Metro Board Meets Monday to Vote on Measure R Amendment Allowing Highway/Transit Funding Swap

The Metro Board of Directors will meet in special session on Monday to debate a motion put forward by Board Member and Duarte City Councilman John Fasana. The motion would allow the Board of Directors to move Measure R funds between projects within a region and makes further funding of the Gold Line Foothill Extension a possibility.

"I Have Fought for the Gold Line Since 1991," says John Fasana (pictured) on his ##http://www.johnfasana.com/transportation.html##campaign website.##

Responding to concerns by politicians in the San Gabriel Valley that continue to argue that Measure R funding is “only for projects on the Westside,” Fasana proposed a motion that would allow funds to be moved from highway projects to transit projects, and vice versa, within a funding region. This motion will allow funds generated for highway projects in the San Gabriel Valley to be split between the Alameda Corridor East Grade Separation Project and the Gold Line Foothill Extension if two-thirds of the Metro Board of Directors approves the change. A full list of the Metro Measure R project list and current funding plan is available here.

The Fasana Amendment is widely expected to pass and was key to earning the endorsement of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments for the plan to extend the Measure R transit tax until 2069. The tax is currently scheduled to expire in 2039, but extending it will allow Metro to bond against future earnings and build the twelve transit lines funded by Measure R in a much shorter timeline.

Fasana has already outlined a plan to transfer $623 million budgeted for highway projects to the Gold Line Foothill Extension.  This new funding would provide over three-quarters of the funding the Foothill Extension needs to complete construction all the way to Claremont.  The plan has the overwhelming support of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments.  Another $200 million will go to grade separation projects along the Alameda Corridor.

Of course, the amendment could have unintended consequences in the long-term. It “will allow funds, by a two-thirds Board vote, to be transferred between the Transit Capital and Highway Capital Subfunds within the same sub-region without the specific timing restrictions originally imposed by Measure R.”  This means that needed transit projects in a region could end up going to a highway project. There are probably few people upset to see these highway funds moved to light rail and grade separation, but would people feel the same if the Gold Line Eastside Extension Phase II is sacrificed to shovel more money at the I-710 Big Dig?

  • All to fund an undeserving project that is actually all about development and only incidentally transportation. Projected ridership on the Azusa to Claremont segment is dismal. So political muscle is being used to compensate. At the expanse of regionally significant good movement projects. Sad.

  • Changing land use patterns in suburban areas is key to decreasing driving so I’m all for the gold line foothill extension. Hopefully the 710 big dig will be a transit project rather than surface highway or tunnel but if not, I’m eager to campaign to transfer money away from any tunnel. Too bad money can’t be shifted between sub-regions, because the high desert connecter will probably be an exurban sprawl creator.

  • Juan Matute

    Who wouldn’t want to go from Claremont to Downtown in 75 minutes for $1.50 instead of 55 minutes for $9?

  • calwatch

    Fasana’s statement is absolutely true on the Gold Line. I was there when he and other San Gabriel Valley politicians tested the RegioSprinter (remember that?) back in 1996 (!). They were considering DMUs for the Gold Line right of way, similar to what is used on the Sprinter in northern San Diego County. 

    Incidentally DMUs would be an appropriate technology for the Gold Line, not necessarily electrified rail – but Dana’s statement of “undeserving project” is disappointing coming from someone who has spent time in the San Gabriel Valley. The San Gabriel Valley has over two million people and the 210 corridor is one of the most congested corridors in the region, despite having five lanes in each direction. The carpool lane is worthless. Local bus service is slow and uncompetitive. The ACE project recently got a bid $100 million lower than expected for the San Gabriel Trench, so it would make sense to take some of those savings and move them into the Gold Line so everyone can benefit. 

  • Davistrain

    Yesterday my wife and I went to Azusa (from San Gabriel) for an evening concert.  We considered the 210, but it’s usually a wretched mess at that time of day, so we took Historic Route 66 (Huntington Dr. & Foothill Blvd.) and got there in plenty of time.  Last time we went eastward on the 210 during rush hour (which is now 3 pm to 7 pm) even the HOV lane was moving at about three furlongs per fortnight. 
    And comparing times from Claremont to LA is not that relevant–Glendora to Pasadena is a more likely trip, or Duarte to Citrus College.
    I know some people begrudge every penny that goes to the Gold Line, but as a San Gabriel Valley native, I don’t want to see all my sales tax money going to City of Los Angeles and “Westside” projects that will have relatively little benefit for my home territory.  Had the group drafting Measure “R” not included something for the SGV, the measure would have gone down to defeat.

