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Welcome to LARHF's METRO MONTHLY

brought to you by LARHF Metro Reporter, Adam Linder

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Metro Monthly – June 2024

 

Metro Los Angeles is celebrating the one-year opening of the Downtown Regional Connector, the project bridging the gap, bringing system-wide changes. As ridership continues to increase “post-pandemic,” Metro is looking forward to the newest transformative project, the opening of the LAX/Metro Transit Center Station. As LAX’s People Mover faces delays, pushing its opening into next year, Metro plans to implement the K and C Lines’ new alignments by the end of 2024. Extending the K Line south through its current terminus in Westchester, trains will soon pass through the future LAX Station, continuing south terminating at the Redondo Beach Station. When the LAX Metro Station and APM are completed next year, the line will finally add the remaining stations onto the line for passenger service.

 

And while New York pulls their congestion pricing plan at the last minute, Metro LA continues to study our own concepts for this controversial project. While the culture of Los Angeles still leans heavily towards driving personal vehicles, many people still wish for a change, however whether or not they’re willing to change themselves remains to be seen. Metro’s newest report begins narrowing the scope of the project adding in assistance for low-income options and HOV3+ lanes. The Downtown LA concept could raise $335m/year, Santa Monica Mountains concept $189m/year, and I-10 West raising up to $28m/year. No timeline has been presented for actual implementation.

 

Many projects in Metro’s long-term plans could use such an infusion of financing. As part of the Alameda Mobility Project, Metro is looking to improve access between Union Station and the new Little Tokyo Station. While studying many alternatives, one of the most ambitious calls for closing multiple freeway ramps in the Historic El Pueblo area, restoring access to public space and pedestrians, while also capping a section of the US-101. The Little Tokyo Community Council recently met with Metro and expressed disinterest in that plan, claiming it was too grandiose and therefore infeasible. Unfortunately the catalogue of Los Angeles’s “never-built history” is a vast encyclopedia of projects killed long before they had a chance for the sake of something “more realistic.”

 

As the A Line extends further east towards San Bernadino County, the San Gabriel Valley is in desperate need of north/south connectors, and while Metro is studying options for financing from the killed 710N extension, local advocacy group StreetsForAll have announced their latest initiative, “Hill to Sea: A dedicated Bus Rapid Transit and Bike Corridor from Pasadena to Long Beach.” This 28-mile BRT Line, an alternative of the project already being studied by Metro, Pico-Rivera, and multiple other organizations, is hoping to bring access from the A Line south, intersecting with Metro’s J Line busway, the E Line Extension, the Amtrak and Metrolink Station in Pico-Rivera, the current C Line, the future Southeast Gateway Line, Long Beach Airport, and CSULB. 

 

As LA County prepares for heavy construction in the coming years for the Southeast Gateway Line, the preferred construction staging location in South Gate currently holds a cold-storage warehouse, the owners of which are stating that they “cannot move.” They have now sued Metro claiming that their property is fairly new, and a large enough suitable replacement property does not exist. Metro does have alternative options for construction staging, but this property was chosen to preserve Union Pacific’s spur tracks. In addition, Metro’s preferred site for the future line’s maintenance facility lays within the City of Bellflower. Metro has not completed the acquisition of the property and as such the City is moving forward with a plan to update their zoning to allow housing on that plot of land. The City expects the site could accommodate up to 1,640 homes. Bellflower's Director of Planning Elizabeth C. Oba says, "Whether Metro proceeds with its planned use or not is not within the City’s control. What is within our control is how we plan for the future of our community.  Our focus has been and continues to be on meeting the needs of Bellflower residents now and for many years to come."

May Metro Monthly

Metro Los Angeles is a County organization, yet they are heavily influenced by the City of Los Angeles politics. The Mayor of Los Angeles is responsible for 4 of the 13 voting members on the Board, including one for herself. As we know, the City is facing major fiscal issues, attempting to balance the budget from overspending in the public safety sector. The City Controller reports that in order to pay the cost overruns, other City departments have been instructed to eliminate open job positions after an extended hiring freeze have left them empty. In addition to these cost overruns, public sentiment across the nation, with Metro Los Angeles at the narrative’s forefront, have painted public transit as a safety hazard. Ignoring per capita statistics, partisan politics often dictates the solution and the City and County have now both decided to lead a united force to increase patrolled presence across the system. 

 

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has spoken out that in the last month she has changed her mind from last month’s quote saying “the Metro is safe,” to now saying, "As chair of the Metro (Board), I am right now working with my colleagues -- the other members of the Board of Directors -- on a motion that we'll put forward at the next meeting, which is next week, that will be calling for an increase of patrols, increased visibility, on the buses and the trains." Incidentally, emails from Metro’s favorite critic, billionaire ex-CEO of Ticketmaster and head of the Bel Air Homeowner’s Association, Fred Rosen, were recently shared saying he has personally met with Mayor Karen Bass and had a “very constructive conversation.”

 

As we continue to sweep people from the sidewalks, more and more people spread to perceived safety in the suburbs, retreat to their cars, leaving public spaces deserted and dangerous instead of concentrating on more difficult solutions such as staffed information booths in stations, restrooms, or timely and reliable service reducing station waiting times. The Mayor’s announcement shows a united front from even some of our furthest left representatives on the Board, such as the newest elected County Supervisor, ex-Mayor of West Hollywood, Lindsey Horvath, who have all now subscribed to the public safety plan first drafted by the County Board’s sole-Republican, Kathryn Barger. 

 

As riders and Angelenos alike standby to see if this plan, to continue the same route they’ve always taken, differs this umpteenth time, I’ll continue standing by waiting until our physical infrastructure supporting the rider experience is improved. As a consistent rider of the system, I have seen many systemic long-running issues with the vast empty underground stations and the neglected, dimly lit bus stops on quiet streets. I personally hope we can see improvements to those issues, if there’s any money left…

 

 

Speaking of the addition of physical infrastructure, as well as the multi-generation lifetime of these projects, Metro’s Vermont Transit Corridor is hosting additional meetings over the next month to continue discussing community feedback regarding the potential addition of bus-only lanes, BRT, or a potential HRT extension down one of LA’s most traveled transit corridor. In-person sessions will occur on May 21st, 23rd, 28th, 31st, and June 1st and 6th. Refer to metro.net for location information. These community meetings are the perfect opportunity to make your voice heard for transit improvements for the next generation.

 

Accounting for the increased ridership from the opening of the Regional Connector, LA Metro has officially surpassed the San Diego Trolley to have the highest light-rail ridership in the nation, up 30% from last year. Surely the increase in additional light-rail lines over the next decade will continue this trend. The Southeast Gateway Line, as well as the East San Fernando Transit Corridor, should begin seeing physical progress throughout the next year.

 

The D Line Extension, Phase One project is hitting additional cost overruns as it slugs to a potential Fall 2025 finish line. Metro has approved a quarter of a billion dollar increase in the life of project, increasing the total now to $3.35billion. Metro still does not have a plan in place regarding headways on the shared B/D tunnels, as their contract for new subway cars fell apart. Without new cars, Metro is worried they will not be able to support the 5-minute headways promised to the Federal Transit Authority as a qualification for financing. As such, Metro is moving forward with potentially crippling the B Line to 15-minute headways in order to provide the D Line with the aforenoted timetables. As more phases of the project open, culminating in a late 2027/early 2028 opening of Phase Three to Westwood, we will have to watch to see if Metro is able to properly contract to purchase enough cars to support the heavy addition of ridership expected by the line, not to mention the even heavier weight from the 2028 Summer Olympics. 

 

Metro has extended an additional six months to negotiate the terms of lease for the District NoHo project built atop the B Line terminus in North Hollywood. Currently reaching it’s decade mark in planning, the project would bring up to 1.5K housing units to the site. The billion-dollar project may also seek concessions to account for the estimated $110 million tax for the City of LA’s Measure ULA fund, which is designed to prevent further homelessness in the City. Metro has also announced plans to spend $4.3 million this next year in advancing the High Desert Corridor rail project connecting Palmdale and Victor Valley. Originally a far-distant project of Measure M, eyes have moved to this project as a necessary connection for Brightline West’s Vegas Project, eventually connecting to the California High-Speed Rail route. Environmental clearance should complete in 2025, at which point the project would advance to 30% design.

 

As the summer season creeps into view, Metro announced the first project in their planned event ticket partnership. The Hollywood Bowl summer season is launching with the option of adding a Metro fare when purchasing your ticket. This partnership is currently planned to extend to additional venues across the County, potentially becoming a format they will utilize for tickets to the Olympic Games. In addition, Metro has officially partnered with LA Pride to activate “station take-overs” as part of the Official LA Pride weekend. On Saturday, June 8th, the Chinatown A Line Station will be renamed “LA Pride Nation Station,” and on Sunday June 9th, both the Hollywood/Highland and Hollywood/Vine B Line Stations will be renamed “Hollywood & Pride-land” and “Hollywood & PRIDE” respectively. Metro and LA Pride will be adding temporary branded signage throughout the stations encouraging ridership for these events.

 

Adam G. Linder

LARHF, Metro Monthly Reporter

April Metro Monthly

Earth Day Events This Weekend!

 

April is swiftly swinging by, but not before a fun-packed weekend! Metro is offering free fares on Monday, April 22nd to honor Mother Earth. This deal also works on Metrolink trains, so don’t miss out on a chance to discover how transit can help us meet our carbon emission goals! Additionally, this weekend is one of LA’s most transit accessible events, LA Times is hosting their annual Festival of Books on the USC campus, accessible from multiple stations along the E Line, as well as the J Line. If perhaps USC isn’t on your agenda for this weekend, you can head further down the E Line to the Culver City Station on Sunday, April 21st to bike and walk down Venice Blvd for this weekend’s CicLAvia event. One thing is for sure, there’s no reason to feel low this weekend in Los Angeles. 

 

In regard to Metro’s future plans, Metro Board Director and Mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass, delivered her State of the City address this week touting Los Angles as the nation’s SECOND busiest transit city! Los Angeles ridership has recovered more quickly than other cities’ systems and, in preparation for the 2028 Olympics, Mayor Bass says that it is now our responsibility to keep the momentum up and continue introducing projects meant to improve mobility throughout the area. The Board of Directors is preparing to choose a preferred alternative for the K Line South Bay Extension. However, it seems like despite intending to recommend selecting the “hybrid” 170th/182nd Grade-Separated option in the currently owned Metro right-of-way, Board Director Holly Mitchell has requested an additional month delay of the decision. As it is, there is currently an $825 million gap for this preferred alternative, and a potential $1.4 billion funding gap for the Hawthorne option. 

