Bus Shelter Legislation: Shade is an essential need for those on the frontlines of climate change!

Earlier this year Move LA started working on legislation to prioritize shade as an essential need for low-income transit riders and people of color who are on the frontlines of climate change. The bill would treat bus and pedestrian shelters and street furniture as a matter of statewide concern and identify the number of bus shelters and their locations, as well as gaps in this critical infrastructure.

During the heat wave we experienced last September, LA Times reporter Rachel Uranga wrote a lengthy piece on the challenges bus riders face in Los Angeles, where less than one in four bus stops provide shelter even though temperatures can become very hot. As I write in this article, we are in the midst of a climate emergency now and make too many riders stand and wait in the hot sun.

It doesn't have to be this way, but because the permitting process is so challenging in the City of Los Angeles (see graphic), we have built a fraction of the shelters that are needed for climate-resilient communities, which disproportionately impacts riders who are low-income, seniors, BIPOC, or people with disabilities.

Shelter provides respite from the heat. A study published in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine found the rate of emergency department visits for heat-related causes increased 67% for African Americans, 63% for Hispanics, 53% for Asian Americans, and 27% for white people from 2005 to 2015.

Additional data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that from 2004 to 2018 Indigenous people had the highest rates of heat-related death, followed by Black people. In fact, during a three-day California heatwave in 2006, when more than 600 people died and there were over 16,000 emergency room visits, 90 percent of those affected were living in areas below the Federal Poverty Threshold.

When we talk about vulnerable people being on the frontlines of climate change, this is what we mean. 

A study by the TransitCenter, a foundation that works to improve public transit in cities across the U.S., found that bus shelter quality and quantity in Los Angeles lagged far behind other cities, because obtaining a permit for any single piece of street furniture—including bus shelters—requires approval from the City Council, Public Works and eight other city agencies, as well as nearby property owners.

A single veto from a councilmember or an appeals process requested by a constituent can effectively kill a permit, and shelters and other street furniture can take six months or more to be approved and installed—if they are approved at all. As a result, half as many bus shelters were installed in the City of Los Angeles as in the City of New York during the same five-year period.

Working with then-Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, Move LA sprang into action on Assembly Bill 1975 to address this disparity and make "street furniture" a statewide solution for creating more climate-resilient communities as we face ever-more extreme weather caused by climate change. 

In 2020, emergency room visits increased 10 times the normal number during record-breaking heat as high as 121 degrees in LA County. California’s 2021 heatwave broke records across the state—with Sacramento topping out at 109 degrees and the Coachella Valley having its hottest year ever with temperatures reaching 123 degrees.

For low-income workers, seniors, and people with disabilities who rely on bus transit as their primary mode of transportation, not having shade is potentially fatal. Shade structures can lower the temperature of surfaces by 25 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and bus shelters can also provide for the safety, convenience, accessibility, and comfort of bus riders.

Emergency call buttons, lighting, and real-time bus schedules are some other examples of critical safety features. The lack of shelter and these safety features deters people from using buses, making it harder for California to achieve its greenhouse gas emissions goals.

While AB 1975 was unsuccessful, Move LA is re-drafting legislation that we plan to introduce in 2023 with a broad coalition of other organizations. Look for more details to come soon, and consider joining us!


Move LA & Transit Organizations Supports the UC Academic Workers

Move LA, ACT-LA, Safe Routes Partnership California, Streets for All, Bike LA, Active SGV, and Let's Green California are joining in support of the demands being made by 48,000 striking Academic Workers at all 10 University of California campuses for free public transit passes and subsidies for bikes/e-bikes. Move LA Executive Director Eli Lipmen joined striking workers at UCLA in solidarity and sent the below letter to University of California President Dr. Michael Drake.

 

----------------------------------

 

Dr. Michael Drake
Office of the President
University of California
1111 Franklin Street, 12th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607

In what is the largest-ever academic strike in higher education, almost 50,000 Academic Workers at all 10 University of California campuses are striking against UC’s bad-faith bargaining to win fair contracts with better pay and benefits for teaching assistants, postdoctoral scholars, graduate student researchers, tutors and fellows. As housing, transit, and climate change advocates, our organizations stand in solidarity with these workers and support their demands.

Academic Workers are demanding that UC work harder to combat climate change and reduce emissions by providing free public transit passes for all workers who want them, cash incentives to help workers commute via sustainable means, subsidies for the purchase and maintenance of bikes and e-bikes, and improved campus cycling infrastructure.

