Skip to content

Posts from the Metro Category


Rail-to-River Route Through Huntington Park, Bell Emerges as Best Candidate; Community Meeting December 8

A map of the Rail-to-Rail-to-River bike and pedestrian path planned for the Slauson corridor in South and Southeast Los Angeles. Source: Metro

A map of the Rail-to-River bike and pedestrian path planned for the Slauson corridor in South and Southeast Los Angeles. Source: Metro

Next Thursday, December 8, Metro is hosting its second set of public forums on the Rail-to-River bike and pedestrian path planned for the Slauson corridor. One is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. and the other for an hour later, from 6 to 8 p.m.

For those unfamiliar with the project, the Rail-[to-Rail]-to-River active transportation corridor is a bike and pedestrian path planned for the now mostly abandoned rail right-of-way (ROW) running between the Crenshaw Line, the Blue Line, and, eventually, the L.A. River. At present, the 6.4-mile Rail-to-Rail segment straddling the two light rail lines is fully funded (in green, above) and scheduled to open in 2019. A community meeting to discuss the design of that segment will be held in the new year, somewhere in South Los Angeles.

Because the December 8 meetings are meant to inform residents about the ranking of alternative routes for Segment B – the routes east of Santa Fe through the Southeast Cities – they will be held at the Bell Community Center (6250 Pine Avenue Bell, CA 90201). And a live webcast presentation will be made at 6 p.m., for those who cannot attend in person:

If the December forum is similar to a recent Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting for the project I participated in, attendees will hear about how the options for the southeast section of the ranked in terms of mobility and connectivity, access to major destinations, local community needs, cost effectiveness and ease of implementation, and impact on traffic, transit, trucks, and parking. They will also be able to consult route maps and offer feedback on the options presented.

Spoiler alert: of the four options Metro is considering, the Randolph Street option (B4) has ranked the highest. Not only would it help connect residents to more schools and other important community destinations, it would be able to provide residents with the safest way to reach those destinations. Best of all, it would add over four miles to the bike/pedestrian path and connect users to the river and the existing bike path there. Read more…


Metro Board Delays Transit Policing Contract For Three Months

Seated in the front row are LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, LA County Sheriff Jim xxx

Seated in the front row at today’s Metro board meeting are LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, and LBPD Chief Robert Luna. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At the end of today’s nearly 6-hour Metro board of directors meeting, the vote on the staff-recommended $547 million multi-agency transit policing contract was pushed back three months. Metro’s new transit policing arrangement would scale back the L.A. County Sheriffs Department’s current role in favor of a majority of the work being done by LAPD, with a small slice also going to Long Beach PD.

The vote broke down mostly along city-county lines. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, alongside his appointees Jacquelyn Dupont Walker and Mike Bonin, urged for approval today. County Supervisors Don Knabe and Sheila Kuehl led the charge for a delay. They were joined by directors John Fasana, Ara Najarian, Diane DuBois, James Butts, and Garcetti-appointee Paul Krekorian. Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis were not present for the vote.

Outgoing County Supervisor Mike Antonovich voted against the delay. Antonovich also introduced a motion to retain LASD policing of Union Station.

Director James Butts, the current Mayor of Inglewood and the only boardmember with extensive law enforcement experience including as the former chief of Santa Monica’s Police Department, questioned the accountability model in the proposed contracts. Alex Wiggins, Metro’s Executive Officer for System Security and Law Enforcement, tried to reassure that the new contract includes “only paying for services received” and thus is an improvement over Metro’s past LASD contracts. Butts still pushed for stricter contract accountability.  Read more…


Metro Board to Consider $547M Multi-Agency Transit Policing Contract

LAPD Commander Anne Clark speaking at Metro's November committee meetings. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

LAPD Commander Anne Clark speaking at Metro’s November committee meetings. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This Thursday Metro’s Board of Directors will consider a new contract for policing the agency’s transit systems.

