By Joe Linton, April 28, 2016
Today’s monthly Metro board of directors meeting was one of the less eventful ones; it was sort of a lull in the news swirling around Metro’s planned November sales tax ballot measure. Nonetheless, there were a number of items that SBLA readers might find interesting.
Metro Wi-Fi Phase 1 Operational
SBLA has been noticing recent social media mentions of Metro subway riders receiving texts while on board. Metro CEO made it official today, announcing that, from Union Station to 7th Street Station, wireless service is operational for Verizon customers. According to Metro “Sprint and T-Mobile have signed-up to provide service which will be available in two to three months. Negotiations are ongoing with AT&T.” More details at The Source.
Bike-Share Exempt From Further Environmental Studies
The board approved environmental clearance for Metro bike-share, coming to downtown L.A. this summer. The project was certified to be categorically exempt, meaning that expensive, time-consuming environmental impact studies are not needed.
June Bus Service Re-Organization
Metro is in the final stretch of its planned bus service reorganization, slated for implementation in June. Metro held a series of public input sessions, the outcomes of which were presented to the board. The most contentious items were three Metro bus routes transitioning to other municipal operators. Lines 190 and 194 [PDF] (El Monte Station to Cal Poly Pomona) would be operated by Foothill Transit. Line 270 [PDF] (Monrovia to Norwalk Station) would be split between Foothill and Norwalk Transit. Metro’s public input and service council had recommended against shifting the service to Norwalk Transit. Bus drivers union representatives oppose any outsourcing of Metro bus service to municipal operators. Numerous representatives from Foothill Transit leadership and staff spoke in favor of the hand-off.
County Supervisor Don Knabe put forward a motion to support the proposed transitions to both Norwalk and Foothill. The motion passed.
Bus Procurement, Zero-Emission Bus Study
The board approved a procurement process for 850 new replacement buses from 2018-2022. The buses would either be Metro’s current CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) standard or Zero Emission (presumably electric.) Mayor Eric Garcetti offered a supplementary motion, approved unanimously, to have Metro study how it can transition to a fully Zero Emission bus fleet.
New TAP Vending Machines
Metro approved a $5.1 million contract to purchase 54 new TAP card vending machines (TVMs). These will replace and augment existing TVMs at stations, including expanding Silver Line TVMs to support the agency’s all-door boarding pilot. Inglewood Mayor James Butts offered a supplementary motion, approved unanimously, to have Metro study how to add TVMs at key locations for municipal bus operators. Representatives from Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus requested TVMs at the LAX Transit Center and at Pico-Rimpau.
710 North Tunnel Lines Drawn
710 North Tunnel opponents weighed in vehemently during public comment on a staff recommendation that Metro oppose State Senator Carol Liu’s SB 1018. Opponents of the 710 freeway project continue to be vocally opposed to a future Metro sales measure if there is any possibility that it could fund the destructive 710 North freeway expansion.
SB 1018 would dictate how a 710 North project cost-benefit analysis would be conducted. Metro legislative staff recommended the agency oppose the bill because it intervenes in Metro’s ongoing environmental review process. Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian, a stalwart 710 Freeway tunnel opponent, disagreed with Metro staff. Ultimately the board voted to oppose SB 1018, with Najarian and County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl casting dissenting votes.