The Metro Board of Directors held their April meeting last Thursday.
You can watch the archived livestream here. An index allows you to skip to the item or items you’re interested in watching/hearing.
Below is the official recap of the meeting.
Here’s a description of some of the more interesting items the Board took action on:
•The Board approved an extension of Metro’s GoPass pilot program that provides fare free bus and train rides to K-12 and community college students at participating schools/districts in L.A. County through the 2024 fiscal year (i.e. through June 30, 2024).
Here are some GoPass stats through April 7:
—There are 237,067 students with a GoPass out of about 2 million students in L.A. County, or about 18% of the student population.
—There are 101 school districts and 1,415 schools that participate in the GoPass program.
—Since the GoPass began for the 2021-22 school year, there have been 16.6 million boardings on transit by students with a GoPass.
—1.2 million GoPass TAP cards have been provided to schools.
—723 schools (or 52.74%) participating in GoPass are within Equity Focused Communities.
–Families of K-12 students who participate in the GoPass program see an annual savings of $288 per student by not having to purchase a reduced-fare student monthly pass.
–Community college students save $516 per year participating in GoPass. Some community college participants are parents with children who also participate in GoPass, saving their family over $800 per year.
The GoPass is part of Metro’s Fareless System Initiative — known as FSI — which seeks to provide fare free transit or reduced fares to riders. Another key part of FSI is our LIFE program to provide discounted rides to low-income riders — 70 percent of our riders have annual incomes less than $35,000.
We streamlined LIFE in late 2021 to make it easier to apply and set a goal of doubling enrollment. We hit that target by the end of 2022 and as of this month have more than 217,000 enrollees in LIFE.
The ongoing challenge with FSI is to secure long-term funding. At present, More staff are working with a number of stakeholders across L.A. County to aggressively pursue federal funding for fare-free and reduced-fare transit services. Staff report and Metro news release on the approval.
•The Board approved investment guidelines for the third round of revenues from the Metro ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeways. The revenues are estimated to be about $125 million. The aim is to invest funds in projects that reduce congestion in the 10 and 110 corridors — i.e. improved transit, active transportation projects, roadway improvements. Staff report
•The Board approved expanding Metro’s Business Interruption Fund to the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Project. The first section of the project along Van Nuys Boulevard between the G Line’s Van Nuys Station and San Fernando Road is ramping up and preparing for major construction.
The BIF was first approved by the Metro Board in 2014 to help small businesses withstand rail construction along the K Line, the Regional Connector and Section 1 of the Purple Line Extension. From the staff report:
As of March 31, 2023, Metro has awarded 1,490 grants for over $37 million to “mom and pop” businesses throughout the project areas. The successes of the pilot program are demonstrated in the measures of effectiveness, of which 94% of businesses have remained in operation six months post grant award; 88% one-year post grant award; and 77% two years post grant award. (Attachment C). For the Crenshaw/LAX Line: 74% of small businesses that received a BIF grant were still in operation when the Line opened in 2022 after eight years of construction and a pandemic.
The BIF is one of three programs that Metro has created to help mitigate construction. The other two are the Business Solutions Center — which provides tools and help to businesses near transit projects — and Eat Shop Play, which providers marketing assistance to local firms near projects.
•The Board heard an update on Metro’s end-of-line policy. Quick background: Metro requires all riders to exit trains when they go out of service at the end of each night so the trains can return to our rail facilities for cleaning and maintenance. The challenge is how best to provide services to unhoused riders who leave trains at end-of-line stations when service ends.
Our Board asked Metro staff to study ways to connect those riders to social services and/or shelters. As part of this work, Metro staff surveyed more than 300 unhoused riders in recent weeks — and found that 64% said they were willing to be connected to services and/or housing — which goes against the grain of some thinking that unhoused will not accept help.
The update to the Board also provides Metro’s findings on how other large agencies handle issues with the unhoused, potential Metro properties available for temporary housing and Metro’s work with cities, other government agencies and nonprofits to better connect the unhoused to needed services. Staff report
•The Board received an update on Metro’s work to build a Center for Transportation Excellence, i.e. a rail vehicle testing and manufacturing facility in L.A. County that could attract private firms that build rail cars. In this update, staff provide info on a potential site for the Center in Palmdale, as well as more info on potential funding sources. With the Metro Rail system expanding in coming years — and other transit expansions in the United States — Metro believes this facility would be a good opportunity to create high-quality jobs and economic investment in our region. Staff report
•The Board received an update on the latest public safety statistics on the Metro system; these stats are through February 2023. Staff report
•The Board received an update on our fare capping program, including efforts to get more riders to use TAP cards instead of paying with cash. The reason: to enjoy the benefits of fare capping (meaning a rider’s maximum daily fare is capped), customers need to use a TAP card. Staff report
•The Board approved an increase to the contingency budget for the Division 20 Portal Widening project. The project will allow us to turn around subway trains at Union Station more quickly and will also expand rail car storage at our downtown subway yard. The project is under construction and is almost half-complete. As many of you know, the D Line is currently being extended for nine miles to the VA Hospital in Westwood. The first section to Wilshire/La Cienega is forecast to open in 2024, Section 2 to downtown Beverly Hills and Century City in 2025 and Section 3 to Westwood and the Westwood VA Hospital in 2027. Staff report
•The Board approved adopting strategies to accelerate the construction of 10,000 affordable housing units by 2031 as part of Metro’s Joint Development program. The program partners with developers to build housing on Metro-owned land — usually parcels left over from transit project construction. Staff report