The Metro Board of Directors met virtually on Thursday, Feb. 25, for its regular monthly meeting. The agenda is above or download a pdf here. This page also has links to all agenda items.
You can also watch the marathon five hour, 20 minute meeting below or follow this link, where you can skip forward to any item(s) that most interest you.
The meeting was heavy on updates on items of widespread interest with lots of public testimony. Among the items the Board tackled and/or discussed:
•An item on contract additions with the Los Angeles Police Department, Long Beach Police Department and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department totaling $111 million for additional services was postponed to the March round of meetings, Board Chair Eric Garcetti announced. The extra time, he said, will help address many stakeholder concerns raised about policing of the Metro system — and many of those concerns were raised in public testimony.
Here’s the Staff report and Source post with more details.
•The Board approved a motion to increase Metro bus service levels in June and then restore regular Metro bus service by September of this year. Metro staff had proposed restoring pre-pandemic levels of service in three phases — June, September and December. We’re currently running about 80 percent of our pre-pandemic bus service for about half our early 2020 ridership.
The hurdle to restoring full service, as Metro staff explained, will be hiring and training 760 bus operators by then. Board Members believe that can be done based on information from staff. Staff report
•The Board received-and-filed a report on the upcoming Predevelopment Agreements with two firms for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project that will build a high-quality transit line between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside. One firm will develop a heavy rail option, the other a monorail option.
Metro Chief Innovation Officer Joshua Schank, in an update to the Board, told them that the PDAs could lead to the project getting built as a public private partnership — and that could be the best way to get the project done the quickest and closest to the available funding.
Board Members had questions about when they would be asked to approve a route (an estimated 31 months from now) and made it clear they want the project to include stations providing easy access to UCLA and other destinations, especially in the Valley. They also questioned whether PDA contacts could be modified to include the next phase of the project to LAX (answer: yes).
The contracts are scheduled to be considered by the Board next month. Staff report and a more in-depth explanation at this Source post.
•The Board received an update from Metro staff on the agency’s Fareless System Initiative and an early proposal to begin with providing fareless transit to low-income riders and K-12 students. Staff report and recent Source post
Board Members were very receptive, had questions about potential administrative costs of limiting fareless to certain riders and potential funding sources. The low-income/K-12 proposal is scheduled to return to the Board in May for their vote.
•Board Members received an update from Metro staff on the agency’s Traffic Reduction Study to test congestion pricing to reduce traffic and offer better mobility options to residents. The study released four early concepts for pilot programs earlier this month. Staff report and Source post
•An update on Crenshaw/LAX Line construction was postponed to the March round of meetings. Construction is presently 98 percent complete. The 8.5-mile light rail line will run between the E Line (Expo) and C Line (Green) with eight new stations, including several along Crenshaw Boulevard. Presentation
•The Board approved a “Commercial Sponsorship and Adoption Policy” to generate new revenues for the agency. In short, the goal is to use Metro assets for sponsorships that could both improve conditions for riders and create revenue for the agency that is still coping with new costs and reduce revenues stemming from the pandemic. Staff report
A motion was also approved that would give the Board more oversight of longer sponsorships.
•Consider amending the budget for the I-5 project between the 134 and 118 in the San Fernando Valley from $880.9 million to $954.1 million. This is a follow-up to last month’s item in which the Metro Board agreed to lend Caltrans up to $72 million to help fill a funding gap. If you listened to that meeting, you know the key word there is “lend.” Staff report
•The Board approved master agreements with the cities of Bell, Downey and Paramount for each to work with Metro on inspections and permitting for the West Santa Ana Branch project, which aims to build a 19-mile light rail line between downtown L.A. and Artesia. Agreements will also be done with other cities along the route. Staff report
•The Board approved a joint development agreement with developers for a project adjacent to the L Line (Gold) Soto Station in Boyle Heights that would include 61 to 63 affordable apartments, one unrestricted manager’s apartment and about 2,440 square feet of ground floor commercial space, a community room that opens onto the station plaza and related parking. Staff report
•The Board approved a joint development agreement with a developer for construction of a 49-unit affordable housing project with up to 7,500 square feet of ground floor commercial space at 1st and Lorena Street near the L Line (Gold) in Boyle Heights.
BTW, Metro’s goal is for 35 percent of housing units built on Metro land to be affordable. Both this project and the one above exceed that goal as all but one unit in each will be for residents earning 60 percent or less of our area’s median income.
•The Board approved a first mile/last mile plan for the Sepulveda Station on the G Line (Orange) to improve access to the station via recommended improvements. The item also includes an update to the Orange Line Improvements Project that aims to build crossing gates along the busway and bridges for the busway over Van Nuys and Sepulveda boulevards. The update would keep the adjacent bikeway at street level to preserve access to stations and community destinations. Staff report and Sepulveda Station First Mile/Last Mile Plan
Fareless system would make the homeless crisis and cleanliness worse on metro bus and trains. I see homeless people riding and sleeping on the trains and bus everyday and they occupy large amount of space. I don’t see employees enforce the mask mandate and clean the system regularly. How is it safe for regular customers to ride? I support giving K-12 students and perhaps college students to ride free on Metro but definitely not everyone. For low income riders, a reduced transit pass (monthly or annually) that can be used on any transit system would work better. You mentioned bus service will be restored in three phrases, what about train service? Will they get 6 minutes and all three-cars service at peak hours?
Regarding the fareless initiative – maybe staff should ask stakeholders what they think of this initiative before progressing any further. The echo chambers that are One Gateway Plaza and the Metro Board can’t help but heap praise on themselves and their ideas. What does the transit-riding public think? What do Metro drivers think? What does the taxpaying public who pour money into this agency think?
Would have been easy to add that to the budget questionnaire from a few weeks ago. Instead we got five questions that asked us to rank the abstract wokeness of various transit programs nobody wants.
The “baseline” monorail proposal for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project should be rejected out of hand as it lacks stops at both UCLA and Ventura Blvd. The “alternative” has an option for a UCLA stop, but no Ventura Blvd. stop. It has a proposed “101 Station”, but we don’t need a station at the 101 Freeway, we need it on Ventura Blvd. where the ridership can walk to destinations and make transfers to the Ventura Blvd. bus lines.
The Bechtel Heavy Rail proposal is more expensive, but it at least has the stop locations right.