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Posts from the Expo Line Category

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Metro Committee Approves All-Paid Parking For 3 New Expo Stations

Yesterday, Metro’s Planning and Programming Committee approved the initial phase of the agency’s new Parking Management Pilot Program. The program is anticipated to begin with three new Expo station parking lots in May: Sepulveda, Bundy, and 17th Street.

The pilot is anticipated to expand to nine rail station parking lots by Winter 2016.

Here is how it will work:

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Drivers with TAP cards validate when entering the parking lot. Image via Metro

Returning Transit Riders

Returning riders will show their TAP card to a parking attendant, who, like Metro security do, will validate that the TAP card has been used in the past few days. The driver will pay the parking attendant or show their paid monthly permit.

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Drivers without TAP cards are required to validate after riding Metro. Image via Metro

New Transit Riders

New riders would not have a TAP card yet. They will receive an “exception ticket” which is placed on the car dashboard. After the driver parks and rides, they subsequently have to link their TAP payment to their parking, either online or in person with a parking attendant.

Approval Process

The committee discussion was energetic, with boardmembers Sheila Kuehl and Mike Bonin intent on managing the user experience at Expo stations in neighborhoods they represent. Kuehl spoke of the need to utilize Metro parking to get her constituents “who drive all the time” out of their cars.

Bonin anticipated that monthly parking passes will sell out immediately upon being made available, likely in April. Though Bonin suggested a lottery for initial permits, Metro staff responded that the plan is to make Expo Phase 2 parking permits available on a straightforward first-come first-served basis, as has been Metro’s practice in the past. Historically many Metro station monthly permits have long wait lists, arguably because Metro’s below-market pricing has led to permit supply being insufficient to meet demand. The parking pilot is retooling the monthly permits somewhat. Under the pilot, in order to prevent “poaching” (non-transit riders purchasing monthly permits), monthly pass holders will be required to ride Metro at least ten times per month to be eligible to renew monthly parking permits.

Read more…

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#DamienTalksSGV 5 – Gold Line Opening and Women on Wheels

Today, #DamienTalks to Habib Balian, the CEO of the Gold Line Foothills Construction Authority and Amy Wong with Women on Wheels a project of Bike SGV.

Damien Talks SGV logoThis weekend, the long-awaited extension of the Gold Line to the San Gabriel Valley Foothills will finally open. Balian discusses the advocacy and work that led to the extension and the excitement that the line will be open soon. It is likely that any sales tax on the fall ballot will include another extension of the Gold Line, so Balian and his team are preparing in the eventuality that funding becomes available in 2017 for an extension all the way to Montclair.

Our second segment features an interview with Amy Wong of Women on Wheels, a project program of Bike SGV (WoW.) WoW works to create safe spaces and events for female bicycle riders to meet, have fun, and improve their bicycle skills. Wow has a couple of events coming up, a social on Sunday, March 13, and the LA to SGV: Sister Cities Ride & Mechanics Class with the Ovarian Psycos on Saturday, March 19.

#DamienTalks is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of Downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit foothilltransit.org. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

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Expo Line Phase 2 Opening Announced for May 20

Expo phase 2 map

Passengers will be able to ride a train to Santa Monica for the first time in more than half a century starting on Friday May 20, Metro officials announced today.

Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas announcing Expo 2's May 20 opening date. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas announcing Expo 2’s May 20 opening date. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro CEO Phil Washington officially announced the opening date for Expo phase 2, the 6.6-mile extension of the Expo light rail line. In April 2012, Expo’s first phase began operations between downtown L.A. and Culver City. Phase 2 adds seven new stations: Palms, Westwood/Rancho Park, Sepulveda, Bundy, 26th St./Bergamot, 17th St./Santa Monica College, and downtown Santa Monica.

The announcement comes two days after the Expo Construction Authority, the state-created entity in charge of overseeing construction of the rail line, handed over the Expo maintenance facility in Santa Monica to Metro, marking “substantial completion” of the project. The tracks were turned over to Metro late last month, after which the county transit agency ramped up train testing frequencies.

