Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Wikis

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Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Lametro.svg
Info
Locale Los Angeles County
Transit type Rapid transit (Subway)
Light rail
Local Bus
Bus rapid transit
Number of lines 2 Subway
3 Light rail
3 Transitways
191 Bus routes
Number of stations 70 Rail
24 Transitway
Daily ridership 1,619,529 (Weekdays) (July 2008)[1]
Operation
Began operation April 1, 1993[2]
Operator(s) Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
www.metro.net
Technical
System length Rail – 79.1 miles (127.3 km)
Bus – 1,433 miles (2,306 km)2)
Track gauge 4 ft 8½ in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (also known as Metro, MTA or LACMTA) is the California state-chartered regional transportation planning agency (RTPA) and public transportation operating agency for the County of Los Angeles, and is the successor agency to the former Southern California Rapid Transit District. The agency develops and oversees transportation plans, policies, funding programs, and both short-term and long-range solutions that address the County's increasing mobility, accessibility and environmental needs. The agency has its headquarters in central Los Angeles.[3]

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates the third largest public transportation system in the United States by ridership with a 1,433 mi² (3,711 km2) operating area and 2,000 peak hour buses on the street any given business day.[4] Metro also designed, built and now operates 79.1 miles (127.3 km) of urban rail service.[5] The authority has 9,200 employees, making it one of the region's largest employers.

The authority also partially funds sixteen municipal bus operators and a wide array of transportation projects including bikeways and pedestrian facilities, local roads and highway improvements, goods movement, Metrolink, Freeway Service Patrol and freeway call boxes within the greater metropolitan Los Angeles region.

Security and law enforcement services on Metro property (including buses and trains) are currently provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Transit Services Bureau via contract, in conjunction with Metro's Transit Security department. Between 2003 and 2008 Part I crimes have decreased 29.4% on Metro Rails and 10% on the Metro Buses.

In 2006, The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority was named Outstanding Transportation System for 2006 by the American Public Transportation Association. Most buses and trains have "America's Best" decals affixed.[6]

Contents

Services

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Metro Rail

The Metro Rail is the mass transit rail system of Los Angeles County. It is the indirect descendant of the Pacific Electric Red Car system and Los Angeles Railway "Yellow Car" lines, which operated in the area from the early to middle twentieth century. Currently, Metro Rail operates three light rail lines and two rapid transit subway lines, altogether totaling 79.1 miles (127.3 km) of rail, 70 stations, and over 300,000 daily weekday boardings as of August 2009.

Metro Liner

A Metro Liner vehicle at the North Hollywood station on the Orange Line.

Los Angeles' newest form of transportation is the Metro Liner bus rapid transit system. The Metro Liner is meant to mimic the Metro Rail lines, both in the vehicle's design and in the operation of the line. Vehicles stop at all stations, tickets are sold only on platforms, passengers can board at any door, the vehicles receive priority at intersections, and vehicles are painted in Metro Rail's silver livery. Bus Rapid Transit is described by promoters as "light rail on rubber tires." Opponents have claimed that it has a small capacity and low speed compared to light rail.

Combined transitway service

Metro operates two transitways that host many bus lines, that originate and terminate in different places through Los Angeles County. When traveling within the transitways, the buses run in express service, stopping only at transitway stations. The transitways are meant to mimic the Metro Rail lines, because while each bus may have a different final destination passengers can board any bus and travel to any of the other stations. In December 2009, the majority of the Metro Express lines that operated on the transitways were combined into the Metro Silver Line.

Metro Bus

Bus Route Number Scheme

  • 1-99 To/From Downtown Los Angeles
  • 100-199 East/West routes in other areas
  • 200-299 North/South routes in other areas
  • 300-399 Limited stop service
  • 400-499 Express to/from Downtown Los Angeles
  • 500-599 Express in other areas
  • 600-699 Neighborhood Shuttles & Circulators
  • 700-799 Metro Rapid service
  • 800-899 Metro Rail Service
  • 900-999 Metro Transitway Services & Metro Rapid Express Lines
Metro bus stop sign for Local line 4 and Rapid line 704 in Santa Monica.
Map of the Metro Rapid bus rapid transit system

Metro operates three types of bus services which are distinguished by the color of the buses.[9] However, when mechanical problems occur, any color bus may be substituted to continue service on the route.

A Metro Local bus on Line 81 (Figueroa St.) with its trademark orange color

Metro Local buses are painted in an off-orange color the agency has dubbed “California Poppy”. This type of service makes frequent stops along major thoroughfares. There are 18,500 stops on 189 bus lines. Metro Local buses that have not yet been painted remain white with an orange-yellow stripe. Some routes make limited stops but do not participate in the Rapid program; those routes are served by orange colored buses. Some Metro Local bus lines are operated by First Transit, Veolia Transportation, and Southland Transit. The contractor operated buses do not feature advanced technological features like those found on Metro operated buses. Metro Local is the only service that operates diesel or high-floor buses.

A Metro Local articulated bus at layover on Line 233 (Van Nuys Blvd.).
A Metro Rapid articulated bus on Line 720 (Wilshire Blvd. Whittier Blvd.).

Metro Rapid buses are distinguished by their bright red color the agency has dubbed “Rapid Red”. This bus service offers limited stops on many of the county's more heavily traveled arterial streets. Metro claims to reduce passenger commute times by up to 25 percent by several methods, among them the lack of a bus schedule so that drivers are not held up at certain stops.