Metro bus and rail policing is currently done by the L.A. County Sheriffs Department (LASD). The LASD transit policing has received criticism, especially in a 2014 audit that found numerous irregularities and shortfalls. The oft-extended LASD contract is set to expire at the end of next month.

Metro staff has recommended a five-year multi-agency policing proposal totaling $547 million. The multi-agency proposal would split policing between the city of Los Angeles Police Department, LASD, and the city of Long Beach Police Department:

  • L.A. Police Department – $370 million – 68 percent
  • L.A. County Sheriffs Department* – $150 million – 27 percent (*potentially involving other local agencies)
  • Long Beach Police Department – $27 million – 5 percent

During last week’s operations committee, Metro CEO Phil Washington characterized the proposed multi-agency contracts as “more security for less dollars.” The $547 million proposal represents an $80 million cost savings over the LASD’s proposed $627 million sole-agency contract. The contract would begin January 1, 2017, but would include a 6-month transition while LAPD trains and ramps up.

One possibly troubling factor is that LAPD, at least initially, plans to fill Metro policing shifts using officers who are working overtime on their off days. This overtime approach is unlikely to be the best policing bargain, nor does it create a consistent workforce specialized to handle transit system issues.  Read more…


Koretz Takes Credit for Expo Line, While Spreading Blame for Its Flaws

Missing sidewalk xxx

Missing sidewalk west of Palms Expo Line Station. Photo by Jonathan Weiss

Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz’ website includes photos of the councilmember celebrating the Expo Line’s opening. The site touts Koretz’ time on the Expo Construction Authority Board: “Councilmember Koretz served first as an alternate board member and then as a full board member of this body until 2015. He served on this body through the completion of Phase 1 of this project and through most of the construction for Phase 2, much of which travels through Council District 5.”

But what Paul Koretz has delivered is the worst section of the Expo Line.

Koretz’ section has a mile-long gap in the bike path. Koretz’ section has kids walking in the street because of a missing sidewalk between the Palms Station and Lycée Français High School. Koretz’ section has an at-grade crossing at Overland Avenue that is worsening gridlock and leading to crashes that prompted neighbors to create a “Stop the Wrecks on Overland” Facebook page.

Koretz takes no responsibility for Expo’s flaws – flaws that were clear when he was a member of the Expo Board. At last night’s Cheviot Hills Homeowners Association meeting, he said “we kind of knew this would be a disaster.” For that, Kortez blames his predecessor. “Unfortunately, my election was kind of being too late to the party. The previous councilmember really was there when all of the negotiations were happening. And … at least regarding the Expo, I don’t think he did enough to protect the community.”

But Councilmember Koretz shouldn’t get off the hook so easily: he could have resisted widening Overland and he could have pushed for grade separation. Indeed, before he took office, the city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation wrote to Expo opposing the misguided widening – which was designed to dodge Metro’s grade crossing policy that required grade separation based on the per-lane traffic count without widening. Councilmember Koretz could have tried to stop it. He didn’t.

Now, Councilmember Koretz is claiming credit ($300,000 of taxpayer money credit) for reducing wheel squeal noise as the train passes Cheviot Hills. Read more…


Metro Committee Approves Expanded Paid Parking for 13 Park&Ride Stations

Multi-story free parking structure at Metro Gold Line Atlantic Station may not remain free for long. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Under new Metro parking plans approved by committee this week, Metro Gold Line Atlantic Station parking will soon be all paid parking. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday, the Metro board of directors Planning and Programming Committee approved phase two of the agency’s pilot program to charge for parking at transit stations. The promising new parking programs will maximize parking usage by people who actually ride Metro, while also generating modest revenues instead of ongoing losses.

A 2015 American Public Transit review recommended Metro charge for parking “to avoid giving park-and-ride customers the largest subsidies, to increase agency revenues, and to effectively manage parking supply.” APTA further stated that excessive free parking works against the environment and equity. Metro’s own customer surveys (cited in the staff report) highlight the equity issue starkly: 41 percent of Metro rail riders are in poverty, while only 1 percent of Metro rail park-and-ride users are in poverty.

