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Take Metro’s Parking Survey, Keep Up With Metro’s Parking Master Plan

Metro is promoting its parking survey via sandwich board ads, including this one at Expo Culver City. Photo: Damien Newton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro is promoting its parking survey via sandwich board ads, including this one at Expo Culver City. The sign asks riders to text their response to 213.322.1184. Photo: Damien Newton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro’s The Source announced an online survey in which the agency is soliciting input on its station parking. Take the survey here – participants are eligible to win a monthly transit pass. Metro’s survey is one of the first steps in Metro’s Supportive Transit Parking Program (STPP) Master Plan.

Streetsblog readers will recall that SBLA has been pretty critical of Metro’s massive investment in free parking at many of its stations. It doesn’t take a Shoupista to understand that surrounding station portals with massive parking lots does not make great places where transit riders want to go. Even Metro’s 2015 American Public Transportation Association review stressed that subsidizing parking works against Metro’s equity and environmental goals. Money Metro chooses to invest in subsidizing parking serves the roughly ten percent of Metro riders who drive, at the expense of the nearly 90 percent who predominantly arrive by foot. (link updated)

The survey is a little frustrating. As pointed out by The Source commenter Ron, the first question asks how you get to Metro’s (rail) stations. You are only allowed one answer, and this shapes what future questions you get to respond to.

Metro is posting parking survey promotional signs at some stations, but apparently not others. Damien Newton spotted the above sign at the Metro Expo Line Culver City Station, which features $2.5 million dollars worth of free parking. I haven’t seen any sandwich board signs yet at the Vermont/Beverly or Wilshire/Vermont stations, which coincidentally feature no free parking. Readers – where have you spotted these signs? Is there a pattern to where Metro is deploying them?

Also, English appears to be the only language the survey is available in. Updated: Metro’s Steve Hymon emailed: If you want to take the survey in Spanish, please text 323-688-4659 and type in the letter ‘a’ or find the Spanish survey on-line here.

Nonetheless, take the survey to get Metro’s parking plan off to a good start.

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Metro Extends Silver Line, Boosts Rapids, Quietly Reduces Local Bus Service

Metro is thinning some bus stops starting this month. This one is located at 37th Place and Vermont Avenue. Photo by Axel Hellman

Metro is thinning some bus stops starting this month. This one is located at 37th Place and Vermont Avenue. Photo by Axel Hellman

Twice a year, Metro makes changes to its bus routes and schedules. Last week, the agency announced changes coming into effect this winter, including detours to avoid construction and minor schedule adjustments.

The most dramatic change is an extension of the Silver Line that will bring bus rapid transit to Carson and San Pedro. The former line 450 was folded into the Silver Line, re-branded as “Silver Line Express” service. The new Silver Line will offer more frequent service to San Pedro, and faster skip-stop service to passengers boarding in other areas.

There’s more than meets the eye to these changes. If you look through the new schedules, there are several unannounced cuts – and improvements – on various bus lines. These details were not included in the official announcement, brochures, or social media posts. Some riders who don’t closely study the timetables will see an unexpectedly long wait for their bus. Riders on other lines will find a pleasant surprise in the new service changes, giving them a faster bus ride or shorter waiting times.

In many cases, service is being cut on a local line, offset by a service increase on the corresponding Rapid line. For instance, Metro is cancelling 36 trips on line 45 down South Broadway, which is going to decrease the frequency of service. But the agency is adding 38 trips 745 Rapid, which services the same route. That route will now run every 12 minutes on weekdays, up from a 22-minute headway.

Similarly, Metro is reducing service local service on lines 4, 28, 60, 180, 181, and 204, while increasing service on lines 704, 728, 760, 780, and 754. The trade-off here is that passengers who board at local stops will see increased waiting times, but Rapid riders will have faster trips.

