Telephone Town Hall Transcript, May 16
Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Metro Board Member
Pauletta: Good evening everyone. Thank you for joining us for a live telephone town hall meeting hosted by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, also known as Metro. I’m Pauletta Tonilas, Chief Communications Officer for Metro. And I’ll be your moderator this evening as we talk about Metro’s programs and services, and our transportation plan for how we would like to ease traffic all across Los Angeles County in the form of a potential ballot measure of how we can all continue to invest more in highway projects, transit projects, improvements at the local level, how we can keep our system in good working order, all for you. We’re here tonight because this all starts and ends with you, the traveling public. We’re here to see how, together, we can put forth the best plan moving forward for all of us.
Joining me this evening are Metro board member Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Metro CEO Philip Washington. And also sitting in to answer your questions tonight are Mark Linsenmayer, Metro’s Director of Citywide Planning, and Scott Greene, one of Metro’s transportation managers in our Service Development Department. So tonight we’ll focus on South Los Angeles. As an appointee of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Director Dupont-Walker represents all of Los Angeles, but has worked very hard for the Southside neighborhoods as an activist all throughout her career. So we’re pleased to have Director Dupont-Walker with us.
Now if this is your first time on a telephone town hall meeting, here is how it works. You can press zero to get in the queue to ask a question live. You’ll be connected with an operator who will take down some basic information and then put you in the queue so that you can be called upon to ask your question live. Once the operator has that information then you’ll be able to listen in on the conversation until you’re called. We ask that you keep your questions brief, because we want to get to as many of you as possible this evening. Your opinions are very important to us, so we’ll be asking you some questions tonight also in some live electronic polling. All you have to do is press the number on your keypad that corresponds with your answer. You can also participate online with us tonight by going to Metro’s website at metro.net/theplan and clicking on the interactive town hall link.
So again, if you’re just joining us this is a live telephone town hall meeting being hosted by LA Metro. We’re here to tell you about our plan to ease traffic, our long term transportation plan, and also to hear from you so that we can get some questions from you about what’s important. Things that you want to make sure we’re planning for in this bold plan. Also, we’ll be asking you to participate in some live electronic polling. Just press zero on your keypad if you’d like to get into the queue to ask us some questions. At this point in time, I would like to get us started. It’s my pleasure to introduce Metro board member, Jackie Dupont-Walker. Jackie, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
Jackie: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. Good evening. I want to thank everyone for joining us. I’m looking forward to your questions. But first let me tell you what’s happening this week, and why Metro’s efforts to create transportation options are important on so many fronts. This Friday, Metro will open the Expo Line extension between Culver City and Santa Monica. There will be free rides for the public on Friday afternoon and all day Saturday, as well as community celebrations at every new station. It’s a huge accomplishment for our region and I want to congratulate everyone concerned. It will make life easier for so many people.
A world class transportation system should be accessible to every Los Angeles neighborhood. It ties our region together and sparks much needed job creation and neighborhood revitalization by spurring our local economies. There are many benefits to an expanding transportation system. Our Metro already provides 450 million rides a year. So if you think we have traffic now, think about what it would be like to have as many as 450 million people on the road. That’s why we’re working on a plan to create more transportation options for Los Angeles County. And that’s why Metro rail has increased from zero miles to nearly 100 over the past 25 years. I think it may be even 106. We also have 2,200 buses providing services on 170 routes all over LA County. In my neighborhood, construction on the Crenshaw/LAX project approached the half way mark, and we celebrated this milestone on May 7th in Leimert Park. I’d like to thank the public for its patience and remind everyone how great it’s going to be to have a new rail station at Leimert Park for a line running between the Expo Line and the Green Line. The Crenshaw/LAX Line will be the first rail line to connect, finally, with LAX. I have to tell you that I am proud of the people of Los Angeles County and looking forward to our future. I’m also looking forward to the discussion tonight with you. So please, press zero to participate.
Pauletta: Thank you so much, Director Dupont-Walker. Again, as Director Dupont-Walker mentioned, we’d like for you to press zero to get in the queue to ask us a question. And we’re going to go now to our first question. And that is Raul of New Park. Raul, go ahead and ask your question.
Raul: What time does Metro stop?
Scott: The Metro runs until approximately midnight five days a week and that’s Sunday through Thursday. And then on the weekends, Friday and Saturday evenings, we run until about 2:00 in the morning.
Raul: Okay. The other question I want to know those run on holidays, right? Because I didn’t hear you call holidays.
Scott: Yes, we run on holidays.
Raul: Okay, the time will be a shorter time on the holidays? Or the normal timing?
Scott: We run a Sunday schedule on the holidays, so the service is a little bit less frequent than on a weekday. But there is service out there.