A Metro Express bus on Line 577x (San Gabriel River Frwy.) at CSULB in Long Beach

Metro Express - Currently only implemented on two lines, 450X and 577X, Metro Express buses are painted a dark blue color the agency has dubbed “Business Blue,” the buses are designed to offer premium, reduced-stop service along Los Angeles's extensive freeway network. There are other lines using the county's freeway system, but these are original lines using Metro Local & Rapid painted buses, with line numbers in the “400” and “500” series (Metro Express also uses line numbers in these series but append the letter “X” to indicate “expedited service”).

The LACMTA operates North America's largest fleet of CNG-powered buses.[10] The CNG fleet reduces emissions of particulates by 90 percent, carbon monoxide by 80 percent, and greenhouse gases by 20 percent over the 500 remaining diesel powered buses in the fleet. Alternative fuel buses have logged more than 450 million operating miles since 1993, an industry record.

Fares

There are no fare gates on the Metro Rail system or the Metro Orange Line. Instead, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Metro fare inspectors conduct random checks of the system. If riders are caught without a ticket they can be fined up to US$ 250 and/or ordered to perform community service for 48 hours.

Fare evasion was estimated in 2007 to be at 6%, costing Metro $2.6 million annually. In response to this, the Metro board approved fare gating of all stations on the Red and Green Lines, and selected stations on the Orange, Blue, and Gold Lines, capturing 84% of passengers using the system. Adding fare gates was selected to increase fare collections, implement distance based fares on rail and transitways in the future, and reduce the potential of the system to terrorist attack.[11] Former Metrolink executive director Richard Stanger critiqued the gate installation by citing its cost and ineffectiveness, concerns ultimately dismissed by the Metro board.[12]

In 2007, with the consent decree with the BRU expired, Metro announced plans for a fare hike. They said that they needed to reduce their $US 100 million deficit, which would be done either by raising fares or reducing service. This proposal garnered strong opposition from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilman Bernard Parks, the Bus Riders Union, and low-income residents.

On May 24, 2007, the Metro board approved fare increases, which were lower than their original proposal, but eliminated the semi-monthly pass. The following fares were effective July 1, 2007.

Fare Regular Senior/Disabled/Medicare
Base Fare US$1.25 US$.25*
Base Fare (Silver Line) US$2.45 US$1.15
Tokens US$1.25 --
Metro Day Pass US$5.00 US$1.80
Weekly Pass US$17.00 --
Student Fare Card (with monthly stamp) US$24.00 --
College/Vocational (with monthly stamp) US$36.00 --
Monthly Pass US$62.00 US$14.00
Metro-to-Muni Transfer US$.30 US$.10
Zone charge (per zone, maximum two zones) US$.60 US$.30
Monthly zone stamp (per zone, maximum two zones) US$18.00 --^

*-US$.55 fare between 5 am-9 am and 3 pm-7 pm non-holiday weekdays. ^-Zone charges are not imposed for discount pass holders, but are imposed for discount cash fare payers.

The next fare increase is scheduled for July 1, 2010, due to the passage of Measure R, an additional 1/2 percent sales tax on all taxable purchases in Los Angeles County. Measure R calls for all senior and disabled fares, as well as student passes, to be frozen at current rates until July 1, 2013.[13]

As of March 15, 2009, no day passes are sold on buses without possession of a TAP card, which can be purchased at various retail outlets for $2 for use on the bus. Rail ticket vending machines continue to issue day passes without TAP card purchase. All passes are now available on TAP card. A Reduce Fare TAP card is now available for Senior/Disabled, College/Vocational students and K-12 Students.

The Rider Relief Transportation Program (RRTP) provides fare subsidy coupons to eligible riders who purchase daily, weekly, or monthly Metro passes, TAP cash value, and EZ transit passes from participating transit systems. Eligible riders include adult regular riders, Senior/Disabled/Medicare, K-12 grade students, and college/vocational students who are pre-qualified by a participating community-based agency. RRTP subsidy coupons are available to Los Angeles County residents whose household income levels meet the following criteria. Persons in:

  • Household *Annual Income
  • 1 *$25,000
  • 2 *$29,600
  • 3 *$33,300
  • 4 *$37,000
  • 5 *$39,950
  • 6 *$42,900

Residents of the Cities/County and students of schools and colleges already being subsidized for Metro fare media will not be eligible to receive the coupon subsidy.

Ridership

Average daily boardings for October 2008 are as follows:[1]

Bus lines Blue Line Green Line Red Line Gold Line Orange Line
Weekdays 1,222,589 80,577 41,746 154,935 24,004 25,428
Saturdays 791,281 55,631 22,562 96,204 13,898 14,514
Sundays 582,144 54,023 17,953 85,915 11,831 11,291
Percentage of workers commuting to work by public transport in Los Angeles County

History

LACMTA is the product of the merger of two previous agencies: the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD or more often, RTD) and the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (LACTC). RTD was during the 1960s and 1980s (until the LACTC was created) the "800 pound gorilla" in bus transportation in Southern California. This lead to some hostilities and problems with other agencies, as described in the above article on RTD.

