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Manuel Pastor’s Recommendations for Metro’s 2016 Ballot Measure

Professor Manuel Pastor at yesterday's Move L.A. event. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Professor Manuel Pastor at yesterday’s Move L.A. event. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At Move L.A.’s Transportation Conversation 8 yesterday, USC professor Manuel Pastor had a list of recommendations for Metro as the agency seeks to finalize and pass its anticipated $120 billion November sales tax measure. For many years, Pastor has been an important voice for equity and justice. Adopting his recommendations would go a long way to truly embedding equity in coming decades of Metro expenditures.

Note: Pastor ticked off this list fairly quickly. I took notes and embellished slightly, adding some background. The good ideas here are Pastor’s; any improper embellishment is mine. 

1. Keep Fares Low

Pastor stressed that keeping transit affordable means it can serve those who truly need it. Interconnected with that, low fares are a big factor in minimizing declining ridership. Pastor emphasized that even small hikes, like Metro’s 2014 25-cent increase, can make lasting dents in ridership and can really harm the quality of life of low income riders.

2. Goal of No Net Displacement

Pastor outlined that Metro’s large construction projects can adversely impact the adjacent communities, displacing both residents and businesses. Pastor welcomed Metro’s programs to jointly develop affordable housing and to assist impacted businesses, but these are somewhat limited in scope. These programs are current Metro policies and practices applied only to selected projects. Pastor urged Metro to expand programs, including extending transit-oriented affordable housing assistance beyond just Metro-owned property. He urged Metro to make a robust commitment to prevent displacement in all significant Measure R2 projects.

3. Let All Students Ride for Free

Pastor urged that all students, from elementary to middle to high school through college, should ride Metro transit for free. Free. This is an investment in the education of the next generation. Pastor joked that young people want to spend their time texting anyway, but made the point that making transit available to students will ingrain transit ridership habits during Angelenos’ formative years, paying off in greater sustained levels of ridership as many students grow into transit-riding adults.

Read more…

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Open Thread: Expo Phase Two Grand Opening

Inaugural Expo train pulls into Downtown Santa Monica station Friday, May 20. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Steers/City of Santa Monica

Inaugural Expo train pulls into Downtown Santa Monica station Friday, May 20. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Steers/City of Santa Monica

The day Los Angeles transit enthusiasts have been waiting for finally arrived this morning when the 6.6 mile extension of the Expo line opened, bringing passenger rail back to the westside of L.A. County for the first time since 1953.

Opening festivities continue tomorrow with celebrations at five of the seven new stations and a celebration at the Culver City station. Tonight and all day tomorrow, riding Expo is free. Also, the Big Blue Bus and Breeze Bike Share will be free to ride tomorrow.

Looking east toward the Downtown Santa Monica Expo line station. Photo by Jason Islas/SBLA

Looking east toward the Downtown Santa Monica Expo line station: the Santa Monica Esplanade includes an extra wide sidewalk, plus two-way protected bike lanes. Photo by Jason Islas/SBLA

This morning at around 9:45 a.m., a ceremonial passenger service train pulled into the Downtown Santa Monica station at 4th Street and Colorado Avenue, carrying local dignitaries, elected officials, Metro and municipal staff, enthusiasts, and supporters of Expo.

Passenger service officially started at noon, but before that happened, Metro held a ceremony in the parking lot just south of the Downtown Santa Monica Expo station, emceed by 2nd District L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Also among the dignitaries were County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and State Assemblymember Richard Bloom, who served on the Santa Monica City Council from 1999 to 2012.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti was on hand, as was Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vazquez, who posed with a surfboard and offered a hearty welcome to the Expo line in Spanish. Garcetti declared that L.A. was making the transformation from being the nation’s car capital to being the nation’s transit capital. Metro CEO Phil Washington was on hand to offer some words, too, as was L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin, who thanked the many people in the audience whose grassroots activism helped make Expo happen, especially Friends4Expo.

Santa Monica’s longest-serving City Councilmember Pam O’Connor, who represented the city and the South Bay on the Metro Board of Directors in 2001 when the Expo right of way was chosen. In fact, she was the board member who, with tremendous grassroots support, made the motion to set the right-of-way that is today the Expo light rail line.

Were you at today’s opening ceremonies? Are you planning to attend tomorrow’s ceremonies? What is your experience riding Southern Calfornia’s newest light rail line? Please post your pictures and comments below.