They note the high cost of housing means academic workers often live far from where they work, and that those who choose sustainable transportation options—such as riding a bike or e-bike when transit isn't available and/or taking the occasional rideshare or bikeshare—aren't provided any financial help, which makes sustainable commutes burdensome.

This is why Academic Workers with UAW joined efforts to pass and fund student transit passes through transit agencies across California with Assembly Bill 1919 (Holden). This policy was based on at least three peer reviewed papers[1] [2] [3] conducted by several University of California researchers over the past twenty years that provide academically rigorous research indicating fare-free student transit is an effective program to improve educational outcomes, increase ridership, decrease VMT, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As the state's largest employer, the UC's 48,000 UAW-represented academic workers generate more than 1 million vehicle miles traveled in single-occupancy vehicles per week, not including the 100,000 non-UAW staff and more than 200,000 undergraduates. The Academic Workers point out there there is no way for the University of California to become truly sustainable without addressing this problem. We agree!

These demands benefit all of us. Fully-funded transportation passes for workers will increase transit ridership and service levels across the state. Support for bike and e-bike commuters will help clean our air and reduce traffic. UC - the state’s largest employer- must show true leadership on sustainability by addressing California’s top source of greenhouse gas emissions–transportation.

We believe these UC workers will, and should, win. Their climate proposal would set a standard that would benefit all of us. As such, we urge UC President Michael Drake to be a true climate leader and reach a fair agreement that addresses the climate impact of commuting as quickly as possible.

 

Yours sincerely,

Eli Lipmen
Move LA

David Diaz, MPH
Active San Gabriel Valley

Jonathan Matz
Safe Routes Partnership

Heidi Harmon
Let’s Green CA!

Eli Kaufman
BikeLA

Olga Lexell
Streets For All

Alfonso Directo Jr., UCI BS 2007 & UCLA MURP 2018
Alliance for Community Transit - Los Angeles (ACT-LA)

 

[1] Saphores, J., Shah, D., & Khatun, F. (2020). A Review of Reduced and Free Transit Fare Programs in California. UC Office of the President: University of California Institute of Transportation Studies. http://dx.doi.org/10.7922/G2XP735Q Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/74m7f3rx

[2] Nuworsoo, C. (2004). Deep Discount Group Pass Programs as Instruments for Increasing Transit Revenue and Ridership. University of California Berkeley. Dissertation Series UCB-ITS-DS-200402, May 1, 2004, pages 1-292. https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/crp_fac/18

[3] Brown, J., Hess, D. B., & Shoup, D. (2003). Fare-Free Public Transit at Universities: An Evaluation. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 23(1), 69–82. https://doi.org/10.1177/0739456X03255430


The Metro Fare Capping Proposal is Built on Two Fundamentally Flawed Assumptions, and the Board Should Reject It

Metro is proposing changes to its complex and complicated fare structure with a scheme called fare capping, an “equitable, pay-as-you-go fare payment model that ensures customers only pay for the rides they take and never overpay.” Fare capping, in theory, can result in a more equitable and “fairer” way to charge fares, according to research conducted by the National Academies Transportation Research Board and the experience of systems in London, Boston, Dallas, and other major metropolitan areas. And there are some good policies proposed in Metro’s proposal, such as capping the total cost a rider would pay per day/week, creating a simpler fare structure, improving the LIFE program, ending extra charges on Silver Line and Express routes, and removing the TAP card fee.

Despite this, Move LA asks the LA Metro Board to take a step back and direct Metro staff to restructure this proposal at their December 1st, 2022, meeting because the fare capping proposal is based on two assumptions that are fundamentally flawed and undermine the plan, resulting in unfair fares that are likely to drive customers off the system.

Let’s start with the example of a senior who takes two buses to see their doctor and pays $.35 for a one-way, off-peak fare. Under the proposed changes, the cost of their trip, one-way, would be more than five times more expensive ($.35 versus $2.00) and, with daily fare capping, still be 4 times as much ($.70 versus $3.00).

The second rider is the mother of two children who pay cash, gets off the bus to pick up their kids, and then continues on that same line to get home, sometimes paying for both kids to ride (because the bus operator knows her and will often let the kids ride for free). This family currently pays $1.75 on some days and as much as $4.75 on other days. Under the new system, this family would pay a minimum of $4.00 per day, but more likely as much as $8.00, and would not hit the cap if they continue to pay cash. Some weeks, the mother would be saving between $11 to $16 with the current fare structure.

