The following article appeared in The Source on December 28, 2015.
2015: A year of accomplishment and anticipation – The Source
By Joseph Lemon
December 28, 2015
It’s been another busy year at Metro. In the same year the Blue Line — Metro’s oldest light rail line — turned 25, construction continued on five rail projects, including two that will open next year: the Gold Line extension to Azusa and the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica.
Above and below are photos and text, respectively, of some of the happenings in this past year, as well as a look ahead to 2016. Please enjoy and feel free to add anything you think we may have missed!
After five years on the job and overseeing the first five years of Measure R, Metro CEO Art Leahy announced in January that he would be departing his job in April.
The decking was completed on Crenshaw Boulevard for the underground Crenshaw/Expo Station. The decking allowed traffic to resume on that part of Crenshaw with station excavation and construction taking place underneath. This is the first of several underground stations Metro is building as part of the Crenshaw/Expo Line, Purple Line Extension and Regional Connector.
Speaking of the Regional Connector, demolition began of several buildings (including Senor Fish) on the chunk of land along 1st Street and between Alameda and Central where the future underground Little Tokyo Station will be built.
The Business Solution Center opens to help businesses impacted by Crenshaw/LAX construction continue to attract customers. It’s part of a renewed effort by Metro to lessen the impacts of rail construction in L.A. County.
TAP goes live on the Big Blue Bus as one of the larger muni agencies in L.A. County joins the new regional fare card system.
The Metro Board announces that it has hired Phil Washington — the chief of the RTD in the Denver metro area — as the new Metro CEO.
A ginormous crowd attended the first CicLAvia in the San Fernando Valley with a route running from NoHo to Studio City.
In the wake of several assaults on bus operators, Metro announces new safety features on buses to protect operators.
Metro releases a report on an issue we often get asked about: will there ever be a Red/Purple Line station in the DTLA Arts District? Answer: possibly near 6th and Santa Fe and if funding can be found.
Metro and Alternative Travel Project (ATP) host a panel discussion about access, safety and opportunities for women seeking an alternative to car travel. This one gets a lot of attention on social media with a solid push from activist and actress Stana Katic.
The first clearance test on the second phase of the Expo Line takes place west of Culver City Station.
After a short segment opened in 2014, the longest segment of the Wilshire peak hour bus lanes open on Wilshire Boulevard.
As part of Earth Day, Metro shows off the first electric buses the agency purchased. The buses are still being tested.
In response to the number of riders who said they had experienced sexual harassment on Metro’s annual customer survey, Metro and the group Peace Over Violence launch the “It’s Off Limits” anti-sexual harassment campaign.
With work continuing or ramping up on three rail projects — the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Regional Connector and Purple Line Extension — Metro launches the Business Interruption Fund to provide financial help to businesses that can demonstrate they’ve been harmed by construction impacts.
Our podcast on the “art of the Metro service alert” is posted. If you ride often, it’s worth a listen and provides a good overview of the many issues that we often grapple with.
The route for the Metro-sponsored CicLAvia in Pasadena may not have been long but it sure was popular. See the pics.
Metro begins a two-month all-door boarding test program at a couple of stops on the Metro 720 Rapid on Wilshire Boulevard. Not a huge surprise: all door boarding proves to be quicker. Update: Metro applied for a federal TIGER grant to push all-door boarding forward, but didn’t win the grant. The agency is evaluating how to go forward with all-door boarding.
Metro released results of a general public survey of county residents to determine if a potential 2016 ballot measure has a chance of getting the two-thirds approval necessary to pass. The results: cautiously optimistic.
New prompts debut on TAP vending machines. The prompts were designed to be easier to follow, especially for those new to using Metro.
Metro announces an agreement with Zipcar to provide space for the short-term rental cars at 10 Metro park-and-ride stations. The idea is to make it easier to get around using a combination of public transit and car-sharing.
Excavation begins for the Crenshaw/Vernon underground station on the Crenshaw/LAX Line. This is the station that will serve Leimert Park.
Caltrans and Metro extended the public comment period until early August for the SR 710 North project and released a cost-benefit analysis of the project. More on this Source post.
New HOV lanes open on the 5 freeway between the 170 and 118 freeways. Metro provided $241 million in funding for the project.
The Metro Board approves a bike-share vendor for the countywide bike share program.
At the start of the fiscal year, the Metro Board Chair rotates — this year to L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who detailed his priorities for the upcoming year.
The Metro Board approved $30-million in pedestrian safety improvements for 27 crossings along the Blue Line and Union Pacific right-of-way. This means that all four corners of these 27 intersections will have pedestrian swing gates. There’s a really good Streetsblog post on this issue, too.
In July Metro also announced that a project to refurbish Blue Line stations with new canopies, lighting and a fresh coat of paint had been completed.
Metro celebrates 25 years of Metro Rail and reenacts the July 1990 opening of the Metro Blue Line, the first of six Metro Rail lines now in operation (the Red and Purple Lines share track in DTLA). The Source runs a corresponding two-part question-and-answer series about the past, present and future of Metro Rail (Part Iand Part II).
The first train cars in more than 60 years pass through West L.A. and downtown Santa Monica as testing for the Expo Line Phase 2 to Santa Monica begins throughout the 6.6 mile extension.
After the Metro Board approves bike share vendor Bcycle in June, Metro holds bike share demonstrations at public gatherings to show interested members of the public how the bike kiosks will operate.
Metro creates the Office of Extraordinary Innovation to champion new ideas for improving mobility in L.A. County.
Metro receives a $38.4 million state grant for improvements to the Willowbrook/Rosa Park Station, its fourth busiest station by ridership.