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The Expo Line Opening and the Way Forward

Metro opens the Metro Expo Line to Santa Monica today. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro opens the Metro Expo Line to Santa Monica today. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Today is the day. While many were happy about the Gold Line Foothill Extension opening earlier this year, I think the level of excitement about today’s opening of the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica is several magnitudes greater. As Kathy Seal eloquently detailed in her recent post, this project was made possible by authentic grassroots activism, exemplifying the famous quote by anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

And I notice the one thing no one seems overly concerned about is ridership. From day one the new Expo rail extension will be used. In fact the chief concerns are crowded trains (due to the rail procurement delivery situation that currently afflicts Metro) and the travel time from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles being too long. As to the latter I urge all readers of this blog to sign the petition to LADOT that it provide the line signal preemption. I am gratified the petition has generated significant attention for the issue and hopefully it will force officials to finally act.

SoCaTA booth this year at Fullerton Railroad Days. Photo by Dana Gabbard

SoCaTA booth this year at Fullerton Railroad Days. Photo by Dana Gabbard

Saturday Southern California Transit Advocates will have a booth at the Culver City station during the community celebration for the opening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A list of vendors and schedule of the musical performers at that location is posted at this link. The purpose will be to share information and engage the public. Charles Hobbs, author of Hidden History of Transportation in Los Angeles, will also be at the booth and I expect representatives of the Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada to also be present. RailLA also has booth at the station. Come by and say hello.

Certainly this weekend will be about savoring this achievement, but starting next week we need to rededicate ourselves to build on it because there is still much work to do to facilitate expanding our rail network. On Monday, Move L.A. will hold its 8th annual Transportation Conversation. We cannot be complacent. To build a coalition and pass the Los Angeles County transit sales tax measure in November (which requires securing a two-thirds majority) will not be easy but is necessary. Move L.A.’s forum will be key to that effort and I am attending. I urge all in a position to attend to do so and join our movement to create multi-modal networks (transit, bicycling, walking) that support sustainable communities. The future doesn’t happen by accident. It is the result of vision and commitment. Join me on the front lines and aid the struggle for a better tomorrow.

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Metro Did the Right Thing By Not Over-Parking Expo Line Phase 2

Does Downtown Santa Monica really need more parking? Photo; Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Does Downtown Santa Monica really need more parking? Photo; Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro’s Expo Line Phase 2 opens this Friday. Though there is a lot of excitement and praise for the line, the Expo extension from Culver City to Downtown Santa Monica has also received some criticism. Note that Expo Phase 1 weathered its own criticism, and exceeded expectations.

Some critics are suggesting the line could be “doomed” due to a lack of parking. When Angeleno drivers say “parking” they tend to mean “free parking.”

Here’s an example from Laura Nelson’s Los Angeles Times article The Expo Line is finally coming to the Westside, but limited parking raises concerns:

“So how do I get to the station?” Liesel Friedreich, 64, of Pacific Palisades, asked when she learned the downtown Santa Monica station wouldn’t include dedicated parking for transit riders. “Isn’t the point to get more people with more money to ride the train?”

(Nelson’s article is overall a very good read and fairly balanced. She goes on to quote a Metro official stating that “hulking garages and expansive lots can be unsightly, expensive, and ultimately not a tool for encouraging people to stop driving.”)

My first reaction to the Friedreich quote is that it is just not news. Yes, some people are saying this, but the first question for the reporter is: how valid, applicable, or newsworthy is it? Yes, people who never rode transit and who will probably never ride transit regularly will spout off lots of self-serving rationalizations for why they are not riding. If it is not the parking, it could be the time, the frequency, the location, the walk, the homeless people, the noise, or the yadda yadda. As a transit rider (cyclist and pedestrian), I hear these excuses all the time, and I don’t think think they are news. They are a dog bites man story.

But let’s take a look at the assertion that Metro should build parking so “people with more money” will ride the train.

Nelson and Metro call these monied folks “choice riders.” Theoretically this means that there are two big groups of transit riders: poor “captive riders” who have no other transportation choice, and rich “choice riders” who typically drive. Transit expert Jarrett Walker (at minute 26 in this video) calls this false dichotomy the single most destructive fantasy about transit. In real life, people form a broad spectrum, so “When we incrementally improve transit service a little bit – we improve frequency, we get a payoff. We get a ridership improvement.” Walker advises agencies to forget about the mythical “choice rider” and instead focus on the “middle 90 percent.”