Raul: Okay, sounds good. That’s all I need to ask. Thank you.
Pauletta: Thank you so much, Raul. We really appreciate you calling in. We’re going to go now to Linda in Los Angeles. Linda, go ahead and ask your question.
Linda: I’m a little concerned about boarding sites that do not yet have any shielding from the weather, whether it’s horribly hot or there is rain. Could you tell me if there are plans afoot to correct this problem and make sure that every boarding site, to get onto the lines, has some shelter from the weather.
Scott: On the Metro rail system we do have shelter at all the stations. There are also benches to sit down, but you shouldn’t have to wait too long for the train as they run very frequently. Not all the bus stops have shelters at them, but we are working with the local jurisdictions – the cities in LA County – to improve the transit shelters out on the sidewalks where you wait for the bus.
Pauletta: That’s Scott Greene with our Service Development Department. We thank you very much, Linda, for your question. If you would like to ask a question, please press zero to get into the queue. And we very much are looking forward to hearing what you have to say because it really is all about you, folks. We are here to provide service to you. We are also here to plan for your future service and how you’re going to get around Los Angeles County in decades to come. We have an ambitious plan of how we can all do that together through more local investment. So you’ll be hearing about that in a little bit.
Director Dupont-Walker mentioned earlier that this Friday is a major milestone for us as we open up our Expo Line extension to Santa Monica, taking rail to the beach for the first time in over 60 years. We also opened up the Gold Line extension in March to Azusa. Our CEO Philip Washington is with us now. And Phil, these are just two of the projects where we’ve been able to see the fruits of our labor together. We actually have a lot more progress out there that’s very visible.
Phil: Yes. Thank you, Pauletta, and thank you to everyone that’s joined us tonight. Metro also has three other major rail projects in addition to what Pauletta just mentioned, and Director Dupont-Walker mentioned. We have three more under construction. The Regional Connector through downtown Los Angeles, the Purple Line subway to the Miracle Mile in the eastside of Beverly Hills, and the Crenshaw/LAX to the airport that was mentioned earlier, and a connection with the Green Line. There are also important roadway and highway improvements going on, like the I5 freeway widening near the Orange County line. And we have hundreds of new buses to make travel more reliable and comfortable for riders.
But there’s still much more to do. LA County is expected to grow by another 2.4 million people over the next 40 years. It will take a combination of local, federal and private dollars to fund the future transportation improvements we need to achieve our goal of building a world class transportation system for our world class region. In Los Angeles County we spend an average of 81 hours a year stuck in traffic. We know that time is money. The longer it takes to build transportation improvements, the more expensive it will be. If we don’t plan now for future growth, gains of recent years will give way to more traffic congestion. That’s why we are considering a ballot measure for this November. This proposed ballot measure would be a half-cent sales tax for LA County and an extension of the existing Measure R. This means about $24 a year out of pocket for the average resident to ease the terrible traffic and help build a transportation renaissance for ourselves and our children. To keep that in perspective, buying a fancy latte or a coffee drink once a week costs $260 a year.
I’d also like to make another important point. The plan that we are proposing provides an infrastructure inheritance for our children and grandchildren. We do not want to leave them with crumbling bridges and decaying highways. We want to leave them with a mobility system that has been well planned and well maintained and that works well 100 years from now. Thank you for joining us.
Pauletta: Thank you very much, Phil. That is Metro CEO, Mr. Philip Washington who is with us along with Director Jackie Dupont-Walker who represents South Los Angeles. We’re pleased to have them on the line with us. If you would like to ask them a question, go ahead and press zero to get into the queue. Right now, we’re going to take the next question. That is from Liz in Los Angeles. Go ahead, Liz.
Liz: I’m wondering what is the fare going to be like?
Phil: Liz, thank you for the question. This is Phil Washington. Our proposed plan actually addresses people out there; seniors, disabled, students, to keep the fares down. We are proposing that. That is part of this plan. Right now, LA Metro has some of the lowest fares in this country, $1.75 one way. That really represents the lowest fares for a system our size in this country. But we are looking to do more in this potential ballot measure, and that is to keep the fares as low as we possibly can especially for our disabled, our seniors and our students.
Jackie: Hi, Liz. Director Dupont-Walker. Let me just add a little bit to what our CEO has said. There are programs in place now for our seniors and our disabled. If it’s something that you think you might qualify for, we would encourage you to call Metro customer relations. 213-922-6235. And if you explain a little bit more detail to them about your situation they can help you find the right Metro product. As a board, we’re always looking to find new ways to service, not only the existing customer base, but those who would otherwise want to ride Metro but right now we don’t have what they need. Thanks for that question and we look forward to seeing how we can help you.
