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Proterra Unveils 350-Mile Range Electric Buses at APTA Conference in L.A.


Proterra’s new Catalyst E2 electric bus parked outside the APTA conference. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At the American Public Transit Association’s annual meeting in downtown Los Angeles, electric bus maker Proterra unveiled its new Catalyst E2 transit bus. The Catalyst E2 electric bus is “named for its unprecedented Efficient Energy (E2) storage capacity.” According to Proterra:

[A]n E2 series vehicle achieved a new milestone at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds where it logged more than 600 miles on a single charge under test conditions. Its nominal range of 194 – 350 miles means the Catalyst E2 series is capable of serving the full daily mileage needs of nearly every U.S. mass transit route on a single charge and offers the transit industry the first direct replacement for fossil-fueled transit vehicles.

Proterra manufactures these buses at plants in L.A. County’s City of Industry and in Greenville, South Carolina.

Los Angeles County’s Foothill Transit is among the nation’s early adopters of electric bus technology, with a planned all-electric bus fleet by 2030. According to Doran Barnes, Executive Director at Foothill Transit and new APTA board chair:

We just surpassed one million miles of revenue service with our battery-electric Proterra fleet, and we’re looking forward to many more miles to come. Since our first EV bus procurement with Proterra in 2010, we knew that zero-emission buses were the future of mass transit. Now, with the new Catalyst E2, this vision is a reality. We’re excited by the possibilities of an all-electric future.

Read more…


Court Rules For Metro’s Measure M, Against Lawsuit Filed By Seven Cities

Metro's sales tax proposal as it will appear on the November 2016 ballot.

Metro’s sales tax proposal as it will appear on the November 2016 ballot.

Metro’s Measure M will still need approval from two-thirds of L.A. County voters in November, but the transportation sales tax got a little good news today. A superior court judge rejected a lawsuit filed by the cities of Carson, Commerce, Norwalk, Torrance, Santa Fe Springs, Ranchos Palos Verdes, and Signal Hill. The lawsuit alleged that Measure M’s ballot summary language is incomplete and therefore misleading. These cities also claimed that Measure M would shortchange the southern portion of L.A. County.

According to City News Service (via My News L.A.) today:

A judge today rejected a petition filed on behalf of South Bay-area cities seeking significant changes in the ballot language for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s proposed half-cent county sales tax measure, saying there was no evidence the wording was confusing to voters.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel said Measure M is not an initiative and therefore did not require the ballot language specifics sought in the action filed last week by the cities of Carson, Commerce, Norwalk, Torrance, Santa Fe Springs, Ranchos Palos Verdes and Signal Hill. The petition alleged that the ballot label for Measure M did not include the actual 1 percent total rate of the tax to be imposed. The petitioners also claimed the ballot label for Measure M does not state that the proposed tax would be permanent.

Carson Mayor Albert Robles said after the hearing that he and the other coalition members were disappointed with the ruling and are considering an appeal. He said Metro’s argument that the coalition was required to seek help from the Legislature was not an option because it would have been too late to do so in time for the November election.

Yusef Robb of Yes on Measure M reacted to the victory with this statement:

Measure M is clear on what it will do: ease congestion and make transportation improvements Countywide and in each of L.A. County’s 88 cities. The plaintiffs attempted to mislead the voters with a politically motivated lawsuit, but the court ruled today that there was no evidence the wording is confusing to voters. The plaintiffs should stop interfering with the voters’ right to make their own judgment on Measure M.


Metro Explores Alternative Rail-to-River Routes Through Southeast Cities

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 just took another step forward. Source: Metro

The Rail-to-River plan to put a bike path between the Crenshaw Line to the west and the Blue Line to the east, along with the four options that could eventually connect the path with (or very close to) the L.A. River. Source: Metro

In thinking about the potential routes the eastern segment (B) of the Rail-to-River (R2R) active transportation corridor might take, stressed Mark Lopez of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, it was important that the needs of workers, youth, and community members of the Southeast Cities be put front and center. Connectivity to job centers and schools should therefore be the first priority.