Read more…

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Metro Deputy CEO Wiggins Previews Proposed Student Pass Program Upgrade

Under a new student pass program, Metro plans to shift to more convenient stickers on student ID cars, instead of student TAP cards. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Under a new student pass program, Metro plans to shift to more convenient TAP-enabled stickers on student ID cars, instead of student TAP cards. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At this morning’s Student Transit Pass Advocacy Summit at L.A. Trade Tech College, Metro Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins announced changes that Metro plans to make to its student transit pass programs. Later this month, the proposed changes will go to the Metro board for approval.

Today's summit focused on how students can advocate for more accessible transit.

Student leaders speaking on a panel at today’s Student Transit Pass Advocacy Summit

At the summit, students representing colleges from around the region including L.A. Mission College, East L.A. Community College and Long Beach City College spoke of the stress of working to build their futures, while balancing work and school.

Currently, transit passes are only available to full-time students, so students face pressure to enroll in more units to qualify for passes. Students spoke of the frustration of buses that arrive only once an hour, on schedules not aligned to class schedules. Lorena Aguilar, ASO Vice President for L.A. Mission College criticized Metro bus service to Mission College, which runs hourly in the evening. The hourly bus departs campus at 9:58 p.m. making it unusable for students attending evening classes which conclude at 10 p.m.

Responding to student concerns, Metro’s Stephanie Wiggins outlined proposed changes to the agency’s current student transit pass programs. Wiggins describes Metro’s current “broken” student pass system as annually costing the agency $8 million to serve 14,000 student. While Metro is looking to grow the funding available for the program – through Measure R2 and state legislation outlined below – initial changes will focus on making passes more widely available, in hopes of growing the pool of students who ride Metro. Read more…

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Touring the Soon-To-Open Metro Expo Line Phase 2

A train waits at the Downtown Santa Monica platform while special guests explore. Photos by Jason Islas.

A train waits at the Downtown Santa Monica platform while guests explore. Photos by Jason Islas.

The countdown has begun for the opening of Expo Phase 2 with just over a week left before the 6.6 mile extension of the Expo line opens to the public.

Starting on Monday, various members of the media, public officials, and municipal employees, community groups, and other stakeholders began getting sneak peak rides from the Culver City station — the current terminus of the Expo line — to Downtown Santa Monica, the new end of the line starting on May 20.

We were lucky enough to get to ride along yesterday morning and experience the future of Westside public transit. We were joined by Santa Monica City Councilmember Pam O’Connor, who represented Santa Monica and the South Bay on the Metro Board from 2001 to 2015.

Our trip begin at the Culver City station, the Expo line's current terminus.

Our trip begin at the Culver City station, the Expo line’s current terminus.

It was in her first year on the board that the alignment for the Expo line was decided; that year, O’Connor made the motion that assured the Expo line would come to Santa Monica. That story is retold in a book about the history of modern rail in Los Angeles County, Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the Future of the City by Ethan Elkind.

While the train stopped at all of the seven new stations, riders weren't allowed to disembark until we arrived at the end of the line. This is the view from inside the train at the Bundy station, looking northward at the Bundy/Olympic intersection.

While the train stopped at all of the seven new stations, riders weren’t allowed to disembark until we arrived at the end of the line. This is the view from inside the train at the Sepulveda station, looking northward toward the Sepulveda/Pico intersection.

“By July 2001, Los Angeles had a newly elected mayor, James Hahn, and Pam O’Connor, an ardent Expo supporter from the Santa Monica City Council, was serving on the MTA board. The new board voted to approve light rail along the route from downtown to Culver City… some residents along the right-of-way expressed opposition to the project based on the potential for accidents with pedestrians, and the MTA board voted to perform additional safety studies. But the MTA leadership, thanks to a motion by O’Connor, expressed their ‘vision and intent to complete the LRT [light rail transit] line to Santa Monica,’” according to Railtown.

It helped that O’Connor and Metro actions enjoyed support from ongoing community activism for Expo. Read more…

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Community Organizing Wins the Day: Skills and Enthusiasm of Many to Build Expo for All

Behind the May 20 opening of the Expo Line to Santa Monica lies the untold story of dozens of dedicated volunteers who worked for decades to make this line happen.

Few people know that Expo Line light rail was a glimmer in the eye of Santa Monica city officials as early as 1989. That year they convened a group of citizens to advocate for purchasing a former Red Car right of way from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica. They envisioned providing a fast, comfortable, and green light rail line along this route.