Pauletta: One other thing that I’ll note, on top of what Director Dupont-Walker mentioned, is our Metro Seniors on the Move program. Any seniors that would like to learn more about Metro’s system, and how to use our system, and safety on our system, the number you can call to learn more about Metro’s Seniors on the Move is 213-922-2299.
We have many people listening through our Spanish simulcast tonight. So I’m going to go ahead and take some questions from those folks that we have on hand here. Actually, one of them is from Luis in LA. And Luis says: Are fares different for bus and Metro rides? And I think that might mean the bus municipal operators versus Metro’s operators. Scott Greene, with our Service Development, maybe you can take that question.
Scott: Thank you, Pauletta. Yes. The bus and rail fares on Metro are the same, $1.75 for either mode. And the municipal operators, their buses tend to be a little bit less. The fare usually is $1.00 or $1.25 for the municipal operators.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Scott. We have another question, someone listening through our Spanish simulcast. And that is from Rodriguez in Los Angeles asking, “Can you send me a list of all the train routes?” Well, we have all of our maps and all of our routes on our website at metro.net. And also, anyone who would like to leave us your email to get on future distributions from Metro – and we can send you all kinds of information – all you have to do is press seven on your keypad and you can get to an operator and leave your email so that we can send you information. Also, our jobs hotline is 213-922-6000. We’re going to go ahead and go to our next question. That is from Laurie in Baldwin Hills. Go ahead, Laurie.
Laurie: Hi. My question is about the rail system. I know it starts on Friday, and I’m extremely excited because it goes right past my job and my home. My question is: what time do they start? Because I work from 8 to 5 on a regular basis, but sometimes I tend to work later. I can go as late as sometimes 9:00 at night. I wanted to know what time does the rail system stop? As well that my children work in Santa Monica. And I wanted to know what time does it stop running into Santa Monica and out of Santa Monica?
Scott: Okay. Thank you for the question. The last train that leaves Santa Monica is at 1:02 in the morning. And we start very early in the morning, about 4:30 in the morning for the early risers. The last train to get to Santa Monica arrives at 1:55 a.m. So we run almost 24 hours a day.
Phil: Let me add to that, Laurie. Some people have asked why don’t we run 24 hours a day. We need time for maintenance, so those two to three hour windows between 1:00 in the morning or 2:00 in the morning until 4:00 is really designed to make sure the system is safe and do the required maintenance on our rail lines. So we’ve had a couple of questions about 24 hour operations, but we feel we need those maintenance windows to keep our system safe and reliable.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Phil. That’s Metro CEO, Philip Washington. We’re going to go now to [Euneve?] from Los Angeles. I think I might be pronouncing that correctly, but Euneve, go ahead and ask your question.
Euneve: Euneve Solomon. Yes. I’m inquiring as to what jobs are available through the Metro, and how do you apply for them?
Phil: Thank you for the question, Euneve. Our job hotline is 213-922-6000, and we have a list of vacancies on that website. Let me just add, though, that as we introduce this proposed ballot measure, we will have just tons of projects and tons of work. This will create thousands of jobs that we will need in our system. But also, identifying some of the specialty disciplines that the entire transportation industry needs just over all. So the idea of job creation through this potential ballot measure is very real. So go to our website, look at the jobs that are available now, but keep in mind that if we’re successful in November the job creation will be in the thousands in terms of direct type jobs, indirect jobs, and also what’s called induced jobs. Induced jobs is if we’re building a project and there’s a construction site, the induced job is the food truck that happens to show up for the construction workers. All of these particular jobs will be realized with the successful passage of this potential ballot measure.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Phil. Now I’m going to ask a question that came through our Spanish simulcast. Francesca in Los Angeles is saying: Where are the taxes going to be taken from? Is it from IRS taxes? Phil, why don’t you go ahead and take that one.
Phil: Thank you for the question. This is a sales tax on purchases in the county. What we are again proposing is a new half-cent sales tax, and then extending the current sales tax an additional 18 years. What that really means for the average resident is about $25 per year we are proposing to invest in to build the many projects. Now, when you look at the projects that we’re opening on this Friday that was just talked about, the Expo Line. When you look at the Gold Line to Azusa that opened in March, when you look at the Crenshaw Line, these are all the result of that sales tax, or Measure R sales tax, that went into effect in 2008. So what we are saying with this plan is we want to continue the transportation investments around the county. So we’re talking a sales tax. Not taking anything from IRS returns or anything like that, but a sales tax when things are purchased.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Phil. If you’d like to get in the queue to ask us a question, please press zero on your keypad. And we’re going to go now right to Candace in Los Angeles. Go ahead, Candace.
