(Photo of Del Mar Station in Pasadena, Moule & Polyzoides Architects and Urbanists.)
LA Metro’s just-released draft of the sales tax measure (read the plan here) is a mostly excellent first cut on an expenditure plan. We applaud what is a major commitment to building a world-class transit system, and to making improvements in all parts of the county. We believe this measure would be an economic engine, and that the transit expansion together with the increased connectivity to jobs, neighborhoods and other destinations will result in dramatic improvements in both service and ridership. Here is our first take on some changes we believe are critical to maximizing the benefits:
- Metro needs to demonstrate a stronger commitment to funding first-and-last-mile connections to and from stations, one of the best ways to reduce traffic;
- Older adults and people with disabilities need more funding for Access and other paratransit services—the number of older adults is expected to more than double to 36% of the population by 2050;
- The commitment to clean air should be significantly increased and include greater investments in zero- and near-zero technologies for both buses and trucks—diesel emissions remain our biggest air quality challenge;
- Metro needs to take more seriously the burdens created by rail construction in neighborhoods and address the displacement of residents and the disruption of businesses;
- Metro should augment services on the Metrolink commuter rail system to provide important regional connections, especially to airports.
Between now and June, when Metro will decide whether to put the measure on the November 2016 ballot, there will be many conversations about modifications like these. Stay tuned!
Move LA convened a luncheon and discussion on Friday of last week to talk about LA Metro’s proposed sales tax measure — little did we know when we planned the event that the plan for the ballot measure would be released that same morning. Here’s a link to the Metro plan and a link to coverage in the LA Times, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and the Daily News. And here's what got said at our luncheon, including these comments from 2 board members:
LA City Councilmember and Metro Boardmember Mike Bonin:
The plan does a good job of providing something for every subregion — including something big. As a city councilmember I can tell you that there are things that are not in the plan that I would have liked to see. But because we have to get a 2/3 majority vote in order to win the plan has to be ambitious in scope, and this means that no one is going to get everything they asked for.
Duarte City Councilmember and Metro Boardmember John Fasana, who becomes chair of the Metro board in June:
There’s a lot to like in this plan but our needs in LA County exceed our grasp, and in order to get the buy-in we need from all of the subregions and all the constituencies represented by Move LA we can’t create carve-outs for everyone. There will be opportunity for adjustments, but funding projects not currently in the plan will require taking funding away from projects that are in the plan — which will cause reverberations. For this reason my inclination is to make minimal changes. It’s important to remember a key lesson from the Measure R sales tax is that creating a new funding stream like this allows us to leverage significant investments from other sources including the state’s Cap & Trade Program, which could provide additional investments for active transportation, as well as funding from both the state and federal government for goods movement, for example. The transit and highway investments in this plan are critical, however, because without these we’ll never win a 2/3 vote across the county.
Two studies just out on the potential for Lyft, Uber and public transit working together for the public good. One from the from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC), which suggests that ride-sharing/ride-sourcing services don't take riders away from transit so much as they complement transit by serving different trip types — thereby helping to create "a robust network of choices that can help reduce household transportation costs, lessen congestion and GHG emissions, and make it possible to live well without a car," said Sharon Feigon, the principal study author and director of SUMC, a national nonprofit organization working to foster collaboration between transit and shared-use services. The other study, from the Brookings Institution, talks about the potential for these companies to serve seniors and people with disabilities. Very interesting findings from SUMC if you click below to read on.
Last Friday LA Times reporter Laura Nelson revealed really exciting news: LA Metro is preparing to seek voter approval of a sales tax measure in November 2016 with an expenditure plan that will dramatically expand LA County’s rail transit system. More will be revealed with the release of the Metro staff recommendation later this week, but so far it looks as if the rail transit program could be very similar to what Move LA has proposed—a system that has 3 times as many rail miles and 6 times more “connectivity” than exists now. Connectivity is when rail lines intersect with another. We like to call it the “secret sauce” that increases ridership and reduces traffic congestion!
What does Metro CEO Phil Washington say about connectivity? “Our staff recommendation would go a long way toward providing connectivity and mobility options all across LA County, and with this investment LA would become the infrastructure capital of the world. How can we be confident of the importance of this investment? All we have to do is look at other parts of the world where transportation has made a difference. I defy anyone to identify a great city that doesn’t also have a great transportation system.”
When was the last time you heard about big local institutions working with community groups to tackle seemingly intractable problems? Well that’s exactly what’s happening in South LA. LA Trade Tech President Larry Frank has forged a partnership with Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAUSD, three universities, the LA County Sheriff, LA Metro and over 50 non-profits to create more opportunity in South LA. The catalyst for forming the South LA Transit Empowerment Zone (SLATE-Z) coalition was the opportunity to get a federal “Promise Zone” designation, which could give South LA a competitive edge on over 200 different federal grants.Read more
Measure R is creating 16,000 new jobs every year by building light rail lines, busways and the subway. Sometimes we encounter skeptics who want to know if any of these jobs actually go to people who live around here—including people from South LA who have been promised jobs for decades. The answer is yes, and here's why:Read more
As LA Metro ponders a possible measure for the 2016 ballot the agency has received clear and compelling advice from 6 former heads of California‘s Environmental Protection Agency: Make it your mission to reduce emissions from diesel trucks, the single most pernicious and largest remaining source of air pollution in SoCal. Imagine Southern California not as the region with the worst air in America but as the place where the air quality problem was solved! If we do it in LA, we also do it for California. And if we do it for California, we do it for the nation—and the world. Read their letter HERE.Read more
Over the next few months LA Metro Board members will be debating whether to submit a new ballot measure to LA County voters in November and what this measure should fund. Move LA believes this offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remedy the single most severe and persistent air pollution problem in Los Angeles County—diesel emissions from heavy-duty trucks. Southern California will never have clean air unless we address this source of pollution, and we could be the first metro area in the U.S. to succeed in doing so.Read more
Why do we think a Metro rail and transit expansion as we propose it will increase ridership and help reduce traffic congestion in LA County? Because this plan will create a far more extensive system with dramatically improved connectivity, and significantly greater investments in first-last-mile improvements that make it easier to get to stations. (Check the maps above to see what we mean, and see our official proposal here.)
What do we mean by "far more extensive"? Now there are 73 miles of rail transit. When we build all the rail projects that were funded by the 2008 Measure R sales tax there will be 176 miles. By 2040 there will be 243 (if Metro puts a funding measure on the ballot that's similar to our proposal and voters approve it). That's triple the number of rail miles.
What exactly do we mean by “dramatically improved connectivity”? Connectivity is where two lines connect at the same station and where riders of each line can transfer to another line. Increased connectivity means more riders have convenient access to more lines and many more destinations, and ridership increases as a result.
Today there are 9 rail lines (4 Metrorail lines and 5 Metrolink lines) radiating from downtown LA into the 4 corners of LA County, but there are only 5 stations where a rail line connects to another rail line or to a bus rapid transit (BRT) line like the Orange or Silver lines. With the investment from Measure R—and if the next ballot measure funds a proposal similar to ours—there will be a total of 29 stations that connect rail lines and bus rapid transit lines outside of downtown (where there are many connections), changing what had been essentially a hub-and-spoke system to one that is more like a web. That's 6 times the number of rail connections we have now!Read more
To quote from this excellent essay: Since at least the time of peripatetic Greek philosophers many writers have discovered a deep, intuitive connection between walking, thinking, and writing. "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!" Henry David Thoreau penned in his journal. "Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow." What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing? The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs, including the brain. . . " (Photograph by Alex Majoli/Magnum.) Read this in the New Yorker here.Read more