 

In addition, this month will see discussion regarding Metro’s budget priorities for the new year. With expanded station and bus cleaning, the Operating/Maintenance budget will increase by $272 million. This year will also launch 10-minute headways on the B and D lines, with the future K Line Southern Extension to LAX having 8-minute headways at the end of 2024. Near the end of 2024 Metro is hoping to begin plans to implement their new subway car fleet. 6 of the planned 64 new vehicles are scheduled for delivery at the end of 2024, with 30 planned to replace the current aging fleet and 34 for the new D Line Extension, slated to begin operation in 2025. The intention is to procure an additional 182 heavy rail vehicles for the second and third phased openings of the D Line.

 

Value Engineering continues to plague Metro’s future projects. Adding on from the minimized plan for the Link Union Station project, the mid-term improvements to the G Line seem to have been cut back as well. The aerial overpass above Sepulveda will stay in the plans, but the station is now no longer planned to be moved, instead staying at its current at-grade location allowing easier access to the parking lot and not to the bus connections on Sepulveda Boulevard. Additionally, the number of protected gate crossings, once the main staple of the project, has been reduced as well. Metro originally planned on 35 new gated crossings for the G Line, which would improve travel time along the route by up to 16 minutes. Their study showed that 41 gates could save 21 minutes, but would increase a 37 second delay for drivers to 104 seconds. As a compromise, Metro has now massively reduced the gate crossings to only 12, lowering the time savings for the improvements to the line to a 12-minute improvement over current travel times. 

 

The K Line Northern Extension is currently scheduled to release its Draft EIR next month, but staff is not optimistic the document will be ready for public release. However, the controversial other north/south Metro project will move forwards with even more community meetings in May. Metro has scheduled three community updates for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor’s monorail alternatives. It is not known if these are the next steps in the previously whispered about plan to increase the public’s opinion of the disastrous numbers attributed to the monorail alternatives from previous studies. However, Metro will push forward informing the public of the alternatives, with a focus on the potential removal of Alternative 2, the monorail with a secondary People Mover accessing the UCLA campus. That would leave the two remaining monorail options as either completely ignoring a station on the UCLA campus, or undergrounding the monorail after a proposed Getty Station for connections at UCLA and at the Purple Line, at a proposed cost similar, but bound to exceed, all the alternative heavy rail options. If you have a comment that you would like Metro to officially enter into record for the potential project, there are two in-person meetings, one on May 11th and the other on May 14th, as well as a virtual meeting on May 13th. More information can be found on Metro’s website for time and location.

Metro Monthly – March 2024: The LA Olympics...

 

Simultaneously flying by and also the longest year of our lives, it is finally time for March’s iteration of Metro Monthly!

 

New construction updates are far and few between at Metro, but the drama is at an all-time high. The Olympics inch ever closer while much needed rapid transit projects in the high-density inner core of our area wait as suburban projects are prioritized and continue to fail metrics for affordability in Federal grants. 

 

In the long term, Metro has high hopes for the continuation of Measure M’s rail project list, though as we know, each project comes prioritized with each region of Los Angeles County waiting patiently for their slice of the pie. The Foothill Extension of the A Line to Pomona is on track to complete early next year. The LAX/Metro Center Station will also finish construction next year, now timed to open with the further delayed LAX People Mover, hopefully in April 2025. After that we will see phase after phase of the D (Purple) Line extend further and further towards UCLA. And while these projects would not have been able to expedite delivery dates without Measure M, we have yet to see concrete progress on rail projects first imagined with the 2016 sales tax increase. The East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor (better known as the Van Nuys Light Rail) was already shortened to currently end at the Metrolink corridor, and has yet to break ground. Even though the project will move into heavy construction this year, new documents show that we won’t see tracks being laid until 2028. While construction is aiming to complete in 2032, the majority of time will see continuing utility reconstruction and street reconfiguration. The Southeast Gateway Line (formerly the West Santa Ana Branch) is next on the dock and unfortunately has seen an additional defeat with the prospect of federal financing once again dashed. Metro’s current “number one rail priority,” the 19.3-mile light-rail line extends through LA’s Gateway Cities, once-created through suburban sprawl, currently a transit desert. Politically, this area is ripe for high quality transit service, however the future line does not grade highly in transit affordability metrics, with slow speeds and low ridership. Other LA County blue-sky projects in denser areas are having to wait until projects like these accumulate enough funding in this ever more expensive era of transit construction. Environmental Review of the project is scheduled to complete this July, with 30% design completion in August. The line will need to secure at least 50% non-federal funds by the end of 2026 in order to potentially secure the remaining financing through federal programs.

 

In the next chapter of the great tales of the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor, Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association is currently playing twenty questions with Metro. Bob Anderson, head of SOHA, sent his questions demanding that they be answered with special accommodations outside of CEQA’s laws and timelines. Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of Metro responded timely. However, SOHA has responded that Metro’s answers to their questions were “insufficient.” The California Environmental Study process requires Metro to not only draft a document with its scientific and mathematics findings of the feasibility of a project and its impacts, but also requires a certain amount of community feedback. Metro has played this game before, once sued by Beverly Hills over the route of the Purple Line through their city. Although the project has not yet published their environmental review documents, Mr. Anderson deems it “unacceptable” that Metro continues to offer broad descriptions of a single final project, despite it still being studied with six potential alternatives. Thankfully, not liking the answers to his questions is not a legally binding argument against the project. Incidentally, Alternative 2, which is the Monorail Alternative with a separate underground people mover from the D Line Station into UCLA, was requested by the developer to be removed from consideration. This option, one of the few monorail alternatives with a rail connection to UCLA, was the formal preference of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association. However, if affordability is the argument posed by SOHA, elimination of their preferred alignment by its own developer is a sign of things to come. In community meetings, 89% of submissions supported one of the heavy rail alternatives, while only 11% supported at least one monorail alternatives.

 

In good news for Metro’s multimodal plans, voters in the City of Los Angeles successfully passed Measure HLA in this month’s election. This Measure, approved by almost two-thirds of voters, forces the city to implement its own previously approved mobility plan, which will bring much-needed bike and bus-only lanes to the city. LA Mayor Karen Bass visited Paris and its Mayor, Anne Hidalgo, to discuss priorities in transportation and affordable housing. As a gesture of goodwill, Paris, host of this year’s Olympics, gifted Los Angeles $10 million dollars to aid in preventing homelessness through affordable housing projects in advance our own hosting of the games in four years. The City of LA’s current budget allots that same amount of money to LAPD daily.

 

  Metro Is also working to secure additional housing units on its underutilized land. One of the potential projects submitted is a mid-rise housing complex built above Metro’s new Bunker Hill Station in Downtown Los Angeles. This project, while surrounded by Bunker Hill’s skyscrapers, will provide 20,000 square feet of commercial space, as well as provide 428 housing units, with 115 as “affordable.”

 

 All-in-all things continue to move forward, albeit at a glacier’s pace. The Sepulveda Pass Project will hopefully see it’s first phase to the Expo Line open next decade, but projects such as the Vermont Subway through South LA, or the K Line Northern Extension through West Hollywood, may have to continue waiting. Unfortunately, some deadlines cannot be moved, and as such, Metro has finally updated their “28 by ‘28” list of hopeful projects to complete before the 2028 Olympics. The initial list was a 2018 pipe-dream pushed by then Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti after Measure M’s success and as he was approaching his term limit. The first half of those projects were already scheduled to be completed in the next few years, and now the second half of the initial list may now not even be built in the 2030s. This new list replaces the dream projects with a much more reasonable outlook at the prospect of a multi-modal Olympics. Already announced, there will be ZERO spectator parking available at Olympic venues, and as such, bus-only corridors, as well as regional transit hubs will be key. The Olympic Organizing Committee has stated they will borrow 5,000 buses from Metro to transport fans, participants, and volunteers, and that any rider who holds a ticket to an event will ride for free.

Metro Monthly – February 2024

Delays, Delays, Delays… and Gondolas!

 

Greetings from the shortest month of the year, though this year it’s been made special to torture us just a little longer! The beginning of the year has historically been a slow period in Metro news as we await some potentially large shakeups with next month’s election. Of the five County Supervisors, all of which who sit on the Metro Board, one seat is up for grabs. Kathryn Berger, who currently represents District 5 is hoping to get reelected. As the only registered Republican on the Board, Supervisor Berger has made herself knows during her tenure for prioritizing the A Line’s extension further and further into the Foothills. Representing Sab Gabriel, San Fernando, Santa Clarita, and Antelope Valley, this seat will be integral as Metro expands its footprint. One hopeful vying for the job is Konstantine Anthony, former Mayor of Burbank, who has stated that the NoHo to Pasadena Line, which is currently planned for mixed flow traffic on Olive in Burbank, should have dedicated bus lanes. These seemingly small decisions will have major implications for riders, improving travel times, decreasing the vehicular footprint on our streets, and paving the way for a future conversion to light rail.

 

Speaking of the San Fernando Valley, Metro sent a project update for the Van Nuys light rail project to the Federal Transportation Authority. Scheduled for completion in 2030, the project, due to break ground this year, shows that heavy constriction for track and stations will only take three years’ time. The additional schedule will be spent on design, utility relocation, the maintenance facility, and road construction. Internal documents have begun to refer to this future MetroRail project as the “N Line,” however nothing has been confirmed.

 

As Metro prepares for the future extensions of the D Line, complications have arisen regarding their agreements with the FTA. As a funding promise, Metro committed to 4-minute headlines on the future D Line. Due to their delays with the construction of the Division 20 turnback facility, as well as the indecision, delay, and cancellation of the contracts for the new heavy rail vehicles, Metro will no longer be able to make that promise. With billions of funding on the line, they have been granted an exception with the FTA allowing 5-minute headways, which Metro has announced will only be feasible by extending B Line headways to 15 minutes. Metro’s plan is to continue these longer headways until they procure enough new subway cars in 2028.

 

Metrolink, while not run by LA Metro, has entered a new phase of its existence. In a branding shift from “commuter transit,” to “regional transit,” the organization has announced its potential schedule changes. New “pulsed’ scheduling will allow four times as many transfer options throughout the day, giving riders more service during times previously unserved by their previous commuter rush hour schedule.