Amber: Hi. This is actually Amber. I take the train in the morning to work. I take the 6:02 train. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of day it is, I noticed the train is always dirty. There’s things in the crevices. There’s food on the floor. I take the Expo Line if I didn’t mention that. I also wonder what you’re going to do about security, because a lot of the time on the platforms [?] seeing a lot of people who are disturbing other patrons, playing loud music, or getting into fights. I also wonder, you guys are extending to Santa Monica and It’s going to open this Friday, and you’ve only been running two train cars for the past two months instead of three. I’m just wondering if that’s going to change, because there’s not enough room for the passengers, and we’re packed in there now.
Phil: Yes, Candace, thank you for the question. This is Phil Washington again. That was a four-part question. Let me see if I can attack them. The security question, yes. We are doubling down on our security efforts on both trains and buses. We have introduced some new technology. We have a security tower that we’re using, that is mobile, that can go around various stations and Park and Rides, where we can have law enforcement in these towers. They rise about 24 feet in the air. We have both uniform and plain clothes law enforcement folks on our trains and our busses. So you’re going to see a big presence out there as we move forward. In terms of the cleanliness issue that you mentioned, we bring our trains in every night and clean our trains every single evening. Many times during the course of the day the trains do have some trash. We do our best. We have custodians that are at the stations that actually sweep through the trains as they get to the terminus, both at Union Station or North Hollywood, or wherever. We actually have custodians that are working all during the day to do those kinds of things. We are working the security piece. We are working the cleanliness piece. And we are working all aspects of our operation. We would ask you to call those things in as you see them. As we move forward, make sure you call in, or take a picture with your phone and report those things to us, and we will take care of those things very quickly.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Phil. We have several questions coming in from folks listening through our Spanish simulcast. A couple of them, one from Evangelina in LA, and one from Lilian in LA are asking about our passes. One about the cost of monthly student passes. And one about senior citizen passes. And if those are valid on buses and on Metro. I think that means on our bus system and on the municipal operators. What I’m going to do is ask Scott to address the issue about the municipal fares, and how our fares dovetail with that. And also, if you can share any information about more info on where they can go for pass information.
Scott: First off, if you don’t already have a TAP card, you are best off obtaining a TAP card. You can get one at a ticket vending machine at any of the Metro rail stations. They’re also sold at a number of grocery stores, like Ralph’s, throughout the county. We have a number for customer relations that can also provide you fare information any time. That number is 213-922-6235. As far as using your TAP card with the muni operators, we’re continuing to develop that system where the muni operator buses also have TAP capability, where as you’re boarding you can just tap your card, and if you have stored value on your card it’s very convenient. They just deduct the muni fare out of your stored value on your TAP card. You don’t need cash to ride the system. Both Metro and the municipal operator buses are TAP equipped. We also provide transfers between the municipal operators and Metro that can provide a good deal of savings to you. The transfers from Metro to the municipal operators are $0.50, I believe, and some of the municipal operators also sale transfers that are good on the Metro if you’re transferring from a muni to a Metro. It does sound a little bit confusing, but if you get out there and try it, you’ll find that it’s pretty easy.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Scott. We’re going to go now to Judith in Los Angeles. Go ahead, Judith.
Judith: Thank you for taking the question. If, per chance, the ballot does not pass in November, do you have a plan B or C to get this on the road, or what?
Phil: Yes, Judith. Thank you for the question. This is Phil Washington. If the ballot does not pass, yes we have a plan B. And that is to look around our system, do what we’re already doing, and that is doing much more with less. That is what we’re doing currently. The thing to remember is that this plan creates added mobility all over the county. So I like to say that we are at an infrastructure crossroads right now as to what we do to ease congestion in this county. I tend to think that if this ballot measure does not pass we will be eaten alive by congestion. So we are hoping that the citizens of the county realize the benefit of this plan, and realize that we must ease congestion in this county or we’re going to be sitting in traffic for decades to come. Of course, our hope is that we’re successful at the ballot. If not, then we have to start doing a whole lot more with a whole lot less. That’s pretty much the best answer I can give. I think Director Dupont-Walker wants to add to that.
Jackie: Hi Judith. I’m always intrigued by a question that will challenge us to do better. Can you tell me what your thoughts are right now about the ballot measure? And are there any things you think we can do to tell the story better to the community?
Judith: Well, I’ve been in Los Angeles 70 years, and when you say Metro and you say transit, my thoughts go immediately to the late great Mayor Tom Bradley.
Jackie: I’m with you on that.
Judith: We still have this enormous traffic headache. I’ve read that we have the most traffic headaches in the United States. I find that hard to believe having been to New York in traffic [laughter]. But I’m wondering, you know, are we going to put out flyers, are we going to beat the band? What are we going to do to get people to understand that this really needs to pass? It will benefit everyone. A lot of people just don’t seem to know about it.