Phase one of Metro’s all-paid parking pilot was implemented in May at three newly opened Expo Line stations. Contrary to dire predictions, the lack of free parking did not hamper the line from achieving higher-than-predicted ridership on frequently overcrowded trains. According to Metro, Expo II parking lots are experiencing 30 to 60 percent occupancy, which could mean prices would be lowered to achieve Metro’s goal of 85 to 90 percent occupancy.

Metro is planning to extend the paid parking program to a total of 13 heavily-parked rail stations. New paid parking is planned for ten stations:

  • Expo Line: La Cienega/Jefferson (parking is already all-paid at Bundy, Sepulveda, and 17th/Santa Monica College)
  • Gold Line: APU/Citrus, Irwindale, Atlantic
  • Green Line: Norwalk, Lakewood, Aviation
  • Red Line: Universal, North Hollywood
  • Silver Line BRT: El Monte Station

Planned Metro parking pilot station details, via Metro staff report

Planned Metro parking pilot station details, via Metro staff report

One key aspect of how Metro is managing parking is ensuring that people who park actually ride the Metro system. Metro has already done this for monthly permit parking by requiring that permit holders connect their accounts with an active TAP card, i.e. one that is used a minimum of ten times per month. In the course of implementing this requirement, Metro eliminated 500 monthly permit holders that were not riding Metro. This freed up spaces for riders who were on Metro’s wait lists, likely modestly increasing Metro ridership. In the words of the staff report “active parking demand management has allowed staff to shift these spaces from non-transit users and accommodate transit patrons who use transit on a regular basis.”  Read more…


Coalition Celebrates Measure M Passing By Nearly 70 Percent

Mayor Garcetti opens yesterday's Measure M celebration. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Mayor Garcetti opens yesterday’s Measure M celebration. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

It is official: Measure M passed. Los Angeles County has voted, again, to tax itself to pay for a suite of projects to facilitate transit, driving, walking and bicycling. Measure M will double Metro’s 100 mile rail system over the next 40 years. As of this morning, Measure M achieved its needed two-thirds and is currently passing by 69.82 percent.

Measure M vote results as of this morning, via

Measure M vote results as of this morning, via

The ballot measure was too close to call definitively on election night, so yesterday a coalition of Measure M proponents gathered at Union Station to commemorate the historic victory. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti opened the event, suggesting that passage with 70 percent represents a broad mandate to get going on projects right away. Garcetti and others stressed that Measure M’s victory was the result of a broad coalition, extending to all parts of the county, and across young and old, Republicans and Democrats, labor and business, faith communities, environmentalist, bicyclists, pedestrians, and many others.

Numerous speakers acknowledged that Garcetti really stepped up to ensure Measure M’s passage. Garcetti reached out to electeds and other leaders in and beyond the borders of the city of Los Angeles, again affirming Garcetti’s professed role of working to make the broader region successful. Garcetti often remarks that issues such as traffic, jobs, and homelessness do not end at city boundaries. In his leadership role in bringing interests and resources together for Measure M, he again demonstrated his broader regional focus.  Read more…

1 Comment

Cartoon Tuesday: Jay Leno Drives Foothill Transit’s Electric Bus

Not quite a cartoon, but today we feature a comedian. Watch the above 2012 video from Jay Leno’s Garage where Leno learns the ins and outs of the latest in electric bus technology, specifically Foothill Transit’s electric buses manufactured by Proterra which recently introduced an upgraded model. The bus features a steel-free balsa wood and fiberglass frame.

Electric bus technology has been a hot topic lately in Los Angeles.

Foothill Transit already has several electric buses up and running. That agency has committed to a fully-electric bus fleet by 2030.