 

Unfortunately, the LAX People Mover has officially pushed off of a 2024 opening, now aiming for April 14, 2025. If Metro’s LAX/Metro Transit Center Station follows suit, there will no longer be any new Metro openings in 2024 and the K Line will have to wait yet another year for the completion of its original plan, originally approved over fifteen years ago. The Vermont Corridor’s update has stated that bus lanes could be implemented Summer 2025, while the BRT alignment will be selected by the end of 2024, to be completed by 2028. Rail studies for that corridor will begin in 2025 as well. In addition, Metro has accomplished a completion of the report on the K Line community meetings. The agency took five months to report on forty-five comments expressing alignment preferences, 31 of which preferred the Fairfax-San Vicente Hybrid option. No further news regarding expediting funding arrangements for that project.

 

As community voices regarding the Dodger Stadium Gondola increase in volume, five Metro Board Directors, LA Mayor Karen Bass included, have directed the organization to study Bus Rapid Transit on Sunset Boulevard ensuring that the project will not replace the currently existing Dodger Stadium Express. A BRT down Sunset could be extended further through Echo Park and Silver Lake, culminating at the Santa Monica/Vermont B Line Station. Such a route has been mentioned through the years as a community preference offering increased transit options to many dense communities currently unserved by MetroRail. In addition, the directors have stated that the lease for the Gondola should be voided if the land currently occupied as parking is sold as housing development and does not include a minimum of 25% affordable housing. Another one of the 31 conditions spelled out by the Board includes a fleet of bus shuttle options, similar to the Hollywood Bowl, shuttling Dodger fans into Chavez Ravine from all around Los Angeles County, a free transit option that will surely be direct competition with the proposed Gondola. If these conditions are met, the Metro Board will agree to the Project.

 

Adam G. Linder

Metro Monthly Reporter, LARHF

Metro Monthly – January 2024

 

Coming off our first in-person Metro Monthly this weekend, your favorite LARHF-supported Los Angeles Metro column is back for another year! Our in-person tour started at Los Angeles Union Station with updates given to LinkUS, the massive project that will change Regional Rail for our area, as well as new changes to the Alameda Corridor and Dodger Stadium Gondola. A first-hand look from the A Line tracks gave us a bird’s eye view of the new location for the future West Santa Ana Branch’s eventual terminus underneath Union. Finally, after a quick trip down the Regional Connector, we visited the Little Tokyo/Arts District Station and 7th St/Metro Center to talk about cleaning, updates, and physical infrastructure coming soon to spit-shine our system before the 2028 Olympics. Thank you to everyone who came down on a rainy Sunday morning, and I look forward to hosting more!

 

Speaking of the West Santa Ana Branch, Metro Los Angeles announced today the official rebranding of the line, hoping to disseminate false assumptions given by the previous name. The future Metro light rail line, neither West of Los Angeles nor terminating in the City of Santa Ana, was officially renamed the “Southeast Gateway Line.” Metro hopes that this will help grow public support, bringing much-needed funding towards this almost 20-mile corridor, connecting Downtown Los Angeles with the County line. Phase One of the Project hopes to bring light rail transit from the Slauson/A Line Station in unincorporated Florence-Firestone heading Southwest to a future Pioneer Station in Artesia. The corridor has been a priority of Board Member Janice Hahn, who represents the area, known as a transit desert for its high car dependency and growing traffic and sprawl concerns. Phase Two would bring the temporary terminus further north up Alameda, finally fulfilling a decades-old promise of bringing rides in the Gateway Cities to Los Angeles Union Station in a one-seat ride.

 

As we closed out 2023, the largest Federal rail investment of the year came, not to Metro, but to both California High-Speed Rail and Brightline’s Vegas project. The Federal Department of Transportation announced last month $3 billion in federal financing for each project. This will help Brightline meet its 2028 goal of bringing high-speed rail from Vegas into Rancho Cucamonga. The original plans called for the route to end in the High Desert, near Hesperia, however, San Bernardino entered into an agreement allowing a Rancho Cucamonga Station as the initial terminus, bringing the first high-speed rail into the LA area, and connecting to the current Metrolink corridor. Once CASHR completes its route into Los Angeles, and Metro gets its High Desert Corridor from Palmdale to Victorville, we may see high-speed rail trains circle the San Gabriel Mountains!

 

Speaking of trains traversing mountain ranges, Congressman Brad Sherman has stepped into the Sepulveda battlefield. Following the ex-CEO of an online ticket company with questionable business practices, the congressman has now held meetings with the developers of the different alternatives for the politically volatile project. In his initial meeting with SkyRail, the Beijing-based monorail developer, the Congressman removed the representatives from Los Angeles Metro from the meeting and then offered “PR spin” suggestions to the contractor to make the monorail option “more appealing to the public.” Studies have shown an overwhelming majority of riders support tunneling under the homes of said billionaire and oppose a monorail being built in the median of the 405. The Congressman, once made aware of both Bel Air and Sherman Oaks Homeowners Associations’ vocal disdain for the “entitled” students at UCLA, seems to have decided to step up as the champion of his largest donors and not the students and employees of UCLA, the fourth-largest employer in the County (after the City, County, and LAUSD.) In December, it was reported that the Congressman met with Metro about the heavy-rail alternatives, calling the cheapest and most realistic option a “non-starter.” In the meeting, he asked important questions that will define the life-changing project such as, “Will there be Wi-Fi?” and, “How much will Metro charge riders for the ride?” Metro responded that their current fare is $1.75 per ride, a seemingly minute piece of information that somehow is just a truth for the millions of Angelenos who rely on Metro daily for their quality of life. Fred Rosen, the vocal homeowner, has sent letters to employees of Metro stressing the infeasibility of the project’s timeline while simultaneously threatening lengthy legal proceedings to further delay the decision.

 

At the same time, the Brentwood Community Council has released its opposition to another controversial Metro Project, congestion pricing. Metro’s project, now titled “Traffic Reduction Study” has proposed a vehicular toll for drivers entering some of the most congested corridors in the County, i.e. the Westside or Downtown Los Angeles. It has been proposed that the income from such a tax could immediately fund some of the most necessary transit projects for the area, the Sepulveda Line, or even a further extension of the D Line to Santa Monica. The Community of Brentwood, who believes they bear the brunt of the off-freeway traffic, has called the proposal a “tax on the middle class.” The median home price in Brentwood has climbed now over 2 million dollars according to Redfin. These areas West of the 405 are historically known for their legal redlining of homeownership and high luxury vehicle-per-citizen ownership rates. They are calling for the suspension of the study.

 

2024 will finally see Metro accomplish many of its goals, such as the integral connection to LAX and the combination of the K and C Lines. This year we are also expected to receive the environmental impact report for the Dodger Stadium Gondola. Metro is also scheduled to soon decide on an alternative for the C/K Line South Bay Extension. We may finally see groundbreaking on the Van Nuys Transit Corridor, as well as a creeping deadline for the Inglewood Transit Connector. But, in the opinion of this writer, the most important show for Angelenos in the War on Climate Change and the growing class divide will be whether or not this “middle class” will choose a community-based solution such as transit over the convenience of their car. Communities such as Brentwood and Bel-Air seem to think they can convince the average LA County resident making less than $40K/year to choose a politics based on isolationism and the idea that every decision on picket fences should belong to a wealthy few, but I am still hoping that drivers will realize that a life fueled by the anger of waging war on the freeway and overcrowded streets for hours each day is not a life that leads anywhere but towards more fear against our fellow Angelenos. The change will have to start with each individual, realizing that only together can we steer that influence, and Metro will need to lead the way with these studies and projects. 2024? Bring. It. On.

 

Adam G. Linder

Metro Monthly Reporter, LARHF

Metro Monthly – November 2023

 

The Holiday Season is moving in as quickly as the Santa Ana Winds – and while many Angelenos hope for gifts this year, the most we can offer is a highway on fire. All jokes aside, Mayor Karen Bass announced that the section of I-10 shut down due to arson on a neglected leased storage site under the freeway, is already reopening this Thanksgiving week after extensive repairs. The closure has been an opportunity for Metro to showcase our growing system. And in a swift response, LADOT announced that the E Line was granted traffic signal prioritization along corridors where the rail line intersects with Los Angeles City streets, something transit advocates have been begging for years ever since Santa Monica enacted signal prioritization after the line’s opening. There have been countless efforts to decrease travel times along Metro’s street-running lines, and hopefully this benefit continues after the freeway reopens. 

 

If only some of Metro’s transit projects could move as quickly as a freeway repair. Metro’s Inglewood Transit Connector received a “Medium” rating by the Federal Transit Authority, hoping that the designation will allow the project to receive a $1.21 billion federal grant. This grant would be over 50% of the entire cost of the project. Unfortunately, the FTA report also states that the project would not be opening for revenue service until early 2030. That date would miss the 2028 deadline for the Olympic Games, minimizing the public need for the project, while ensuring the future profits of the privately owned arenas it serves. No private money from the owners of the stadiums have been allocated to this project. The project originally planned for a community-serving station along Market Street, but that alternative was removed to increase schedule and decrease cost.

 

LA Metro released additional information regarding stations and ridership for the future Sepulveda Transit Corridor. The monorail options would serve 21K – 57K fewer riders than the heavy rail transit options, as well as run 8 – 14 minutes slower. Alternative 1, the monorail option that does not connect to UCLA, projects the lowest ridership of the alternatives, only 65K compared to the highest performing alternative, Alt 4 at 121K riders, which could make the line one of the most used transit lines in the nation. The study’s per station ridership shows that a UCLA station would serve over 16K daily riders, while the monorail’s inclusion of a special Getty Center Station would serve only 1,300 daily riders. Transportation between the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles’ Westside remains one of the worst in the nation, and this project could change the day-to-day lives of millions of Angelenos for generations to come.

 

In high-speed-rail news, CalHSR has released their potential plans for the Los Angeles to Anaheim corridor, essentially one of the last reports needed to ensure the entirety of Phase One is environmentally cleared by next year. The Supplemental Alternative Analysis compares and updates a variety of alternatives. Most elaborate would be a fully tunneled system which could whiz passengers from Los Angeles Union Station to the ARTIC Station in Anaheim in 20 minutes, a total of 29.7 miles, for a mere cost of $31.06 billion. That alternative was immediately removed from consideration. Currently, three tracks exist in the ROW and CalHSR’s plan is to build a fourth. In 2018’s Project Alternative, two would be reserved for freight, and two for passenger rail. As part of this newly updated alternative, CalHSR is recommending the “Shared Passenger Track Alternative,” in which two of these tracks would be electrified, allowing HSR trains, while allowing freight across all four tracks. However, this new plan does not do much to increase headways compared to current Metrolink and Amtrak trains, with only two trains per hour instead of the planned four. This alternative may also remove interim stations in Norwalk and Fullerton, and remove planned grade crossings. This plan would still cost between $6.65 billion and $6.91 billion, as opposed to the $9.17 billion cost of 2018’s plan. This writer is convinced that after seeing what this country is willing to spend elsewhere, the $31.06 billion should be found for the fully-tunneled option. What is tax payer money meant for, if not spent on improving the lives of its citizens where they live?