Jackie: Judith, we’re going to do our best, but we surely could use your help. You called the name of Mayor Tom Bradley, and we all remember that he and Congressman Julian Dixson had the vision over 40 years ago, and were willing to let other lines be the first and South LA now getting LAX/Crenshaw. So we hope you stay in touch. And when you know there are meetings being called, and town halls like this, you will encourage some of those nay-sayers to come aboard, at least just to hear, and to, hopefully, be convinced that this is something that will improve the quality of life for all of us. Wherever you go, whether you’re in line at the bank, or in the beauty salon, or the barber shop, or getting your nails done, make this the small talk. And many people will then begin to think about it and look at the bus differently as it goes by. And look at the rail differently as it goes by. I think we will then begin to realize how important transportation is right now, and understand that we have gone from zero to 106 miles of rail in just 25 years. That is tremendous progress. With everyone putting their shoulder to the wheel, and a small investment annually of sales tax dollars, we can actually do so much more. Thank you. You’ve been encouraging in your comments tonight.
Pauletta: Eloquently said by our Director Dupont-Walker. And Judith, thank you so much for taking the time to listen in tonight and ask us questions. We hope you’ll stay on the line. We are going to now ask all of you a question. We’re going to go to our first electronic polling question of the evening. We’ve been talking a lot about our plan to ease traffic. This would involve building out a lot of new projects. But to build these projects is one thing, and it’s another component for us to be able to keep them all in good working order. In the transportation industry we call that the “state of good repair”. That means that we have funding on hand that we can draw upon to keep our system working and maintaining it, just like what you do in maintaining your car once you purchase a car. Our question tonight revolves around this concept of maintenance and keeping our system in good working condition. The question is: After we build out these projects, would you support part of the tax continuing to keep the system in good working order? Press one on your keypad if yes, and two if no. Again, after building out projects, would you support Metro keeping part of the tax to keep the system in good working condition? Press one for yes and two for no. We thank you very much for your participation. I’ll share the results with you in just a couple of minutes.
Right now, we’re going to go to [Lottie?] in Los Angeles. Lottie.
Lottie: Yes. Good evening. Thank you so much for taking my question. First of all, let me say that when I got the call to join this meeting apparently you’ve already spoke about the ballot measure. I don’t know what that is, so if you can just go over that quickly for me. My question is this, well, that was the question. But my general question was: How do the MTA’s make decisions about where to put bus lines. I’m in the Watts area, so I’m just curious. Thank you.
Pauletta: Okay. We’re going to have our CEO Philip Washington answer one part of that question and then Mark Linsenmayer from our Planning Department follow up. Go ahead, Phil.
Phil: Yes, Lottie. Thank you so much for the question. Let me just touch on what this ballot measure is. What we are proposing, again as I mentioned, is a new half-cent sales tax to augment our existing Measure R half-cent sales tax. The question is what does it do? It builds transit projects, highway projects, bikeway projects. It actually sends money back to the local cities – the 88 cities in the county – for the local cities to repair potholes, local street improvements. It looks at keeping fares down for our seniors, our students, our disabled population. It is “state of good repair” that was just talked about a few minutes ago. I like to think that this proposed plan lifts all boats in terms of job creation, in terms of mobility, in terms of connectivity. Some of the projects that we are talking about – and that were mentioned earlier by Director Dupont-Walker – was a rail connection to the airport. Every great international city has a rail connection to their airport. And that is right at the top of the list on the projects that we are proposing to do. We are proposing to fix the Sepulveda Pass and ease congestion there with a rail line. We are proposing to look at the Vermont transit corridor for bus rapid transit. The Crenshaw Line, as I mentioned, is 50% complete. We are proposing 18 mega-projects in the first 15 years. We are looking at bus enhancements to the Watts area. So this is an all-encompassing plan that we are proposing to take to the public in November. Much of this is actually on our website as well. We would encourage you to take a look at that if you would. I think Mark will add a little bit to that.
Mark: I wanted to, sort of, go over how we have our corridor planning, and how we identify where bus service is located, and where people live and work, and how we get people going from point A to point B. Our different systems corridors group constantly look at and evaluate the service of lines, the density of population areas and major job centers, and try to create a bus system that accommodates those areas. As you know, there’s likely some areas that don’t have that service, or definitely don’t have the frequency of service that you might want. So we try to accommodate that wherever we can. But certainly, if you think there’s areas that are underserved you should reach out to either Metro’s customer relations and talk to some folks there. That number is 213-922-6235. Or you can talk to an elected official and get them to voice your concerns about where we want to put bus lines, and where you think service should be added.
