A Look at Metrorail’s Crenshaw/LAX Northern Extension Project to West Hollywood and Hollywood

Metro is currently studying extending its coming Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line, which is expected to open year, further north to Mid-City, West Hollywood and Hollywood.  This Northern Extension would provide a mighty north-south rail transit corridor connecting four rail lines (Green, Expo, Red and Purple) — five if you count the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project under study.

Following this Feasibility/Alternatives Analysis of five potential alignments for the Northern Extension (seen below), Metro will now preparing an Advanced Alternatives Screening Study to gather public input and further analyze the five alignments to help determine which alternatives will be studied further in a subsequent environmental analysis.

Measure M allocates $2.24 billion to the project, with a groundbreaking date of 2041 and project completion date of 2047. Metro is conducting this study now as there are efforts underway to identify funding to accelerate this schedule.  ALL projects look for additional funding to speed construction.  Please do not be daunted by the currently scheduled completion date.   That can and will be moved up.  This project can certainly be made shovel ready soon.

Metro has been holding a series of community meetings about this project.  I went to the first one and it was exciting to see a room full of people eager and excited for a Metrorail project to be built and built soon.

One of the things I learned is that Metro expects this line when completed to be one of the heaviest used light rail lines in the country, with its connection to five Metro rail lines, LAX, Hollywood, West Hollywood, and major bus corridors.  That sounds like an excellent reason to find the funding to speed up construction, doesn’t it?  Perhaps even by the Olympics in 2028.

One of the things mentioned by Metro is that the further west the proposed alignment, the more job centers that are accessed by it.  When I inquired if the alternative analysis had studied nighttime ridership, they mentioned it had not.  We know that this area has a large number of nighttime riders and employment.  Any late night ride on a crowded 4/704 bus will tell you that.  Hopefully, Metro will choose alignment A or B.  C is another meritable choice.   My personal opinion is that LaBrea is too far east and misses too many ridership generators such as The Grove, Cedar Sinai hospital, and the Beverly Center.  Also, based on these numbers in the Feasibility Analysis I would be surprised if the Vermont alignment makes it any farther in the studies for this project.  There is, however, a separate Vermont Corridor project underway.

Metro has one more community meeting scheduled for this phase of the process — Thursday, March 28, 2019, 6 – 8 p.m. West Hollywood Library, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069. Accessible via: DASH, West Hollywood Cityline and Metro bus lines 4, 10, 16, 30, 105 and 704. There is limited street parking and a parking lot available.

EDITED TO ADD:  I attended the March 28th meeting and heard the following:  “The Fairfax alignment accesses twice the number of jobs as the La Brea alignment, and the La Cienega / San Vicente alignments have twice the number of that.”

Please check out Metro’s website for the Crenshaw Northern Extension at metro.net/crenshawnorth and if you cannot attend, please let Metro know by email that you support this project and which alignment you support (hopefully “A/B” or at least “C”) at crenshawnorth@metro.net.

What I Learned at the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project Community Meeting

Transit advocates have been dreaming of a public transit rail line through the Sepulveda Pass connecting the San Fernando Valley to the Westside for a long time now, from as far north as Sylmar to as far south as LAX.  The Transit Coalition has supported this concept as its proposed “JEM Line” for years.

Metro has been moving forward on its version of this ideas as the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project, and has been having community meetings to brief stakeholders and obtain feedback on where it is in the development process.  Please view the presentation we saw at the community meeting by clicking here.

Here is where we are at in the current round of the process.  It is best to think of this project in two basic segments — (1) between the Valley and Westwood and (2) between Westwood and LAX.

order diflucan buy modafinil in spain Valley  to/from Westwood

The first thing you should know is that there is already an East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Light Rail Project that has been approved by Metro.  Therefore, whichever Valley to/from Westwood alignment Metro chooses will need to take this other rail project into account.

Here are the four proposals still in the running for the Valley to/from Westwood segment:

 

MRT means Monorail.  Many people who’ve been to Disneyland or Disneyworld ask, “why can’t we just do a Monorail?”.  As you can see it would be one of the lower ridership options.  Also, as a new type of vehicle for rail transit for Metro, monorail would require a new type of maintenance yard, and also a new classification of labor trained to maintain and operate it.  Therefore, I don’t expect it to go much farther in the analysis process.

This leaves HRT1, HRT2 or HRT3.   While HRT3 is predicted to have the most ridership upon completion, the direction of travel pretty much ends this route eventually being extended up to Sylmar in the future.  Why do that when Metro is already building an East San Fernando Valley Light Rail?  As Metro Staff explained, the light rail project is meant to be a local service, while this Sepulveda Transit Corridor project is meant to a regional rail project, where stations will be farther apart.

Basic details about all these alignments may be found on the presentation delivered at the community meeting which you can find by clicking here.

Here are a couple of things I learned from at the community meeting.