The bus technology discussion dominated the October 27 Metro board of directors meeting, with dozens of public commenters. Environmentalists were critical of Metro’s tepid approach to the air and energy benefits of full electrification. Industry representatives from electric vehicle and natural gas industries predictably touted their technological preferences. Several Metro boardmembers who are not typically highly environmentally-minded questioned the life-cycle benefits of electrification. Ultimately, the Metro board decided to more-or-less double down on not-quite-zero-emission compressed natural gas (CNG) buses through 2025. Metro is dipping its toe into the electric bus arena by moving to study full electrification on just the Metro Orange and Silver Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Lines. Today, Metro announced a $4.3 million federal grant that will go toward Orange Line electrification.

Watch and enjoy.

No Comments

Metro Asks South L.A. Stakeholders: How Would You Use Rail-to-River Bike/Pedestrian Path?

The Rail-to-River plan to put a bike path between the Crenshaw Line to the west and the L.A. River to the east continues to move forward. Source: Metro

The Rail-to-River plan to put a bike path between the Crenshaw Line to the west and the L.A. River to the east continues to move forward. Source: Metro

“They’ve started work on that bike path!” a South Central bike shop owner announced excitedly after noticing mounds of dirt piled up in the rail right-of-way (ROW) at Slauson and Normandie.

He couldn’t wait for it to be finished, he said. The Rail-to-River path – a bike and pedestrian path that would cut across South Central from the Crenshaw corridor all the way to the Southeast Cities of Huntington Park and Maywood using the Slauson ROW – would give him an easier way to get to work and a place he could teach his young son to learn to ride a bike.

Unfortunately, what he had seen was dirt and debris generated by the construction of the Crenshaw Line. It had been hauled to the ROW to await recycling.

“I hate to break it to you,” I said, “but they’re only in the environmental analysis and design phase right now. Construction is still a ways off.”

One of the young fixie riders who regularly hangs out at the shop shook his head and said he wouldn’t be surprised if it was never built. It took the city forever to do nice things for the community, he lamented.

But the Rail-to-River project is actually chugging along, albeit slowly. The community meeting I was told would be held this fall to discuss the design of Segment A (running the 6.4 miles between Crenshaw and Santa Fe) has been pushed back to the new year. The team working on the project wanted to have preliminary engineering and a draft design to present to the community, I was told, so that they had something of substance to engage people on.

In the meanwhile, Metro is looking to hear from the community on what they would like to get out of the project, and they’ve sent out a brief survey to be shared with area stakeholders. Because technology does not always make our lives easier, however, the October 21st email with said survey ended up in my spam folder and I did not find it until this morning. Which is very unfortunate, as the deadline to answer it is Wednesday (tomorrow). So, I apologize for being late in sharing it with our South L.A. readers.

Still, the survey is brief and can be found here (English) and here (Spanish) I have copied and pasted most of it below, in the event that the links are hard to follow or you wish to send your feedback to Metro via regular email (instead of the PDF doc): Read more…


Metro Bike Share’s 2017 Expansion Plans: Pasadena, Venice, Port of L.A.


Metro is poised to approve a $42 million expansion of Metro Bike Share in 2017. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

On Wednesday, the Metro Planning and Programming Committee approved funding to expand Metro Bike Share in 2017. Operated by Bicycle Transit Systems, Metro Bike Share opened in downtown L.A. in July. In 2017, Metro would expand bike-share to new service areas in Pasadena, Venice, San Pedro, and Wilmington.

If the bike-share expansion plan is approved by the Board next week, Metro will allocate $42 million to continue and to expand bicycling in L.A. County. Any expansion of bike-share is welcome. Unfortunately, some of the new locations raise questions as to whether expansion plans are more political than strategic, and more focused on tourists than on local riders.

Bike-share mobility is optimized when docks are located in a contiguous area where one can ride a bike to numerous other docks. Compared to disconnected islands, larger service area “blobs” present exponentially more destinations. Larger areas are also less costly to operate and maintain. In the words of NYCDOT bike-share architect Jon Orcutt:

Plans to launch bike-share systems in separate geographical areas or nodes are almost certainly a recipe for low usage.