Jackie: Lottie, I think one of the other ways you can get involved is their COG’s. Those are groups of persons who come together to talk about service and how service is needed. I know that the LA DOT speaks for much of the city of LA, but I believe that Watts is a part of the COG – One of the COG’s, South Bay. And so if you would call our customer relations line, 213-922-6235, and ask to be connected to the South Bay COG’s. Jacki Bacharach is there. Share with her what you believe needs to happen in Watts. I believe there’s at least one person sitting on that COG from the Watts area, because Councilman [Busciano?] has made sure there’s a representative. I know that we will listen, and if you’re talking to other people from the South Bay areas, it might be Metro, it could be some of the other transit that will help to connect. We want to be sure that Watts has the same mobility options as the rest of the county.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Director Dupont-Walker. Going to share with you now the results of the question that we just posed to you a couple of minutes ago. The question was: After we build out projects, would you support Metro keeping part of the tax to keep the system in good working condition? Ninety-two percent of you said yes and 8% said no. So 92% of you see the concept of us needing to maintain our system after we build it. We thank you very much for your feedback. We’re going to go now to Peggy in Los Angeles. Go ahead, Peggy.
Peggy: Hi. I have a senior pass, and recently I had to take a trip to Los Angeles into Gardena. I paid $2.50 on a Saturday on the Crenshaw bus, and I’m sure that took the $0.35 off. Then I went and took the Green Line to the Blue Line. That was all I did on Saturday, because the rest of the time I was riding with people or whatever. I didn’t use the pass again. The next couple of days there was no money on it. I was told – because I called prior to using it – if I put some money on it, it will only take the $0.35 off. That was not my experience, and I was wondering what happened?
Phil: Thank you for the question, Peggy. I would ask you to call our customer relations number. We would be happy to help you. 213-922-6235. We would be happy to help you to find out exactly what happened and square all of this away. Please give us a call. We’ll take care of it promptly.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Phil. Tony from Los Angeles, what’s your question?
Tony: Hi, I take the Expo Line from the Crenshaw area downtown and back home again. And the trains, as somebody mentioned, have gone from three trains to two trains. With the extension to Santa Monica, I can only imagine that the ridership is going to increase and the trains are already packed. How are you guys going to address that?
Phil: Thank you for your question, Tony. This is Phil Washington again. We’re going to three-car trains. Starting on Friday, you’re going to see three-car trains out there, both at the opening and also after the opening going forward. We’re running about 12-minute frequencies with three-car trains, and we’ll improve that frequency as we go. But you will see three-car trains out there starting on Friday in the peak hours. I think you will see a great improvement there.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Phil. If you’d like to ask a question, it’s not too late. Go ahead and press zero and you can get in the queue to ask us a question live. We’re going to go now to Derrick in Los Angeles. Derrick.
Derrick: Hello. I noted that one some of the bus lines they had free WIFI. Will there be free WIFI on all the bus lines and trains coming soon?
Phil: Hi, Derrick. Thank you for the question. This is Phil Washington, Metro’s CEO again. The answer is yes. We are going with cellular service in our subway tunnels right now. We have just turned on cellular service from Union Station to 7th and Metro. We just turned that on probably about a week, week and a half ago. We are phasing all of this in on our subways. Right now you’ll find, I think, Verizon has signed up with us as the first provider. In the near future, we are going to have cellular service, where you can use your phone in all of our subways. So you’ll see that coming. On our buses, we’re working on that as well. So you are going to see all of those improvements coming very soon. It’s all part of our effort to enhance the customer experience.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Phil. We’re going to go now to Charles in Los Angeles. Charles, what’s your question?
Charles: I have two questions I want to ask you. One about the Crenshaw Line, and one about the Purple Line. First of all, I want to know is the Crenshaw Line, right now, it looks like it’s going to be a subway system. And I want to know how long it’s going to be before you get the Purple Line going all the way to Santa Monica?
Phil: Thank you, Charles, for your question. This is Phil Washington again. The Purple Line is actually going out to the VA campus and out to UCLA. The Expo Line that we open up on this Friday is the one that’s going to Santa Monica. So I wanted to be clear on where the Purple Line is going. It’s actually going out to the UCLA campus. In terms of the Crenshaw project, right now we’re about half way done with the Crenshaw project. Very complex project that is above grade in some areas, at grade and also below grade. We do have at least one underground station. We are moving through that project and we are using a number of lessons learned in terms of safety on the Crenshaw project that we have learned from the Blue Line. We’re incorporating all of those things on the Crenshaw Line itself.