Through that lens, Lopez said, the bike path project could offer momentum for the creation of other potential “job trails” EYCEJ had already been thinking about, including connections to Vernon, and Commerce, a path along Slauson that would facilitate connections across the L.A. River and the 710 Freeway to the Bell Cheli Industrial area, and routes enhancing greater access to the river and green spaces like Riverfront Park.

A snapshot of Randolph street from above (center, running left to right). The ROW runs down the middle of the street, and could be made into a protected bikeway and pedestrian path. Source: Google maps.

A rail right-of-way runs down the middle of Randolph Street and could be made into a protected bikeway and pedestrian path. Source: Google maps. Click to enlarge.

I had reached out to Lopez for feedback after attending Metro’s mid-afternoon session on the R2R project held last Wednesday in Huntington Park. The R2R project – a dedicated bike and pedestrian path that will stretch between the Crenshaw and Blue Lines, and to (or through) the Southeast cities to the east – is much-needed in the park-poor and truck-dominated corridors of the communities of South Central and Southeast Los Angeles.

Class i bike facilities. Source: Feasibility Study

Class I bike facilities separate and protect cyclists from cars. Source: Feasibility Study

But many of the participants, I realized as we gathered around the tables to decide how to serve Southeast residents’ needs best, were not from the area and/or not very familiar with where people worked or how they got there. All of which made speaking to Metro’s purpose for the meeting – discussing and ranking the four alternatives for Segment B of the active transportation corridor – somewhat difficult.

Metro’s own 2014 feasibility study had determined that the Randolph Street option should be prioritized. It would not necessarily be the easiest choice – the rail right-of-way (ROW) is owned by Union Pacific, meaning that the cost of acquisition could be quite high and the negotiations involved in acquiring the ROW could take some time. But factors in its favor included the length the route would cover (4.34 miles), user experience, connectivity, safety, transit connections, ease of implementation (see p. 76), and the fact that it would allow cyclists to continue on a dedicated Class I bike path (a separated and protected path, at right). And because the ROW is as wide as 60′ in some sections, it would allow for the inclusion of many or more of the amenities present on the western and central segments of the path.

Users would not have to move back and forth between busy streets and dedicated Class I facilities or lose the bike and pedestrian paths altogether, as they would with the Utility Corridor or Slauson routes. It would also offer users a safe, protected, and lengthy east-west connection through a densely populated and semi-industrial section of Los Angeles usually dominated by heavy traffic and large trucks.

Although, like Randolph Street, the Malabar route would be able to provide users with a dedicated and protected path, it narrows considerably (which would push pedestrians aside) as it makes its way north toward Washington Blvd. It would also move users through less secure industrial areas with fewer connections to transit, residential neighborhoods, commercial corridors, or educational centers. Also, as in the case of Randolph Street, the use of the Malabar Yards ROW would require negotiations with BNSF to get it to abandon its rights to the ROW east of Santa Fe Ave.

The Malabar route would move users north toward (but not reaching) the river through Vernon. Source: Feasibility Study

The Malabar route would move users north toward (but not reaching) the river through Vernon. Source: Feasibility Study

All that said, it was still not 100 per cent clear to me which route would better connect residents with their jobs. Read more…


A Visual Representation of L.A.’s Rail Growth Under Measure M

Los Angeles MetroRail - Comparrison

We’re working on a couple of larger stories for later in the week, but in the meantime we thought readers would appreciate this map by Adam Linder.

Linder’s map shows how Metro Rail and Metro Rapid Bus will grow in the coming years from where it is now (including lines under construction) to where it would be, assuming a Measure M build-out.

The Southern California Streets Initiative has not taken a position on Measure M. SCSI publishes not just the three California-based Streetsblogs, but also LongBeachize and Santa Monica Next.

If you like Adam’s map feel free to drop him a line at or find him on Instagram at adamglinder.


CA Cap-and-Trade Transit Funding Awarded to Metro, Other SoCal Agencies

This week California awarded $40M in cap and trade funding for Metro's planned LAX station

This week, California awarded $40M in cap-and-trade transit capital funding for Metro’s planned LAX rail station. Image via Metro LAX staff report

This week, the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) announced the recipients of its Transit and Intercity Capital Program (TIRCP) grants. TIRCP distributes state cap-and-trade funding to local transit agencies for projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In greater Los Angeles, funds were awarded to Metro, Foothill Transit, Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency, Antelope Valley Transit Authortity (AVTA), and Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). A detailed project list follows.

