March Madness: Bruins, O’Connor Both Win During TV Showdown
LA Streetsblog picks up the action as UCLA holds a 28-15 lead over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in their Sweet Sixteen match up in the NCAA Tournament. UCLA is wearing their home whites despite being miles from Westwood. The game is being broadcast nationally at CBS.
Meanwhile, Metro Board Chair Pam O’Connor was wearing her road pinks at her home court at Santa Monica City Hall for a call-in-show about Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan. Metro Live! was broadcast on LA City Cable Channel 36 and Santa Monica Channel 16.
Just like UCLA ended up winning after some shaky moments, O’Connor gave a strong performance despite perhaps over focusing on the benefits of TAP cards. We pick up the action, after the jump.
Metro Live! tipped off with a video explaining what the long range plan actually is. Afterwards, the first question to O’Connor centered on how to reduce congestion reduction strategies. The Board Chair came out firing with a defense of Metro’s congestion pricing plans, "We’ve not valued, put a price on our roads…roads are used primarily by people driving alone in cars." UCLA held a 30-17 lead with 3:21 left in the first half.
The next question asked about trying to control job growth until the Subway to the Sea is built to Santa Monica. O’Connor commented that L.A. County needs to keep growing because of the two million people that will be added to the population in the coming decades. However, Metro and employers can work together to reduce the traffic impacts of new jobs through ride share, transit benefit and work from home programs.
As UCLA closes out the half with a 41-20 lead, O’Connor channels her inner-pedestrian advocate when she responded to a question about connectivity by stumping for better bicycle and pedestrian facilities. "We’re all pedestrians at some point."
As halftime rolled on for the Bruins, the questions picked up on Channel 36. "Kris" asked about building double-decker highways to relieve congestion within Metro’s right of ways. O’Connor, to switch sports analogies, hit it out of the park.
"Every time you build more freeways and add more lanes, and we could double-deck everywhere, that’s not going to dig our way out of congestion," she replied. O’Connor went on to make another pitch for congestion pricing and compared paying more for roads in desirable hours to paying more for parking in desirable locations.
Metro Live! moderator Jack Lovejoy asked the next question wondering what chance the Long Range Plan has to fix our congestion problems. O’Connor responded honestly that Metro can build all the projects it can, but it won’t make a difference if people don’t change their behavior. Even if someone drives the most fuel efficient car in existence, it still has to be parked somewhere and still take up space while driving. O’Connor ended with asking people to try taking Metro once a week.
While the Bruins took to the court to prepare for the second half, O’Connor fielded questions about specific bus lines, reducing fares to make it easier to make change, and increasing service on the Orange Line to more destinations.
At the midway point of Metro Live!, viewers are treated to a second video presentation. This one focused on Metro’s funding crunch. Coming out of the video O’Connor corrected one aspect of the presentation, the $152 billion that Metro has budgeted for is only for "Tier 1" projects. To build all of the projects it wants, Metro needs at least another $60 billion dollars.
Lovejoy then asked O’Connor about why people should support more transportation fees after supporting state transportation propositions in the past. O’Connor blasted state spending and pointed out that if Metro raises new funds through some sort of new fee or tax, the money will come right to the area, and won’t be filtered through Sacramento.
O’Connor showed remarkable message discipline answering the next several questions from callers, questions about building more connections to The Valley and the Subway to the Sea, by stumping for more funds. UCLA has a 16-point lead, and there is 16:35 left in the game as Metro Live! goes to its second commercial break.
When Metro Live! comes back, the game is at commercial so the people channel flipping between the two get to watch O’Connor and Popejoy handle a question from an irate bus rider who complains about buses never making their schedule, the rudeness of drivers, and the lack of reaction from customer service. O’Connor does her best to field the question despite the caller repeatedly interrupting her, stumping for more dedicated bus lanes and encouraging people to call customer relations with any problems.
Following a question about why Metro isn’t building light rail everywhere, O’Connor fields a tough question from ‘Art’ who wants to know what Metro is going to do about congestion. O’Connor, showing that message discipline, stumps for Assemblyman Mike Feuer’s efforts to make it easier for municipalities to raise their own transportation funds. LA Streetsblog will focus more on Feuer’s legislation on Monday.
There’s 13:36 left in the basketball game, and UCLA is up by 15. During a quick video on the environmental benefits of taking transit at Metro Live!, UCLA pads that lead to 17.
O’Connor answers a question on how Metro can make it easier for people to take transit by pushing the TAP cards. It’s the fourth question this evening that was answered by promoting the TAP cards.
Next up was a question on whether or not congestion pricing would cause more congestion. After all, Popejoy reasoned, you’ll be pushing cars out of the carpool lane and into the regular flow of traffic. O’Connor responded that congestion pricing is the only way to preserve a potential congestion free commute and that it shouldn’t reduce the number of carpoolers. Whatever the final congestion charge is will partially depend on the number of people in the car.
The last question was about the public process and oddly Channel 36 cut O’Connor’s answer off to go to what I believe was a question and answer session on the book Zocalo. And when I say "cutoff" I don’t mean that Popejoy politely cut her off, I mean that one second we’re watching Pam and the next we’re at commercial.
With ten minutes left to go in the game, UCLA is up by 13.