Fatal Flaw #1
The fare capping scheme seems to be designed for the “ideal” rider—one who works a 9-5 desk job, earns a living wage and can take an hour (or more) for lunch to go see their doctor (see the graphic below from the Metro presentation). However, according to Metro’s own data, 1 in 3 Metro riders make less than $15,000 a year, nearly 9 in 10 riders live in households with annual earnings below $50,000, and 8 in 10 are people of color. What these stats don’t say is that many of Metro’s current riders are seniors, students, people with disabilities, and families that currently travel and pay the “off-peak” fare, subsidized by Measure M, which dedicated 2% to keep fares low for these riders. The fare-capping scheme would break the promise made to voters to keep fares affordable.

Fatal Flaw #2
The fare restructuring and capping scheme do not address the issue of the large number of Metro riders who pay, quite literally, with the change in their pocket. Cash riders represent approximately 1/4 of all riders and 38% of bus boardings. These will not benefit from a fare capping system because they won’t be tracked by the “closed loop” TAP system, a proprietary system that tracks your trips and charges you accordingly and will know when a rider has reached their “cap”.

Metro has very little information on these riders. For instance, what are their income? Are they casual riders who forgot their TAP card, or are they very low-income riders? Are they undocumented and/or unbanked and therefore can’t afford to or won’t purchase a card due to language or other barriers? The staff must work to better understand these riders to be able to propose alternative strategies to get these riders to use TAP before implementing fare capping.

One of the lessons from other transit systems is that they re-imagined fare payments BEFORE implementing fare capping by allowing people to “simply tap bank cards (or phones with Apple or Android Pay) to pay,” and implementing all-door boarding. This allowed for the elimination of cash payments, speeding up of buses, and a much more flexible system.

While Metro has promised all-door and bank card payments, implementation has not happened across the system. So rather than move forward with a fatally flawed program and try to twist the arms of cash riders to get a TAP card to make this fare-capping program work, Move LA makes these recommendations to Metro:

  1. Immediately identify the top 5 bus lines with the highest percentage of cash-paying riders and remove the fare box to make these lines completely free again. This will have immediate impacts of improving the speed and reliability of these lines, as people paying cash increase dwell times. It will also reduce cash payments across the system, reducing overall agency costs to process this paper and coin money. Boston successfully implemented this on three bus lines without a major deficit, and this policy would show that Metro is still committed to achieving a fully fare-less system in the future.
  2. Immediately invest remaining Federal funds, or apply for IIJA infrastructure dollars, to purchase the infrastructure for all-door boarding and the use of “open-loop” contactless debit or credit card payments for fares. Cubic, the same provider of Metro’s TAP cards, has successfully implemented this “pay as you go” system in London and New York.
  3. Metro could take one step further, combining its experience with the mobility wallet in its implementation of the Universal Basic Mobility pilot with the system of collecting and depositing cash fare payments to become a public bank in California that issues debit cards to riders. This would create a huge new customer base by helping hundreds of thousands of Angelenos become banked and make fare capping easier to implement, rather than force them onto a closed loop system to take advantage of fare capping.
  4. Consider split fares by type of transit rather than by type of rider. For instance, buses in London are less than Tube rides, with unlimited bus rides allowed within one hour. Metro should consider making buses more affordable by reducing the cost for anyone to ride the bus to $1 with unlimited rides within 2 hours (i.e. keep free bus transfers). Rail transit could see a modest rise considering its higher operating expense and anticipated future openings.
  5. Metro should publish the full Equity Framework review for the fare-capping proposal, addressing questions related to cash-paying riders, seniors, people with disabilities, students, and other equity-focused communities.

These policies would be fair, transparent, and improve customer service while making Metro an agency that both alleviate poverty while maintaining sustainable operations for the foreseeable future.


This is almost all folks . . . only 1 day after today!

Some say Lyft created Proposition 30 but if you know us and remember all the eblasts and Zoom calls we did about the need for climate and clean air action in 2020 and 2021 you know that isn't true.

Move LA and our Northern California partner SPUR began an online conversation with 70 elected officials, agency leaders, enviros and environmental justice and clean air advocates, labor and guests from the east and west coasts in 2020 after COVID hit—see our panelists HERE. 

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Join us THIS WEEKEND for important work, fun, tacos and mariachis!

