Telephone Town Hall Transcript, May 18
Eric Garcetti, L.A. Mayor
Speaker 1: Good evening everyone and 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 tonight as we talk about Metro’s programs and services and our long range transportation plan to improve mobility all across Los Angeles County. We’re looking out about the next 40 to 50 years at how we can improve mobility in adding more train lines and bus rapid transit, improving our highways, providing better service for folks who need ADA paratransit service, and investing funds at the local level and providing funding for all of our 88 cities across Los Angeles County to make improvements like pothole repairs, street improvements, bike and pedestrian pathways, and we want to know what you have to say about it. We also want to take in your questions. So joining us this evening is LA Mayor, Eric Garcetti. Pleased to have him with us tonight. Also sitting in to answer your questions is Metro’s CEO, Mr. Phillip Washington. We also have Israel Marin from our Service Development Department, and Mark Linsenmayer from Metro’s Planning Department. This is your opportunity to share your thoughts and to ask us your questions. If this is your first time on a telephone town hall, this is how it works. To ask a question press zero and you’ll be connected with an operator who will take down some basic information and put you in the queue so that you can ask us a question live. Then when I call your name, please repeat your question, but we ask you to please keep it brief, because we’d like to get to as many people as possible tonight. It’s also important that we get your opinion, so we’re going to be asking you a couple of questions tonight to see how you feel about some matters that are really important to us. You can also participate online by going to Metro’s website at metro.net/theplan and clicking on the interactive town hall link on the homepage. So again, just press zero to get into the queue to ask us a question, and we’re pleased that you’re on the line with us. Again, if you’re just joining us, this is a live telephone town hall meeting being hosted by LA Metro, and I’m pleased to have with us LA Mayor, Eric Garcetti. It’s nice to have you with us, sir.
Speaker 2: Thank you so much. Very good evening to everybody. It’s wonderful to be here with you. Thank you to everybody taking time out of your evening to listen to a topic that I want to talk about just on a personal level, not as the mayor of Los Angeles, but as a fellow Angelino. I grew up in this city. I was born here. My parents lived here. My grandparents lived here. Even some of my great grandparents moved here as children. I think all of this know this is an amazing city, but the one thing that keeps us from the things we want to do – whether it’s getting home to our families, whether it’s getting to work, whether it’s being able to go have some fun in the city or in the places that we live – is traffic. I feel that every single day, just like you. Whether it’s the days that I take public transportation, or whether it’s the days I’m in a car, we know that millions of hours of our lives are lost in traffic, and billions of dollars probably of our economy are lost in the productivity we lose by being stuck crawling on our streets. So that’s why I’ve got so involved, as one of the Metro directors, in looking at what we can do to just plan for a better way to relieve congestion in our city, but also plan for the next decade, and the decades after that as well. I love what Metro has been able to do. It provides 450 million rides a year. In the last 25 years we’ve gone from having zero miles of rail to over 100 miles of rail. For all of you who are listening in, I want to share with you something exciting. This weekend we’re going to be opening up for the first time in 63 years, just as my grandparents used to do on the old red car when they’d go on dates from Boil Heights all the way to the ocean, we’re opening up Metro Line Extension of the Expo Line from the Skyline downtown all the way to the shoreline in Santa Monica. I tested the line last week. It took me 12 minutes from downtown Culver City to Santa Monica. It will take a few minutes longer, but not much, and any of us who have been stuck in an hour or hour and a half to cover that distance I know are going to be very excited to have that. That’s just one of five lines already under construction because voters like you and myself said a few years ago, “We’ve had enough.” and we voted to put a half cent sales tax forward to be able to build out not just that expo line extension, but a Crenshaw line to finally get us connected with LAX – one of the great mistakes of the past that our airport doesn’t have public transportation there. We’re past the halfway mark now there. We opened up just a month and a half ago extension of the gold line past Pasadena all the way out now to [Azusa?]. And then downtown we have a subway connecting all the lines, and of course the Wilshire subway, which when it’s done will get us from UCLA to downtown in 21 minutes – faster than even a car in the middle of the night. So whether it’s improvements on the 405, or looking at some of the things that we’re going, I want to delve into this discussion to see what’s left? What can we do to finish the job? I don’t want to be struck in traffic. I don’t want my kids to be stuck in traffic any more. I hope you feel the same way, and we can talk about some of the ways we can accomplish that in the coming year.
Speaker 1: Thank you so much Mr. Mayor. I do have a question for you before we start taking callers’ questions. You mention the Expo line extension that opens up this Friday. This really is a game-changer for the whole metropolitan area, and this really will perhaps open up the opportunity for some people to get to the beach who really haven’t had an opportunity to do that before.