Historic Red Car on today's Expo Line. Photo via Friends for Expo

Historic Red Car on what is today the Expo Line. Photo via Friends for Expo. See also historic red car video.

Among that group was Darrell Clarke, who, growing up in Los Angeles, had often talked with his parents about that city’s large network of red and yellow streetcars and their demise in 1963. When, as a UC Berkeley student in 1974, Clarke rode the first public BART train from the East Bay to San Francisco, he thought about his hometown. Why, he wondered, couldn’t Los Angeles have great mass transit too?

Fifteen years later, Clarke joined this Committee to Preserve the Right-of-Way.

The decades-long campaign to build Expo Line had begun.

Grassroots Organizing Begins

Launched on the initiative of Santa Monica city council members Christine Reed and Denny Zane, the Committee to Preserve the Right-of-Way convinced Los Angeles Metro’s predecessor to buy this route, originally built in 1875 as a steam railroad by Santa Monica founder Senator John P. Jones. Dubbed the “Air Line,” it was later electrified and carried passengers until 1953 and freight until the mid-1980s. The freight train was noisy, and when the family of Presley Burroughs, another member of the Committee to Preserve the Right-of-Way, moved into a new home in Baldwin Vista in 1968, Burroughs – who would become an urban planner – remembers his father telling their new neighbors, “If you put passenger rail there, you’ll get a sound wall.”

But not everyone in Los Angeles wanted a passenger line on Exposition. Homeowners’ groups in Cheviot Hills and Rancho Park opposed it. That didn’t stop the Committee to Preserve the Right-of-Way. Clarke, Burroughs and Russ Davies, a retired IBM marketing manager, documented the economic and social sense of a light rail line on Exposition the line, and pleaded their case by petitioning door to door and tabling at shopping malls.

Planning began after the right-of-way purchase, then halted, then restarted in 1998 after the cancellation of new subway extensions left federal money on the table for mass transit to the Westside.

Meanwhile, then-mayor Richard Riordan and County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Yvonne Burke traveled in 1999 to Curitiba, Brazil, known for a successful Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line. That trip planted the seed of Bus Rapid Transit in the heads of several key players in the city.

The following year, longtime community organizer Kathy Seal, facing both an empty nest and a growing concern about the environment, wondered if a light rail line to Santa Monica would help. “I was worried about the environment, especially climate change,” she remembers. “And personally, I couldn’t stand the traffic gridlock.”

“Call Darrell Clarke,” counseled her husband Jim, a transportation consultant.

“When do we meet?” Clarke answered when Kathy proposed starting a mass organization to fight for light rail on Expo.

Told about this idea, Kathy’s fellow community activist Julia Maher came on board. “We wanted to use the pressure of grassroots support to make the Expo line happen,” remembers Maher, who worked in her local neighborhood association and the newly-formed SoRo (South Robertson) Neighborhood Council. “I realized that a light rail line would change the way I felt about Los Angeles.”

Open to volunteers of any political persuasion, Friends 4 Expo Transit was born.

The group quickly attracted new activists, many of them women who were not typical rail buffs, but who emphasized the social and environmental impact of a future Expo line. “We saw this project as a way to bring people and communities together rather than dividing them,” remembers attorney Faith Mitchell (who’d married both Burroughs and Expo in 1994). She suggested “Connecting Neighbors” for the F4E slogan, as the activists pointed out the sociability of riding a light rail train, the boon it would provide for teenagers and the elderly, and the increased access for everyone – especially the disadvantaged and car-less – to the community’s valuable resources.

“We saw it as serving Westside and downtown jobs, a ladder of economic opportunity giving residents greater access to the rich economic, educational and spiritual centers throughout the Los Angeles region,” says Clarke. As fighting against climate change rose on the national agenda, the activists stressed the environmental benefit of clean, speedy, high-capacity light rail.

Early Friends4Expo promotional image.

Early Friends4Expo promotional image.

Outreach and Organizing: Solidifying the Voice of the Majority

Dozens of enthusiasts joined and Friends4Expo went to work, presenting slide shows to schools, senior centers, churches, a mosque, chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, Neighborhood Councils, unions, and neighborhood groups flanking the right of way. They gathered thousands of signatures at farmers’ markets, neighborhood festivals, outdoor malls, and citywide events like the Los Angeles Times Book Festival. They lobbied Los Angeles, Culver City, and Santa Monica city council members, and members of the Metro board. Representatives of constituents along the proposed line took note. As one elected official told the activists, “You start the parade and I’ll walk in front of it.”

