The Metro Board of Directors held their regular monthly meeting last Thursday. The meeting was held virtually, as has been the case since the ongoing pandemic began last year.
As many of you know, the meeting suffered issues with the audio frequently cutting out. Here is the Metro statement issued last week:
Due to a piece of malfunctioning equipment, the audio is continuing to drop frequently during today’s virtual meeting of the Metro Board of Directors. That has made it very difficult for the public and stakeholders to follow discussions and the voting on key items involving policy and the expenditure of public funds.
Metro deeply apologizes for this failure. Unfortunately, we will not be able to replace the malfunctioning equipment today. We are, however, preserving sound from the meeting and we will post the full web stream of the meeting — with complete sound — as soon as possible.
Here is the link to the webcast of the meeting. Click on an item in the list below the video to go straight to that item. One another note: all public comment was at the beginning of the meeting, a departure from having comment during each item.
Below is an embedded version of the meeting. Here’s the agenda with links to the staff reports.
Among the items the Board tackled last week:
•The Board approved a $36-million increase to Metro’s five-year law enforcement contract with the Los Angeles Police Department, Long Beach Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to cover additional costs through Dec. 31 of this year. This item was previously scheduled to be heard last month when the increase was a proposed $111 million.
Among the extra costs covered by the contract increase are Metro programs to connect unhoused riders to social services and shelters and the cost of deploying more officers on the system.
As part of the increase, Metro’s new Public Safety Advisory Committee — which is meeting for the first time this spring — would have the chance to make preliminary recommendations for the last six months of the contract, which ends June 30, 2022.
Several Board Members voiced concerns about the item. Some were unhappy about the cost increase and not realizing it was coming until earlier this year. There was also a debate among Board Members over the best way for Metro to increase safety on the system and the role police should play.
The Board also approved the two motions posted below. The first asks for Metro to develop a plan to compensate members of the agency’s new Public Safety Advisory Committee, which will hold its first meeting this spring. The second motion calls for Metro to include about $40 million in the 2022 budget (which begins July 1 of this year) for a number of initiatives aiming to improve safety on the system and connect the unhoused to social services and/or shelters.
Among these are a transit ambassador program, elevator attendants, installing blue boxes throughout the system and a flexible dispatch system for homeless outreach workers to better connect social services to the unhoused.
•The Board approved Pre-Development work on the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project between the San Fernando Valley and Westside. One contract, worth up to $69 million, would go to Bechtel to develop a heavy rail line and the other contract, worth up to $63.6 million, would go to LA SkyRail Express to develop a monorail line.
Please see this Source post from last week for more on the contracts and how they fit into the overall project picture.
•The Board received an update on Metro’s Fareless System Initiative (FSI), which is exploring a phased 18-month pilot program that would provide fareless transit for low-income and K-12 riders. Staff report and Source post.
Six Board Members have also authored a motion asking for more details on going fareless — including funding sources.
A Telephone Town Hall will be held this Wednesday evening (March 31). More info at this Source post on how to participate.
•The Board gave the go-ahead to Metro to begin development of a pilot program on fare capping. Fare capping would allow customers to pay as they go when it comes to passes. For example, under fare capping the most a rider would pay for a day pass is $7 or a monthly pass is $100. This is something riders over the years have requested. Staff report
•The Board adopted recommendations to modernize Metro’s Highway Program and release them for public review.
What exactly does this mean? Feel free to dive into the staff report. But for those who don’t speak Government, it means that highway funds can be used for a broader array of projects, including ones that would benefit transit riders (bus lanes!) and pedestrians and cyclists (Complete Streets!).
To put it even more plainly, this is a widely supported move by local governments in L.A. County to get away from past policies that heavily favored moving cars over everything else.
•The Board approved a life-of-project budget of $649 million to add HOV lanes to the 5 freeway in the Santa Clarita Valley between the 14 freeway and Parker Road. The project will also extend some truck lanes, add some auxiliary lanes and widen seven bridges.
•The Board approved the use of a progressive design/build method to build the G Line (Orange) Improvements Project. The project proposes to build bridges for the bus way over Van Nuys and Sepulveda boulevards and to install railroad style gates at other intersections to reduce the potential for accidents.
Again, for those not fluent in Government and/or Project Management,. PDB allows the contractor to get involved earlier in the design process earlier, thereby reducing overall time to build a project. If you crave more deets, the staff report is filled to the brim with them.
•The Board received an update on Metro’s plan to have a zero emission bus fleet by 2030 — 10 years ahead of the state deadline — and approved submitting the report to the California Air Resources Board. Staff report, the plan and presentation. Metro is currently in the midst of adding more zero emission buses to the G Line (Orange).
•On the bus rapid transit front, the Board approved five potential corridors for future BRT lines (funding permitting, as usual). Those corridors are Atlantic, Broadway, Cesar Chavez, La Cienega and Venice. Metro staff recommend Broadway as the top candidate for a first decade Measure M project — if funding is available.
As part of the same item, the Board approved BRT standards and design guidelines. Long story short: standards and designs ensure that BRT lines are fast, frequent and easy to spot. Much more in the staff report.
•The Board approved a $170.3-million contract with Kinkisharyo to perform midlife overhauls on the P2550 fleet of light rail vehicles, which were originally made by a different manufacturer, AnsaldoBreda. Work will be done at Kinkisharyo’s facility in Palmdale, thereby creating 143 good jobs.
Those who are keen on all-things-light-rail-cars may recall that’s the same facility where Kinkisharyo assembled 235 light rail vehicles for Metro over the past seven years.
•The Board approved Metro and the city of Inglewood creating the Inglewood Transit Connector Joint Powers Authority to own, manage, and oversee the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of a 1.6-mile automated people mover between the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Downtown Inglewood Station, the Forum, SoFi Stadium and the future basketball arena.
SoFi Stadium is the home to the Rams and Chargers and will be a key part of the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
From the staff report: The JPA does not require Metro to make any capital contributions to the Authority. Any future contributions of capital or services will be made at Metro’s discretion, pursuant to separate agreements between Metro and the Authority.
•The Board approved the Expo/Crenshaw First/Last Mile Plan to help improve access to the future Crenshaw/LAX Line, improve conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders and generally make streets a lot nicer near and along the train’s route.
As with Metro’s other first/last mile plans, funding for many of the proposed improvements will need to be secured. But here’s the thing important to understand: you need a plan to successfully apply for funding and these first/last mile plans help do that. Plus there’s a lot of good stuff in there to improve neighborhoods.