Merger

Gateway Plaza Building
The LACMTA logo (1993 to 2004)

RTD and the LACTC officially merged on April 1, 1993[2] due to the inability of LACTC and SCRTD to cease long-standing fueds. The final straw and most embarrassing example of inter-agency contentious relations was when the Times reported that the soon to be completed Blue Line to Downtown Los Anglese--an LACTC project--would end less than a mile (at the Pico Station) from the under construction 7th Street Metro Center subway station--an SCRTD project--preventing a logical ease of connection between the two rail lines. The public was outraged and politicians felt the heat as they too were outraged that the well-known poor relations between the two agencies would result in such a gap in what was supposed to be a regional system. Soon after, then assemblyman Richard Katz authored and was successful in passing legislation to combine the LACTC and SCRTD into the current LACMTA. The legislation went further to making the new agency more accountable to the public by requiring the MTA board's permanent seats be comprised of top Los Angeles City and County elected office holders rather than the previous systems' board composed of obscure individuals by political appointment who have no direct public accountability.

Initially, the LACMTA retained the locations of the predecessor agencies in Downtown Los Angeles, but later moved to the 25-story Gateway Plaza Building adjacent to historic Union Station in 1995 with former SCRTD staff occupying the lower half of the tower and former LACTC staff occupying the upper half demonstrating that old hostilities were still present after the merge. In addition, Local media reports of expensive Italian marble used in its construction resulted in the structure being derisively dubbed the Taj Mahal.[14] MTA officials also pointed out that the funds used for its share of construction costs (it is a Turnkey private real estate development of the BNSF)could only be used for capital improvement or construction and not for operating expenses, subsidy of fares or the purchase of buses or trains. Housed within the building is the Dorothy Gray Transportation Library, a comprehensive collection of transportation-related books, videos, and other materials, said to be one of the largest in the nation. The library is open to the public.

In 1994, the United Transportation Union, representing bus drivers, went on strike. At stake here were the issues of wages, insurance, and other necessities. This was settled, with operators and maintenance workers receiving a 4% wage increase initially and a 3.5% one for the second year. They also received considerable improvements in health insurance.[15]

Employees of the former Los Angeles County Transportation Commission were transferred in December 1996 to the Public Transportation Services Corporation, an independent corporation. PTSC allows former LACTC employees to participate in CalPERS and opt out of Social Security, and permits Metro planning employees to do planning for other agencies, which Metro currently does for Metrolink. Some union members have argued that PTSC is a "sham corporation" designed eventually to outsource Metro jobs.[16]

Bus Riders Union agreement

When the MTA announced plans for a bus fare increase and the elimination of monthly passes, the Bus Riders Union (BRU) with several co-plaintiff organizations filed a federal lawsuit with lawyers supplied by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. They charged that the spending of money on rail was "racist" and demanded that more resources go to buses instead of rail projects. The BRU claimed that 50% of rail riders were white compared with 20% of bus riders. It argued that spending on rail projects reduced funding for bus service that disproportionately affected poor and minority riders who were dependent on public transit, and that improvements for the bus system would be more cost effective and require less subsidy than building a rail system.[17]

In 1996, under the direction of then-L.A. mayor Richard Riordan, the LACMTA signed a ten-year consent decree with the BRU to avoid litigation. Riordan would later state that the signing of this consent decree was a mistake.[18] At the time, the LACMTA board was led to believe from information provided by MTA staff that load factors could be maintained with existing levels of bus service and without impacting the rail construction timetable; this proved false.

The agreement required an average of fewer than eight standees on a normal 40-seat bus in a 20-minute period during peak hours and a 60-minute period during the off-peak. It also required the Authority to operate special services designed to better connect the poor with important job centers and medical facilities. Provisions of the decree that restricted Metro's ability to raise fares beyond inflation expired January 1, 2004. Donald Bliss, the Special Master overseeing the consent decree, resigned this position in February 2006. No one has been appointed to take his place. The decree expired on October 29, 2006. The BRU made an attempt to extend the decree, but federal judge Terry Hatter, Jr. denied this motion on October 25.

Revenue loss

A Metro bus stop sign on Olympic Blvd.

In 1998, frustrated with sinkholes, cost overruns, and perceived mismanagement, 65% of Los Angeles County voters approved a ballot measure sponsored by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky that barred the use of county sales tax money for all future subway projects.

With the passage of the initiative and a lack of confidence from federal and state agencies, the LACMTA brought in Julian Burke, a turn-around expert from the private sector. His goal was to revive MTA's reputation and stabilize its precarious budgetary condition.[19] He recommended suspension of construction on both the Pasadena Blue Line light rail line to Pasadena and an extension of the Red Line to East L.A. MTA also halted planning for future subway extensions. Construction on the Hollywood and North Hollywood extensions of the Red Line continued as these projects were more than 80% complete.[20]

Shortly thereafter, the Amalgamated Transit Union, representing mechanics, service attendants and maintenance workers, went on strike, shutting down virtually all rail and bus operations. The issue this time involved transit zones and the fear that many of MTA's routes would be outsourced. A transit zone is a government agency that operates bus service in a given region with contractors not directly employed by their agency, such as Foothill Transit. The argument some politicians made were that transit zones were more cost effective than MTA service, because drivers could be paid reduced wages. In addition, service would be more aligned with community needs since these zones would be smaller than the existing MTA.[21] Transit zones were proposed for the San Fernando Valley and western San Gabriel Valley. Ultimately, transit zones were killed by a state law that requires them to honor existing union contracts, thus negating any cost savings in labor.