Which is what F4E did. In addition to their broad community outreach, which produced a long list of supporters, the activists reached out to community newspapers and met with the Los Angeles Times editorial board. Two community colleges endorsed the project, as did the Music Center and the University of Southern California. KNX 1070 radio and the Times editorialized in favor of light rail on Expo.

Relying on an email list of 2,500 and their website, F4E members brought supporters to attend Metro board meetings and public hearings, including one especially boisterous meeting in the spring of 2001 at the Veterans Administration auditorium. Ken Alpern, a leader in the Westside Village Neighborhood Association led a large crowd who testified, one after the other, that they wanted light rail on Expo. The huge and passionate support for Expo light rail surprised even the longtime activists, who for the first time sensed victory emerging: even if a minority feared it, they realized, the great majority of Angelenos wanted the Expo light rail line.

In addition to community organizing, F4E members contributed technical analysis to the project. Schematics and census tract data, for example, provided by Clarke to refute opponents’ low density and low ridership arguments, influenced the Expo Line’s environmental impact reports. Gökhan Esirgen, a USC physicist, developed a Wikipedia page.

Although F4E concentrated on harnessing the enthusiasm of ordinary citizens, the activists also worked closely with allies among elected officials. Metro staff – used to fearful residents crying, “No, not in my community!” – gladly answered F4E’s requests for information. As Expo Construction Authority CEO Rick Thorpe would later say, “This is the first time in my career that I’ve experienced a group that is FOR something.” Read more…

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Six Updates From Today’s April Metro Board Meeting

Today’s monthly Metro board of directors meeting was one of the less eventful ones; it was sort of a lull in the news swirling around Metro’s planned November sales tax ballot measure. Nonetheless, there were a number of items that SBLA readers might find interesting.

Metro Wi-Fi Phase 1 Operational

SBLA has been noticing recent social media mentions of Metro subway riders receiving texts while on board. Metro CEO made it official today, announcing that, from Union Station to 7th Street Station, wireless service is operational for Verizon customers. According to Metro “Sprint and T-Mobile have signed-up to provide service which will be available in two to three months. Negotiations are ongoing with AT&T.” More details at The Source.

Bike-Share Exempt From Further Environmental Studies

The board approved environmental clearance for Metro bike-share, coming to downtown L.A. this summer. The project was certified to be categorically exempt, meaning that expensive, time-consuming environmental impact studies are not needed.

June Bus Service Re-Organization 

Metro is in the final stretch of its planned bus service reorganization, slated for implementation in June. Metro held a series of public input sessions, the outcomes of which were presented to the board. The most contentious items were three Metro bus routes transitioning to other municipal operators. Lines 190 and 194 [PDF] (El Monte Station to Cal Poly Pomona) would be operated by Foothill Transit. Line 270 [PDF] (Monrovia to Norwalk Station) would be split between Foothill and Norwalk Transit. Metro’s public input and service council had recommended against shifting the service to Norwalk Transit. Bus drivers union representatives oppose any outsourcing of Metro bus service to municipal operators. Numerous representatives from Foothill Transit leadership and staff spoke in favor of the hand-off.

County Supervisor Don Knabe put forward a motion to support the proposed transitions to both Norwalk and Foothill. The motion passed.

Foothill Transit has electric buses - under Garcetti's motion, Metro may soon join them

Foothill Transit has electric buses – under a Garcetti motion, Metro may soon join them. Image via Foothill Transit.

Bus Procurement, Zero-Emission Bus Study

The board approved a procurement process for 850 new replacement buses from 2018-2022. The buses would either be Metro’s current CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) standard or Zero Emission (presumably electric.) Mayor Eric Garcetti offered a supplementary motion, approved unanimously, to have Metro study how it can transition to a fully Zero Emission bus fleet.

New TAP Vending Machines

Metro approved a $5.1 million contract to purchase 54 new TAP card vending machines (TVMs). These will replace and augment existing TVMs at stations, including expanding Silver Line TVMs to support the agency’s all-door boarding pilot. Inglewood Mayor James Butts offered a supplementary motion, approved unanimously, to have Metro study how to add TVMs at key locations for municipal bus operators. Representatives from Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus requested TVMs at the LAX Transit Center and at Pico-Rimpau.