On lines 751 and 18, service is being increased with no corresponding shifts in service on other lines. Other lines, including the 207 on Western Avenue, will see buses run less frequently. On this particular route, service is being reduced by 10 percent. Local buses will run every 10-12 minutes in the morning rush hour, down from every 6-8 minutes.  Read more…

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Metro Moves Affordable Housing Projects in Boyle Heights Forward, Returns Grocery Store Project to Drawing Board

Irvin Plata from YouthBuild Boyle Heights gives the thumbs up after a victory at the neighborhood council Wednesday night. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Irvin Plata from YouthBuild Boyle Heights gives the thumbs up after the neighborhood council supported their request that Metro conduct more comprehensive community engagement on affordable housing projects slated for vacant lots in the area. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

At Thursday’s Metro Board meeting, boardmembers took action on several items pertaining to the future of Metro-owned lots in Boyle Heights. The Board approved motions allowing affordable housing projects at 1st and Soto, Cesar Chavez and Soto, and 1st and Lorena to continue moving forward, while rescinding the agreement with McCormack Baron Salazar regarding their plans to build a grocery store at Cesar Chavez and Fickett.

The actions on the affordable housing projects were a long time coming.

At the end of 2014, Metro had been moving full-steam ahead to approve a slew of projects set for Metro-owned properties in Boyle Heights when the deafening uproar over the proposed makeover of Mariachi Plaza ground everything to a halt.

Recognizing due diligence had not been done with regard to community outreach, the Board slowed down the process by granting “phased” or “interim” Exclusive Negotiated Agreements (ENAs) for affordable housing projects from Abode Communities (Cesar Chavez and Soto) and East L.A. Community Corporation (ELACC) and Bridge Housing Corporation (on the two lots at 1st and Soto). These new agreements gave the developers a three-month window to conduct intensive community outreach and incorporate feedback into site plans.

Metro also granted an extension of the existing 18-month ENA to A Community of Friends (ACOF), a developer which, since June of 2013, has struggled to get the plans right for supportive affordable housing on the lot at Lorena and 1st Streets. And, it scrapped the controversial project slated for Mariachi Plaza altogether. [The urban design/architecture firm of Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio (with the architectural team of Perkins + Will and DakeLuna) will conduct design charrettes and community outreach to help create the Development Guidelines for both Mariachi Plaza and the Cesar Chavez/Fickett project in early 2016.]*

Still feeling steamrolled, the youth of CALO YouthBuild in Boyle Heights fought to see Metro extend the interim-ENA period from three to six months. They also asked that Metro revamp their advisory committee process, which has tended to lack transparency and relied heavily on the usual suspects for “community” input. The youth wanted to ensure that a wider range of stakeholders would be included in the conversation about the future of the community in a way that “afforded [them] the time needed to understand how these projects will impact their lives.”

Proposed development sites/Metro-owned properties in Boyle Heights. Almost all are slated for affordable housing. Source: Metro

Proposed development sites/Metro-owned properties in Boyle Heights. Almost all are slated for affordable housing. Source: Metro

The extra time given to the affordable housing developers proved very valuable. Read more…

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Little Tokyo Businesses Delay Metro Subway Construction Closures to 2016

Metro's Regional Connector subway is already over-budget

Metro’s board took action today to delay Regional Connector subway construction opposed by Little Tokyo business interests

Details are still emerging, but this morning, Metro Board of Directors chair Mark Ridley-Thomas announced that Little Tokyo businesses served Metro with a Temporary Restraining Order against Regional Connector subway construction. The legal threat caused the Metro board to decide to delay track relocation construction that had been announced to begin tomorrow. If the terms are approved, the construction will not begin until January 2016.

The $1.5 billion Regional Connector is a 1.9-mile light rail subway. Connector construction began earlier this year, and is expected to be completed in 2020 or 2021. Its alignment follows Second Street (Alameda to Flower) and Flower Street (2nd to 7th.) The connector will tie together the Metro Blue, Gold, and Expo Lines, making for transfer-free rail trips from Long Beach to Azusa, and from Santa Monica to East L.A.