We post a pretty cool time-lapse of the decking work at the future Crenshaw/Vernon Station on the Crenshaw/LAX Line.
The first of five Metro bike hubs opens in El Monte, offering bicyclists secure parking with controlled entry, two-tiered racks, a retail sales and repair service area, and bike rentals. Here’s a post about future bike hubs at Union Station, North Hollywood, Culver City and Hollywood/Vine.
All 26 regional transportation agencies in L.A. County join the TAP system, giving passengers the ability to transfer seamlessly between Metro and other agencies using the same fare card.
Metro announces Dr. Joshua L. Schank as Chief Innovation Officer for the newly created Office of Extraordinary Innovation. At the time, Schank was president of the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington D.C.,
The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension reaches substantial completion. The milestone signifies the completion of major construction on the six station, 11.5-mile extension of the Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa.
The city of Torrance breaks ground on a new regional transit center that one day could be home to a Green Line Extension station. Metro provides $18.1 million in Measure R funding for the project.
Metro and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department unveil new security technology. They include elevated mobile Skywatch towers, security kiosks with CCTV monitors, telephones and workstations at nine locations, and improvements to existing security software.
The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa opening date is announced. The first day of service is scheduled for March 5.
Metro receives a $15 million federal TIGER grant for the Rail-to-River bike path. The money will be used to convert a 6.4-mile underutilized rail right-of-way to a bike and pedestrian trail that will run between the future Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Silver Line and the Blue Line. Eventually the trail could be extended to the Los Angeles River.
A state appeals court upholds the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for Purple Line subway extension after Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) challenged the validity of the environmental studies and Metro’s decision to route the subway under part of Beverly Hills High School. A federal lawsuit against the Federal Transit Administration — which is helping fund the project — continues.
A new staff report is released with details on work on the ongoing long-range plan update and the potential sales tax increase ballot measure in 2016. About the same time, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow Metro to go forward with a ballot measure next year.
[From editor Steve Hymon:] One of our best posts of the year goes up: 12 communities before and after transithas a ton of maps that shows development near transit in the past quarter century in L.A. County.
Metro celebrates the Orange Line’s 10th anniversary. Since opening in 2005, the 18-mile bus rapid transit line running from North Hollywood to Warner Center and Chatsworth accommodated 74 million passenger boardings.
The Gold Line Little Tokyo Station entrance is modified as a precursor to major construction for the Regional Connector project.
Metro releases its first “Report to the Community.”
Metro closes the US-101 Lankershim Boulevard exit for ten days as construction on the Universal City Station pedestrian bridge continues.
A new video is posted showing how the Union Station Master Plan would work.
Many of Jonathan Gold’s 101 best restaurants are very near transit, btw.
Metro works with Google to integrate real-time bus and train info into Google Maps.
The Metro Board approves a fare structure for the downtown Los Angeles bike share pilot program scheduled to get underway this coming summer.
Congress includes annual funding for the Purple Line Extension (segments 1 and 2) and the Regional Connector in its annual spending bill. Funding for both projects is supposed to be doled out on an annual basis — but it’s always good to see that the money is actually appropriated.
Many years after the inception of the iPhone and iPad, Apple begins to include transit data on Apple Maps.
Metro Board votes to postpone planned three-month long construction closures for Regional Connector in Little Tokyo due to community concerns on the impact of closures during the busy holiday season.
The first pile installation for a Purple Line Extension station — this for the Wilshire/La Brea Station — gets underway.
Metro releases a speed study of the Orange Line that concludes that Metro can safely run the Orange Line faster through some intersections in the San Fernando Valley. The faster speeds should take effect next year after some improvements are made on the line.
This leads us to the anticipation part of the year. There were many milestones reached in 2015 with more milestones to come in 2016:
•The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa is set to open on March 5. The extension will add an additional 11.5 miles and six new stations to the existing Gold Line line. The opening will coincide with thelaunch of the NoHo-Pasadena Express bus service that will connect the Gold Line in Pasadena to the Metro Red and Orange Lines in North Hollywood.
•The 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX line that will run from the Metro Expo Line Expo/Crenshaw Station to the Metro Green Line Aviation/LAX station is anticipated to reach the construction halfway point. The line is forecast to be complete in 2019. The tunnel boring machine (TBM) for the project is also anticipated to be put into service in 2016.
•Metro may ask voters for an additional half-cent sales tax and to extend the Measure R half-cent sales tax until 2057 to fund more projects as part of its long-term plan update. Metro staff is expected to release a proposed expenditure plan for the ballot measure in March. It will ultimately be up to the Metro Board to decide whether to put a ballot measure before voters.
•The Federal Transit Administration and Metro are expected to sign a $1.2-billion grant agreement for segment two of the Purple Line Extension between Wilshire/La Cienega and Century City.
•Installation of bike share kiosks are expected to begin in the spring with the launch of bike share in DTLA in summer. It will be the first bike share program in the city of L.A. and, if successful, it may be expanded to other areas in L.A. County.
•The Universal City Station pedestrian bridge over Lankershim Boulevard is expected to open. The bridge is being built to make it safer for those walking between Universal City getting across Lankershim from the Universal City Station safer for pedestrians.
•Two miles north on Lankershim, a pedestrian tunnel that connects the Orange Line station and Red Line station in North Hollywood is expected to open in 2016.
•The Division 13 Operations and Maintenance facility in DTLA and adjacent to Union Station is expected to open early in the new year.
•Metro will hold the first ever Industry Forum on February 11 to help gleam the best ideas in the transit and finance industries for improving Metro service and possibly expanding funding for Metro projects in the future.