October 2023 – Metro Monthly

The Beverly Hills City Council has officially chosen the name “Beverly Dr” for their future D Line Station, previously known as Wilshire/Rodeo. Metro has spent millions of dollars on community outreach investigating which name people prefer, also taking into account wayfinding and community engagement. The City of Beverly Hills, which spent the majority of its own budget in litigation against the Purple Line Extension during planning, has a special agreement with Metro that the City will have final say over the nomenclature. Initially, Wilshire/Rodeo was deemed inappropriate since the station is three blocks east of Rodeo Dr. Community engagement showed that Wilshire/Beverly was the next most popular option. However, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel sent a letter to the City of Beverly Hills claiming that any future negative press from the station will impact their Google search results and hinder their business. The name Wilshire/Cañon was suggested, but homeowners on S. Cañon were worried it would encourage transit rides to access their residential streets. Ultimately, Metro has proven that decades of reports and millions of tax payer dollars spent on community engagement does not ultimately matter when the politicians in charge of the final decision have a financial interest in appeasing their wealthy donors, directly opposing the requests of the community, and furthering the culture divide between transit riders and public perception. The first extension of the D Line is currently scheduled to reach substantial completion on 5/17/25, almost two full years after the original contract date of 6/9/23. Metro’s publicity team still reports that the project is on track for a “Fall 2024 opening, subject to change.”

 

The Metro Board of Directors has not yet formally recommended an option for the C Line Extension in the South Bay. While continuing to delay, new “discoveries” have been  made in the Metro-owned right of way in Redondo Beach. Homeowners in the area have pushed their representatives, who, as real estate developers, have a history in failed bids to Metro, to recommend the aerial option, which costs three times more and includes a longer construction timeline. Many urban planners see this as an age-old technique to kill transit extension. This month though, a local homeowner made a new discovery, revealing a headstone in the ROW, claiming that religious law prevents the moving of the remains of his newly discovered Jewish relative. Despite the fact that the headstone matches the uniformity of markers in the National Cemetery in the VA, and that Metro’s environmental report found no such remains during the decades-long study, the news was wide-spread across local media.

 

In happier news, on October 4th, Metro held its annual “Clean Air Day,” and Metrolink announced their highest ridership numbers since 2020, with a total of 26,000 daily riders. This month, Metrolink also opened a new station on their Antelope Valley Line in Santa Clarita, the city’s fourth station, at the new Vista Canyon Multi-Modal Center. Metro also helps fund CicLAvia, which held its annual Heart of LA route on October 15th, just shy of the organization’s thirteenth anniversary. These events and incentives to ride transit are integral in public perception and Metro’s goal in reducing climate emissions.

 

Metro’s Eastside Extension of the E Line received an update this month, now expecting to cost $7.9 billion for the 4.6 mile extension as Phase One of the project, extending from the current Atlantic Station to Montebello. Currently expected to break ground in 2029, after the Olympics, to open in 2035. The K Line celebrated its one year opening anniversary as well. The project will be complete next year when the LAX Metro Transit Center Station opens allowing the southern portion of the K Line to finally integrate with the C Line.

 

StreetsblogLA has uncovered that as part of the Regional Connector project opening earlier this year, Metro made executive decisions to disregard CEQA plans approved by the Los Angeles City Council and its own Board of Directors to remove additional bike and pedestrian infrastructure from its newest station at Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill. Upon reaching out for comment, Streetsblog was told that even though the bikeways being approved in 2009, the improvements “will be addressed” at some point in the future. Despite claims that the project’s budget could only be used on light-rail improvements, the streets around the station were widened, some from 4 lanes, now to 6 lanes. In addition, street closures and an additional station portal were removed from the project after approval, with intent to ease vehicular traffic’s access to the freeways. The newest station is currently a transit island surrounded on all sides by wide streets. There is hope that one day a private developer will come in to build above the station.

 

Finally, Metro’s Security Ambassador Program has been so successful that Metro is now voting to make the program permanent, and to bring the employees in-house instead of the current outsourcing structure. In addition, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has announced that despite LAPD’s new program, Metro will not see implementation of police officers using their new “BolaWrap” lasso whips to restrain transit riders. 

September 2023 – Metro Monthly

As Metro prepares its Board Recommendation for the South Bay Extension of the future K Line, a few organized dissenters are speaking up. Riders and local advocates, as well as the Metro Board’s long-term plans, support the quickest and cheapest alternative to the extension, while a group of local homeowners are sharing documents among themselves of the dangers of riders as “criminals to peer into our homes or watch our children as they ride by.” The group is advocating either for the no-build option, or the newer aerial option that places the line down Hawthorne; an alternative almost twice as expensive, with agreements needed with Caltrans, and an opening date much later in the decade, if feasible at all. The Board will make a formal recommendation at the October Board Meeting.

 

Metro Los Angeles is attempting to move forward, yet again, with an environmental contract for the future Vermont Corridor. In 2021, Metro proposed a contract with a full Environmental Impact Report, costing $33 million. Instead of moving forward with that contract, Metro insisted additional community engagement was needed on the project. The results showed then, as they do now, that multiple improvements are needed, and requested, by those who live and work along the corridor. Metro has stated the project will consist of short-term bus improvements, mid-range BRT lanes, and a long-term potential rail corridor. Awarded this month, the newest contract will use a new state law exempting the bus project from needing an EIR, and will now cost $55 million. Vermont continues to be one of Metro’s busiest bus corridors and the densest area of transit-dependent households in the county.

 

Federal funding has found its way into Amtrak’s pocket for a potential expansion of service towards the Coachella Valley. The $1 billion project now sees a $5 million investment into studying the potential new stations in Palm Springs, Indio, and Coachella Valley. No additional funding has been found. 

 

In addition, the State of California has announced up to $1 billion in funding for LA County projects. In October of last year, Metro pitched three projects for competitive TIRCP grants through the state. The state decided that two of those projects did not meet their cost analysis per potential ridership, and the state did not fund them. This new financing has the potential to become a political battleground. LA Metro has stated they’d like to use all the funds for the West Santa Ana Branch, as well as the continued A Line Extension towards Claremont, the two projects the State deemed unnoteworthy. The Los Angeles County Manager has expressed interest in the funds being distributed more widely amongst LA county agencies based on formulas of population for allocation. Metro has historically built new projects on a political basis; most funding is built upon the sales tax measures voted into law by LA County residents, needing over a two-thirds margin to pass. Because of this, more organized and politically charged cities have seen more transit investment than others; a turn towards transit necessity could adjust funding priority for the large list of mega-projects.

 

The K Line Northern Extension is seeing community updates this month. The project, which has no additional concrete funding despite both West Hollywood and Los Angeles’ ongoing studies of tax incentives, is due to be built in phases with the first phase bringing trains north to the D Line. Measure M has the project breaking ground in 2041.

 

Multiple reports have shown that the subterranean entrance from the 7th St / Metro Center Station to the Bloc shopping center has been closing at 7pm. When constructing the new portal, there was a legal easement between Metro and the Bloc ensuring access until 10pm. Metro has responded stating that they intend to keep the gate open until the later time. In addition, the Bloc has now restricted its elevators from the Metro/Plaza level from opening inside the Macy’s Department Store. Riders must now navigate a multitude of side corridor escalators in order to access the front entrance of the department store. Neither the Bloc nor Macy’s has commented on how this affects customer traffic in an age of dying brick-and-mortar retail locations. The Bloc claims their retail vacancies are over 70% leased, despite construction walls still up along entire corridors now eight years after their grand reopening. They have however opened a “Volvo” dealership showroom on the Plaza level with Metro’s Station. 

 

Metro has also officially opened their peak bus lane project on La Brea, stretching 5.7 miles from Sunset to Olympic. There is a planned second phase of the project, bringing peak hour bus lanes to the E Line, if they can get the Los Angeles City Councilmember on board with the plan. They’ve also announced intention on upgrading Wilshire Blvd’s bus lanes to full time, opening the Sepulveda/Venture Blvd peak lanes next month, constructing peak lanes on Santa Monica Blvd on the Westside in Summer 2024, and finally some portions of Vermont seeing bus lanes in Summer 2025. The City of Pico Rivera is independently studying a Bus Rapid Transit project on Lakewood/Rosemead Blvd spanning 26.3 miles, connection Pasadena with Long Beach. The City is also pushing for the addition of a Pico Rivera station on the Metrolink right-of-way.

August 2023 – Metro Monthly

 

Los Angeles has now officially survived its first hurriquake and while Metro received no major damage during the storm, they did unfortunately cancel the planned CicLAvia from Hollywood to Koreatown. The event is normally held “rain or shine,” but with the unprecedented storm and first rain in August in recent memory, the event was cancelled last minute. As the county heals from the madness, Metro continues to struggle with its public image. Although ridership continues increasing, elected officials are leading the charge against the transit agency, despite the requests of their constituents. As if planned for the same week, three separate instances of wealthy politicians came out against Metro projects in the planning phases. 

 

Jon Kaji, who currently holds a seat on the Torrance City Council, is also a private real estate developer. Incidentally, his proposal for a development atop the Little Tokyo A/E Line Station was not chosen by Metro to move forward. Mr. Kaji, along with Torrance Councilmember Aurelio Matucci have spoken out against Metro’s planned C Line Extension to Torrance. Mr. Kaji claims that Metro has become “a mobile homeless shelter, dumping thousands of homeless individuals at the end of each day.” Metro, days after Mr. Kaji’s statement, released the results of their anonymous public poll announcing that 67% of local residents supported the project, with only 8% opposing it. Metro, showing that 66% of EIR comments support the route, seems to be leaning toward the ROW alternative to the project, which has a cheaper cost and quicker construction timeline, as opposed to the elevated Hawthorne option. There has been no response yet from the Torrance Councilmembers regarding their departure from their constituent’s majority opposition to their stance.