Concerned about the suspension of the 11% completed Blue Line to Pasadena, Pasadena rail advocates lobbied State Senator Adam Schiff to continue construction. He authored Senate Bill 1847, Chapter 1021. Signed into law in 1998, the bill created the Pasadena Blue Line Construction Authority, an independent authority to complete the suspended light rail line to Pasadena.[22] The law went into force on January 1, 1999. Once completed, the authority turned the line over to LACMTA for operation. The concept was so successful that a similar authority has been established for the Expo Line and the Gold Line extensions.

When it became clear the Pasadena Blue Line would not connect with the Blue Line, as originally planned, the board voted to change the name of the line. Some board members proposed the "Rose Line" in honor of Pasadena's famed annual Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl game. However, because planned East L.A. extensions of this line would cross communities far from Pasadena, the board renamed it the Gold Line, because California is known as the Golden State, and because of the gold miners in the Pasadena foothills.[23]

In the spring of 2000, ground was rebroken on the stalled Pasadena Blue Line, later renamed the Gold Line.

On June 12, 1999, the extension to Hollywood/Vine was completed. On June 24, 2000, the Red Line reached North Hollywood. Because of the ban on the use of county sales tax for subway construction, and a local ban on the construction of new rail lines in the San Fernando Valley area (which prevented the Orange Line from being built as rail), further extensions of the Red Line are not likely to happen soon. Also in 2000, there was a separate federal ban sponsored by Congressman Henry Waxman, barring the use of federal dollars in the Wilshire Boulevard corridor, which prevented any extensions of the original Red Line route (now branded the Purple Line); this ban was repealed by 2007.

The MTA also unveiled the first of 26 planned Metro Rapid bus routes in June, which were Metro Rapid Lines 720 (Wilshire Blvd./Whittier Blvd.) and 750 (Ventura Blvd.).[24]

In response to the arguments made over transit zones, the MTA Board created service sectors on September 26, 2002. There are six service sectors: Gateway Cities (Divisions 1 and 2), San Fernando Valley (Divisions 8 and 15), San Gabriel Valley (Divisions 3 and 9), South Bay (Divisions 5 and 18), and Westside/Central (Divisions 7 and 10, plus Terminal 6) for bus service, and Metro Rail Operations for rail service. Each service sector has a general manager overseeing the operation of two or three bus yards or the rail system. The bus service sectors each have a Governance Council that oversees the bus routes operating out of each yard and has the responsibility to plan service in each sector within a certain budget, while Metro Rail Operations reports directly to the Metro Board. The service sectors are designed to be more responsive to community input, but since many bus riders ride routes from multiple sectors – largely because the sectors operate lines that cross into adjacent sectors – bus riders often do not know which governance council to complain to, a problem that was identified by the California State Auditor.[25]

In February 2003, the MTA became the first agency in the nation to use a bus made of composite carbon and polyester fibers. These "Compo Buses" are 2,100 pounds lighter than a regular bus, increase fuel economy, boast a faster acceleration and deceleration rate, and feature reduced maintenance cost. Current Compobuses are the 40-foot 7980-7999 series (NABI 40C-LFW) and the 45-foot 8000-8099 series (NABI 45C-LFW). The MTA plans to take delivery of a large number of additional 45-foot Compobuses in the upcoming several years.

On July 26, 2003, the Gold line to Pasadena was completed and turned over to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for operation. It was completed on time and under budget by the construction authority, although the MTA had to spend an additional $130 million to purchase cars and test the line.[26] On opening weekend, due to massive public interest, some waited up to three hours to board the trains. Free rides were offered for the first two days of service.

Day Pass

A few months after the Gold Line opened, and for the third time in nine years, the MTA experienced a strike. The Amalgamated Transit Union struck over issues concerning a health insurance trust fund the transit agency pays into and the union manages. The ATU wanted the MTA to contribute more to cover the steeply rising costs of medical care. However, an independent audit showed the union had mismanaged the nearly bankrupt trust fund, making the agency unwilling to contribute more money without getting a managerial stake.[27]

On December 17, 2003, the MTA introduced the US$3 "day pass" and lowered fares from US$1.35 to US$1.25. The day pass allows patrons to get on and off Metro buses and trains as many times as they like within one operational day without paying an additional fare. Also, the MTA limited transfers to non-MTA bus systems.[28] As of July 1, 2007 the cost of the day pass was increased to US$5.

As of March 15, 2009, the day pass is sold only in electronic format on TAP Cards for bus riders. Riders are required to have a TAP card in order to load a day pass. A day pass can also be loaded onto a TAP Card at a ticket vending machine, a pass vendor, or a Metro Customer Center. [29]

Naming changes

After 1991, the agency used the word "Metro" almost exclusively to describe many of its services. In 2003, after primarily using the term MTA or Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agency switched back to simply using Metro. The full name of the agency remains the "Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority," the name given to it by the state legislation which brought it into existence.

