Sierra Club Pushes for Transit Plan for Farmer’s Field

A station in need of improvement. To see the Sierra Club's ideas on how, click on the image.

If you’re looking for a vision for a sustainable transportation plan for the Downtown Stadium, you shouldn’t look to politicians or even AEG executives.  A group of Sierra Club activists, led by Jerard Wright Angeles Chapter Transportation Committee Co-Chair, have outlined a transportation plan that would fulfill AEG’s claims that Farmers Field will encourage more sustainable transportation options than a rival stadium plan in the suburban City of Industry.

The key to providing real rail transit options is a series of major upgrades to the existing station at Pico and 12th, a rail station that in the Wrights’ words, is a “20 year old station that looks like it’s 50 years old.”  The Sierra Club’s presentation asks for the environmental documents for the stadium to include major upgrades to the Pico Station, bike facilities at the events center and nearby facilities, and streetscape upgrades that actually encourage transportation uses.

“Win or lose this is something AEG needs to do,” Wright said referring to the impacts Staples and L.A. Live are having on the already stressed transit station, “If we’re really serious about making L.A. a transit city, this is one way to do that.”

The first step to creating a great transportation plan for Farmer’s Field is to recognize the importance of the Pico Station.  Currently, the station serves only the Blue Line (and soon the Expo Line) and it’s still overcrowded after Lakers games.  An NFL Stadium can hold nearly four times as many people as Staples Center, so even if the Regional Connector is years away and plans for a Downtown Streetcar are sketchy, the station will need major upgrades just to handle the demand for the Blue Line.  Once the Connector is built, the station will be a hub of activity on game day as fans will be able to access the entire Metro rail system from one stop.

The current design of the station won’t just create inconvenience for the thousands of football fans who wish to use it, it will also create a dangerous situation.  Queuing at the station entrances due to passengers paying their fares at the ticket machines on the station platform will lead to passengers stuck on the tracks without major renovations.  When you consider that many people exiting NFL Football contests or major concerts aren’t always in a sober state of mind, the problem gets worse.

To see a larger copy of this image, click on the image to open a pdf of the Sierra Club's full plan.

While the Sierrans propose four different options for the Stadium, it seems that in the long run the third option presented, the “Platform by Destination” design is best.  When the Connector is completed, passengers will be able to access  the Blue Line, Expo Line,  Foothill Gold Line and East Los Angeles Gold Line at one place.

The plan includes more than just transit improvements.  Wright notes that the progressive “Figueroa Corridor Project” ends mere blocks away from the transit center.  Extending the protected bike lanes, streetscaping and wide sidewalks just a couple more blocks to the center will create the pedestrian friendly atmosphere that will draw people to the Stadium.

In the end, the Sierra Club has its own list of three things that AEG needs to include in the final plan to pass muster with the environmental community.  Wright sees the list more as a guide on how to do things right more than a list of demands intended to hamstring the project.  “As AEG moves forward with its outreach and process, it makes sense for the Sierra Club to be involved,” Wright added, “I don’t want the mitigation component used as a scapegoat not to do anything.”

  1. The project shall provide capital and operating expenditures of the adjacent Pico Metro Rail Station for modernization and facility upgrades to handle the larger demand of patrons using transit to access Farmers Field,
  2. Improved streetscapes that encourage pedestrian mobility along Figueroa, Flower, Olympic, 11th, 12th, and Pico Boulevard for pedestrians to connect to and from transit facilities to Farmer’s Field,
  3. The project shall fund bike parking, lockers and dedicated bike lane facility investment surrounding the event center

Councilman Rosendahl is holding a public meeting with AEG executive Tim Leiweke next Monday.  Streetsblog will be certain to discuss the Sierra Club’s plan with both of them and will give you their thoughts.

14 thoughts on Sierra Club Pushes for Transit Plan for Farmer’s Field

  1. I have been worried about overcrowding at the train stations.  Just think about tens of thousands of fans leaving a game all at the same time.  Sure, the trains can handle a lot of commuters, but not all at once.  This is going to require super expensive upgrades.  The question is – who is going to pay for it?  It would put the taxpayers on the hook because AEG is not paying – they already showed how tight they are by demanding that future tax revenues be used for convention center construction.  Then there is the other expense of improving local roads because those will also be overwhelmed.  The taxpayer can look forward to a big tax hike if this project goes through.