 

Beverly Hills Mayor Julian Gold spoke about the once-planned Northern Subway Portal for the D Line’s future Wilshire/Rodeo Station. The under-construction station is currently being built with only one entrance at Wilshire/Reeves, on the southern side of Wilshire. Metro and the City of Beverly Hills had been studying a secondary entrance for the station to more easily access the tourist destination at Rodeo Drive and the businesses along Beverly. After studying three options, they had selected a new portal on the northwest corner of Beverly and Wilshire, allowing a more linear walk to Rodeo Drive. At this month’s Mayor’s Cabinet Meeting, Mayor Gold said that he does not think the city will move forward with this supplemental subway entrance and pedestrian tunnel as “the people who do want to be in that we don’t want in that.”

 

The never-ending conversation regarding the Sepulveda Transit Corridor continues as Fred Rosen, the ex-CEO of Ticketmaster, and current homeowner and Bel Air Association Board Member, continues to send a slurry of angry emails lashing out at Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of Metro and a Woman of Color. Mr. Rosen speaks about how his community has a “serious voice and we intend to and know how to use it.” He also goes on to applaud Texas Governor Abbott’s use of migrant human trafficking, delivering busses of immigrants to Los Angeles’s Union Station. The most recent bus of toddlers and immigrants was sent as Los Angeles was preparing for the unprecedented weather event and arrived during the worst of it. He bemoans Measure ULA which he refers to as the “rich mansionazation (sic) tax.” He calls Metro “inept, incompetent, and incapable,” while referring to CEO Wiggins’ leadership as “pathetic.” He finally jokes that his critics “need a reality check---actually they need a bus ticket out of town.” The references he makes in his verbal abuse shy near of popular conspiracy theories spread by popular cable news networks, but contradicted by studies and facts collected on the ground. Los Angeles Mayor, Karen Bass spoke out about her interest that both the San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles Westside come to an agreement regarding the alternatives for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor, however the SFV Council of Governments responded that they oppose any options in which the route is elevated in the SFV, but underground in the Westside. Meanwhile, generations of UCLA graduates come and go without a mass transit option as we continue to debate the best way to get people from their homes to these job centers.

 

In good news, Metro has begun to show off the interior of their new heavy rail vehicles, to be used on the B/D Lines. The new vehicles allow movement between the train compartments, as well as allowing a higher capacity of riders by lining seats along the sides, instead of in rows. Having received the first of the vehicle shipments, we should begin to see the new vehicles rolling out as the D Line Extensions open. 

 

 LA Metro also announced their final list of projects hoping to be completed by the 2028 Olympics, including a network of Bus Rapid Transit Lines, station improvements at key points in the system, as well as light rail and first/last mile upgrades. The Inglewood Transit Connector, the key missing puzzle piece connecting Metro’s K Line to the new SoFi Stadium, where the Opening Ceremony and many events will be held, has not yet announced full funding nor a construction start date.

July 2023 – Metro Monthly

 

While Metro is celebrating the continued success of the system-changing Regional Connector, they’re also looking forward to next steps in the organization.

 

 One of the most politically explosive ideas making its way through studies at Metro is their plan for congestion pricing. While Metro’s bus system is wide-reaching, and the addition of new rail lines is an incentive to get people out of their cars, the convenience of having a personal vehicle still outweighs many Angeleno’s preference to wanting to curb carbon emissions. Metro has studied potentially charging peak-hour tolls for entering the Westside via the 405 or 10, in addition to potentially targeting the entire DTLA freeway corridors. One idea that was proposed was a congestion pricing toll for the LAX Terminals horseshoe, encouraging travelers to utilize the soon-to-be-opened LAX People Mover. However, all of these ideas have been minimized and studies quieted. One LA Times article reveals that Metro received the data from their studies in 2022, but decided to hold off on announcing them due to election season and seats up for grabs at the City’s Mayoral and City Council level, as well as the County’s Board of Supervisor. The issue would have been at the forefront of the races and could have potentially ended such a necessary program, as well as changing the outcome of who eventually did get elected to the Metro Board. Vehicular traffic still remains one of Los Angeles’ greatest feats to overcome, and hopefully as options increase and more of our lives are spent bumper-to-bumper, riders will choose alternative methods.

 

 The extension of rail lines into communities deprived of access to MetroRail has also become a point of contention. The Torrance Transportation Committee may recommend the “No Build” option for the South Bay extension of the C Line. Torrance had previously announced a preference for the ROW option, building the light-rail extension in the Metro owned right of way, culminating at the future Torrance Transit Center. But both the cities of Lawndale and Redondo Beach support the option running aerial down Hawthorne, providing direct access to the South Bay Galleria at a much higher construction cost, but sparing their residents from shouldering property lines with the new train. All three cities have also expressed concerns about safety from the Unhoused as a result of the extension. This extension is necessary as the C Line reaches eventually closer to either San Pedro or Long Beach, following Metro’s owned ROW Harbor Subdivision. Measure M provides funding for the extension to Torrance, but this writer believes that a full extension terminating at an existing MetroRail Line would be a possibly solution to a city’s fear of having new riders access their communities. It would not solve a city’s resistance to denser infill housing though. Metro continues to balance between providing the necessary transit benefit, while pleasing its constituents. 

 

 One city truly desperate and continuously vying for its rail line is West Hollywood and the extension of the K Line north towards The Hollywood Bowl. The City of West Hollywood has published an independent First and Last Mile Report of potential new improvements to the station areas once the rail line is built. The new stations along Santa Monica Boulevard show multiple station entrances, as well as the relocation of Metro’s Division 7 and the LA County Sherriff’s Office at the intersection of San Vicente & Santa Monica in WeHo’s “Rainbow District.” Such infrastructure improvements could be traffic-calming, sidewalk widening, bicycle facilities, as well as new ways to access the Sunset Strip from the new stations. The Draft Environmental Report is due for this project later this year, however financing from Measure M isn’t available until 2041. The project shows promise as one of the highest projected boardings per mile of Metro’s planned rail lines.

Adam G. Linder, LARHF LA Metro Reporter

June 2023 – Metro Monthly

 

 Los Angeles Metro’s Regional Connector project has now officially opened! As you may know, this project is momentous for many reasons; of course, any addition of stations to the system is a reason to celebrate, but this project brings together the fruition of the very first plan Metro sought out to accomplish almost 60 years ago! The original Blue Line, now the A Line, was supposed to run from Long Beach, through Downtown, eventually continuing to Pasadena. There were many reasons that connection downtown didn’t happen, and one could speculate that it had to do with the negative sentiment towards Metro around the Henry Waxman ban on tunneling, or perhaps the high price of the project. Regardless, the A Line never continued through Downtown Los Angeles and the Gold Line was built as a compromise, decades later. In addition, the original Red Line was supposed to continue from LA Union Station east down Whittier, providing much needed high-quality transit to a neighborhood ethnically and financially deserving of it. The Regional Connector finally bridges the gap, bringing transportation justice to these areas. A one-seat ride from Long Beach through Downtown to Pasadena and beyond, as well as the above ”way to the Sea,” connecting East Los Angeles to Santa Monica. This project soon will only be known for its new line letters and no longer as the “Regional Connector,” but it’s impact on Metro’s system connectivity will be felt for generations to come.

 

In other Metro news, the Authority released their realistic plans on projects to complete before the 2028 Olympics. And no, it is nothing like Eric Garcetti’s pie in the sky ’28 by ’28 advertisement. The projects include the large Inglewood Transit Connector People Mover project, integral to move riders from the new K Line to Hollywood Park, but also transit improvements specific for the Games. Countywide Bus Only lanes will be imperative for Metro’s goal of a parking-less Games, as well as Open Streets projects to uplift Arts, Culture, and Recreation. There are also plans to give “key stations” an aesthetic and functional upgrade, such as gutting 7th Street/Metro Center of its dark and dingy lighting and materials, in order to act as a welcoming hub for guests. These projects, as well as Light Rail Speed Improvements to the Washington WYE hub, should allow more travelers to enjoy the experience of traveling in LA by rail and bus.

 

Unfortunately, it looks like the LOSSAN corridor is in trouble again. The bluff erosions south of San Clemente have halted Amtrak & Metrolink trains on-and-off again for the majority of the year. Most of the time service has been suspended, bringing riders only as far as Mission Viejo. Amtrak has now revealed that their Pacific Surfliner, during the times when the track is open, will also undergo cost cutting measures including less frequency of trips, complete removal of the cafe and Business Class service, no baggage service, as well as full closure of ticket windows at three stations between Irvine and San Diego. Long term plans include studying an inland tunnel for the corridor, but no emergency action has been taken for this vital link between two of California’s largest cities. 

 

 Speaking of studies, a few of Metro’s Chief Officers are in hot water for their comments. LA Metro Chief Innovation Office Seleta Reynolds has stated that building bus or bike lanes without extensive community engagement and consent would make them no better than planners that bulldozed homes for freeways. In a complete erasure of racial motivations that expanded freeways, it seems that once again, transit-dependent riders, of which a majority are low-income minorities, are once again scapegoated for the benefit of wealthy suburban car owners. In addition, LA Metro’s Chief Operations Officer Conan Cheung discussed the changes to the B/D Line’s Westlake/MacArthur Station, claiming that a rider survey supported increased lighting, followed by the newly-heightened hostile music and ambassadors. The City’s elected officials have stated that they would like to see station attendants, expanded street vending, and restrooms, but sadly this plan to “saturate the area with services,” is nowhere to be seen yet. In the attached diagram, we can see than Metro has instead added temporary fencing in the station to funnel people through tight new corridors passing nearby potential new security kiosks. Metro’s own studies have shown that the possibility of an in-house Metro PD would save $37.5 million per year, as well as allow more control over deployment, training, and culture. No studies have begun yet on adding public restrooms.

 

Adam G. Linder, LARHF LA Metro Reporter

May 2023 – Metro Monthly

 

The Regional Connector is coming! Metro has announced that the three new stations in Downtown Los Angeles, as well as the new routes for the A & E Line will begin operation on Friday, June 16th. The new A Line will run from Long Beach to Azusa, while the new E Line will run from Downtown Santa Monica to the Atlantic Station in East Los Angeles. 

 

As far as rail corridors, the next in line for construction to begin is the Van Nuys light rail, connecting destinations from the Orange Line to the Metrolink right of way at Van Nuys & San Fernando in Pacoima. That project is slated to break ground this year, as they have already begun utility work and real estate negotiations. Completion is estimated in the 2030s.

 

Shortly after, we’ll see projects move forward on the (soon-to-be-renamed) West Santa Ana Branch, followed by the Sepulveda Pass Corridor, an Eastside Extension of the E Line to Greenwood in Montebello, and the South Bay Extension of the current C (Green) Line to Torrance.