Speaker 2: That’s right. I know kids that grow up in Los Angeles and they are 15 years old and they’ve never seen the beach, or folks who get on the freeway in their car. Just look at the 10 freeway. On a nice day, even if you’re going to run some errands, you avoid the 10 freeway, because so many people are crushing to get to the beach, to get to Santa Monica, or to get to Venice. Now you can actually get on the Expo line. It might be a little sandy on Sunday evenings, but we’ll clean it up in time for the Monday commute. And along the way you can explore Culver City. You can look at great places like [Satel?] where they have great ramen. You can go on Bundy where we have all sorts of high tech companies that are coming, and each one of those rides takes a car off the road. We even have a bikeway along a lot of that so you can ride your bike and never even have to get onto the rail line at all. But when you see Santa Monica, which has 7,000 parking spaces, you can drive from places like Westchester, you can drive down from places like Pacific Palisades, get on there and go to a concert downtown too. You can go see whatever your team is- all the listeners out there – it could be the Lakers or the Clippers. Go catch a concert at Staples Center, or see the Philharmonic in our Disney Concert Hall. You can go east or west and do something we haven’t been able to do in six decades.
Speaker 1: Thank you very much Mr. Mayor. That is Mayor Eric Garcetti for the City of Los Angeles. We’re pleased to have him with us tonight. Also, Mr. Phillip Washington who is the CEO of Metro. Now if you just joined us, you are on a live telephone town hall meeting being hosted by LA Metro, and we’re here for you, because folks, what it all comes down to is you. We start with the public, we end with the public. And we are putting forth a plan that we have devised to look out ahead for the next 40-50 years on how we can ease traffic and provide better mobility all across Los Angeles County. So I’m going to turn it over to our CEO to just map out, and frame, what this ballot measure is. So Phil, why don’t you just brief folks on what we’re talking about here.
Speaker 3: Well, first of all, as the Mayor just mentioned, we average about 81 hours a year stuck in traffic. We know that time is money, and so that is 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 your pocket for an average resident to ease traffic and help build a transportation renaissance for our children. So we are proposing augmenting the existing Measure R half-cent sales tax with a new half-cent sales tax that will build 18 projects in 15 years, and 40 projects within a 40 year period, to include projects like fixing the Sepulveda pass, and easing congestion there, the West Santa Ana branch in the southeast portion of the city, to connect the Crenshaw Line to North Hollywood, to do numerous highway projects, but to also make sure that we take care of the projects that we are building. So we have carved out some funding for “state of good repair” to take care of the assets that we will build. We also have a carve out to take care of our seniors, and to provide transportation for our disabled and our students. This is an all-encompassing plan that we are proposing, and we hope that you support it.
Speaker 1: Thank you very much, Phil. That is Phillip Washington, the CEO of Metro. We’re going to go right to our questions. We’re going to go to Alene from Glendale. I hope I’m saying that correct. Alene or Allen, I’m sorry.
Speaker 4: It’s Alene.
Speaker 1: Alene. Sorry about that. Go ahead.
Speaker 4: My question is I have a large concern. I’m going to be a [?] student, but I’m from Glendale, so I have to take a Metro Link and I don’t know if maybe there’s a way that you could change the transportation method maybe for us to go from one location. Because even with using the Metro Link it takes too long to go from the Metro Link to go to the shuttles. I don’t know. Maybe just improve the transportation there. Then the one concern that I have is I have to pay $1.75, and I think that’s just way too much. I’m thinking if maybe you could reduce the fare that would be really good. Overall, I like that 92 comes all the time compared to the B-line that I’m using.
Speaker 2: Thank you Alene. This is Mayor Garcetti. First of all, a big part of this for me is making sure we have student fares and senior fares, and that we have a source of funding to be able to keep that affordable. I know you go to [CSUN?] which is the largest of all the universities in the LA area. We actually have in there improvements around [CSUN?] for the Metro Link connection, for a transit hub, and even to bring a BRT, which is a fancy way of saying a bus rapid transit line – like the Orange Line in the valley – that will be dedicated, fast, and get students to and from school. That will help everybody who lives out there, and see students parking by them because students are still in their cars, and get people in and out. So we’ve actually worked with the president of [CSUN?] on some of the things that will be in this ballot initiative to help that happen. And for students everywhere we’re going to improve the discounts. Some of you may have heard that I announced that community college, we’re going to be the first big city in America to make community college free for every LAUSD graduate starting with this new class that’s coming in in September of 12th graders. So this is something that we want them to be able to go free to community college, ride at a cheap fare, not get to their cars which improves traffic for everybody else. So count on us to make that a big part of what this initiative is about. I appreciate the question.
Speaker 1: That is LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. We’re so privileged to have him with us this evening. He’s here to take your questions, folks. If you want to get in the queue to ask a question, please press zero on your keypad and you’ll get in the queue to ask your question live to Mayor Garcetti. We’re going to go now to Phil in Grenada Hills. Go head Phil.