In November, Metro announced plans to move up the date of the planned relocation of existing Gold Line tracks currently located in the middle of First Street. The relocation had been targeted to begin between February and April of 2016. Metro construction heads had made the decision to move this construction ahead of schedule, tentatively scheduled to begin Friday, December 4 – tomorrow night.

The track relocation construction is expected to last three months, and results in several street and station closures:

  • The Gold Line Little Tokyo Station will be closed. A temporary shuttle will ferry riders between Union Station and Pico Aliso Station.
  • Alameda Street will be reduced to one lane between Temple Street and 2nd Street.
  • Westbound First Street will be closed between Alameda Street and Vignes Street. Eastbound First Street remains open there.
  • First Street between Central and Alameda will be intermittently closed.

Metro CEO Phil Washington attended a contentious meeting with the community earlier this week. 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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Metro Committee Approves $132M Regional Connector Construction Increase

Metro's Regional Connector subway is already over-budget. Image via Metro

Metro’s Regional Connector subway is already over-budget

This morning, the Metro board’s Construction Committee approved an additional $131.8M for construction of the downtown Los Angeles Regional Connector subway. This increase ups the budget from $1.42 billion to 1.55 billion – a 9 percent increase.

The line had been expected to open in 2020, but has already experienced delays pushing it back ten months, likely to at least 2021.

The Regional Connector will be a 1.9-mile light rail subway. Its alignment follows Second Street (Alameda to Flower) and Flower Street (2nd to 7th.) The connector ties together the Metro Blue, Gold, and Expo Lines, making for transfer-free travel from Long Beach to Azusa, and from Santa Monica to East L.A.

What is perhaps disconcerting is that the current cost overruns occur so early into construction. If the agency is just getting construction underway, and the budget has already overshot its ten percent contingency, what kinds of additional cost overruns might reveal themselves when major construction really gets underway?  Read more…

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Metro Planning Committee Approves Bike-Share Fare Structure

Metro's proposed bike-share fare strucutre. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]

Metro’s proposed bike-share fare structure. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]

Metro’s Planning and Programming Committee approved the proposed bike-share fare structure. Three payment options would be offered: a $20 monthly pass, a $40 annual “flex pass,” or $3.50 per half-hour for walk-up single use. For further Metro bike-share fare details see earlier SBLA coverage on the proposal.

Metro boardmembers Mike Bonin and Hilda Solis expressed “sticker shock” at the $3.50 cost for single-ride walk-up use. Metro staff explained that hourly rentals are anticipated to be largely tourists, and that revenue from these users would be important for the system’s financial stability. Bonin was concerned that hourly users would also include Angelenos interested in trying out the system for the first time. At the suggestion of Metro Planning head Martha Wellborne, boardmembers directed staff to look into some kind of reduced-price initial trial period to allow more Angelenos to get acquainted with the new system.

Boardmembers Bonin and Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker also pushed staff to allow for free transfers from bus or rail to bike-share. While this will not be available during the initial mid-2016 downtown Los Angeles roll-out, staff suggested it could be part of a phase of TAP integration due in late 2016. Staff cautioned that it might not be cost-effective. Further details of of the TAP payment linkages are expected to come back to the board in March 2016.

The proposal goes to the full Metro board for approval on December 3.

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A Peek Into Metro Bike-Share’s Proposed Fare Structure

Metro's proposed bike-share fare strucutre. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]

Metro’s proposed bike-share fare strucutre. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]

A Metro staff report available this week gives a peek into the proposed fare structure for the transit agency’s bike-share system, coming to downtown Los Angeles in 2016. Metro has contracted with Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS) to open a 60+ station, 1000+ bicycle system extending from Union Station to USC. The new report [PDF] recommends that the Metro board approve bike-share fees and an interoperability plan, both detailed below.

The proposal will be heard at the Metro board’s Planning and Programming Committee on November 18th, then at the full board meeting scheduled on December 3.