 

Still in long-term planning are a Vermont Subway, the K Line Northern Extension to Hollywood, an extension of the Sepulveda Line to LAX, conversion of the G Line to Light Rail, as well as the completion of later phases of the “short term” projects: Van Nuys’ Pacoima to Sylmar, East LA’s Greenwood to Whittier, and the WSAB’s Downtown Corridor from its phase one terminus at Slauson/A Line to Union Station.

 

One project speeding through is the Foothill Extension from Azusa to Pomona. Next month, in June 2023, the construction authority is hosting an event to announce the completion of laying rail for the corridor. That project is on schedule to open in 2025, although a further extension from Pomona to Claremont is still unfunded.

 

The full K Line project still sits uncompleted as the Aviation/Century Station has been ready to open for years, but Metro Los Angeles has quietly decided that instead of opening that station and the C Line connection prior to the LAX/Metro Transit Center Station, both will open together in Summer 2024. No decision has been made yet regarding the K or C Line travel patterns as the subregions each discuss opposite preferences and how different travel patterns benefit their cities. Since opening incomplete, the K Line’s ridership is lower than the top 30 bus routes across LA County, and only 12% of L (Gold) Line Ridership, the next lowest rail line ridership in the County.

 

Adam G. Linder, LARHF LA Metro Reporter

April 2023 – Metro Monthly

 

As we approach summertime in LA, Metro prepares for the remainder of the year. While we still don’t have an official opening date for the Regional Connector, testing has begun at the 7th Street/Metro Center Station, and trains can be seen with their new A / E call signs in the station. This month marks the one-year anniversary since Metro’s press ride and announcement that construction in the tunnels had completed. 

 

In addition, Metro is readying the K Line to connect to the C Line later this year with the opening of the Century/Aviation Station. The WYE south of the station will allow trains to move between the C and K Lines. Metro is in the midst of community engagement before solidifying a service pattern for the new line designations. The route options could potentially allow K Line trains to either continue south towards Redondo or turn east heading to either Willowbrook/Rosa Parks A Line Station or terminating at the current C Line Norwalk Station. Riders are encouraged to submit feedback via Metro’s website before the organization decides on a final pattern later this year. The LAX / Metro Transit Center Station is scheduled to open in 2024, along with the LAX People Mover which has also quietly been pushed into a 2024 opening.

 

The D Line (Purple) Extension, Phase 1 from Wilshire/Western to Wilshire/La Cienega looks to be slipping into an early 2025 opening date. The Division 20 turnback facility, which, per federal funding, is necessary to increase headways for the D Line extensions, has also now been delayed an addition eighteen months, now scheduled to open in Spring 2026. Metro’s Center Project is described as a consolidated hub for their Emergency Operations Center & Security Operations Center. In 2011, Metro was awarded $32 million dollars in federal funds to support the project. The project was not started until 2014. Since then, there have been two separate periods of year-long inactivity on the project. Metro was forced to return those funds to the federal government potentially forcing the project to now be funded with Metro’s tax-payer funded revenue.

 

Metro continues its response to the issue of homelessness in the County. As the City of LA readies its plan for both immediate and long-term solutions, they have asked Metro for possible land use solutions for services and housing. Metro has development sites in process, and the city is now studying the best practices to ensure these long-term sites meet the affordable needs of Angelenos, as well as the potential for short-term shelter housing. In response to Long Beach’s request for Metro to suspend their End of the Line Policy, which clears out trains at the line’s terminus, Metro proposed using available underutilized space at the Willow Station for services including showers and short-term shelters. Due to overwhelming community response, Long Beach is not interested in offering that space for unhoused services.

 

Earlier this year, Metro began playing loud classical music in the Westlake/MacArthur Park B Line Station as a means to deter loitering and crime in the station. Per the request of the musicians, some pieces have been removed and the volume has been lowered from what had been described as a “torturous level” by riders. Metro has also “quietly” begun a similar practice in the Union Station restrooms hoping to deter people from spending too much time in the facilities. 

 

As Metro proposes their budget for the new fiscal year, their “reimagining public safety” program has been called into question. Currently, Metro still contracts out policing to LAPD, LBPD, and the County Sherriff’s Department, however a report on officer’s effectiveness has shown that uniformed officers overwhelmingly do not patrol the station nor ride the trains, but stay in their cars on street-level. When incidents on trains or in stations are reported, they are more quickly responded to by officers not currently assigned to Metro patrol. Upon request by a County Board Member on why this is, a statement was given that they “weren’t going to have a bus company tell them how to deploy their resources.” Nevertheless, Metro renewed their contract for an additional three-year term and voted to continue to study the potential of an in-house policing force, something 8 out of 10 of the largest transit agencies of the nation already have. The Board vote regarding additional studies on how to improve current deployment of law enforcement did not pass. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass as well as her two City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Katy Yaroslavsky voted against questioning LAPD’s tactics.

 

Adam G. Linder, LARHF LA Metro Reporter

March 2023 – Metro Monthly

 

Karen Bass, as the new Mayor of Los Angeles, is responsible for four seats on the Metro Board of Directors, herself and three others. Ex-City Councilmember Mike Bonin is leaving the Board and Mayor Bass has announced his replacement, Councilwoman Katy Young Yaroslavsky, the new representative of council district 5 representing UCLA, Miracle Mile, Bel-Air, and the Central-Southern area of the San Fernando Valley. She is the daughter-in-law of LA politician Zev Yaroslavsky, notorious for outlawing subway construction in Los Angeles from 1998 – 2008. Original plans for the B (Red) Line had the subway route extending west through the San Fernando Valley. Due to the ban, that route is now served by the G (Orange) Line BRT. Mayor Bass expressed gratitude for the new Metro Board Member honoring her commitment towards safety on the system, as well as the representation for the area to be near-term served by the opening of the D (Purple) Line Extension and integral decisions of the Sepulveda Line Transit Corridor, currently in planning.

 

As Metro presses forward to build the Inglewood Transit Connector (ITC) between the K Line Station and the new SoFi Stadium & Hollywood Park (and have operational by the 2028 Olympics,) the City of Inglewood has now announced intention to recommend cancelling the Centinela Grade Separation Project. Originally planned to adjust the K Line’s current ground-level Centinela crossing to an aerial crossing, the plan would have required a lengthy additional closure to the line and subsequent bus bridge. In addition to that disruption, the cancellation of that project could bring much needed Measure M local returns financing to the ITC in case of cost overruns, theoretically ensuring delivery in time for the Olympics.

 

The US Department of Transportation has released their updated budget for transit funding and despite the push from Metro’s Board of Directors, the West Santa Ana Branch (WSAB) was not awarded any funding. This comes not long afer the State of California also notably did not aid in funding the Foothill Extension to Montclair. Both projects perform low in cost effectiveness, due to low ridership numbers and high costs. Other projects in denser areas of the County have received state and federal funding. In response, Metro’s Board of Directors have begun a request for a remarketing campaign for the WSAB. The hope is that since the line is neither in the western portion of the County, nor does it go to Santa Ana, that the lack of funding is due to a misunderstanding of the project and not because it serves low-density suburbs uninterested in upzoning.

 

LA Metro released their FY2024 Annual Program Evaluation, which states that the Purple Line Construction will need a $380 million dollar budget increase to aid in completion. The federal stimulus and omnibus bills of the last few years have awarded the project a total of $278.1 million in additional funding, but additional funding will be needed for this shortfall. Metro has also estimated that the organization in FY25 will see a $400 million deficit, and FY26 will see a $1 billion deficit if the tides in transportation funding do not change.

 

Adam G. Linder, LARHF LA Metro Reporter

February 2023 – Metro Monthly

 

In response to recent flooding in the passageway at Union Station, Metro has announced studies for a quick-fix solution. The tracks above are slated for an eventual update as part of the Link Union Station Project, now arriving after 2028. As part of the immediate solution, they are also studying how to bring the station fully up to ADA compliance (Americans with Disabilities Act.) The ADA study will cost 1.2 million dollars, the study on mitigating flooding will cost 2 million dollars, and they will also study the impact of reducing access points into the station, hoping to divert loitering and crime. That security study will cost 2.5 million, more than twice the price to study improved ADA access. No timeline was given for these “quick-fix” studies, nor their implementation.

 

The City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services, also known as StreetsLA, has begun replacing aging public restroom around the city, most notably at the surface level of many Metro stations. These new restrooms come complete with water fountains and bottle-filling stations. Metro had previously announced plans to add restrooms to key locations in their system prior to the 2028 Olympics. Studies on improvements to the 7th Street/Metro Center Station are currently underway. In addition, Metro has announced intention on short-term improvements to the Westlake/MacArthur Park Station citing reports of crime. Their solutions involve closing access points into the station, adding features to furniture to prevent laying down, and playing continuous music in and near the station to discourage loitering. There are no studies to show how this will affect transit-dependent ridership.

 

The Foothill Extension of the current L Line, to become the A Line later this year, is on track to open to Pomona by 2025. However, the City of San Dimas began litigation stating that the approved environmental review of the park and ride location, to be built at their future station, was inadequate, citing potential impacts on traffic. The construction authority on behalf of Metro pledged an additional $1 million for additional parking lots and driveways near the station. 

 

CEQA has been in the news recently, and Metro is no stranger to delays in the environmental process. CEQA stands for California Environmental Quality Act and is required for most large scale infrastructure projects. It’s a study and subsequent report on how the project will affect the environment and the people who live near the project. Intended as a security feature to mitigate risks, it's recently been used to delay or even kill a project entirely. At their most recent City Council meeting, The City of Lawndale acknowledged that they intend to submit comments on the Draft EIR (Environmental Impact Report) for the South Bay C Line Extension on the last day of the 60-day comment period, with the intent that it will take Metro longer to answer those comments, further delaying the project. In addition, LA County’s newest Board Member, Lindsey Horvath, announced her own concerns in hearing out the Bel-Air and Sherman Oaks homeowners who have, in writing, stated that if they do not receive their way in the selection of a monorail for the project, they will delay the timeline of the project by any means necessary. The Metro Board of Directors is slated to choose the alternative for that project this summer, but that decision lays at the bottom of a long list of delayed decisions in recent years.

 

Adam G. Linder, LARHF LA Metro Reporter

January 2023 – Metro Monthly

 

Happy New Year, MetroRail fans! With the new year comes new hopes for Los Angeles Rail investment and expansion. With still no date for the map-busting Regional Connector, the project is approaching 99% completion and should open in the first half of the year.