Speaker 5: Yes, Mayor. I live in the San Fernando Valley, and I’ve been a commuter over the 405 to the airport area for years. Is there any long term plan to take cars off the road and offer alternative in mass transit for that corridor?
Speaker 2: Absolutely. Phil, I’m from the San Fernando Valley. I grew up as a kid taking a bus over that Sepulveda Pass every day after school, and I know what that feels like and how bad it has gotten. I was glad to see some 405 improvements, but between all of us, we know that the traffic is still there. So a big part of both Measure R, and what this would help us accelerate, is getting at tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass that would allow us to have a mass transit option through there. That is something that I think is the most choked artery in America – whether you live all the way in the high desert and come into LA, whether you live in the San Fernando Valley, or the west side – it’s something that unites everybody. When are we going to stop being stuck on the 405? To me, as Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, it’s probably the number one priority to really relieve traffic for everybody. Furthermore, there’s a north-south line that starts up in the northeast San Fernando Valley that will break ground in the coming years to be able to come down Van Nuys Boulevard and then link up in Sherman Oaks with that 405 tunnel. Then we hope, long term, to be able to extend that line past UCLA and all the way to LAX. Imagine getting all the way from the North Valley to LAX and never getting in your car. We finally have some hope of not being stuck there for hours a day. But it is spelled out in this measure. You will see it in the ballot, if we go to the ballot, and it is something that is the very highest of priorities.
Speaker 1: Thank you Mr. Mayor. We’re going to go now to Steve in Glendale. Go ahead Steve.
Speaker 6: Hello. I’m so honored to have a chance to speak with both of you. Mayor Garcetti, thank you for everything that you’re doing.
Speaker 2: Thanks Steve.
Speaker 6: I’m so honored to have a chance to speak with you. What I’d like to share you is a thought, possiblyif you can include this with what you’re doing in the Valley, and like Phil was saying, possibly a throughway, like you were mentioning, through the 405. I think that’s an incredibly good idea, and I’m very much in favor of that. I would also like to just mention, if it’s possible, if there’s a way that your council could work with the studio still and try to produce a bike lane that could extend out the course of Ventura Boulevard area through the Studio City area and commemorate the creating of the lane in a way that it honors the studios, to make them feel- maybe to stroke a little bit their ego – so they would want to allow a bike path lane to continue in length to the western Victory off-ramp so it could extend to Fletcher, along [?] area. I think that would be a wonderful way to make an extension for people to travel along a bike path as a possible alternative, and it would be a nominal cost of what you could include with as a process for people to commute, and maybe for evenings to take a lit bike path for an evening dinner, or to go home from the studios if they work in the studios and live in the Studio City area. I think this is another idea you guys want to continue to work on tyring to make it go through, I would be in great support of that.
Speaker 2: We’ve got great, great news for you Steve. This is bike to work week actually, so all of you listening, if you haven’t been on a bike in a long time, Friday is actually “bike to work day”. Try it. I know sometimes we forget that’s an option to get around. But included in this measure is finishing the Los Angeles River bike path, which right now have been finishing in bits and pieces. Universal Studios actually – speaking of the studios – finally not only allowed us to be able to have the right of way past Universal Studios, but provided money for the path in their area, and of course that links up with Disney and Warner Brothers right there as well. Imagine a protected bikeway – so you’re not in a lane on the street competing with cars – that goes from the West San Fernando Valley all the way to the east and beyond. Now you can go from Griffin Park all the way through Atwater Village. You can go to [Legion?] Valley, and soon onto Chinatown and beyond. So you literally could commute from Woodland Hills to downtown on a bike, or anything in between. That is one of the measures that’s specified in this ballot initiative. Even if you’re not somebody who is a bicyclist, appreciating getting a car off the road and having them in a protected place, or even if you’re a casual bicyclist and you want to go there on the weekends with your family or with friends, the LA River revitalization that I’ve been working on, a big part would be about $200 million dollars to finish up the LA River bike path.
Speaker 1: LA Mayor Garcetti, thank you very much for that answer. If you would like to get in the queue to ask Mayor Garcetti a question, just press zero on your keypad and we’ll get you in the queue. So I mentioned earlier that we’re going to ask you a couple of questions. We’re going to ask you the first question for the night. We’ve been talking a lot about building new projects, and what we can do with this potential ballot measure over the next 40-50 years with additional modest local investment. So the first question revolves around once we build these projects, keeping them in good working condition. In the transportation industry we call that “the state of good repair”. It’s one thing to build out all these new projects, but it’s another thing to make sure we’re maintaining them, keeping them in good operating condition. So the first question that we’d like to ask you tonight is: After our projects are built, would you support part of the tax continuing to keep the system in good working condition? Press 1 for yes and 2 for no. So it’s about this concept of state of good repair. After our projects are built, would you support Metro keeping part of the tax to keep our system in good working condition? Press 1 on your keypad for yes and 2 for no. We’ll share the results with you in just a couple minutes. We’re going to go now to our next question and that is from Guy in Tarzana. Go ahead, Guy.