  • Juan Matute

    Two steps to DMUs in Southern California
    1. Metrolink revisits 12-axle rule
    2. Positive train control & other improvements obviate FRA-compliant separation restrictions, leading to mixed compliance operations (and Stadler 2/6es or similar versus Colorado/US Railcar).  They’re already experimenting with the European-compliant Hyundai Rotems

  • I am sorry, but it is an “undeserving project” because the projected ridership IS dismal. The Authority spent a year trying to somehow goose the numbers and colliding with FTA regs. It will probably get built and like the Gold Line east side extension end up with so-so ridership. And I hope I am proven wrong.

    Oh, yeah–the RegioSprinter. I think DMUs may not be a serious option for a while because everyone got sticker shock and are disappointed with the Sprinter. Probably not fair but perceptions often shape policy. Some activists are I believe touting DMU for the Harbor Subdivision and therefore oppose the Crenshaw line for its use of a portion of the R-O-W which they feel will prevent it being used for a full downtown to South Bay line…

  • “I know some people begrudge every penny that goes to the Gold Line, but as a San Gabriel Valley native, I don’t want to see all my sales tax money going to City of Los Angeles and “Westside” projects that will have relatively little benefit for my home territory.”

    I am some people and I believe that across the region priorities for funding should be grounded in cost–effectiveness more than facilitating parochial “pet-projects” of local politicos. Fair share is a phrase I loathe.

    Hey, I am ok with the extension to Azusa for practical political reasons. BTW my memory is the region to be #2 in providing Purple Line extension ridership is the San Gabriel Valley. In fact if the Gold Line extension to Claremont has any hope of decent ridership it will only be if it links to a Metrorail system that includes service to the Wilshire corridor. That puts the lie to the relatively little benefit argument…

  • Anonymous

    There is no reason to build the Gold Line east of San Dimas Canyon Road, or perhaps the Fairplex.  Build a station there for transfers to the Metrolink San Bernardino Line.  Creating a four-track passenger rail corridor 30 miles east of L.A. is a crazy waste.

  • Anonymous

    You really think the fares won’t get re-adjusted before then?

  • Anonymous

    The cool thing about killing the 710 freeway is that all those trucks running from the ports to the Grapevine will have to continue to use the 110 and the 405.  Way to stick it to the Westside and South L.A. with more truck exhaust!!

  • Anonymous


    There are probably few people upset to see grade separation projects lose funding to a light rail line…”  
    When Union Pacific starts running more of these (as is their full right to do so):

    http://youtu.be/jdIzRFOaTCY

    they might.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/13/local/la-me-monster-train13-2010jan13 

  • Anonymous

    Transit riders who value money more than their time. But in general, I think of the primary benefit of the Foothill Extension is linking the SGV communities — i.e. who wants to go from Claremont to Pasadena in 45 minutes or Monrovia in 35, etc.

    Habib Balian once pointed out too that there’s something like 2 million square feet of developable land withing a half-mile of the stations on current foothill extension alone, so the line could support a lot of transit-oriented development in that corridor.

  • jeffwy

    Make UP pay for it. So tired of transit funds going towards subsidizing freight rail. See the SunRail commuter rail project in Orlando – it’s an enormous handout thrown to CSX with a little commuter rail sprinkled in.

  • Davistrain

    We should compare Gold Line and Metrolink San Bernardino Line timetables and note the times of first and last trains, and the headways.  Until the Metrolink line is double tracked and electrified, even though it’s now up to 42 trains a day, it still has some major gaps outside of rush hours.  Although Metrolink has grown far beyond the commuter train
     service it started out with in 1992, it’s still a lot less intensive that a Metro light rail line.

  • Anonymous

    Dana, you have repeatedly stated that projections for the Gold Line extension are low and that current Gold Line ridership is low. Specifically, what are the projections for the extension, what is the current ridership, and what are your sources?

    I recently rode the Expo Line for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I rode the entire length to Culver City. It was so sparse with riders you could have thrown a tennis ball down the length of the car without hitting anyone.

  • Mark A.