 

The D Line Extension is chugging forward, however the new owners of Westfield Century City have requested a change in the design and are no longer interested in a direct underground connection from the upcoming D Line Station. The Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) are almost complete for Section 2 of the D Line and have safely finished excavating under Beverly Hills High School. Back in 2017, local organizations and parents made a plea to former President Trump to “save their children” from the dangers of the subway expansion. 

 

A similar situation is expanding now with some organized residents of Bel-Air and Sherman Oaks attempting to influence the long-awaited Sepulveda Transit Corridor. Metro Los Angeles has sent a letter to LA Skyrail Express, the company planning the monorail alternatives for the project, stating that their unsanctioned meetings with UCLA, The Bel-Air Home Owners Association, and the Sherman Oaks Home Owners Association are in direct violation of Metro’s Pre-Development Agreement. Metro Los Angeles is a taxpayer-funded government agency and private meetings meant to circumvent public interest could be grounds for dismissal. Fred Rosen, leader of the Bel-Air Home Owners Association, has been vocal about his disdain for Metro’s practices of prioritizing the public response above his demands on behalf of the homeowners. The Sepulveda Transit Corridor is partially funded by Measure M and is scheduled for an opening date of 2033-2035. Additional litigation by private interests may further delay construction of this project. 

 

Unfortunately, further negative public opinion of the effects of rail expansion has influenced potential financing as well. The C Line South Bay Expansion has two alternatives, one down Hawthorne Blvd serving the South Bay Galleria, and the other down Metro’s Right-Of-Way, serving the Redondo Beach Transit Center. The City of Redondo Beach prefers the Hawthorne Blvd alignment, which falls completely out of their city, while Lawndale opposes both options. Metro’s West Santa Ana Branch project was hoping to find additional financing through value capture efforts, but the city managers along the line believe that their land use is at max capacity already and are not interested in pursuing further. Metro was also denied a $400m grant for the WSAB from The Federal Department of Transportation. The DOT has also denied California’s request for $1.3billion in funding for the High-Speed Rail Project. Governor Newsome has also proposed reducing transit capital by $2billion dollars over the next 3 years.

 

Despite these setbacks, more and more riders are relying on the Metro system for their daily needs. Metro has restored bus and rail service to their pre-pandemic levels and as shiny and new rail lines open, Angelenos will experience unprecedented access to jobs and activity centers, hopefully restoring faith in those who make decisions regarding transit investment.

Adam G. Linder

LARHF LA Metro Reporter

December 2022 – Metro Monthly

 

As the officials elected in November take office, and those termed or voted out leave, the Los Angeles Metro Board moved to close out their session with a few high-profile changes. Firstly, the Authority has finally restored all transit services to their pre-pandemic levels, a huge undertaking that will set the tone for the new administration. In addition, the Board revised and passed a new fare structure. Initially planned to raise the fare and eliminate free transfers, Metro will be keeping fares the same, but continuing with their fare capping strategy. With this method, more frequent riders of the system will pay less for weekly or monthly charges as any rides after the daily cap is met. It’s a change from their initial proposal to increase fares from $1.75 to $2. Metro is still studying a fareless transit initiative.

 

Metro has also approved final decisions for a few high-profile projects. The North San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor was slipped into the Measure M funding list at the 11th hour by then Mayor, Eric Garcetti. In the years since, the planning was curtailed by local homeowners and such, the single line bus rapid transit project will now become bus improvements along a much larger footprint of the San Fernando Valley. The new network changes will increase bus frequency to less than 10 minutes along both the Roscoe and Nordhoff corridors, as well as replacing four-hundred new bus shelters, and building five new enhanced bus facilities at peak interchanges. In addition, Metro voted to approve the East Los Angeles Extension of the L (Gold) Line, soon to be rebranded as the E Line. To be built in phases, the first phase will extend the current terminus at Atlantic to a new station at Greenwood in Montebello. The full build-out of the project will bring the line to Lambert in southern Whittier. Metro will not begin construction on Phase 1 prior to 2029.

 

Metro has also requested $1.9 billion in funds from the California State program, Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program. They have requested $600 million for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor, $798 million for the L (Gold) Line Foothill Extension Project in the San Gabriel Valley between the future Pomona Station and the city of Montclair, and $500 million for the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor.

 

Adam G. Linder

LARHF LA Metro Reporter

November 2022 – Metro Monthly

 

Metro’s K Line has been in operation for over a month now and the organization is looking to the future. Many of the specifics of future projects were dependent on the outcome of Los Angeles’ recent election and will soon see further project definition as the Metro Board of Directors will now see new representation. Lindsey Horvath, former Councilmember of West Hollywood, now sits on the County’s Board of Supervisors. The new Mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass, will not only be on the Metro Board, but also have the opportunity to appoint three new members, two from the public and one sitting City Councilmember. As planning for these megaprojects moves forward, we will see more concrete structure come to the proposals for the Sepulveda Pass Subway and the Crenshaw Northern Extension.

 

A major restructuring of Metro’s fare policy is making its way through the Board and the mandatory public comment period. As part of their “Fare Capping” Program, Metro has announced their intent to raise one-way fare from $1.75 to $2, also eliminating the previously free transfers. The idea is rooted in a hope that the new fare structure will help consistent Metro riders by “capping” their daily expenditures at $6, making any further trips that day free. It also works on the weekly level, further eliminating the much-more expensive weekly pass, while offering additional savings for lower income “LIFE” program candidates. However, more casual riders of the system will see an increase in their occasional one-way fares. Metro is still studying a “Fareless Initiative,” but has not released more data from that study since the previous announcement that the program would be too popular, crushing the current system with riders.

 

In anticipation of the Little Tokyo/Arts District Regional Connector Station’s opening early next year, the Eastside Access Project will provide transit and pedestrian infrastructure near the station as well as leading up the Alameda Esplanade towards Union Station. A separate project, also adding pedestrian connections on Alameda, is the Union Station Forecourt Project, a watered-down pedestrian plan reconnecting Union Station to the Plaza across the street, scheduled to open in 2025. Missing from these two plans is a 0.3 mile gap of Alameda over US-101. Metro has announced a study to bridge the gap in these two projects, aiming for its construction completion in 2035.

 

Adam G. Linder

LARHF LA Metro Reporter

October 2022 – Metro Monthly

 

On Friday, October 7th Metro officially opened their newest rail line, the K Line from Jefferson Park to Westchester. The grand opening event took place in the Historic Heart of Black Los Angeles, Leimert Park. The seven new stations will be joined to the current C Line in 2023 and connect to the LAX People Mover in 2024. The K Line returns passenger rail to an area that once was well connected to Los Angeles’ robust historic transit network of the early 20th century. The community celebration honored a historic investment, finally closing a plan first suggested following the Los Angeles riots of 1992. It is the hope of this author that the planning and construction of such important climate-healthy investment into our most disenfranchised, transit-dependent neighborhoods won’t always take thirty years.

 

However, internal documents reveal that the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project scheduled to bring light rail to Van Nuys Boulevard has now been delayed and will most likely not see heavy construction begin until 2026. Metro has not updated the opening date for that line, still showing a completion by the 2028 Olympics. The project was one of the few already scheduled to before the Olympic Games prior to the “Twenty-Eight by ’28 Plan,” which was hoping to see multiple transit projects and rail lines accelerated from lofty delivery dates. The four “Pillar Projects” of that plan are all scheduled for completion in the 2030s: C Line Extension to Torrance, E Line Eastside Extension, West Santa Ana Transit Corridor, and the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor.

 

Speaking of the Sepulveda Transit Corridor, the unelected Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association has begun fundraising donations in their fight against Metro’s heavy-rail alternatives for the project. Taking up the cause with the affluent Bel-Air Association, the Association argues in favor of the monorail alternatives. SOHA worries that if Metro eliminates the monorail, Metro will then not have the finances to fully underground the heavy-rail options, ending with elevated trains in the San Fernando Valley portion of the project. The elected Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council has announced their official support of the underground heavy-rail subway alternative. 

 

In a historic twist, Long Beach city officials have asked Metro to reconsider the practice of emptying trains of passengers at the end of the A line, citing concerns that Unhoused peoples are entering Long Beach without the immediate ability to return back where they came from. Metro is studying the impact of the policy to “inform future resource deployment.” Metro’s new Ambassador program is also launching this month, which will finally see employees on trains and stations trained in response to inquiries and able to contact social services for those in need.

 

Metro’s Regional Connector project does not look likely to open this calendar year, and despite no update from the agency, internal documents show an opening date likely in March of 2023.

Adam G. Linder

LARHF LA Metro Reporter

September 2022 – Metro Monthly

 

In an 11th hour move, Metro has announced that the first seven stations of the long awaited K (Crenshaw/LAX) Line will open to the public on Friday, October 7th. The grand opening will take place at the Leimert Park Station with the inaugural train departing at 12pm noon, the agency will also honor opening weekend free fares on buses, trains, and bikeshare throughout the system. As this is the first new rail opening in the Los Angeles Metro system since 2016, these events will surely be one for the history books.

 

The San Gabriel Valley may see some transit improvements soon, due to the cancellation of the SR60 leg of the L (Gold) Line Extension. That leg was removed from consideration in order to focus on the more southern Whittier extension, as well as the need for more immediate transit improvements needed in the area. Meto has released different route options for planned BRT and Rapid Bus Priority Corridors. Rosemead, Atlantic, Valley, and Garvey are all listed as options for potential near-future improvements. The light-rail options for this corridor were removed from consideration early in the process. 

 

The Metro Board of Directors have asked for immediacy in regards to the Vermont Corridor Project. In addition to the recommended near-future improvements to bus shelters and priority lanes, they are hoping to push forward the full BRT to be operational by the 2028 Olympics, as well as investing in planning for the rail conversion, preparing to be shovel-ready in case financing comes. Near the Vermont/Expo station, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art complex just announced pushing their opening from 2023 to 2025. They were initially scheduled to open in 2019.

 

The waiting game seems to be the motto of Metro Los Angeles these days. As we come up to the sixth anniversary of the Measure M passage, we are still waiting on concrete movement from the highest priority projects, as well as delays in projects that were on track back then. This Fall, the Sepulveda Corridor will host more public sessions with an emphasis on station location. We anticipate the Van Nuys Line to creep forward, potentially hosting a groundbreaking next year. 2023 will also see the gate and overpass improvements for the G Line through the San Fernando Valley. Little news trickles in regarding the West Santa Ana Branch, and we should be hearing more concrete plans regarding ways to save money and expedite that northern extension through downtown Los Angeles soon. Now that 2022 is culminating in the opening of the long-awaited K Line, here’s hoping that and 2023’s Regional Connector grand opening satisfies riders before the long wait to the D (Purple Line) extension opening in early 2025.