Speaker 7: Hi. Thank you all for making this possible, and thank you, Mayor. I’m a big supporter of transportation. I wrote my senior thesis on transportation a long time ago. As many people may not know, a hundred years ago we had a thousand miles of rail transit around. My question is, does this initiative – or is there any other [layer?] initiative – address any of the east-west, living in the San Fernando Valley, the east-west drive or west-east drive on the 101 of which there’s no carpool lane. The traffic is worse and worse going across the Valley on the 101. So my question is what plan is there, if anything, to address that?
Speaker 2: So, Guy, this is Mayor Garcetti again. We may have Phil Washington chime in too. First we want to accelerate the buses that are on the Orange Line, bringing bigger buses there and doing some grade separations, which means we either go above or below, probably above because of the cost, some of the main intersections. We’ve already identified four of them that we’re going to be moving on quickly, to be able to get the buses not having to stop at the lights. The Orange Line is the most successful busway in America, both in terms of passengers and also exceeding our ridership expectations. We are also looking at making sure that we assess other places that we can put BRTs. So I know you’re talking about the south San Fernando Valley, but up north towards [CSUN?]. We’re going to put money to look at planning a [CSUN?] serving BRT that would extend from the northeast to the northwest of the San Fernando Valley. The bike way would go somewhere in between as well. Then, of course, the improvements on the north-south piece to go from [?] all the way to Sherman Oaks and then through the 405, really give the Valley a robust series of options. Lastly, we’re also looking at – well we are putting in the measure – a BRT for connecting the Gold Line in Pasadena with Burbank and the Burbank Airport, and then all the way up to Universal Studios. So imagine tourists that can come from Burbank Airport and go straight to the Harry Potter World of Wizarding that just opened without being on our city streets in rental cars. Imaging being able to go from the San Fernando Valley, once you come to that area in the southeast, and being able to connect to Pasadena and beyond. So we see that the links are really important east-west, and I’m glad you brought that up because all of us who get stuck on the 101 know that we need to make sure we have more people riding that Orange Line, getting people off of the 101.
Speaker 3: Yes, hello, Guy, this is Phil Washington, the CEO of Metro. Let me just add one thing to what the Mayor said. In terms of that Orange Line bus rapid transit that we’re looking to improve with grade separations, we also have in this plan a conversion of that bus rapid transit to light rail. So, in addition to the improvements and everything else that the mayor just mentioned, conversion eventually to light rail is very, very appealing.
Speaker 1: Thank you very much, Phil and Mayor Garcetti. We’re going to ask a couple of questions from folks who are listening by way of our Spanish simulcast tonight. So we’re making sure and including those folks. One is actually a comment from Anna in [Silmar?]. Anna says, “I agree with increasing the fare, but there need to be a fence” – and I believe she means the gates – “…so that people don’t just skip paying the fare.” That’s input from her. We also have a question from Jose in Glendale that says:”Is there a plan to put more bike racks on buses? Right now only two bikes fit.” So I’m going to as Isreal from our Service Development to answer that.
Speaker 8: Hi Jose. Thank you for your question and thank you for riding our Metro system. I actually have really good news for you. We are just about to complete our order of brand new flyer buses that are now equipped with higher capacity. We used to be able to only fit two bikes and we’ve evolved our system. Thanks to our bike riders like yourself that have provided input – and we are now going to be able to fit three bike racks per bus. You should see those in your local route pretty soon. We have also begun to retrofit our existing service, such as our articulated buses on the Orange Line, to also be able to accommodate three bikes. So we definitely have heard this concern from bike riders like you, and we want to be able to meet your needs. Thank you very much for your question.
Speaker 3: Let me add something to that first question in terms of fare evasion. What we have done is implement new technology to actually detect unusual activity at our fare gates, and to deploy law enforcement to that area. We are using technology to address fare evasion issues, with both technology and uniformed officers, and plain clothes as well. So we’re doubling down on those security efforts that include fare inspection as well.
Speaker 1: Thank you very much, Phil. I want to share those results with you of the question that we asked you just a couple of minutes ago. We asked you a question about if you would support the concept of the “state of good repair”, and Metro keeping part of the tax after our projects are built to keep our system in good working condition. Seventy-nine percent of you said “yes” that you would support that concept. Twenty-one percent of you said “no”. So we thank you for your feedback. We’re going to give you another chance to answer a question for us in just a couple of minutes. Right now we’re going to go to Gus. Gus, go ahead.
Speaker 9: Hello?
Speaker 2: Go ahead. We hear you.