Mark: Hi, Charles. This is Mark Linsenmayer with Countywide Planning. I just wanted to add to what Phil had said about the Purple Line. The current plan is to accelerate that section 3 out to the VA which is just west of the 405. There is an additional plan that we’re looking at to extend that service beyond the VA hospita,l further into Santa Monica, sort of, terminating near the Bundy by the airport. But that’s in a distant plan. We do have further service west than the VA at some point.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Mark. That’s Mark Linsenmayer with our Planning Department. We’re going to ask you our next electronic polling question tonight. Interested to hear what you have to say. Tonight we’ve been talking about Metro’s plan to ease traffic. This is the plan where we’re looking out to the next 40 to 50 years at how we can position ourselves for future growth as we’re expected to see 2.3 million people grow into Los Angeles County over the next 40 years. And also, how do we continue to keep up with the times and provide better mobility all across Los Angeles County. Our question for you is: If the election were to be held tonight, would you vote for this proposed sales tax for transportation? Press one if yes, two if no. If the election were to be held tonight, would you vote for the proposed sales tax for transportation? Press one for yes and two for no. And thank you very much for taking the time to participate. I’ll share the results in just a few minutes.
Now we’re going to go to Delores in Los Angeles. Hello, Delores.
Delores: Hello. Thank you for taking my question. I’d like to find out, if the half-cent sales tax doesn’t pass, would you be using the taxpayer property tax money to fund the project? And also, when we get federal money for transportation, how much of that federal dollars would go toward the Metro?
Phil: Hi, Delores. This is Phil Washington. Thank you so much for the question. Let me take the first part of your question. If not sales tax, no, we will not be doing property tax at all. This plan is specifically proposing sales tax. So no property tax at all. In terms of the federal funding, we do apply, and have an aggressive federal funding request program. We have done very well in Los Angeles County in pursuing – and actually receiving – federal dollars. We will continue to do that. We believe that to do any of these great projects – these mobility and transportation projects – you need, really, three sources of funding. One is the local investment, which is what we’re proposing, sales tax. We also need some federal assistance as well. Typically, with our local investment, this half-cent sales tax, we fund the bulk of what is going to benefit us here in the region. The feds will provide, in some cases, up to 50%, but most likely 20% or 30% on big mega-projects. We will pursue federal dollars. We’ve been very successful in previous years. We will continue to do that. The big thing is to accelerate many of these projects as we look to build them out. The answer is yes on the federal dollars. We will continue to pursue that. And Director Dupont-Walker’s going to add something to that.
Jackie: Hi, I think that’s an excellent question, because to the average person it’s a little confusing. I want to be really clear that this is the entire county of Los Angeles. While the city does have the largest population, this is an effort to build out the region. And the tax, as Phil Washington our CEO said earlier, it means approximately $24 a year out of pocket for the average resident of Los Angeles County. Think of what we’re proposing to do for that little individual investment, I think is tremendous. That’s why it’s so important for us to be in conversation with you tonight and, hopefully, days going forward, so that that $24 a year investment can indeed ease the traffic congestion.
Pauletta: Thank you very much, Director Dupont-Walker, and Mr. Phil Washington, our CEO. We’re going to go now to Eva in Los Angeles. Eva.
Eva: Yes. I live near the Exposition Line, between Vermont and Figueroa, and I’m interested in where the Park and Ride locations are for your Metro system.
Phil: Hi, Eva. This is Phil Washington again. I would suggest maybe go on our website to look for parking all along the Expo Line. I’m not quite sure where you live where the closest stop will be in terms of parking. But I would definitely encourage you to go to our website, look at the station locations, and see where the parking is closer to you. Or you can give our customer relations folks a call at 213-922-6235. There is parking out there. I’m not sure exactly where the closest station will be. But you can call us and we’ll let you know. And Director Dupont-Walker is going to add to that.
Jackie: Eva, you say you’re interested in parking between Vermont and Figueroa along Expo?
Jackie: Okay. Right now, there is nothing but Expo Park there. But we do, and are now holding hearings regarding the bus line on Vermont and trying to make sure that they’re moving fairly frequently. Maybe out of that process something may come up with parking, because the Vermont Line is the second most heavily traveled line in our entire system. Hopefully, you will come to some of the meetings held about the Vermont bus line and will help to have some input. As you know, USC takes up most of that area on the north side, and the Expo Park on the south side. Let me also point out that Expo Park is having a strategic planning session to look at how the community can better access Expo Park. So they may be coming to Metro for partnership and we’ll look forward to that. But right now there’s no immediate relief with a parking lot in that area.
Pauletta: Thank you very much, Director Dupont-Walker. We’re going to go now to Mario. Mario, go ahead and ask us your question.
Mario: Hello, thank you for taking my question. I have three questions. Firstly, will this tax help with bus frequency? Second, is the freeway going to be part of the Sepulveda Pass? Because I think that’s not a very good idea? Is that subject to change? And third, will the tax extend the Green Line all the way to the Blue Line, from Redondo Beach, or will it just stop?