Adam G. Linder

LARHF LA Metro Reporter

August 2022 – Metro Monthly

 

Little movement from Metro this month. More stations on the Crenshaw Line are being “honored” as they continue to prepare for the opening of the Crenshaw Line. More correspondence is made public from Fred Rosen of the Bel-Air Association threatening Metro with litigation designed to further postpone the tunneled Sepulveda Transit Project options. Metro has also cancelled the contractor bidding for the Link Union Station project, hoping to restart the process with a new contract later this year, potentially delaying the project by two additional years, pushing it further after the 2028 Olympic Games.

 

Metro also publicly released their draft of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Study showing that adding a congestion pricing model in the county could remove 36 billion vehicle miles traveled “between 2017 and 2037,” while adding new lanes to highways would increase VMT across the county the same amount. The full build-out of Measure M rail projects could potentially reduce an additional 5.5 billion VMT. No decision has been made by Metro regarding the multiple pricing options, though consideration has begun for either/or West LA or Downtown LA pricing zones.

 

Speaking of long-term studies, ex-Metro Board Member Joshua Schank has published a perspective on Metro’s current trend of studying transportation equity and argues that these studies are only long-term bureaucratic delays further increasing the inequity in disenfranchised communities, such as the lack of movement on the Vermont Transit Corridor. The document can be read at on the website for MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE, at transweb.sjsu.edu.

 

Metro still hopes to announce the opening date for the Crenshaw Line “soon,” but the public is only now being made aware that the line will open in phases, first only to Westchester/Veterans until the Metro Transit Center Station at LAX is capable of allowing trains to pass through, and at which time a new traffic pattern could be announced interlining either the southern or eastern legs of the current C Line. Studies were made available to those options in 2018.

Adam G. Linder

LARHF LA Metro Reporter

Metro Monthly - July 2022

 

As part of the opening celebrations for the new K (Crenshaw/LAX) Line, Metro has scheduled monthly ribbon cutting ceremonies for each of the stations scheduled to open for service by the end of the year. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was on site for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Expo/Crenshaw Station this month. Seven new stations are slated to open by the end of the year. Trains will turn back after the Westchester/Veterans Station and return to Expo/Crenshaw. The Aviation/Century Station and connection to the C (Green) Line will open for service in 2023 once construction in the guideway of the LAX/Metro Transit Center Station is clear. The LAX/Metro Transit Center Station is slated to open for service in 2024.

 

The West Santa Ana Branch has released recommendations in order to build the northern phase more quickly and cheaply. Options range from running at-grade, or in a trench, downtown along Alameda to constructing the Little Tokyo transfer station as an aerial option. One of the more interesting proposals interlines the new rail with the A Line tracks into Union Station, eliminating conflicting construction with the LinkUS project at Union Station, but requiring another reconstruction of the tracks near Little Tokyo. 

 

In Metro-adjacent news, the Riverside County Transportation Commission approved a plan for a rail extension connecting LA Union Station with the Coachella Valley with up to five new stations: the Loma Linda/Redlands area; near the communities of Beaumont, Banning, and Cabazon; near Cathedral City, Thousand Palms, Agua Caliente Casino, Rancho Mirage, and Palm Desert; in the City of Indio; and in the City of Coachella. It is not known yet if this would be an extension of Metrolink or infill Amtrak stations.

 

LA Metro has decided not to exercise their option from CRRC for up to 218 additional subway vehicles for the opening of the later D Line Extension phases. They say that their base order of 64 vehicles will be enough for minimum operational requirements for the first extension. Delays in vehicle procurement are being blamed on supply chain issues, COVID, and tariffs/restrictions on Chinese state-based manufacturers. The first new cars from the initial order are due to be delivered to Metro in August.

Adam G. Linder

LARHF LA Metro Reporter

Metro Monthly - June 2022

 

As “June Gloom” wraps up and the summer heat moves in, Los Angeles Metro is also making moves. In addition to announcing an increase in bus service for June 26th, Metro held community updates for a few of their high-profile rail projects in development.

 

First off, Metro released their Scoping Report for the much-anticipated spine of the San Fernando Valley, the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor. Despite very vocal opposition from a few homeowners in Bel-Air, the results overwhelmingly showed that Angelenos prefer the heavy-rail option between the Valley and the Westside, in lieu of a monorail running in the median of the 405 Freeway. 93% of comments supported Metro’s heavy-rail alternatives similar to the subway technology running on the B (Red) and D (Purple) Lines. The most referenced concerns specified the need for an on-campus station at UCLA, equity, and integration/connectivity with Metro’s existing bus and rail lines. The Draft EIR period, which is mandated by California to analyze impacts to the environment, will lead the Metro Board to a selection of a “Locally Preferred Alternative” at a later date.

 

In addition, Metro hosted a Project Update for the Crenshaw North Extension. After the Scoping Meetings last year, Metro has refined the project for clarification. In addition to adding the Hollywood Bowl station as a potential northern terminus, they have decided to eliminate the La Cienega/Santa Monica Station at the behest of the City of West Hollywood who has claimed multiple portals to the station at San Vicente/Santa Monica 0.5 miles away would provide sufficient coverage to the area. In addition, a much-discussed “spur” option was decided against. The “spur” would see the Crenshaw North Extension travel the La Brea alternative in 13 minutes, shaving off an additional 7 minutes of travel time the “hybrid” alignment would require if traveling towards West Hollywood. The “spur” would have also created a WYE junction at La Brea/Santa Monica allowing trains to travel both towards West Hollywood and north and south down La Brea. That junction would have allowed a future extension east on Santa Monica Boulevard through the transit-dependent communities of East Hollywood, eventually traveling along Sunset through Silver Lake, Echo Park, connecting Dodger Stadium to Union Station and eastwards towards La Puente. The City of Los Angeles has expressed interest in that line, but since it was not included in Measure M’s passage in 2016, no funds from this project can be used for it. That necessary junction will have to be rebuilt in the future if such a project comes to fruition.

 

This Summer we anticipate more information on the Universal City Red (B) Line Station Development, an update to the Vermont corridor project in August, and the Draft EIR for the Arts District Station that will see the Red (B) and/or Purple (D) Lines extended to the new 6th Street Bridge. That bridge is slated for its Grand Opening Ceremony on Saturday, July 9th. 

 

Adam G. Linder

LARHF LA Metro Reporter

Metro Monthly - May 2022

Our Metro Monthly column returns in our April edition as Los Angeles Metro prepares for a year of project completions. Earlier this month, journalists and politicians were able to ride a test train between two of the new Regional Connector stations, “Bunker Hill/Grand Av Arts” station and “Historic Broadway” station. Photos from the event confirm the designations of the new E Line, in a gold color, which will travel from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles, and the A Line, in its signature blue, traveling from Downtown Long Beach to Azusa. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was in attendance, confirmed the lines will open by the end of the year, also ending a two-year gap in service between East LA and the rest of the system.

 

In addition, the San Fernando Valley Transit Project on Van Nuys Boulevard held a ceremony with Senator Alex Padilla confirming additional federal funding for the future light-rail line, scheduled to break ground in 2023 and open for service prior to the Olympics in 2028. This project will connect the G (Orange) Line station, up to San Fernando Blvd. A second phase is planned to connect the Sylmar-San Fernando Metrolink Station.

 

As Vermont Ave is the region’s second most traveled corridor, a recently studied bus-rapid transit line would improve travel times for many historically disadvantaged transit-dependent riders. The same study offered a preliminary look at options for a subway in the corridor, either as a stand-alone line, or as an extension of the B (Red) Line. Considering limited funds to the project, a new “listening session” next month will offer offers Angelenos these options: add mixed-use bus lanes and improve bus frequencies, but no dedicated BRT lanes; plan for BRT-only, to open by 2028; plan for BRT and rail, despite the funding constraint; or plan for rail only, seeking alternate funding opportunities. 

 

Regarding cleanliness and safety on the system, Metro has announced plans for expanded cleaning, renovation to five aging stations, as well as a transit-ambassador program focused on mental health training. Since 2017, Metro’s policing contract has been split between LASD, LAPD, and LBPD. Earlier this month, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva offered Metro an ultimatum that unless LASD is offered the full policing contract by the end of June, his department will refuse to participate in split policing coordination and he will withdraw his law enforcement entirely.

 

Adam G. Linder

LARHF LA Metro Reporter

Metro Monthly - April 2022

Our Metro Monthly column returns in our April edition as Los Angeles Metro prepares for a year of project completions. Earlier this month, journalists and politicians were able to ride a test train between two of the new Regional Connector stations, “Bunker Hill/Grand Av Arts” station and “Historic Broadway” station. Photos from the event confirm the designations of the new E Line, in a gold color, which will travel from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles, and the A Line, in its signature blue, traveling from Downtown Long Beach to Azusa. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was in attendance, confirmed the lines will open by the end of the year, also ending a two-year gap in service between East LA and the rest of the system.

 

In addition, the San Fernando Valley Transit Project on Van Nuys Boulevard held a ceremony with Senator Alex Padilla confirming additional federal funding for the future light-rail line, scheduled to break ground in 2023 and open for service prior to the Olympics in 2028. This project will connect the G (Orange) Line station, up to San Fernando Blvd. A second phase is planned to connect the Sylmar-San Fernando Metrolink Station.

 

As Vermont Ave is the region’s second most traveled corridor, a recently studied bus-rapid transit line would improve travel times for many historically disadvantaged transit-dependent riders. The same study offered a preliminary look at options for a subway in the corridor, either as a stand-alone line, or as an extension of the B (Red) Line. Considering limited funds to the project, a new “listening session” next month will offer offers Angelenos these options: add mixed-use bus lanes and improve bus frequencies, but no dedicated BRT lanes; plan for BRT-only, to open by 2028; plan for BRT and rail, despite the funding constraint; or plan for rail only, seeking alternate funding opportunities. 

 

Regarding cleanliness and safety on the system, Metro has announced plans for expanded cleaning, renovation to five aging stations, as well as a transit-ambassador program focused on mental health training. Since 2017, Metro’s policing contract has been split between LASD, LAPD, and LBPD. Earlier this month, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva offered Metro an ultimatum that unless LASD is offered the full policing contract by the end of June, his department will refuse to participate in split policing coordination and he will withdraw his law enforcement entirely.

 

Adam G. Linder

LARHF LA Metro Reporter

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