Speaker 9: Okay. I’ve been in the Valley- I was born here – 54 years. Even the [Devonshire?] bus, the [?] runs Monday to Friday. It just [?] people when they live there, and I don’t have a car. I have family but they live 15 miles away of Mission Hills. I mean, even when I was a little kid the [Devonshire?] bus always runs once an hour, even when it was 15 cents to go on it. People and senior citizens can have heat strokes in a hot day, and that’s my concern.
Speaker 1: Okay, Gus. We’re going to ask Israel from Service Development to take that one. Go ahead Israel.
Speaker 8: Hi Gus. This is Israel from Service Planning. I want to thank you very much for riding our system. I just want to give you a little bit of background. Usually the amount of bus service, the days of operation, the span of service, is based upon demand. So definitely the more we hear about our patrons’ needs, we can better plan for our service. I want to mention that one of the things we’re working on as well is a comprehensive operations plan which will affect the entire bus network, including the San Fernando Valley, and with the help of the ballot measure, being able to take a look at some of our busier corridors, and improve the frequency and the span of service. So, making sure that we operate evening hours as well. So I thank you very much for being a metro rider.
Speaker 2: One thing I’d add – this is Eric Garcetti again – is if we pass the measure and we put some money – as we’ll share the results in just a moment of the question we asked you about the state of good repair, in other words money we can spend on making sure that we have buses, that we can maintain our operations – we’ll have more money for more operations. We want to make sure people can get to the new lines. This is not just about new lines, this is about existing lines. This isn’t just about rail and buses, it’s also about our freeways. So we’ve got to improve our local roads, and this gives us some money to be able to pave the streets in LA, put up the stop signs, do the traffic light improvements that we need. It allows us to improve the flow on some freeways as well in the county, because many people- most of us – are still in a lot of cars. But it also, then, puts down these rail lines and helps us upgrade the existing ones. So that [Devonshire?] bus, for instance, we might have the resources to look at extending services.
Speaker 3: Gus, let me add one more little piece. You mentioned that you’re disabled. We have a service out there called Access Services, when buses are not running. Or if you are unable to use our regular buses, we actually fund Access Services that transport disabled citizens. Feel free to call them. The number is 1-800-883-1295. 1-800-883-1295. They can provide service to you if there are no buses running in the area.
Speaker 1: We thank you for being on the line with us tonight. We hope you’ll stick with us because we have LA Mayor Eric Garcetti with us, as well as Phillip Washington, Metro’s CEO. We’re here to listen to you, to answer your questions, and it’s not too late to get in the queue. You can press zero and you can get in the queue to ask us a question. We’re going to go now to Elva in Mission Hills. Go ahead Elva.
Speaker 10: Yes. What can we do to increase the flow of the cars on the freeways? I live in Grenada Hills, Mission Hills area, and whenever I use the 405, I mean we always get stuck. I don’t know what we can do to increase the flow.
Speaker 2: Well, Elva, this is Eric Garcetti again. I get stuck too, so I know how you feel. One thing that I always tell people who say, “Well I’m not going to get out of my car, I’m not going to be able to take a bus or Metro rail.” is maybe the person in the car in front of you will. The first thing you can do to get cars off the road is to make sure that some people who do want to ride public transportation, or who can because it goes the right places, will get out of your way. That will be the first thing that, kind of, opens up the flow. Second, a part of this ballot initiative looks like good planning. Often we’re stuck in traffic because we have to drive five times to do five things; go to work, come home, run an errand, meet friends. So this allows us to do some planning along the lines that allow people to stay in one neighborhood, and do their shopping, and meeting up with friends, and being able to live right next to where some of the transit is at. Third, a big part of this money will look at our roads. Often times you’re stuck on the 405 because the connectors into the 405 are all crammed up as well, and there’s not a flow on city streets. So a part of this initiative would be something called Local Return, which means each one of the cities of LA County would get a portion of the dollar – about 16 percent – which will result in billions of dollars we can spend making sure that you can get in and to your destination more quickly. I don’t want to be pie in the sky. Tomorrow, half the cars aren’t going to disappear. But until we make these investments and finish the job, it’s just going to get worse. So we want to make sure it gets better, and I truly believe that if we’re able to do this work, you will see some improvements in the short term, even more in the medium term, and long term we’ll finally have a transit system. That means our roads won’t be congested, and if you don’t want to get on the road you’ll have another option.
Speaker 1: Mr. Mayor Garcetti here with us. And Mayor, it looks like we have the Mayor Pro Tem from Calabasas on the line with us. So we’re going to go ahead and ask Mayor Pro Tem Mary Sue to get on the line with us.