710 North Tunnel Lines Drawn

710 North Tunnel opponents weighed in vehemently during public comment on a staff recommendation that Metro oppose State Senator Carol Liu’s SB 1018. Opponents of the 710 freeway project continue to be vocally opposed to a future Metro sales measure if there is any possibility that it could fund the destructive 710 North freeway expansion.

SB 1018 would dictate how a 710 North project cost-benefit analysis would be conducted. Metro legislative staff recommended the agency oppose the bill because it intervenes in Metro’s ongoing environmental review process. Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian, a stalwart 710 Freeway tunnel opponent, disagreed with Metro staff. Ultimately the board voted to oppose SB 1018, with Najarian and County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl casting dissenting votes.

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Coalition Urges Good Local Jobs in Metro Heavy Railcar Contract

Jobs to Move America organizer Diego Janacua speaks at this morning's rally. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Jobs to Move America organizer Diego Janacua speaks at this morning’s rally. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At a press event in front of Metro headquarters this morning, the Jobs to Move America (JMA) coalition called for companies to create good jobs as they manufacture Metro railcars. Today is the deadline to file income taxes, so the coalition emphasized the need for companies to be responsive to U.S. taxpayers who are footing the bill for these transportation manufacturing contracts.

Shawn Stewart of the L.A. Black Workers Center speaks at this morning's Jobs to Move America event.

Shawn Stewart of the L.A. Black Workers Center speaks at this morning’s Jobs to Move America event.

The national JMA coalition represents a broad range of organizations, including labor, civil rights, environmentalists, and others. Speakers at today’s event included representatives from the AFL-CIO, the L.A. Black Workers Center, Move L.A., Occidental College, and the Southern California Association of Governments.

The rally opened and closed with rousing chants of, “What do we want? Good Jobs! When do we want them? Now!” and “¡Sí se puede!”

Speakers emphasized the need for transportation investments to serve more than one purpose: expanding mobility and also creating quality jobs, especially for disadvantaged workers, including lower-income veterans, women, communities of color, and the formerly incarcerated. Speakers stressed that the generation of quality jobs would create a win-win situation for the contractor and the community.

Metro is in the middle of a $1 billion procurement process to build nearly 300 heavy railcars that will serve the existing Red Line and the expanding Purple Line subways. According to the coalition’s press release, “Metro is one of the first transit agencies whose Request for Proposals included innovative language developed by Jobs to Move America, called the U.S. Employment Plan, that incentivizes companies proposing to build taxpayer-funded transit vehicles to create U.S. jobs.”

Metro railcar bid proposals were due in January. According to one coalition spokesperson, at least two companies, China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation and Hyundai Rotem, are known to have already submitted bids. While local or even domestic manufacturing is not strictly required for the contract, Metro’s selection may take into account bidders’ job creation pledges.

Coalition speakers touted the past job creation successes from Metro’s light railcar procurement with Kinkisharyo. Though it has been the subject of some controversy, Kinkisharyo is currently building light railcars in its Palmdale factory. According to the coalition, the Kinkisharyo contract has resulted in “235 jobs for people facing barriers to employment.” Similar arrangements are in effect for the Chicago Transit Agency, where there is a “Build Chicago” partnership, and Amtrak, though their low demand and high crash standards have delayed domestic train production.

The Metro Board is expected to select its contractor and approve its heavy railcar manufacturing contract in June.

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Eyes On The Street: Metro Bike-Share Really Coming To DTLA This Summer

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Metro bike-share coming to a downtown street near you this summer. Photo via Allison Mannos

It is not real until the marketing materials say it is real, right? Via friend of the blog Allison Mannos, enjoy an image from a marketing photo shoot for Metro’s exciting new bike-share system debuting in downtown Los Angeles this Summer. No start date has been announced yet.

The roughly 1000-bike, 60-station system will extend from USC to Union Station throughout a service area roughly bounded by Chinatown, the L.A. River, Washington Boulevard and the 10 Freeway.  The initial $11 million funding is in place for the initial 2-year Metro bike-share contract with operator Bicycle Transit SystemsMetro approved the planned fare structure last November, and in March approved what amounts to basically a half-price discount for low-income people, students, and seniors. Future year system expansion is expected to bring the bike-share system to Pasadena, central Los Angeles, Hollywood, and other parts of L.A. County.

Who else out there is excited to see this great new transportation mode on the streets of downtown L.A.?