The TIRCP awards total $390 million statewide, with $109 million of that going to L.A. Metro.

Though state cap-and-trade has been criticized by its foes, including petroleum interests, it continues to be a key source of funding for critical livability projects, including these transit capital projects, plus high-speed railtransit-oriented affordable housing, and more. Governor Jerry Brown is pushing to extend cap and trade, but it appears that that effort may need to go to a statewide initiative vote, instead of the theoretically easier state legislation route.

Southern California TIRCP projects follow after the jump, listed in alphabetic order by agency name. See CalSTA for a full statewide project listsRead more…


A Peek Into the Future of Metro Transit Station Parking

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

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

At today’s Metro board of directors Planning and Programming Committee the board and the public got its first look into Metro’s in-process plans for managing parking at transit stations. Metro has a couple of parking initiatives underway. The agency is creating its Supportive Transit Parking Program Master Plan (STPP) and a Parking Guidance System (PGS) and evaluating its current Parking Management Pilot Program and Monthly Parking Permit Program. All these are explained below.

Details on the parking initiatives were included in a staff report, which includes only a preliminary outline still subject to changes before it guides Metro parking practices. The item was planned as a consent calendar receive-and-file, but boardmembers Paul Krekorian and Hilda Solis voices questions and concerns about rail terminus parking in each of their districts: North Hollywood Red Line Station and Atlantic Gold Line Station respectively.

Details on specific Metro parking initiatives after the jump.  Read more…


With Legal Challenges Completed, What’s Next in Beverly Hills Subway Drama

Late Friday afternoon, I was already at a dinner meeting when I heard the news. Metro announced that the most recent, and likely last, lawsuit against the Purple Line Subway Extension under Beverly Hills has been completed.

We agree. Pull quote via ## Hills Weekly Issue 808##

We agree. Pull quote via Beverly Hills Weekly Issue 808

Despite some testy language against the transit agency and the Federal Transit Agency which approved the project, the ruling is a clear victory for Metro. The FTA’s record of decision, already upheld by one federal court, stands and the agency can move forward with securing funds to complete the project. The agency will have to redo some of its studies, but it should not impact the final timeline. Beverly Hills interests may appeal, but in the meantime, Metro can award contracts and get construction underway.

Metro wasted little time declaring victory at its news outlet The Source and vowed to continue its work on the project. The future for Beverly Hills is a little more uncertain.

In a case of bad timing, last week the Beverly Hills Unified School District voted to place a bond measure on the fall ballot to fund new construction at its high school. The current bond measure has not resulted in as much construction as originally promised, in part because the District’s legal expenses are among the highest in the U.S., on a per-student basis. From Beverly Hills Weekly (Issue 880):

According to research conducted by Board of Education Vice President Mel Spitz last December, comparative school districts spend $65 per student on legal fees, whereas the BHUSD spends $478.

BHUSD legal fees for the 2015-16 fiscal year totaled $3.2 million.

It also seems unlikely that Metro will be forced to pay for BHUSD’s legal fees, as boardmembers for the School District had promised in previous years. Read more…


Metro Opens North Hollywood Pedestrian Underpass for Orange and Red Lines


Officials cut the orange ribbon on the Orange Line side of the new North Hollywood pedestrian underpass. Left to right: Ray Tellis, Federal Transit Administration, Paul Krekorian, L.A. City Councilmember, John Fasana, Metro Board chair, Tony Cardenas, U.S. Congressmember, Eric Garcetti, city of L.A. Mayor, Stephanie Wiggins, Metro, and Jess Talamantes, city of Burbank Mayor. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro riders transferring between the Orange and Red Lines will find their commutes improved today. Today, the agency opened its new North Hollywood Station Underpass project, which includes new elevators, escalators, and fare gates. The $22 million underpass was funded in part by a $10 million federal TIGER grant.

