The Metro Board of Directors met virtually last Thursday, Jan. 28. You can watch/listen to the webstream (embedded below) of the four hour, 35-minute meeting — there is a tool at the previous link that allows you to skip ahead to the items you’re interested in.
Among the items the Board tackled:
•The Board approved sending a letter of interest to the U.S. Department of Transportation for a federal TIFIA loan to help fund the 105 ExpressLanes project. Staff report
•The Board approved amending Metro’s budget for fiscal year 2021 (which runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021) from $6.23 billion to $6.99 billion to reflect the cost of implementing Board-approved projects and programs and a slightly improved revenue picture. The budget remains balanced. From the staff report: “The increase to the FY21 Budget, during this mid-year update, is the result of our current economic conditions, reforecast of sales tax revenues, and effective cost control.”
The Board also approved the following motion to add funds to Metro’s operating budget to add back some service this fiscal year — and prepare to return to pre-pandemic bus service levels in the next fiscal year. Several public speakers testified in favor of restoring service ASAP. Metro is currently running about 80 percent of its pre-pandemic service with ridership down about 50 percent.
The budget increase also included funds to start implementing part of Metro’s Customer Experience Plan that the Board approved in December. This includes:
–The elevator attendant pilot program, which will place attendants at select elevators to keep them clean and safe for seniors, people with disabilities, and travelers with luggage.
–The rescue ride pilot program, which would allow us to assist customers impacted by missed buses in real time by offering them a free ride code for an on-demand shared ride service to help them complete their trip.
–The flexible dispatch pilot program, which will expand and enhance homeless outreach teams and use unarmed security ambassadors as the situation demands to assist those experiencing homelessness.
•The Board approved a motion directing Metro to provide the Board with “Recommendations on how to strengthen efforts to ensure compliance with mandatory face coverings, including but not limited to fines” and to “provide recommendations for alternative transportation options for patrons instructed not to wear a face covering by a medical provider.” The full motion is below:
•The Board received an oral update on construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project. Staff reported that Metro’s contractor has said it could turn over the project to Metro in mid-spring, but staff said the contractor will need to step up the pace of work and staffing to do so. Presentation
•The Board approved a $13-million budget increase for the Regional Connector to incentivize the contractor to complete the project 10 weeks early. Completing the work would reduce construction impacts on the Little Tokyo and Arts District communities and potentially save Metro other costs. Staff report.
•The Board approved lending Caltrans up to $73.2 million for segment three of the I-5 project between the 134 and 118 to fill a funding gap. Board Members did not suffer a shortage of words when discussing this one. Staff report
•The Board approved the final version of the L.A. County Goods Movement Strategic Plan. The Plan and staff report. The plan includes potential projects aimed to reduce emissions and other impacts to communities from trucks, trains and ships — and projects aimed at more efficiently shipping freight into and out of our region, which includes the nation’a two busiest ports.
•The Board approved a motion to dedicate the Wilshire/La Brea Station on the Purple (D Line) Extension to Tom LaBonge, right, the former Los Angeles City Council Member and Metro Board Member who passed away earlier this month. Motion and recent Source post about Tom, who was one of the early voices who pushed to extend the subway to the Westside.
•The Board approved a motion calling for Metro to develop a “street safety” policy that would collect and analyze data on vehicle and transit safety in L.A. County and help Metro pursue policies with local governments that lead to a decline in road injuries and deaths. Motion
•The Board approved a motion asking Metro to study ways to expand its small business and medium business enterprise programs so that more firms could successfully bid for Metro contracts. Motion
•The Board approved a $5.97-million contract addition with RideCo, Inc., to expand Metro Micro on-demand ridesharing service into three new zones (North Hollywood/Burbank, El Monte and Compton/Artesia). Source post on how to use Metro Micro and staff report. Metro Micro launched in December in two service areas — LAX/Inglewood and Watts/Willowbrook. The total contract with RideCo is now $35.1 million.