Speaker 11: Hi Mayor Garcetti and Mr. Washington. Thanks for having this innovative way of communicating with the public. I’m really enjoying it. I wanted to ask you about local opportunity, local government partnerships in promoting the tap card. Out here in Calabasas I was at a meeting with parents of young kids and I was telling them about line 161 that runs through our city, and how it connects to the Orange Line and all you needed was a TAP card. They looked at me as if they didn’t know what I was talking about. We don’t have a lot of lines out here, so maybe we’re not seeing a lot of promotion, but I would sure like to partner in any way we can to let them know about how easy it is to get on a bus or the subway.
Speaker 2: Thank you Mary Sue. I’m so glad you’re on this phone call. What a nice coincidence, and thanks for all your work on the environment and cleaning our air and our water, not just here locally. For folks who live out in Calabasas you may not know that she helped get styrofoam out of our waterways, and be able to promote cleaner air. That’s exactly the kind of supporter that we want to help move traffic. We will take your suggestion. You may have seen that Metro is engaged in a huge public information campaign to let people know how many rides a day, 1.4 million, that we provide to folks, letting people know that we’re not just about public transportation we’re about fixing roads too. Out in Calabasas we’ll make sure we get some of those billboards that are up right now promoting riding Metro and letting people know about the TAP cards. For folks who don’t know who are listening, TAP cards now just looks like a little credit card that you use, and you literally tap it to get into the subway, to get on the bus. There’s free transfers now, which we didn’t have before. It used to be if you took two lines you’d have to buy another fare, and we changed that with our fare structure. One last thing is we are also doing business promotion. We want people not just to leave from Calabasas to get to other parts of the county, we want people to travel to Calabasas. So we’re promoting local businesses, whether it’s along the Crenshaw Corridor – where we’re telling people that they should shop and eat in the historic kind of part of South Los Angeles where we have art galleries and jazz and all sorts of businesses – whether it’s on the Wilshire Corridor, in the midst of construction where we have museum row and everything, or whether it’s in the San Fernando Valley. So we’ll reach out to you and see if we can get some more publicity out there in the West Valley and beyond in Calabasas. Thanks so much for your public service.
Speaker 3: Mary Sue, let me add just one quick thing. We also fund the 26 regional transit agencies out there too. So all of them are on the TAP system as well. So it really provides for a seamless regional system, because all of those transit agencies are on our tap system as well.
Speaker 1: Thank you very much. Mr. Phillip Washington, Metro CEO, along with Mr. Mayor Garcetti. We’re pleased to have them in the house. We still have about 20 minutes left, so we have several questions that we’re able to take. We do want to share with you the results that we asked a bit ago, about the concept of Metro keeping part of the tax once we build out these projects to keep the system in “good working condition”. And 79 percent of you believe in that concept, and think that’s a good idea. Twenty-one percent of you said “no”. We appreciate that feedback, and in a few minutes we’re going to ask you another question. But we’re going to go now to Kara in Sherman Oaks. Kara, go ahead.
Speaker 12: Oh hi. I just wanted to tell you there was a program, and I never really even recognized it until, one day I was on the 210 in the morning, going from Pasadena from the Valley, and a cone or something got stuck under my car and started making my car skid. I had to pull over. I was scared. I was shaking, because there were big trucks coming and the shoulder was kind of small. It’s kind of dangerous in the morning when cars are flying by you, and you’re on this little shoulder. Anyway, miraculously somebody pulled up behind me and helped me. He worked for, I don’t even know, to me he was like an angel from heaven. I was just grabbing my phone shaking.
Speaker 2: This is the City of Angels, so it might have been.
Speaker 12: I thought, “Oh my God.” He fixed it. In two seconds I was on my way. I was just so thankful. Whatever program that is, it’s really helpful because it gets people off the freeway that get stuck, and they could be putting themselves in danger. So I don’t know if that program’s still in play…
Speaker 2: It’s a great program. It still does exist, Kara. It’s called the Freeway Service Patrol. It’s a free service of Metro. All of us see cars that get stuck, and we know the quicker that we can help them the safer it is for those motorists, and also the quicker it is to move traffic. So folks can call 511- that’s motorist aid for anyone who is on here – and pass it along to your friends and family. That service is free. It really is a group of angels who come in and are able to fix your tire, be able to get your car off the road if you get stuck there in a lane, and get everybody else moving quickly. Thanks for that feedback Kara. I’m glad to continue to promote that.
Speaker 1: Thank you Mayor Garcetti. We have Lydia from Pacoima who is listening by way of our Spanish simulcast. Lydia’s question is: “Does Metro have plans to go to the airport?” That’s a great question and we have a great answer for that. Mayor Garcetti?
Speaker 2: Lydia, thank you so much. Muchas gracias por su peregunta. Thanks for your question. [?]. We do have plans for the airport. [?] Our new line is called the Crenshaw Line. And we’re going to have a connector between the Crenshaw and LAX. So we can take 40 percent of the cars out of the central terminal area, 40 percent of those shuttles and buses, and help people get in and out of the airport, help employees get there. [?] So the Crenshaw Line should be finished in about two years, two and a half years, and the airport is separately constructing the connector. We hope to have that done. We also will, long term, bring the north-south line that would start up where you are, in the northwest San Fernando Valley – sorry northeast San Fernando Valley – all the way to the airport. [?] Gracias.
