John Fasana was elected to serve on the Metro Board in 1993, when Metro was a brand new agency—having replaced both the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Agency and the Rapid Transit District (RTD). When he retired last December Fasana had served on the board for 27 years, longer than any other boardmember.
The 1990s were tumultuous: Construction of the subway had proven contentious, problematic even before it caused Hollywood Boulevard to sink by a foot. There were lengthy battles at rambunctious board meetings over which projects would be funded—the Blue Line to Pasadena? Crenshaw? Expo?—and whether Metro was shorting the bus system in favor of more glamorous rail projects.
Fasana together with his allies on the board and other officials in the San Gabriel Valley rescued the Blue Line to Pasadena, which Metro was considering canceling due to a shortage of funds. Working with then state Sen. Adam Schiff and other local politicians, they took the project and its funding away from LA Metro and created a new agency, now called the Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority. That agency still manages the project, and has extended it first to Sierra Madre, then Azusa, and now Pomona—with conversations continuing about whether to extend it to Claremont and then Montclair in San Bernardino County and maybe eventually to Ontario Airport.
2020 proved to be a busy year for the mayor, who was also working hard to monitor the “New Blue Improvements Projects” along the Blue Line (now the A line) from DTLA to Long Beach. He was pushing Metro hard to ensure there was no skimping on improvements: He wanted new lighting and signage, digital screens at stations, bus stops with shade, and to make sure that Blue Line riders—who had to take the bus for 9 months while improvements were underway—could get to their destinations.
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Fasana also chose to play the part of regionalist on a board that sometimes seemed biased toward projects in the City of LA—often perceived as the 800-pound gorilla in the boardroom. In this role Fasana helped promote projects all over LA County when their futures were uncertain—including Crenshaw and Expo—and while working to pass Measure M he pushed for funding to extend the Green Line to the South Bay, and for the West Santa Ana Branch Line—which will be the first rail line to serve Southeast LA County.
He also created LA County’s very first congestion pricing program, turning the underutilized HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes along parts of the 10 and 110 freeways into toll lanes, thus encouraging drivers to drive off-peak, take transit, or share rides with others. The money made (from drivers who would pay higher tolls to drive in the HOV lanes during rush hours) was invested back into other projects benefitting these transportation corridors.
Fasana has been an advocate for other important San Gabriel Valley transportation projects, including Alameda Corridor East's program to improve 58 railroad crossings on one of the busiest goods movement corridors in the U.S. He’s championed Foothill Transit, known for providing superior bus service and good deals for students in northeast LA County. And he helped double the size of the El Monte Bus Station—home to Metro’s Silver Line and Foothill Transit’s Silver Streak BRT service—that serves 22,000 passengers and 1,200 bus departures (from 29 bus bays) with 24-hour service!
In 27 years you can get a lot done! Let's toast John Fasana!
(Note: The names of these rail and BRT lines have changed: The Gold Line is now the L Line, Crenshaw is the K Line, the Green Line is the C line, Expo is the E Line, the Silver Line is the J Line.)
Join us Thursday March 25, 5:30-7 p.m., to honor John Fasana and the other leaders who have showed us how we can take on big challenges—like the need for better transit service, more affordable housing and curbing climate change. REGISTER HERE NOW.