Along with a new name and logo, the agency decided to change the colors of its buses to clearly identify each vehicle with the type of service it provides:[30]

  • Rapid buses remained their signature dark red, but with an added silver stripe.
  • Local (frequent stop) buses, as well as limited stop buses, were given a California poppy orange.
  • Express (freeway service) buses were given a dark blue.
  • All Metro Rail vehicles will maintain their stainless steel color with various colors of trim or be painted gray.
  • The base color throughout the bus and rail fleet is silver.

Orange Line

On October 29, 2005, the 14 miles (23 km) Orange Line began operation. The US$354 million transitway traverses the San Fernando Valley. It is the region's first bus to operate within its own dedicated right-of-way. Unfortunately, within its first week of operation the at-grade Orange Line experienced three collisions with automobiles, all of which were deemed the fault of automobile drivers who ran red lights. Since the first few weeks of operation accidents on the line have declined significantly.

MTA has embarked on various measures to increase visibility of Orange Line Metroliners, including installing white LED strobes on each side of the vehicle to make them appear as if an emergency vehicle was crossing the red-lighted intersections. Drivers' tactics include slowing to approximately 10 miles per hour (16 km/h) at intersections with poor cross-traffic visibility or blindspots. In addition, the police department heavily patrols the route, with officers in marked cruisers and motorcycles distributing red-light citations.

The route continues to enjoy rapidly increasing ridership with each passing week, owing to the relative consistent speed, minimum of stops along the route as well as remarkable scenery along some stretches, most notably the Sepulveda Basin portion of the route, which invokes an enjoyable ride in the country feeling as it passes park land and a sod farm. The project spent many millions of dollars solely in the landscape portion of the budget to produce a truly scenic ride. Many runs are standing room only. MTA continues to add more scheduled runs as well as double dispatching on some departures with more than one metroliner assigned to each scheduled run.

By May 2006, the MTA announced that the Orange Line had 21,828 average daily boardings, nearly reaching the ridership goals that were predicted for 2020. Outside groups have said that the Orange Line has already reached capacity and that it is time to start planning for a light rail line replacement.

Other groups have lobbied for the completion of the originally conceived Wilshire Boulevard subway. The two proposals are not mutually exclusive. Although Waxman's legislation halted construction over safety concerns, Waxman relented in October 2005 after an investigation by experts selected jointly by the congressman and the American Public Transportation Association. The expert panel concluded:

By following proper procedures and using appropriate technologies the risk of tunneling would be no greater than other subway systems in the U.S.[31]

In years prior, Waxman had stated that if such a panel deemed tunneling safe in the Mid-Wilshire district, he would authorize legislation that would lift the ban on federal monies being used for subway construction. This has since been done; however, no money has been allocated for future construction of the Wilshire Boulevard subway. Any subway project would require years of planning; either the project will need to compete for federal money with many other projects across the USA, or funds will have to be raised at the local or state levels. This is also problematic due to the aforementioned 1998 Yaroslavsky measure prohibiting use of local sales taxes for underground construction. This may be avoided by through a loophole: the measure forbids use of local money for "new" subway construction, and the Wilshire Boulevard subway was planned well before the 1998 measure.

To recognize the line's ultimate destination to the ocean, the LACMTA has proposed renaming the line the Aqua Line.[32] However, other MTA board members have voiced opposition, suggesting other names such as the "Cardinal Line" or other names.[33]

In 2006, apparently in anticipation of extending the subway along Wilshire Boulevard past Western Avenue, the MTA designated a Purple line, which consists of six stations it shares with the Red Line from Union Station to Vermont, as well as the unshared segment from Vermont to Western Avenue in Koreatown.

Eastside Extension

Measure R, a proposal that enacted a 1/2 cent increase in sales tax to fund transportation throughout Los Angeles County, including rail, subway and freeway improvements, was approved by voters in November 2008.

In September 2005, Metro broke ground on a 6 miles (9.7 km) extension of the Gold Line from Union Station, which now runs through Little Tokyo to the corner of Pomona and Atlantic Boulevards in East L.A.. The Eastside Gold Line Extension light rail extension replaces a once-planned Red Line subway extension. It travels mostly at grade, but has two underground stations. The extension began operation on November 15, 2009 and provides service to some of the city's most historicaly underserved neighborhoods. The first passengers boarded the train at 3:40 a.m. and an estimated 50,000 people took part in "a festive day of celebration and free rides."[34]

The Metro Silver Line, a reconfiguration of existing service on the Harbor and El Monte Transitways, opened on December 13, 2009.

Expo Line

Construction for the Expo Line

In the years following Congressman Waxman's blocking of plans to tunnel a subway through the dense Wilshire corridor, traffic and congestion has risen considerably. The problem was underscored in 2000, when the art collective Heavy Trash group erected eight large signs along public streets announcing the construction of the "Aqua Line," a 15 miles (24 km) subway "connecting downtown to the Westside."[35] The Aqua Line was a hoax, but Heavy Trash's intent was to raise awareness that heavily congested and populated West Los Angeles still lacked rail access.

The LACMTA officially proposed the Metro Rail Mid-City/Exposition Light-Rail Transit Project, a light-rail line to begin in Downtown Los Angeles and end in Santa Monica. Local and state sales tax and other funds were set aside for this project and the Final Environmental Impact Report was approved in December 2005. Surveying of the former freight railway line began on May 30, 2006 and ground was broken in 2006 on the first phase of the line, which will run from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City. It is currently scheduled to open in 2011, 51 weeks behind schedule.

