Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Monday, February 8, 2016

Declining ridership not deterring Metro chief’s ambitious transportation goals

http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20160128/declining-ridership-not-deterring-metro-chiefs-ambitious-transportation-goals

By Steve Scauzillo, January 28, 2016


 

Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington at the dedication of the new Arcadia Gold Line Station on the Foothill Extension August 22, 2015.

LOS ANGELES >> The list of priorities for the county’s mega transit agency in 2016 includes the on-time opening of two new rail lines, halfway completion of a first-ever train to LAX and, if that’s not enough, a successful ballot measure in November that could add another half-cent sales tax to fund more rail, bus and highway improvements.

These ambitious priorities were listed in Metro CEO Phil Washington’s first annual “State of the Agency” presentation delivered Thursday before the board and a near-empty auditorium.

“The state of the agency is one of expectation for big change. We are on the verge of becoming the infrastructure capital of the world,” said Washington, new head of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

Washington only marginally addressed recent news reports about a drop in transit ridership, fueled by the continuing decline in gasoline prices and a thriving economy.

Just counting the rides on its 2,000 buses, boardings per hour have fallen 25 percent since 1985, Metro reported. Overall boardings (bus and rail) have declined 5 percent in fiscal year 2015.
“LA Metro ridership’s decline rate is in line with the national trends,” he said, adding new rail corridors have resulted in increased transit ridership.

Among possible reasons for the decline are lower gas prices allowing more lower-income households to drive to work and numerous rail interruptions that altered transit patterns. For example, Washington hinted that updates to the Blue Line from Long Beach to L.A. decreased rail ridership.

He said Metro must do a better job of informing the community of rail construction interruptions to train schedules.

But with planning agencies expecting 750,000 more people forecast for L.A. County, Washington said the agency will continue to invest in more rail and improved bus services. “We are building not just for tomorrow but rather for the next 100 years,” he said.

Led by L.A. Mayor and Metro board Chair Eric Garcetti, the agency is trying to attract more riders by adding Wi-Fi, more real-time bus and train information, and by increasing safety.

Washington said Wi-Fi service in the Red Line subway tunnels from Union Station to 7th Street/Metro Center Station will be operating sometime in March, when wireless repeaters would be installed from 7th and Flower streets to Vermont and Sunset and Wilshire and Western.

New rail lines will attract more riders, he said.

The Expo Line from Culver City to Santa Monica will open to passengers in May, Metro announced. The 11.9-mile Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension from east Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border will start taking passengers about noon on March 5, said Rick Jager, Metro spokesman.

Other rail lines are under construction: Crenshaw Line to 96th Street, with a future connection via a people mover into LAX; the Purple Line along Wilshire Boulevard stretching to Westwood; the Regional Connector in downtown Los Angeles.

Other goals for 2016 include reducing crime system-wide by 5 percent and fare evasion also by 5 percent, workforce development and better asset management.

The CEO would like to see a measure put on the November ballot that would most likely add another one-half cent to the sales tax for transit projects. Known loosely as Measure R-2, it would either extend or add to 2008’s transit tax, Measure R, approved by more than two-thirds of county voters.

Some in the audience tussled over whether Measure R-2 would include extension of the 710 Freeway north from El Sereno through South Pasadena and Pasadena via twin underground tunnels. Members of the No on 710 Coalition said if Metro’s measure includes tunnel funding, or does not exclude it, they will muster forces to campaign against the measure.

Barbara Messina, Alhambra councilwoman and long-time supporter of completing the 710 Freeway, characterized the tunnel opponents who addressed the board Thursday as “vocal minorities ... not representative of the broader community.”

Metro is proposing to divide Measure R-2 funds for new rail projects as follows: 19 percent for central Los Angeles; 7.7 percent for the Arroyo-Verdugo area (Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank); 19.8 percent for the Gateway Cities; 1.4 percent for Las Virgenes/Malibu; 9.4 percent for North county; 14.85 percent for the San Fernando Valley; 10.62 percent for the South Bay cities; 13 percent for the westside and 16.2 percent for the San Gabriel Valley. Since these are Metro's estimates, the figures add up to 112 percent.