Speaker 1: Thank you Mr. Mayor. We’re going to go now to Marilyn in Sylmar. Marilyn, go ahead.
Speaker 13: Hi. I’m wondering if there’s any plans for a light rail on the 210 going from Sylmar, or maybe a little further north, but at least from Sylmar over to [San Montrose?], where the 2 connects to the 210? After that it’s, kind of, better in the morning once the people are getting onto the 2, but between Sylmar and the 2, on the 210, is getting really congested over the past few years.
Speaker 14: Hi. This is Mark Linsenmayer with Metro Planning. We do have some plans for additional transit in that area. We’re planning on building an extension of bus rapid transit going from the Orange Line, Red Line area, North Hollywood, up through towards Sylmar and then back down to the Gold Line in Pasadena. We’re trying to get that as one of the first projects funded with this new tax. So we’re hoping to start that as early as 2018, 2019.
Speaker 2: That would come right through Montrose right there.
Speaker 1: Thank you very much Mr. Mayor. So we have another question we’d love for you to participate in. So tonight we’ve been talking about Metro’s long term plan for the next 40-50 years as we look to improve mobility all across Los Angeles County by way of more rail lines, more bus rapid transit, enhanced bus service, improvements at the local level for better streets and bike and pedestrian paths, keeping fares affordable for the disabled, seniors, and also veterans and such. So our question for you is: If the election were to be held tonight, would you vote for this proposed sales tax measure for transportation? Press one if yes, two if no. If the election were to be held tonight, would you vote for this new half-cent sales tax proposed for more transportation? Press one for yes and two for no, and we’ll share the results with you in just a couple of minutes.
Speaker 2: Just to remind folks, this is Mayor Garcetti. The cost is about less than a dime a day is the amount. If you didn’t remember what it was, it was about $24 a year. It’s less than a dime a day. Getting a gourmet coffee a week is about $250 bucks. This is less than a tenth of that.
Speaker 1: It’s always important to make that meaningful to people in what it really means to you in terms of your local investment of how all of us together can make grand improvements all across the county for the next generations. We’re going to go now to Robin in Chatsworth. Go ahead Robin.
Speaker 15: Hi. I am a New York state of mind gal, and I was wondering, whenever I am in New York it has the best bus and train systems going. Why couldn’t anything be modeled after what we have in New York? Also, I love going to theaters, visiting people. I live in the Valley, and visiting people all over. My main concern was that there were a number of times that I did take the bus, parking in the bus parking lots and taking the subways, Metro, to areas all over in the city. When actually going back, the lighting and security was so bad. It was extremely scary getting off buses and trains there, and going to your car, and possibly being the only car left in the parking lot. Security is a main factor for me.
Speaker 2: I hear you loud and clear, Robin. I’m glad that you have both a New York state of mind and that you’re an Angelino as well, because I think we can capture the best of both. The good weather and the sunshine and a lot of public transportation experience of New York. Part of the reason that I supported moving forward with this measure is I agreed that it’s not just about what lines you put down, it’s the quality of the station. How well lit it is. Is there a parking lot? Is there security? Is there cell phone coverage, and wifi, when you’re down in the subway? Do you have to go very far to transfer? So we are now in the process, not even of waiting for this measure to go forward – though this measure would accelerate this, of for instance putting cell coverage into our subway system which didn’t have it before. We’ve put cameras on our buses that face toward the passengers, and screens that show that the cameras that are there have helped greatly reduce incidents on the buses where we’ve put them, and we want to roll them out on all our buses. Expanding the number of bodies that are on the buses of our security officers as well, so that women can feel safe, others can make sure this is a pleasurable experience and a safe one, and making sure that we increase the lighting. Also some of our bus stops in the city we’re inputting cell phone charges. We’re letting there be signs, electronic signs, letting you know when the next bus is going to come. If you are site impaired you can press a button and hear when they are going to come. Even some places where we have things for kids to be able to play while they’re waiting for the bus right there at the bus stop. So we hear you loud and clear. Without any money we can’t make those improvements, but that’s exactly why we think it’s worth it. Because once people have a good public transportation experience, they never go back. I’ll end answering your question with this story. I was talking with a CEO of one of the largest companies in Los Angeles the other day at City Hall. He surprised me. He said, “I take Metro every single day.” He lives in Studio City, works downtown. He said, “Maybe one out of ten times I could have beat the subway on a good day. But now, I used to get in a car and didn’t know if it was going to be a half hour or an hour and a half. I know it’s 40 minutes every single day. It’s predictable. I get time back. Now that you started putting cell phone coverage I can make phone calls…” and we want that to be the experience, not an “Oh, I don’t have enough money in my pocket, or nothing else to do.” We want you to choose, get hooked, and help that person who can’t get out of their car have fewer cars on the road. So thanks for the suggestions. We’ll keep moving on them.