  • This project needs to go at least as far north as not only the Van Nuys Orange Line station, but the Van Nuys Metrolink station too, so it doesn’t overcrowd the new East San Fernando Valley light rail.
  • If you want this Sepulveda Corridor project to be eventually extended up north to Sylmar, than you probably want HRT1.
  • An option of extending the Purple Line through the Sepulveda Pass was eliminated as it did not have the same ridership potential as a north-south line where passengers could transfer to the Purple Line, the Expo line and ride all the way down to LAX.
  • A station on Santa Monica Blvd. was eliminated.  Metro staff informed me that there is a fault line that runs right through Santa Monica Blvd., and they couldn’t safely build a station there.  I find that very disappointing.  It makes the need to complete the Crenshaw/LAX line northern extension to West Hollywood and Hollywood all the more necessary.

Westwood to/from LAX

What you need to know about this segment is that Metro is looking at an alignment near Sepulveda & the 405 Freeway or one closer to Centinela.

Here is the Sepulveda / 405 alignment.

For reasons I explained earlier, I don’t expect Monorail to make the final round, so I’d pay attention to the one of the left.  Now here is the Centinela alignment:

The most interesting to notice here is that Metro is studying a Purple Line extension going SOUTH to LAX.  I have my doubts as it would reduce the available capacity to transport passengers from the Valley, but Metro is obliged to study everything.

When completed and online, this rail line will be a VERY busy, and one of the major arteries of our transit system.  Metro believes it can promise a 15 minutes time of travel between the Valley and the Westside that will be faster than most auto trips on the 405 Freeway.

There will be one more meeting on this round on February 5th at 6:00 PM, at the Proud Bird Restaurant, near LAX.  Further refinements will take place and there will be a new round of meetings as Metro moves toward its “Locally Preferred Alternative”.

You can find more information about this project and share your feedback with Metro at metro.net/sepulvedacorridor and you can see the full presentation from the community meeting here.

What do you think?

A View of Metro’s NextGen Bus Study Public Workshops

If you haven’t heard, Metro is undergoing a redesign of its comprehensive bus network.

The last update was 25 years ago, and so it makes sense to give the whole system a fresh look.

There have been a series of “public workshops” where you can come and check out what is happening and give your feedback.  I went to the public workshop in West Hollywood, and took photos.   This photo below shows the data screen that I found utterly fascinating.

Using location data accumulated from our cell phones as they travel with us via car, rail, bus, bike, and by foot, Metro has acquired data on what trips people are making and where, and at what times during the day.  An 11:00 p.m. map would look very different than a 7:00 AM map or a 3:00 PM map.  It’s great this data exists.

There have been several NextGen Bus Study public workshops around the County thus far, and there are a few more still to come:

Pasadena – January 24th
Downtown Los Angeles – January 26th
Inglewood – January 31st
Van Nuys – February 6th

For more information about the NextGen Bus Study, please click here.

I encourage you to get involved and give your input on how Metro should deploy its 7 million service hours of bus service.  The system changes are scheduled to begin rolling out at the end of 2019.

Below are some more photos from the NextGen public workshop held in West Hollywood.

Vox: Democrats’ 8 plans for Universal Health Care

Polling has shown a dramatic increase in support for Medicare-for-All.  I support that.  However, what does that mean?  How do we get there from here?  Very importantly, how is it paid for?  Sarah Kliff and Dylan Scott write this article for Vox comparing the various plans being debated:

We read Democrats’ 8 plans for universal health care. Here’s how they work.

Any plan, even one with overwhelming public support, is going to run into a political buzzsaw as moneyed special interests fight change at any cost. 

The simplest way to get to Universal Health Care is to lower the starting age of Medicare to 0 and raise the Medicare tax correspondingly.  Private insurance companies would shift their business models into selling supplementary health insurance or other products.

A more gradual approach to get to universal health care is to allow people under 65 to voluntarily buy into Medicare or Medicaid as a public health insurance option.   One are of disagreement — employer based health insurance, and whether or not we should still keep it as a model.  Our international competitors, of course, do not put the financial burden of providing health insurance on their businesses.  Severing the link between employment and health insurance is probably the smart way to go, but it would bring change, and change can be politically problematic.

If you believe the solution for more affordable and universal access to health care and health insurance is to get government completely out of  it  and let the “free market” do its magic, and you completely missed the colossal market failures that left tens of millions of uninsured and unable to access the health care system before the Affordable Care Act, this probably isn’t the article or the blog for you.

What do you think?

Moving toward Universal Health Care in California in 2019.

Democrats had a clean sweep of statewide races in California and almost have a 3 to 1 super-duper-majority in the state legislature.  Politics has evolved rapidly on health care, from “universal health care” being the outlier position, to being the default position of much of the base.

Yes, I do support Medicare-for-All and single-payer.  However, it will likely take a Democratic President, and progressive supermajority in both houses of Congress to pass.  Someday, but obviously with Trump/Pence in the White House and Republicans controlling the Senate, that day politically is not today.

Single-payer is not the only possible pathway to “universal health care”.     The obstacle to enacting single-payer now from a policy perspective is cost.  It is unlikely that the financing would be achievable without a large number of federal waivers I would not expect the California-hostile Trump/Pence administration to give.

Here is an article written by Gabriel Thompson on this issue from Capital & Main that I found interesting:  WAITING FOR GAVIN – Great Expectations: California’s First Steps Toward Universal Health Care

Give it a read and then let me know, What do you think?