Future

Westside metro rail lines. Current lines and those under construction are shown in solid lines and those under consideration are shown in dashed lines with alignments and stations as published in LACMTA alternatives studies as of December 2008

In July 2006, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed a free transit week, which was inspired by the San Francisco Bay Area's Spare the Air days of free rides, which helped increase ridership by 10%. This proposal would help reduce traffic congestion and improve the air quality during the free week. In the wake of concerns raised by Metro's police and security heads (citing increased crime during the San Francisco promotion), this was downgraded by Villaraigosa at the September board of directors meeting into a general directive to increase ridership by 30% over the next year.

The renamed Foothill Construction Authority (formerly Metro Blue Line Construction Authority) is in the planning stages of a San Gabriel Valley extension of the Gold Line to the San Bernardino County border city of Montclair. In October 2009, the MTA Board unanimously voted to include the Foothill Extension in its long-range plan, and approved funding for the construction and operation of its first phase to Azusa. The terminus of this extension will be at a stop just west of Azusa's eastern border. This first phase is scheduled to break ground in June of 2010, and is expected to be completed and opened in 2013. The Board also directed its staff to seek funding for the second phase of the Foothill Extension, in the hopes of completion by 2017.

The Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority (EMLCA) has been established to construct the first phase of the Expo Line from 7th Street/Metro Center in Downtown Los Angeles to the intersection of Washington and National Boulevards in Culver City. Funding is in place for this first phase, and phase two of this project was recently approved to bring the line to the Santa Monica pier in Santa Monica. Phase I portion of this project went to bid in the spring of 2006. The route of Phase II of the project will take an exclusive path along the former Pacific Electric Santa Monica "Air Line" right-of-way, through Palms/Cheviot Hills/Westside Village/Rancho Park.[36]

Metro continues to expand its Metro Rapid bus system with a goal of 28 lines by 2008.[24] A Special Master ruling in December 2005 requires Metro to increase service on all Rapid bus routes to every 10 minutes during the peak period and every 20 minutes during the mid-day and evening. Service would be required to operate between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. on all Rapid routes. Metro has chosen not to appeal the ruling and began implementation on all Rapid routes in June 2006.

In addition, the agency is embarking on a massive bus restructuring effort entitled Metro Connections. The project is designed to convert the current grid-based bus system, implemented in 1980, to a hub and spoke system focused on activity centers.[37] The system is to be phased in the next four years, and will include new express routes and reconfigured local service. Suburban service and low ridership shuttles will be considered for operation by municipal agencies, restructuring, or cancellation.

A new Universal Fare system called 'TAP' which stands for Transit Access Pass is currently in the testing phase and is expected to roll out to the public in early 2010. TAP was initially used by UCLA students, select businesses (B-TAP program) and Metro staff. As of October 2007, it has entered a two-month test program limited to the first 2,000 customers. This smart card will allow bus and rail passengers to tap their cards on the farebox for faster boarding. TAP readers have already been installed on buses and rail stations next to ticket vending machines. Because Metro Rail is a barrier free system, fare inspectors will be checking to make sure TAP users have validated their card by using a wireless handheld unit, however, these will not be used until 2010. This automated fare system will eventually be implemented on eleven other Los Angeles County transit operators and intends to replace the EZ Pass which allows travel between these transit agencies for one monthly price. Commuters from surrounding cities and communities will be able to travel across the county switching from one transit operator's system to another using one smart card to pay for fares.

Fleet

Most buses are equipped with monitors for Transit TV broadcasts and to display real-time bus maps to show the location through GPS navigation; the latter is the first of its kind in the United States. Also, as part of Metro's ATMS project, most buses include a marquee displaying the date and time, Automatic Voice Annunciation (AVA) for audio and visual announcements for each stop, and an audio and visual Stop Requested announcement.

Most buses operated by First Transit, Transportation Concepts, and Southland Transit have five-digit fleet numbers. Contractors formerly operated some of the 2000-, 2300-, 2500-, 2700-, 3300-, and 4400-series buses; Southland Transit currently operates several 7000-series buses on Lines 266, 270, and 577X. These buses do not feature the ATMS technology that is on Metro-operated buses.

Metro Local buses are painted orange ("California Poppy"), Metro Rapid buses are painted red, and Metro Express buses are painted blue. Metro Local buses acquired prior to the adoption of these colors in 2004 are white with a gold stripe around the bus; these buses will be painted orange during their mid-life rehabilitation (except for the 5300-series New Flyer buses assigned to Metro Rapid lines, which were repainted in red livery in 2004-05). The 7000- and 7600-series buses acquired for Metro Rapid service in 2000 and 2002 are red with a white stripe along the top (7102-7112, 7617-7618, 7628, 7643, 7646 were white with a red Metro Rapid logo on all sides and some of these buses have been repainted to standard red and white and a few have been converted to Metro Local service), but some have been repainted to the current red and silver livery. Most are likely scheduled for repainting beginning in 2007; some have been repainted either in the updated Metro Rapid scheme or in Metro Local colors.

Metro operates the nation's largest fleet of CNG-powered buses. The CNG fleet reduces emissions of particulates by 90%, carbon monoxide by 80%, and greenhouse gases by 20% over the 500 remaining diesel powered buses in the fleet. Alternative fuel buses have logged more than 450 million operating miles since 1993, an industry record. Metro will retire all Diesel buses and become an entirely clean-air fleet by 2008.