Phil: Let me take the first couple of questions, then I’ll ask Mark to take that last one on the Green Line. The first question was bus frequency. Absolutely. Our plan proposes that we look at bus frequency all over the county. There is a carve-out of funding that we are proposing that we use for transit operations that will look at frequency, and look to enhance frequency all over the system where needed. Twice a year we look at all of our service that is on the street. We call it service adjustments. We look at that and we determine where more frequency is needed both on our bus system and our rail system. So the answer is absolutely yes, it could enhance frequency on the bus way.
In terms of the freeway piece that you talked about with Sepulveda Pass, we are studying what improvements can be made on the Sepulveda Pass. There is really no intention to build more lanes or anything like that on the Sepulveda Pass. There could be some restriping and some things like that to add capacity to that highway area. But we are not looking to build more lanes. I will add that this plan really looks at, and proposes, a balanced transportation system. So when you ask about highway, yes, we have highway projects in this plan. There are a number of intersections that must be improved upon. Those are in our highway plan, to look at intersections and how we can do that. We also, in terms of streets and roads, as I mentioned earlier, we are proposing to give money back to the cities to improve your local streets, and potholes as well. I’ll ask Mark Linsenmayer to talk a little bit about extending the Green Line.
Mark: There’s a couple of places on the Green Line where we’re looking to extend it. The current measures identified the city of Torrance, so the Green Line would extend from its current terminus further south through Redondo into Torrance. Then there’s two spurs. One that we’re looking at to go all the way down into San Pedro. And then an eastward expansion towards Long Beach, as you mentioned, that would connect to a potential Blue Line stop. Right now, those two extensions and spurs aren’t funded in the ballot measure. But we’re looking at ways to extend the Green Line to accommodate both of those sections.
Pauletta: Julian, go ahead.
Julian: Thank you for taking my call. Does the proposed sales tax increase have a sunset date, or will it be permanent? Second question: How does this proposed rate compare to other counties?
Phil: Hi, Julian. This is Phil Washington. The staff recommendation that we presented to the LA Metro board proposed a 50 year half-cent sales tax. We also presented and recommended that we retain some portion of that for state of good repair and asset management. So that is what we presented to our board. A 50-year plan, and then retaining a portion of that to keep the system in good working order. In terms of how does the proposed rate compare to other counties, can’t speak for many counties around the country but I can say that our needs are much. much greater than most counties anywhere in this country. So this is probably the boldest plan in the country today that we are proposing. Not only is it very bold, and not only does it propose a balanced transportation system, but it’s also looking to do a number of other things, as I mentioned earlier. One is that state of good repair and taking care of the asset after it’s built. And then also, taking care of our seniors, our students, our disabled. Those types of provisions, I have not seen them in any other plans in this country and in this county. We are the first that are proposing that we dedicate funding to take care of what we’re building. And to also take care of our seniors, our disabled and our students, and also active transportation – Bikeways and all of that. In that respect, our plan is unique. What I believe is that with the successful passage of this measure, other counties will follow our lead, around the country, and include these things that we’ve included that we believe take care our citizens.
Pauletta: Thank you very much, Phil. We want to quickly share with you the answer to the polling question we asked. If the vote were to be held tonight, would you vote for this tax measure for transportation? Eighty-five percent of you said yes, 15% no. Thank you very much for participating. We’re just about out of time. I’m going to ask Director Jackie Dupont-Walker to make some closing comments before we say good night. Director Dupont-Walker.
Jackie: Thank you, Pauletta. We’re excited and energized because we finally see progress. In February, the giant tunnel-boring machine was lowered into the ground on the Crenshaw/LAX Line. So we began digging the twin tunnels for the segment that will run under Crenshaw Boulevard. We’re so proud that our local students engaged in a naming contest, and guess what? It was named Harriet after the African-American abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman, who will soon be on the $20 bill. We claimed Harriet first. Soon we’ll begin construction of Crenshaw/LAX railcar maintenance facility which will be located near the airport. I’m also proud to point out that for the Crenshaw/LAX Line, we developed several nationally recognized programs, including a project labor agreement that allows us to hire local workers. We also have what we call Eat.Shop.Play and the second only in the nation business interruption fund to help small “Mom and Pop” businesses along the alignment survive during the construction process. So yes, we’re seeing significant progress along the Crenshaw/LAX line. I want to thank the local community and all the residents again for your support and for your patience. We want to make this happen. We can only do it if we’re in partnership with you. We look forward to your partnership as we continue the construction, and look forward to your trusting us to continue to build the most robust and outstanding transit system in the world.
Pauletta: Director Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker and Metro CEO Philip Washington, Scott Greene, Mark Linsenmayer, thank you very much for joining us. And thanks to all of you for staying with us tonight and we wish you a good evening.