Small bike-share systems are generally low performers. Breaking a finite amount of bike share resources into smaller pieces needlessly sacrifices the utility and productivity of stations/bicycles.

Watch Orcutt’s explainer video for a good visualization of these points.

A NACTO report found lower-performing bike-share systems in cities with more spread-out systems. Many cities bow to political pressure to spread stations over a wide geographic area in order to accommodate various constituencies. Metro is poised to make this common mistake.

Metro’s initial bike-share pilot was planned for downtown L.A. then Pasadena. After Pasadena, the plans were more tentative, with possible expansion in numerous areas pending further study. Locations designated for further study included Koreatown, MacArthur Park, Echo Park, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Venice, Marina Del Rey, North Hollywood, Huntington Park, and East Los Angeles. The Port area did not make the initial study list.

Expansion is not entirely up to Metro. Metro’s policy mandates cost share arrangements with local jurisdictions, so, to a large extent, expansion follows funding. This is especially true for planned expansion to the Port of Los Angeles locations in San Pedro and Wilmington.

According to testimony from Metro Deputy Executive Officer for Active Transportation Laura Cornejo, the Port system would primarily cater to tourists. Metro staff reported that other bike-share systems driven by tourist use are “quite profitable.” Cornejo stated that the Port was interested in implementing bike-share and was considering a “neighboring provider.” The provider went unnamed, but clearly it has to be CycleHop, which runs Long Beach Bike Share. The Port comes to the table with money. Up front, the Port and Metro would each pay $334,000 in initial capital costs for 120 bikes at 11 stations, tentatively seven in San Pedro and four in Wilmington. Subsequent ongoing operation costs are split with the Port paying 65 percent. Metro approved a conservative scenario for its share of the Port system capital costs plus six years operations for a grand total of $4.9 million.

These Port systems – with four and seven stations, and very little in the way of transit connections – could see very little usage. Bike-share systems in the Orange County cities of Fullerton and Anaheim failed with eleven and three stations, respectively. Cornejo characterized the Port of L.A. system as an “interesting pilot.” Time will tell if it turns out to be nearly $5 million in limited Metro bike-share funding well spent.

The Pasadena and Venice systems are more fully-featured and more likely to be successful.  Read more…


Metro Lowers ‘Angeli’ the Regional Connector Tunnel Boring Machine

The 21.5-foot diameter shell for "Angeli" the Metro Regional Connector Tunnel Boring Machine. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The 21.5-foot diameter shell for “Angeli” the Metro Regional Connector Tunnel Boring Machine. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

This morning, Metro celebrated the ceremonial naming and lowering of the Regional Connector subway tunnel boring machine. Metro’s newest TBM – another is currently tunneling portions of Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX light rail line – is named “Angeli.” The winning name was proposed by Windsor McInerny, a student at Woodrow Wilson High School.

McInerny was joined by a bevvy of transportation leaders excited about the progress that Angeli represents. Metro board chair John Fasana acted as master of ceremonies. City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti received the best laughs of the morning’s proceedings by noticing the “great turnout for such a boring event.”

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar, and State Assemblymember Miguel Santiago rounded out the elected officials, all of whom mentioned the importance of Measure M without actually telling people how to vote, due to being on official government business time.


Metro board chair John Fasana opens this morning’s Regional Connector Tunnel Boring Machine Lowering Ceremony

Alongside the electeds were California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales, Regional Connector Community Leadership Council ED Russell Brown, and Metro CEO Phil Washington. Washington announced another Metro tunneling milestone: tomorrow morning the Crenshaw/LAX tunneling machine will break through at the future Leimert Park station. Morales joked to Washington not to get rid of the TBM: “When you’re done with this machine we’ll put it to use” building high-speed rail.  Read more…