    Fact Check:

    The $623 million Fasana is proposing to put on the Gold Line to Claremont is not being taken from ACE.  It’s from a supposed share of additional $823 million in highway funding generated by the Measure R Extension that would be allocated to the San Gabriel Valley.  This would be new money.  In fact, I think he is proposing to put the remaining $200 million on ACE.  No money would be taken from ACE or any of the Measure R funds already allocated to San Gabriel Valley projects.  You need to revise this story and double check this information. 

  • Anonymous

    jeffwy, given that the Southern Pacific and the Los Angeles & Salt Lake RR (UP’s predecessors throughtoday’s ACE corridor) were in place long before any crossings were created, it is within UP’s legal right to close all at-grade crossings as it is their property and there would not be too much the state or the local communities could do about it.

  • Anonymous

     You could spend a fraction of what the Gold Line past Asuza will cost instead on the SB Line and get far more bang for the buck. 

  • Erik Griswold

    It needs to be repeated again and again that the SGV/Pomona Valley/626/909/whatever has since 1992 received both an entire new freeway, the 210 and two commuter rail lines (Metrolink SB and Riverside).  And HOV lanes were added to SR 60.

    Apart from the Expo Line to Culver City and the ongoing HOV lane project on the 405, what transportation projects has the Westside been given? 

    I-105?  Not really.

  • Your correct, I was a little confused by some of the language in other media reports, but I will make he needed correction.  Thank You.

  • Alan Fishel

    The title the Big Dig is a great description of this
    project. The cost more than doubled for the Big Dig in Boston and it still is
    costing large sums to keep it in operation.

     

    Let’s get the Foothill extension completed to at least
    Pomona for a connection with Metrolink ASAP. This is a good investment
    considering all of the traffic on the 210, 10 and 60 freeways. This gives
    residents in the Great Inland Empire a way to get to the populated northern San
    Gabriel Valley cities without having to go to LA and backtrack.

     

    Using 710 Big Dig funds makes the best use of that
    money. Let’s stop this Big Dig once and for all. We do not need to keep pouring
    money into this project that should not even be thought about let alone built.

     

    The Alameda and the Alameda Corridor East will take most
    container trucks off the 710 and other connecting freeways and put them on trains. Most everything from the Ports will go on trains for reloading in the Inland Empire, High
    Deserts or go directly east eliminating the need to widen the 710 or build the
    Big Dig.   

  • Erik Griswold

    Pomona (North) okay, but Fairplex is a better location for a new station, and eventually Downtown Pomona is where the Gold Line would make a difference. 

    The Pomona (North) Metrolink station is only where it is because it afforded passengers on the Santa Fe a straight shot down Garey into downtown Pomona.By terminating at Fairplex now, the Gold Line could in future actually be sent south to downtown Pomona via the PE created median on White.  Demographically the ridership, and the existant infrastructure for TOD, is in Downtown Pomona.  

    Add a P&R where the line crosses I-10 and someday send the line to ONT via Holt or Mission or parallel to the existing Southern Pacific right-of-way.  That is if LAWA hasn’t finally killed off ONT as it is actively trying to do now.

  • calwatch

    By taking it to Claremont you bring a train within walking distance of 7,000 students at the Claremont Colleges, plus a bustling historical downtown. Taking it to Montclair gives you a large parking lot at the end of the line, although Claremont also has a decent size lot that could be expanded.

  • In 2007 the Gold Line Authority in documents submitted to the Federal Transit Administration projected ridership for the Pasadena to Azusa extension would be 9500 in 2030. And I can vouch they squirmed about the tight rules under which that number was generated. So I feel it is probably accurate.

    http://www.occonnect.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=68&t=692

    I actually haven’t criticized the existing Gold Line. Although I hear the eastside is still only doing so-so. 47,000 is actually quite good (as of June 2012)

    http://www.metro.net/news/ridership-statistics/

    BTW, I imagine the Expo Line will do much better once the fall semester starts at USC. 16,000 is comparable to what Gold Line phase I carried in its first year. And once the extension to Santa Monica opens in 2016 — YEOW!

  • Erik Griswold

    Calwatch:  More like only 4750 undergrad students at the 5C’s who live on campus at the Claremont Colleges.  How about making the Gold Line more accessible to the mostly-commuter mostly-working students at Cal Poly (18K) or at Western University of Health Science (3K).

  • Erik Griswold

    and P.S. Calwatch.  Why build a *second* train to SB Line corridor when downtown Pomona basically has no train service despite having a major rail corridor in place and TOD-like conditions already in place.