Nearly 5 miles of parallel Expo bike path will open at the same time.

The $1.6 billion Expo line extension, funded in large part by Measure R, connects the westside to Culver City, USC, and downtown Los Angeles, as well as the Blue, Red, and Purple lines. Once Metro’s Regional Connector subway is complete, likely in 2021, Expo will also connect with the Eastside Gold line, offering passengers a one-seat ride from East Los Angeles to downtown Santa Monica.

During this morning’s Metro board meeting, Washington announced that Little Tokyo Regional Connector construction is on schedule. This construction is currently closing a central segment of the Metro Gold Line between Union Station and Pico Aliso Station. Washington reported that the full Gold Line will re-open on March 21st.

 

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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).

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VerdeXchange Day One Highlights: Phil Washington, Earl Blumenauer

Day one of this year’s VerdeXchange conference is over. By the time you read this, the second and final day is already underway; Tuesday will feature discussions on the Los Angeles River, sustainable buildings, the sharing economy, new mobility models for cities, and much more! The full program schedule is here. Streetsblog L.A. is a media sponsor; follow @StreetsblogLA on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

Below are a couple of highlights from the first day.

VerdeXchange's 21st Century Transit panel (left to right) Jeff Morales, CA High-Speed Rail Authority, Deborah Flint, L.A. World Airports, Phil Washington, Metro, and Renata Simril LA84 Foundation. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

VerdeXchange’s 21st Century Transit panel (left to right) Jeff Morales, CA High-Speed Rail Authority, Deborah Flint, L.A. World Airports, Phil Washington, Metro, and Renata Simril LA84 Foundation. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro’s CEO Phil Washington spoke alongside the CEOs of L.A. World Airports, Deborah Flint, and the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Jeff Morales. All these leaders spoke the need to build seamless, complementary, balanced transportation systems. Washington decried the “three-decade infrastructure vacation” throughout the United States where the nation has neglected to build and maintain the transportation infrastructure needed for future generations. The Metro CEO emphasized that local jurisdictions and private industry have played their roles, but that the federal government has been weak in dragging its heels to pass its re-authorization bills.

Washington made two important announcements:

  • The second phase of the Metro Expo Line will open in May. A mid-2016 estimate has been expected since Metro took control of the substantially completed rail line ten days ago, but no opening date has been publicized.
  • USDOT approved phase three of Metro’s Westside Purple Line Subway for expedited treatment. This should speed up the federal processes to all for an accelerated schedule, potentially extending the subway to UCLA in time for a possible 2024 Olympics.

Congressmember Earl Blumenauer

Congressmember Earl Blumenauer

Streetsblog caught up with Oregon Congressmember Earl Blumenauer. Blumenauer is a leader on livability issues, especially bicycling. At VerdeXchange, he was speaking on a sustainable agriculture panel. Below is a very brief interview.  Read more…

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Open House Showcases Expo Bike Path Gap Closure Options

Last night's Expo Bikeway meeting. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Last night’s Expo Bikeway meeting. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

An overflow crowd of more than one hundred people showed up to last night’s Expo Bike Path meeting at the Palms-Rancho Park Branch Library. A representative from Councilmember Paul Koretz welcomed the boisterous crowd before turning the open house over to L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT) Senior Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery.

The crowd appeared to be about half from L.A.’s bicycling community about half from the adjacent Cheviot Hills neighborhood. Many Cheviot Hills neighbors have actively opposed to both the Metro Expo rail line and the Expo bike path.

Mowery stressed that “no decisions have been made” about how to close the 0.7-mile “Northvale gap” in the Expo bikeway. She stated that the meeting would be just an open house, and requested that all concerns be submitted in writing. As Mowery directed attendees to speak with city staff at an array of poster stations, disparaging comments were uttered by attendees: “this is ridiculous” and “we’re like sitting ducks”  – apparently by neighbors opposed to the bikeway.

