Four Updates from this Week’s Metro Board Committee Meetings

There were fewer Metro Board of Directors committee meetings than usual this month, with both finance and construction committee meetings canceled, but there were nonetheless some developments that Streetsblog readers may be interested in. More to come on many of these at next week’s full Board meeting on Thursday, February 25.

1. Board Environmental Motion

Metro’s Executive Committee unanimously passed a motion that would commit the agency to a broad suite of environmental practices. The motion was authored by directors Eric Garcetti, Sheila Kuehl, and four others, and supported by the Enviro Metro Coalition. It includes:

  • Greater tracking of Metro air quality efforts, including reducing nitrogen oxide (NO), carbon, and vanpool emissions, reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per capita, and progress on the agency’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.
  • Expanded green construction practices including water conservation, capturing and treating rainwater, permeable surfaces, low carbon-intensity materials, recycled and local materials, native shade trees, and more.
  • Improved first/last mile connections, including expanded car-share, mobility hubs, paths, bikeways, and a broader Regional Active Transportation Network.
  • Reporting on strategies for green tech jobs, including renewable energy, zero or near-zero emissions technologies, and coordination of sustainability initiatives.

With numerous capital projects already under construction or nearing shovel-readiness, it may take a while for upgraded environmental practices to kick in. But it is still better to get started by setting the policy now, rather than getting around to it later.

2. Expo Opening Date

Director and County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl mentioned a planned May 20 opening date for Metro Expo Line Phase 2. This more or less agrees with an earlier internal Santa Monica city staff communication “unofficially” announcing an Expo 2 opening date of May 21st. Theoretically, there could be a Friday VIP opening that Kuehl would be invited to, with a public opening still on Saturday May 21st. Board chair and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas announced that there would be timeline announcements regarding Expo and Crenshaw lines at the end of the February 25 board meeting.

So, Expo will open on May 21st, but you did not hear it from SBLA, because it is not official until you hear it from Metro next Thursday. Please act surprised then!

Friends 4 Expo Transit honored at today's Metro Executive Committee meeting. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Friends 4 Expo Transit honored at today’s Metro Executive Committee meeting. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

3. Friends 4 Expo Transit Honored

Speaking of Expo, Metro’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) honored Friends 4 Expo Transit as its 2015 CAC Organization of the Year.

Metro ridership projections

Metro FY2016-2017 ridership projections

4. Ridership Watch

Ridership has been in the news recently. In some early parameter setting for Metro’s 2016-2o17 budget [PDF], the agency acknowledged it “has been experiencing a decline [in system boardings] since April of [20]14.” In FY2015, ridership declined nearly 5 percent and the current FY2016 decline is estimated to be 3.9 percent.

For FY2017, Metro is projecting an additional 10 million boardings due to the new Gold and Expo Line segments. Other existing ridership is projected to remain flat (at 435.3 million boardings) so the additional 10 million means a 2.3 percent increase. A tick upward is a good thing, but FY2017 projected ridership (445.3 million) is still anticipated to be below FY2015 actual ridership (453.0 million).