. And for CMA purposes: Assuming, of course, the Bengals somehow make it past the Chargers in the playoffs.

•The LAT offers up the latest chapter in the state bullet train saga, this time featuring lots of pointing fingers between the state authority overseeing the project and the contractor building it. At issue are delays. The state is working to build an stretch of high-speed rail track between Bakersfield and Merced that will later be tied to both L.A. and San Francisco.

•Whittier Council Member Fernando Dutra was named to represent the Gateway Cities on the Metro Board of Directors, reports the Whittier Daily News. Dutra replaces Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia who in December said he wouldn’t run for another term on the Board. Dutra is familiar with the agency given his involvement in the Eastside Gold Line project that would extend the train to Whittier. Dutra is one of three new Board Members in 2020 joining County Supervisor Holly Mitchell and Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval.

CityLab opines that Democratic majorities in both the Senate and the House in D.C. will give a green tinge to next multi-year spending bill for transportation and infrastructure. That could be good for transit, Amtrak, electric car infrastructure and other projects that aim to give folks more alternative to driving and reduce greenhouse gases. Stay tuned!

The New Yorker offers an interesting look at why COVID-19 hasn’t hit parts of the Bay Area as hard as Southern California and elsewhere in the U.S.. The reasons are many — and among them are the region’s prior experience with HIV, health departments clamping down on cases at skilled nursing facilities and targeted testing and outreach.

2 replies

  1. Steve, have you forwarded any of my suggestions to Transportation? This time I’m not criticizing the MTA but offering suggestions and pushing for transparency. Although I can ride free, I refuse to do so. Remember, I do have over 30 years experience with the RTD/MTA. I read San Fransisco is sending out all their reliefs with a clean bus instead of on street reliefs. That could be an alternative to the current dangerous situation the MTA is facing. With the limited service the MTA is offering, coupled with running buses on Pink Letters that idea could be achieved with little expense except on Lines like the 4 or 20 where a Division 7 relief would require a long extended relief either in Downtown or West L.A.

    A couple of months ago I was forced to use the MTA to get home. I misplaced my keys to my vehicle at a friends house and we could not find them. This meant I had to use two bus lines. Because of my thirty years of experience I still remembered how to balance myself without holding on to a stanchion or sitting down. The other passengers must have thought I was nuts but I just don’t want to get sick.

    I realize bus service is an essential service but the public needs to know buses and trains are not sparkling, germ free labs. Everything should be done to no only clean the buses and trains efficiently throughout the day but to educate the passengers of the risks involved and every measure they should take upon exiting the vehicles.

    Concerning High Speed Rail. I thought the Governor killed it. But the light at the end of the tunnel might be President Biden. I understand he is a avid Amtrak costumer and perhaps High Speed Rail throughout the nation will become a reality.

  2. It isn’t true that Garcia “resigned his Board seat in December” – he finished his term and decided not to run again. This has a somewhat similar effect, but there was no resignation.