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).

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The January 2016 Metro passenger boarding figures were released yesterday. There was a total 9% drop compared to January of 2015. A loss of 113,000 weekday passenger boarding’s. The projected 2020 weekday passenger boarding’s for both the Gold Line and Expo Line extensions comes out to a total 35,500 passengers. That’s not enough to bring the January loss to less than 6%. There is a 5% loss of passenger boarding’s so far for fiscal year 2016. Its more likely that the annual number of passenger boarding’s for fiscal year 2016 will fall a greater percent than it did in FY15. The continuing loss of passenger boarding’s is not helpful in convincing people to vote for another half-cent sales tax Measure for transit in November.

  • effron

    Dennis, point of interest, when you say 35,000 passengers daily do you not mean boardings? Given that virtually everyone who rides Expo or Gold takes it in both directions (round trip) then 35,000 boardings actually means 17,000 passengers daily. “Boardings” is an interesting yet entirely puffed up number that distorts the actual number of people using the line. The Expo numbers for January were closer to 30,000 boardings which means 15,000 passengers riding daily or roughly 7,500 going each way in the first half of the day and likewise in the second half. The numbers get a lot less impressive once they’re scrutinized.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    I meant boarding’s and not how many individuals were using transit. Its 35,500 boarding’s, not 17,000 individuals.

  • calwatch

    More critical on the service plan is Metro keeping bus service flat again for the next fiscal year. Keeping this fixed pie means that, in order to implement a 15 minute network, that outer area service and late evening/weekend service will have to be cut. This might be a good thing for the agency, but as Orange County’s experience shows, it will be difficult to do.

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