In mid-2016, when the completed portions of the Expo bike path open, LADOT plans an “interim detour” sharrowed bike route on Northvale Road from Overland Avenue to Motor Avenue. This route avoids nearby heavily-trafficked streets, but is not great for bicycling as it is rather hilly close to Motor Avenue.

The final gap closure bikeway will run in a relatively flat alignment, just north of the Metro Expo Line tracks. There were three design options presented, described after the jump below. Read more…

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Closing the Exposition Bikeway Northvale Gap, Meeting Next Week

LADOT is responsible for bike lanes and other road markings for this area connecting the Expo Bike Paths in Phase 1 and Phase 2. Recently, the city announced it has no timeline on when this bikeway will be completed.

The Expo Line bike path will soon extend east and west of this 0.7-mile “Northvale Gap.”

When Metro’s 6.6-mile Expo Line opens in mid-2016, the parallel Expo bikeway will open too.

Except where it won’t.

Two stretches of Expo bike path under construction are nearing completion. Unfortunately there is a 0.7-mile gap between them. Next week the city of L.A. will host a meeting to receive input on plans to close the gap, which parallels Northvale Road. Meeting details after the jump.

Here are the two sections of Expo Line bikeway nearing completion:

  1. Venice Boulevard to Motor Avenue: This 1.2-mile stretch includes two components. On the east end, located just south of the 10 Freeway, there will be a 0.7-mile bike path extending from Venice Boulevard (across the street from Culver City Station) to Palms Boulevard/National Boulevard (across from Palms Station). West of Palms Station, the bikeway is on the streets for a half mile. This includes National Boulevard (with a very short stretch of bike lanes) and Motor Avenue.
  2. Overland Avenue to Colorado Avenue: This 3.5-mile stretch is all off-street bike path, extending from Cheviot Hills to downtown Santa Monica. Like the Orange Line and other bike paths, there are a handful of places where cyclists cross perpendicular streets, but both bikes and trains run in the old rail right-of-way. The eastern terminus of the path is at Overland Avenue, near the Westwood Station. The western terminus is at 17th Street Station in Santa Monica, where cyclists can connect with the city of Santa Monica’s bike networks, including bike lanes on 17th Street, Broadway, and Arizona Avenue, and the Michigan Avenue Greenway.

Between those two segments – about 0.7 miles from Motor Avenue to Overland Avenue – is the Northvale Gap.  Read more…

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Winning Arguments with Your Family: Don’t Fall for the Traffic Trap

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Last week, the Los Angeles Times published a disastrously titled piece entitled “L.A. Expo Line hasn’t reduced congestion as promised, a study finds.” The article is based on a study by the University of Southern California that used traffic monitors to gauge how many cars are driving on the freeway and arterial streets parallel to the Expo Line between Culver City and Downtown Los Angeles.

The central premise of both the article and the report it is based on is that government agencies should not base their arguments in favor of transit investment on the impact such investment will have on car traffic. I couldn’t agree more; Streetsblog has published articles and opinion pieces on the same theme.

However, the Times article has framed the debate on Expo’s effectiveness on the impact the line has on car traffic and that’s how the other media have covered the coverage. From mainstream outlets such as KPCC to conservative media columnists such as the Santa Monica Daily Press’ Bill Bauer; the coverage of the study has been reduced to: Expo Line hasn’t reduced car congestion.

Perhaps realizing its error, or perhaps just to create conflict, the Times tried to correct its error the next day with an opinion piece entitled, “The Expo Line hasn’t reduced traffic, so what?” In this piece, writer Kerry Cavanagh pretty much writes about the many benefits of investing in transit and the many dividends that Expo is paying.

Here at Streetsblog, we’ve run an irregular series helping our readers prepare for arguments soon to be had with relatives over the dinner table during holiday feasting. Without further ado, here are some of my thoughts on how to prepare for “transit doesn’t reduce congestion.” Read more…

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Why LADOT Won’t Have Its Portion of the Expo Bikeway Done Anytime Soon

LADOT is responsible for bike lanes and other road markings for this area connecting the Expo Bike Paths in Phase 1 and Phase 2. Recently, the city announced it has no timeline on when this bikeway will be completed.