New Metro Legend for Rail Lines and Busways Coming

Metro Los Angeles is changing from a colors to alphabet letters when naming its rail lines and busways. once the Regional Connector project goes online Downtown.  Soon we won’t just “Take the A Train:” to Harlem in Manhattan.  We will take it when we are “thinking of heading uptown” from Long Beach to downtown L.A.  

So I am assuming it will be the “C” train extended north to West Hollywood and Hollywood eventually.  Of course, letters may change or be added and alignment grow and new operational routes become possible.  Here is a look at the system — in progress.

What do you think?

State Senator Scott Weiner Revises Bill to Boost Homebuilding Near Transit.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has revived a major effort to boost homebuilding near transit, a proposal he says is necessary to address the state’s housing affordability and climate change challenges that have only deepened since his initial bill failed earlier this year.

From the article:

Under the new proposal from Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), developers would be allowed to build four- to five-story apartment complexes in neighborhoods surrounding Los Angeles Metro stations, Bay Area Rapid Transit and other rail stops around the state. The legislation would also ease some local restrictions on building homes near frequently used bus stops.

Wiener’s bill follows a similar attempt in the last legislative session that sparked fierce debate over how far the state should impinge on local authorityto shape community development amid a housing shortage that’s been estimated in the millions. The previous attempt died in a legislative committee after outcry from local governments, labor groups and advocates for low-income residents.

“The heart of the bill is really the same,” Wiener said of his new legislation, Senate Bill 50. “We have a 3.5-million-home deficit in California. It’s undermining our economy. It’s undermining our climate goals. We have to be bold in solving this problem.”

Having learned from last year’s failed attempt:

Wiener made three major changes to the bill that aim to soften opposition from tenant groups and their allies that helped torpedo the prior effort. The legislation blocks developers from using the bill if they planned to knock down properties that renters had occupied within at least the previous seven years. It also allows communities facing pressures from gentrification and displacement to propose alternative plans to boost homebuilding instead of using the system outlined in the bill. And it loosens local zoning restrictions in communities with high median incomes, quality schools and short commutes to jobs, even if there isn’t access to transit nearby — an effort to push development into wealthier areas that might have previously resisted it.

I think California Senate Bill 50 is an idea who time is long overdue.  We have a huge housing shortage, and we already having increasing density.  We just don’t have smart density.  Putting new apartment developments near rail stops just makes common sense.  There is no going back to the low density, sprawl of the 1970’s.  We can only move forward.  Let’s do so smartly.

What do you think?

Is It Time to Repeal Article 34?

Now that California Democrats have a super-duper majority of three-to-one in the state legislature, and hold every statewide elected office, after their most successful election since the 19th Century, the question now turns to what will they do with that majority to try and solve California’s public policy problems.  This blog will look at the changing transportation landscape, the evolution towards universal health care, and how we solve our seemingly intractable housing/homelessness problems.

We need a lot more supply of affordable housing at all income levels.  We all sort of intuitively get that.  The issue tends to become one of NIMBY-ism.  “Build it, but not near me.”  I usually ask the follow-up question, “would you rather have people homeless camped out near you, or living in safe, affordable housing?” The premise of this blog is that we already have the increasing density, we just don’t have the affordable housing and transportation to accommodate it.  So let’s find solutions together.

One solution I saw today was a bill introduced by State Senators Ben Allen (D-Los Angeles Westside/Beaches) and Scott Weiner (San Francisco) that would repeal Article 34 of the California State Constitution.

St. Sen. Allen’s tweet seems mild enough.  St. Sen. Wiener used much stronger language:

Keeping out “poor, non-white people” sounds like something NIMBYs would want to do.  However, repealing Article 34 as I currently understand it would only lift the ban so that cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco with a large number of people who are poor or housing insecure can build new low-rent housing without having to go to an election for every project.  This doesn’t remove accountability because local governments are still be accountable to their voters.

To me, at first glance, repealing Article 34 and getting rid of this particular block to low-rent housing sounds like a good idea.  What do you think?

Angels Moving Forward

Los Angeles is the City, and County, and metropolitan region, of “angels”.  It’s in the name.  And it has a bright future as we head toward the Olympics in 2028.  California, our state, has one of the world’s biggest economies and a full rainy day fund.  (Thank you, Governor Jerry Brown).  However, like all metropolis regions we have challenges too.  This blog aims to shed light and focus on the progress we make in solving these problems as we move forward as Angelenos (and Angels) together.

This new blog is an outgrowth of my blog The Pink Line, where I primarily focused most on public transit issues facing the amazing, creative, dynamic and alive City of West Hollywood, where I am grateful to live and serve as Transportation Commissioner.  I will continue to focus on our public/alternative transportation renaissance, but will also focus on a couple of areas dear to my heart:  our seemingly chronic housing/homelessness problem and are march toward universal health care — plus LGBT issues or anything else I feel like mentioning as this is my blog.

I will end each blog with “What do you think?”, because I want to hear from you.  Please comment, share with your friends and colleagues, and debate the issues like the angels I know you are.

Moving Forward,

Dan