  2. The document suggests: “Construct additional platforms of wider width to improve passenger loading and reduce passenger discomfort, thus speeding LRT operations.””Include additional storage tracks within the station area to facilitate immediate introduction of rail service after an event”The additional platform is great. I’m not sure that extra tracks are needed, however, especially considering the value of land downtown. Metro can schedule the additional trains to arrive at the right time, with good planning.”Relocate ticket machines to areas closer to the LA Live Event centers and away from station entrances and platform.””Control pedestrian movements via physical separation with a bridge or visual separation with a traffic office”The additional ticket machines are a great idea. This is one place where TAP cars are great too, if it becomes possible to just tap and go, without visiting at TVM. Also, making day passes a better deal, or offering round-trip tickets, would help.A pedestrian grade-separation is an expensive idea, though if it can be integrated with any new building constructed on the current parking lots and the run-down buildings next to the station, it might be useful at other times as well. But grade crossings should be fine, if the signals give plenty of time for pedestrians to cross, and people are not lined up at TVMs.

  3. Fully-functional TAP cards would solve the “TVM queue” problem. 

    And if you’re taking the train FROM Farmers Field or Staples Center, it logically stands to reason that you would take the train TO the stadium, so why not get a Round Trip Ticket or even a Day Pass, instead of two single-trip rides?

    However, I do think pedestrian bridges would be a good idea, as it would help keep both road traffic and pedestrian traffic flowing smoothly.  The ticket queue is just one problem. And extra tracks wouldn’t hurt.

  4. Actually, I think #1 and #2 sound much better than #3.

    A major problem with option #3 is that people making short hops (within DTLA) and wanting to board the first available train will have to guess which platform will have the next available train, then dash back and forth between platforms if they guess wrong. (Like the way people dash back and forth across Vermont if they’re waiting for the 720 but the 20 comes along first.)

    For example, someone going to Little Tokyo won’t know whether to go to the Foothill gold line platform, or the ELA gold line platform.

    Electronic signs would help, but given Metro’s history of actually getting electronic signs to work (the ones at bus stops say “Metro Rapid Bus” about 90% of the time), I think it would be better to just have riders always use the same platform for a given direction.

  5. Option #2 looks like a good short term solution while Option #4 is built, along with a underground flying junction to the south.

  6. sure, you get Metrolink, but what else?  Is there anything to do beyond the stadium’s walls?  Last time I checked, there wasn’t a “City of Industry Live” with restaurants, a major hotel and a movie theater. 

    A lot of the improvements made to the Blue Line for the NFL’s sake would benefit Staples Center and the LACC as well.

  7. It will be self-evident very soon that Metro made a terrible mistake sending the Expo Line tracks down Flower to share with the Blue Line.  A shared track portion that is grade separated is tough enough to manage with two trains with street-running portions.  But in the middle of the growing downtown with two trains that collectively are going to serve over 150,000 passengers a day, and even more than that when the Downtown Connector is built, it is the embodiment of penny-wise and pound foolish.

    To the degree that transit advocates continue to advocate for short-term inadequate fixes, which Metro is plenty capable of devising themselves, they’re not really helping the debate. 

    The case should be made if the city can loan AEG $350 million for the stadium, then they should up the number by $50 to $100 million so Metro can grade separate the station, with knockout walls to allow for future extension down to Washington.  Its a project that might even qualify as part of the New Starts application for the Downtown Connector.

    That’s a real solution, and the type of advocacy that’s needed.  Anything short of it is blessing Metro for the sake of getting one’s name/organization out there.

  8. CSense
     
    These are scoping comments, ideas and advocacy that you’re critizing Sierra Club on yet somehow another armchair internet quarterback like yourself isn’t doing one thing on.

    That post sounds like its from FixExpo.  What’s more penny wise and pound foolish is to spend more money on a solution that still wouldn’t solve the problem. 

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