LADOT is responsible for bike lanes and other road markings for this area connecting the Expo Bike Paths in Phase 1 and Phase 2. Recently, the city announced it has no timeline on when this bikeway will be completed. Image: LADOT

I am City Councilmember Paul Koretz’ appointee to the City of Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC).

Former councilmember Jack Weiss (no relation) appointed me in 2006; Paul Koretz kept me on. The BAC charter says, “The purpose of the BAC is to act in an advisory capacity to the Mayor, City Council Members, and the various agencies of the government of the City of Los Angeles in the encouragement and facilitation of the use of the bicycle as regular means of transportation and recreation.”

In 2008, City Council required “Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) and the Department of Recreation & Parks (DRP) to jointly staff the BAC, with City Planning staff.” I’ve never seen a DRP representative at our meetings, and LADOT stopped keeping our minutes years ago. So much for that. Every city department is underfunded and understaffed (okay, maybe not LADWP). What I’m reporting here – it would seem – results from the staffing and budget problems.

Since I’m also understaffed (just me here), I’ve chosen to skip one of our bi-monthly BAC subcommittee meetings (where I could listen to staff reports about projects stalled or delayed or cancelled for lack of staff/funding). Instead, I will share my impressions of what my Palms/Cheviot Hills area has gotten from an LADOT Bikeways division relying too heavily on part-timers, short-timers, and interns.

By the way, I personally like most of the city employees. But when things go wrong, they circle the wagons. Many are dedicated civil servants, yet all of them are also working to keep their jobs and their relationships with others in government. That said, I see no point in naming (many) names.

Expo Bike Path

The city of L.A. had Metro funding for the Expo bike path. The path will belong to the respective cities it traverses: Santa Monica, L.A., and Culver City. The responsible politicians promised the bike path would be planned and built contemporaneously with the train. I was not so sure. As a 20-plus year pro-train veteran of the light rail train wars, I warned LADOT of my neighbors’ scorched earth approach to stopping the train and everything associated with it. For instance, “Neighbors for Smart Rail” sued all the way to the California Supreme Court to stop the Expo Line, challenging its environmental clearance. (They were probably technically right. But that’s another story.)

Fortunately, despite the legal challenges, the Expo Construction Authority moved forward with train construction, creating facts on the ground the Court was less likely to undo. But Expo’s approach to the bicycle/pedestrian path was different. The Construction Authority was created to build a train, not a bike path. Sure, they could do both, but, trains!

Unfortunately, when LADOT’s environmental clearance was challenged in court by my litigious neighbors, the bike path was unhitched from the train project. The city had to hire an outside contractor to redo the environmental documents and, by that time, Expo had contracted with Skanka-Rados to build the train alone. That resulted in a more costly, inferior, and indefinitely unfinished bike path. Read more…

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Dangerous Intersection of Venice and Robertson Gets a Flashing Yellow Signal

Last November, David Lindley was walking across the street at the five point intersection of Venice and South Robertson Boulevard when he was struck and killed. Lindley, an autistic teen who attended nearby Hamilton High School, was mourned by friends and family who vowed to see the intersection fixed.

Three months later, with the construction and reconfigurations complete, a video by longtime Expo Line supporter/watcher Gökhan Esirgen showed that cars turning on to Robertson Boulevard were routinely turning left into the pedestrian path well after receiving a red light. Esirgen noted this wasn’t an unusual occurrence, but a decision to place expediency over the safety of pedestrians that was made with nearly every crossing.

Over six months after Lindley’s tragic death, LADOT recently unveiled its answer to the safety issues created by what one Hamilton High School student described as a “busy, confusing and dangerous” intersection, a flashing yellow arrow warning drivers to be aware of pedestrians. This is the first time the City of Los Angeles has used this traffic control device, but they are common in other parts of the country. Motorists have shown greater likelihood to yield during a flashing yellow arrow than a red one.

A good start, to be sure. Now if only the city would prioritize ticketing cars that turn against the light over pedestrians who are crossing the street safely and efficiently.