The new tunnel was celebrated by elected officials including Metro Board chair, John Fasana, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, U.S. Congressmember Tony Cardenas, and L.A. City Councilmember Paul Krekorian. Speakers emphasized the safety and convenience of the undercrossing. According to Metro staff reports [PDF], the tunnel will save riders approximately 44 seconds on each transfer between the Red and Orange Lines. Krekorian announced that the recently renovated historic Lankershim Depot will re-open this fall, including a small park next to the new tunnel entrance.

Photos of the opening and the tunnel after the jump.  Read more…


County Supervisors Approve Metro Sales Tax For November Ballot

Metro's sales tax proposal as it will appear on the November 2016 ballot.

Metro’s sales tax proposal as it will appear on the November 2016 ballot. Image via Metro communication to L.A. County [PDF]

Yesterday, the Los Angels County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved including Metro’s planned sales tax measure on the November ballot. The approval was expected as all of the supervisors sit on the Metro board where four out of five them already voted to move forward with the measure. Supervisor Don Knabe voted against the ballot measure at the June Metro board meeting; yesterday he joined his fellow supervisors in supporting letting L.A. County voters decide. To be approved, the measure must pass by a two-thirds majority.

The sales tax measure, which has been provisionally referred to as Measure R2, will soon have its own official letter designation, likely “Measure M.” Metro requested the letter “M”, with “E” or “T” as alternatives if M is not available.

Read Los Angeles Times coverage for additional details about yesterday’s approval.

Groups are already lining up for and against the November ballot measure.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported that the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments endorsed the measure. Though San Fernando Valley governmental bodies have not made their formal endorsement yet, there is, as reported by The Daily News, a great deal of support among Valley leadership, including elected officials and business groups.

Again from the Tribune, the South Bay and Gateway Cities COGs oppose it. According to Wave Newspapers, Gateway COG member city of Norwalk’s councilmembers are opposing the measure because it does not widen their portion of the 5 Freeway soon enough.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is among the strongest boosters for the Metro sales tax measure. In July, Garcetti tapped two of his leadership team to spearhead efforts to pass the ballot measure: Executive Vice Mayor Bill Carrick and Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Jacobs.



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Metro Making Plans to Use Transit to Connect Communities with Parks

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The executive summary of the Parks and Needs Assessment results. Note the concentration of “very high” park needs in the downtown, south-central regions, and San Fernando Valley regions of the county. Source: Los Angeles Countywide Comprehensive Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment

Nearly two years ago, President Obama noted the need for greater and more equitable park accessibility while speaking at the San Gabriel Mountain national monument designation ceremony:

“This is an issue of social justice, because it’s not enough to have this awesome natural wonder within your sight – you have to be able to access it.”

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Over 50% of Los Angeles county’s population has a “very high” or “high” park need according to the county assessment. Source: Los Angeles Countywide Comprehensive Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment

Metro, the Los Angeles County Transportation Authority, appears to be taking President Obama’s concerns for park access and equity seriously.

In June, the Metro board of directors approved a “Transit to Open Spaces and Parks” motion. The motion was authored by directors Hilda Solis, Sheila Kuehl, and John Fasana. It directs the agency to create a comprehensive transit-to-open space parks overview of park access in Los Angeles’s local, state, and federal land parks, while prioritizing recommendations for low-income and park-poor communities.

Metro’s “Transit to Open Spaces and Parks” plans are expected to be completed by October and will detail opportunities for future transit access, identify funding sources, and provide recommendations for new transit service connecting to parks, such as active transportation bike lanes, greenways, and public transit shuttles.

The Metro motion follows the massive countywide Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment, a two-year inventory and analysis of park project and maintenance recommendations for each of L.A. County’s 86 cities, completed last May, 2016.

With research demonstrating the mental and physical benefits of parks, Metro’s call for a coordinated park-access analysis comes at a much-needed time for Los Angeles. The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) 2008 Environmental Justice report found a complete lack of public transit services to national parks and “very limited” access to state parks.

The dearth in Los Angeles residents’ access to green space extends to local city parks as well.

Read more…