Since December 17, 2006, Metro Local Lines 233 (Van Nuys Blvd.) and 204 (Vermont Ave.) were the first Metro Local lines to use 60-foot (18 m) NABI articulated buses, using the 9400-9500 series. These buses are also currently in use on Metro Local Line 4 (Santa Monica Blvd.).

Bus divisions

Under the Metro governance structure, the routes operating out of each division are supervised by a service sector under the responsibility of a sector general manager and a Governance Council composed of elected officials, appointed representatives, and transit users from a given area served by each division. While service sectors have geographical boundaries, in practice they only define where the members of the governance council come from, as most of Los Angeles is served by routes operating out of multiple sectors. For instance, the 3rd Street bus is operated by buses from the Gateway Cities sector, despite its entire route being in the Westside or Central Los Angeles areas. A list of routes operating from each sector can be found on the Metro web site.

The SGV- division 3 in Cypress Park is the oldest bus yard in Metro history, which has been operating since 1907. It is home to 200 buses.

Most buses show the sector abbreviation and division number affixed on the windows and sides of buses. Some also have circular decals with the division name, with an illustration, similar to the style used in New York City.

Gateway Cities Sector

  • Central City (Division 1) (GC-1) - Sixth Street and Central Avenue
  • Crossroads (Division 2) (GC-2) - 15th Street and San Pedro Street
  • Downey (Division 4, non revenue vehicles only)

San Fernando Valley Sector

  • Chatsworth/West Valley (Division 8) (SFV-8) - Canoga Av. and Nordhoff St.
  • Sun Valley/East Valley (Division 15) (SFV-15) - Branford St. near Glenoaks Blvd., Sun Valley

San Gabriel Valley Sector

  • North Los Angeles (Division 3) (SGV-3) - Avenue 28 and Idell Street, Cypress Park
  • San Gabriel Valley (Division 9) (SGV-9) - Santa Anita Avenue and Ramona Blvd., El Monte

South Bay Sector

Westside/Central Sector

  • Venice/Ocean Park (Division 6) (WSC-6) - Sunset Ave. and Pacific Ave.
  • West Hollywood (Division 7) (WSC-7) - N. San Vicente Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd.
  • Gateway (Division 10) (WSC-10) - Mission Rd. and Richmond St., Boyle Heights

Closed Divisions

  • Long Beach Port (Division 12) (GC-12)-Opened by the PE early in the 20th century for railcars and later also motor coaches. On June 30, 1997 it was designated a storage yard for retired busses. Before then MTA stored its troubled fleet of Methanol fueled buses there until they could be retrofitted with diesel engines. As of 2006, Division 12 has been sold to the City Of Long Beach.[38]
  • Riverside (Division 13) (SGV-13)-sold by MTA in 1997[39].
  • Pomona (Division 16) (SGV-16)-Was opened March 20, 1983 by RTD; it was closed by LACMTA on June 26, 1994.[40].

Bicycle transportation planning

In May 2009 METRO started to set up a Multi Mobility Working Group, which may lead to a change in TDM funding for bicycle projects as detailed is a separate entry on Bicycle Transportation Planning in LA.

Other transit services

Funding

A complex mix of federal, state, county and city tax dollars as well as bonds and fare box revenue funds Metro. Funding sources (see footnote for current year budget)

Resources US$ in Millions
Fare Revenue 264
Prop A - 1/2 Cent Sales Tax 575
Prop C - 1/2 Cent Sales Tax 703
Federal Grants 547
State Grants 472
Interest Income/Bonds 179
Other Local Revenue 123
Total Resources US$2,863

[41]

Governance

Metro is governed by a Board of Directors whose 13 members are:

Responsibility for local bus service is delegated to five Sector Governance Councils, each governing bus service in a service sector comprising the bus lines operating from the yards in a given geographical area. There are five sectors: Gateway Cities, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, South Bay, and Westside/Central. Members for each governance council are selected by a combination of city councils, councils of governments, and county supervisors representing the area. Many members are local politicians, but each governance council is required to have at least two regular "transit consumers" on their council, which is defined loosely and includes transit riders as well as executives at other transit agencies within the sector. Although the vast majority of the appointees are also members of city councils of cities within the sector, one sector's council – Metro San Fernando Valley – is composed almost entirely of non-elected officials. Governance council members are then confirmed by the Metro Board of Directors, and can be removed from their position as desired by the nominator, or by the Metro Board. Governance councils approve service changes (although the Metro Board reserves ultimate authority over service), review the budget, address complaints about bus service, and provide recommendations to Metro management regarding the employment status of each sector general manager. Monthly meetings of the Board of Directors are organized and facilitated by Christopher Reyes.

One consequence of the governance council structure is that Metro can move much more quickly to add or remove service as needed. Therefore, the number of service changes has increased significantly since 2002, when service sectors began. In addition, because of the decentralization of responsibility, this means that bus riders who ride lines in multiple sectors must send multiple letters or attend multiple public hearings to express their concerns about lines that may be cut. Recently, a change was made that permits comments to be delivered to one sector, who will then forward comments to other sectors as appropriate. However, attendees of one sector's public hearing will only hear about the changes in their sector, and will not have the opportunity to speak directly with the staff in the other sectors at that hearing. In addition, each sector can set their own policies regarding public comment, and sectors are not uniform in how service changes are approved.