Join us this weekend for major Get Out The Vote efforts! Saturday we'll kick off the Yes on ULA canvassing campaign at the LA/OC Building Trades in Historic Filipinotown at 10am. REGISTER HERE! And on SUNDAY, join our rally for Yes on Prop 30 in Hollenbeck Park at 12pm with free tacos and mariachis! REGISTER HERE!

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Not a cynical corporate scheme: the real story about Prop 30

This post was written by Stuart Cohen, a long-time friend and colleague in the Bay Area who founded TransForm 25 years ago and was Executive Director until 2019. Over the past year as a Senior Policy Advisor for Transform he also worked with many other groups to advance more equitable transportation and housing solutions—including Prop 30. Below is what he wrote about how this measure came to be, and why we Californians should support it.

The Origin Story of Proposition 30

The election is upon us and, unfortunately, there are wildly misleading ads opposing Prop 30 that feature Gov. Newsom saying “Prop 30 is a cynical scheme devised by a single corporation (Lyft).” This is a blatant lie. So I wanted to get you TRUE information about Prop 30 and its origins, including my role in co-creating it. But first, the basics:

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Peter Dreier points out on CityWatch that Jack Humphreville is wrong about Measure ULA!

Jack Humphreville, a conservative commentator well-known for opposing even progressive taxes, calls Measure ULA a “free lunch.” But as Peter Dreier points out in the City Watch column below, it's a fair, effective way to get LA’s wealthiest people—who prospered from the real estate boom—to help address LA's most pressing problem: the 40,000 people who live on the street. Measure ULA would tax the sale of super-expensive properties to provide funding to help seniors and other vulnerable renters avoid eviction and to build sufficient affordable housing for those living on our streets and in our shelters.
Paid for by Move LA, a Project of Community Partners, 1000 N. Alameda St., Suite 240, Los Angeles, CA. 90012.

Move LA Speaks Out About the Racist Conversation By City Leaders

Move LA, an organization founded on the potential for a broad-based and inclusive coalition to transform Los Angeles, condemns the hurtful, divisive, and racist conversation between Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, Kevin De León, and former LA County Federation of Labor head Ron Herrera.

These leaders have betrayed our trust. The use of anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, homophobic, anti-AAPI, anti-renter, and anti-Semitic speech, as well as the threat of violence against Mike Bonin’s young Black child, has no place in our discourse. Angelenos must have faith that their leaders will treat everyone fairly and equitably.

These leaders fell far short. We have worked to guarantee the rights of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and these back-room efforts to undermine and disenfranchise voters are reprehensible and unacceptable.

Therefore, we cannot stand idly by. We join with political and community leaders fighting for racial and economic justice and call for the immediate resignation of the remaining LA City Councilmembers, as Ron Herrera and Nury Martinez have chosen to resign. We believe that this is only the first step on the way to restoring trust in our City and its leadership.

When we come together in support of a more inclusive and equitable future, we become the shining beacon on a hill, a place we can all be proud to call our home. Over the past few days, that light has dimmed. We stand committed to working with leaders who share that vision of Los Angeles and who seek to restore faith in our democratic institutions and the rights of all in the City of Los Angeles. We have witnessed the awesome power of voters to change the future of our great region, but we can only achieve big stuff on transportation infrastructure, transit justice, climate change, clean air, and affordable housing if we do it together.

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Daniel Tabor, President
Victor Griego, Vice President
Eli Lipmen, Executive Director
Denny Zane, Founder
Move LA, a project of Community Partners


Join Move LA's K Line Scavenger Hunt for the Grand Opening on Friday!

As you may have read, there's been talk about improving or restoring rail transit on the Crenshaw Corridor since the late 1940s! Move LA has been part of that conversation for almost two decades, and thanks to our effort to get the Measure R half-cent sales tax on the ballot in 2008—and thanks to voters for passing it—that dream becomes a reality this Friday!

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Join us Tues. Sept. 27 for a virtual phone bank to help house the unhoused in the City of LA

We need your help to talk to voters about the United to House LA ballot measure (Measure ULA)! Would you join us from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Tues., Sept. 27, for a Move LA-hosted VIRTUAL phone bank? 

This is the ballot measure that Move LA’s Denny Zane drafted with homeless services providers, affordable housing nonprofits, labor unions, and renters' rights groups. It was put on the ballot by 98,171 LA renters, homeowners and small business owners who want to see real change. 

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