  • calwatch

    I don’t see trains down White Avenue or Garey Avenue, though. Both routes pass through National Register communities that would need extensive mitigation, and could not be intensively developed. Your proposal of stopping trains at White Avenue and sending them down to Downtown Pomona doesn’t serve Cal Poly at all. Honestly, based on its geographic location, nothing short of a train with extensive tunneling can service Cal Poly. Downtown Pomona has the Metrolink service and the Silver Streak BRT which, despite Foothill Transit’s continual watering down, has some potential. Also, you would have to have the light rail trains cross the Metrolink and freight lines, which could cause PUC problems.

  • Anonymous

    Dana, thanks for the ridership numbers. If they are correct, it shows that the Gold Line is serving more people than the number that I understood to be the case (my number, 30,000 daily). It also shows that the Gold Line’s ridership is very comparable to the Green Line, a light rail line running through south Los Angeles and ending very close to LAX.

    I have a few thoughts regarding proposed mass transit expansion, and I’ll start by saying that I am 100% behind mass transit. I used light rail to get to work in another city, on a system that operated very much like the one in Los Angeles. However, I read these comments about how much Los Angeles deserves the Measure R money to fund rail projects and that the Gold Line is a waste, etc. Some of these comments decry so-called parochial attitudes of people seeking equitable shares of Measure R funds for their areas, notably the San Gabriel Valley.

    What’s so parochial about wanting a long-term mass transit plan that benefits the entire region? Yes, I understand the traffic problems in Los Angeles, the West Side in particular. But the fact of the matter is that Los Angeles will never have a comprehensive system like New York or Chicago because of the cost. And to hear comments that imply that the Gold Line is serving an area that is more interested in the development potential (TOD) along its route rather than its primary purpose of transportation is mind boggling.

    Tony V. ran for mayor of Los Angeles, largely on the basis that he wanted to be the transportation mayor. Los Angeles was too spread out he said, not very dense in population. We need to go vertical and concentrate development along transportation corridors. Sounds a lot like TOD thinking to me. Tony gets elected and now he needs money to fulfill campaign promises to the voters of Los Angeles. How do you do that? You leverage your position on the MTA board and get ballot initiatives for county-wide consideration. You frame Measure R as a funding mechanism to build a regional system, but in actuality, the short-term plan is to build a framework of lines within the city of Los Angeles. And you can do this more quickly if you borrow federal money against future tax receipts.

    Los Angeles has the Red and Purple Lines (subways, heavy rail), the Blue Line, Green Line, and now the Expo Line, with the second phase of Expo in construction. The city is not without mass transit, and I will be the first to say it needs more. However, I also say that I fully support the Phase II extension of the Gold Line out to Claremont for several reasons. Dana’s comments to mine about the low ridershop of the Expo Line being boosted by the new school year at USC only reinforces one of my points about the Gold Line expansion. When the first phase expansion is completed, the Gold Line will service Azusa Pacific University and Citrus College. If the second phase is completed, it will service the Claremont Colleges. That’s point one. My second point is that not everyone works in Los Angeles. There are many who work in Pasadena, and commuting there from the San Gabriel Valley will be easier with rail that services that employment center. My third point is that, ideally, the Gold Line should go all the way to the airport in Ontario. In fact, by linking all the major local airports, i.e. LAX, Burbank, Ontario, maybe Long Beach, to rail lines that go into Union Station, you would have the genesis of a regional transporation system that benefits not only locals but visitors flying in and out. And, as
    convoluted as this sounds, at least you would be able to get from one end of the area to the other. And with a limited amount of money, this might not be so convoluted. As far as comments regarding Metrolink, I don’t think you can even compare those commuter rail lines to light rail when you’re comparing apples to oranges. Metrolink runs primarily during traditional commute times, What about the rest of the day and evenings?

    My friends, I think all the debate centers on who has the political wherewithall to get their projects funded. To say that the Gold Line is a waste and goes nowhere is a perception that should have been put to bed a long time ago. With 2 million residents within the region, the San Gabriel Valley is an integral part of the metropolitan area and should be treated accordingly and not just as a place to fish for votes. And before anyone says that many of the folks in the San Gabriel Valley work and play on the West Side and will use mass transit in the city of Los Angeles for those pursuits, my rejoinder is that you are correct, but how far will they have to drive to get to a station? A long drive to board a train defeats the purpose of mass transit.

     

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