Communications between sectors and riders was poor, according to a report by the California State Auditor which was released one year into the new structure.[25]

Trivia

References

  1. ^ a b Metro Ridership Statistics
  2. ^ a b Klugman, Mark. Brief Report: L.A.’s Transit Policing Partnership. Spring 1998. Retrieved April 4, 2006
  3. ^ "Help & Contacts." Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved on March 18, 2010.
  4. ^ APTA Ridership Reports Statistics - United States Transit Agency Totals Index. Retrieved April 4, 2006
  5. ^ metro.net|About Metro Retrieved April 4, 2006
  6. ^ LA County’s Metro Cited as Nation’s 2006 Outstanding Public Transportation System. Retrieved June 8, 2006
  7. ^ Metro.net
  8. ^ Metro.net
  9. ^ "Bold New Look Proposed For Metro Buses, Trains, 'M' Logo". Los Angeles County Metro. 19 June 2003. http://www.metro.net/news_info/archives/2003/06_June/mta_089.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  10. ^ "Metro Gets Grant For Purchase of More Clean-Air Buses". Los Angeles County Metro. 26 April 2006. http://www.metro.net/news_info/press/archives/2006/metro_058.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  11. ^ Metro.net
  12. ^ Metro.net
  13. ^ Metro.net
  14. ^ Simon, Richard. "Urban jewel or height of folly? Lavish new transit center and 26-story office tower next to Union Station will become a civic treasure, MTA officials predict." Los Angeles Times 24 September 1995: 1.
  15. ^ H-Labor United Transportation On-Line Edition. April 1995. Retrieved April 6, 2006.
  16. ^ LA Times
  17. ^ Bus Riders Union | The Labor Community Strategy Center
  18. ^ The City Project
  19. ^ "Burke vows improved LACMTA bus service". UTU Daily Digest News. October 19, 1998. Retrieved April 5, 2006.
  20. ^ Rabin, Jeffrey. "Subway's Arrival in Valley Ends Long, Costly Journey." Los Angeles Times 18 June 2000: A1.
  21. ^ "Striking Los Angeles transit workers defy union officials and continue walkout". White, Jerry and Mendendez, Carlos. World Socialist Web Site. October 5, 2000. Retrieved April 5, 2006.
  22. ^ Pasadena Metro Blue Line Construction Authority. Electric Railway HIstorical Association of Southern California. Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  23. ^ "Los Angeles MTA renames light rail line". UTU Daily News Digest. December 3, 2001. Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  24. ^ a b Overview of Transportation Topics. Realtor.org. Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  25. ^ a b "Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority: It Is Too Early to Predict Service Sector Success, but Opportunities for Improved Analysis and Communication Exist." page 41, California State Auditor, December 2003. Retrieved May 1, 2006.
  26. ^ Streeter, Kurt, and Tina Daunt. "Hopes for Urban Revival Ride on LA-Pasadena Line." Los Angeles Times 26 July 2003: A1.
  27. ^ Bernstein, Sharon and Kurt Streeter. "MTA Talks Advance." Los Angeles Times 24 October 2003: B1.
  28. ^ "New Metro Day Pass to Provide Customers with Unbeatable Value for Daily Transit Needs". Metro News Pressroom. December 17, 2003. Retrieved April 5, 2006.
  29. ^ "Metro Day Pass" Retrieved on 2009-07-04.
  30. ^ "Bold New Look Proposed For Metro Buses, Trains, 'M' Logo." MTA Press Release, June 19, 2003.
  31. ^ The National Transit Coalition
  32. ^ "Consider Color Designation for Metro Rail Project". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Executive Management and Audit Committee. February 16, 2006. Retrieved April 5, 2006.
  33. ^ Pool, Bob. "MTA Squabbles Over Hue-Mongous Decision". Los Angeles Times. March 23, 2006.
  34. ^ Los Angeles Times - After decades of waiting, their trains have arrived (November 16, 2009)
  35. ^ Heavy Trash - BlogSpot
  36. ^ Metro.net
  37. ^ Metro.net
  38. ^ Metro Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library fact sheet Division 12 - Long Beach. Retrieved September 2, 2009
  39. ^ "Authorize the sale of former RTD Division 13 (Riverside) bus terminal located at 2450 Mulberry Street, Riverside to Gary Rosenfield and/or nominee, for a cash price of $250,000". Metro Board action recap, meeting of March 26, 1997 item #12. Retrieved September 2, 2009
  40. ^ Metro Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library fact sheet Division 16 - Pomona. Retrieved September 2, 2009
  41. ^ Metro.net
  42. ^ IMCDb.org
  43. ^ IMCDb.org

External links

Official

Other Los Angeles Area Governmental Transit Agencies

Informational

L.A. Transportation Advocacy Groups

  • The Transit Coalition - pro-rail transit web site advocating the extension of existing Metro Rail lines or proposing new lines.
  • Southern California Transit Advocates - non-profit organization focusing on public transit policy analysis, public education, and political advocacy for public transportation in the entire Southern California region
  • Bus Riders Union - a civil rights organization opposing rail spending and advocating improved bus service

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