Initial Interoperability Plan

As alluded to at the Metro board’s September discussion, the latest documents confirm that interoperability will initially just mean that multiple bike-share systems will use Metro’s TAP card. When the system first opens in mid-2016, monthly pass or annual pass bike-share users will receive a “uniquely branded TAP card” to unlock bicycles at docking stations. Bike-share TAP cards will be issued by BTS, with the TAP card only linked to the user’s bike-share account, separate from any TAP card’s stored transit fare account.

By the end of 2016, “all TAP cards will function as bike-share passes to unlock a bicycle at a station.” Users will enter their TAP card number when purchasing of a Bike share pass, though the bike-share and stored transit fare accounts still remain separate.

Additional interoperability features continue to be discussed, and will come back to Metro’s board in Spring 2016.

Fare Structure

Metro’s proposed bike-share fare structure (shown at top of post) includes three payment options:  Read more…

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Video: Fly Through the Future Of Union Station

 

 

For rainy Tuesday night viewing, watch Metro’s updated Union Station explainer video.

Ridership expected to xxx by xxxx. Chart via Metro staff report

L.A. Union Station ridership expected to double from 2012 to 2040. Chart via Metro staff report [PDF]

There are plenty of big changes coming to Union Station in next few years. In October, Metro’s Board of Directors approved $15,000,000 for preliminary engineering and environmental work on the long-discussed cut-through tracks (officially called the SCRIP – Southern California Regional Interconnector Project.) During the SCRIP presentation, Metro staff presented the above bar graph showing forecasted growth in Union Station ridership. From 2012 to 2040, people using Union Station will double from current totals around 110,000 to an estimated 220,000 – with increases in people riding the bus, subway, and Metrolink/Amtrak, plus new high speed rail.  Read more…

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710 Freeway Opposition Testimony Dominates October Metro Board Meeting

Metro board meeting attendees stand in support of Supervisor Hilda Solis motion directing Metro to broaden 710 Freeway South studies. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro board meeting attendees stand in support of Supervisor Hilda Solis’ motion directing Metro to broaden 710 Freeway South studies. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

(NO-710 advocate Joe Cano recorded the meeting. His video can be found here.)

Last week’s Metro board meeting agenda included numerous items, from bus service to Union Station run-through tracks, but the audience was packed with people mobilized to testify against Metro’s freeway expansion projects.

Namely, the 710 Freeway.

There are two halves to the 710 story: north and south. Both critical battles pitting communities against numerous deadly impacts of outdated 20th Century transportation thinking.

710 Freeway South

710 Freeway South study area. Map via Metro.

710 Freeway South study area. Map via Metro.

The metro board approved two items related to the southern portion of the 710 Freeway. The project is called the “I-710 Corridor Project.” It is located in Southeast L.A. County, extending from East L.A. to Long Beach. Metro studied widening the 710 South a few years ago, then concluded its environmental studies were inadequate, and need to be re-done, at a cost of over eight million dollars.

Environmental justice organizations, including East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice, Communities for a Better Environment, and many others, have been pressing for a 710 South project alternative that only adds lanes specifically for port truck traffic, and instead of additional freeway widening, invests in walkability, bikeability, and transit.

L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Boardmember Hilda Solis proposed a motion to expand the scope of the 710 South environmental studies to include zero-emission trucks, increased bus and rail service, complete streets, bike paths, and additional livability improvements.

More than twenty speakers, many speaking in Spanish, addressed the board in support of approving the Solis motion. Residents of Long Beach, Cudahy, South Gate elaborated on the health impacts of 710 Freeway traffic. One speaker turned to the audience and asked attendees supporting the Solis motion to stand up; more than 50 people stood.

County Supervisor Don Knabe proposed an amendment somewhat watering down Solis’ motion. Knabe’s amendment directs Metro to only study zero-emission trucks “should technology be available” and removes three bike paths from the EIR, directing Metro to study them separately.

The board unanimously approved the Solis motion as amended by Knabe. Solis’ supervisorial district includes the 710 from East Los Angeles to South Gate. Knabe represents communities along the lower 710, including Long Beach.

710 Freeway North Read more…