Speaker 1: Well said Mayor Garcetti. There are many benefits of taking transit. One of them is the time, but one of them is getting back time for you. It’s that “me time” of things that you can do while you’re riding the bus or the train that you can’t do when you’re driving a car waiting in traffic. We’re going to go now to Allen in Studio City. Go ahead Allen.
Speaker 16: Hello there. First of all I’d just like to say thank you for this teleconference. What an amazing thing. Twenty-four hours ago I wasn’t even aware of it, and it’s been fascinating to listen to. Segue, you mentioned time just a moment ago. I was wondering if there were any plans, any time table, for taking the Metro rail, subway line, and light rail to 24 hours? I do a lot of work in New York — work in the entertainment industry, doing a lot of work in New York where I take the subway virtually everywhere I go, and it finally occurred to me why I wasn’t do that here. It was the fact that oft times we don’t know when we’ll be finished in the day, and it is often very close to midnight, and just that chance of missing a ride home pretty much keeps us – myself and a lot of other crew folks – from risking it, if that’s the way I want to phrase it. I’m just curious if that study’s been done and if there was any chance that might happen.
Speaker 3: Yes. Thank you Allen. This is Phil Washington, the CEO of Metro. Thank you for the question. One of the challenges we have with 24-hour service, quite simply, is the maintenance that we have to perform on the system. We need windows of maintenance – or maintenance windows, I should say – and usually those are best between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. So we absolutely must do that maintenance, really on the tracks and things like that. So we try to cover a 24-hour operation, but we think it’s very, very important in terms of the “state of good repair” that Pauletta was mentioning earlier, that we must do that to make it safe. That is one of the reasons we don’t run 24-hour service. However, on the bus side we do look at the service on the bus side, and look to see how late we can go. Most of the rail lines go until maybe 12:30 am, 1:00 am, or so, but we have later bus service as well.
Speaker 1: Thank you Phil. That is Metro CEO Mr. Phillip Washington. We’re going to go now to Paul in Reseda. Go ahead Paul.
Speaker 17: Hello?
Speaker 1: Yes. Paul from Reseda.
Speaker 2: Paul from Reseda.
Speaker 17: Yeah. I have a question. There doesn’t seem to be any money put at widening the streets, or putting them through where there’s maybe a culvert for water. It just doesn’t seem to be any money putting at that to help the regular car driver in this city. They keep adding and adding more apartments, more buildings, and just adding more population.
Speaker 2: Paul, I appreciate, because I’m stuck in that same traffic you are. About one-third of this measure, actually – because Metro is responsible under the California State Department of Transportation – improving a lot of roads and highways, and the example of that was the freeway, the 405 project, which was one of the biggest undertakings this city has seen in decades, to be able to make the on ramps and off-ramps smoother, to add additional lane. And those improvements are a big part of the previous measure, Measure R. and about a third of the money is just for that. So folks that are listening, if they want to picture where the money is being spent, about a third is for roads – local and freeways – all the way from the smallest road and the improvements we can make. Where we have right of way, we’re happy to widen it, but it’s a city that doesn’t have a lot of new open space. But for our local roads and freeways, that’s a third. A third is for construction of new lines, and a third is for maintenance of the entire system, and the operations. So it really does help every driver. The drivers are the ones who win the most, because they get the roads. They also get the benefit of when the lines are built that people aren’t on the roads. Then, of course, the operations and maintenance helps them too. So far, what you’re talking about building more stuff in the city, really the traffic got the worse, and accelerated the worse, in the ‘80s and ‘90s when we had people come here but nothing new was built. We think we can preserve – I believe we can preserve – those beautiful single family neighborhoods with backyards, when we make sure those streets don’t get big apartment buildings, but you put them right next to where there’s a subway or a Metro line, because those folks won’t be dependent on another car getting there. We don’t have a wall around the city, so people move in or people continue to have children that live here. That’s going to be natural, and that’s good compared to Detroit that lost half its population, or Chicago that had a small decline. We’re in a better place. But overall, what we need to do is make sure that we don’t have all that density pushing into the neighborhoods where many of us live, where people have to get a car to get out of there. That means that somebody else is in front of you when you commute, and that’s how I want to improve your ride, my ride, and make sure that people are actually close to public transit if we’re going to authorize any new apartments.
Speaker 1: Thank you. That is LA Mayor Garcetti. We’ve got time for a few more questions, but first of all I’d like to share the results of the question that we just asked you a few minutes ago. So we’re talking about our long term, look forward for transportation improvements all across Los Angeles County. If the vote were to be held tonight, would you vote for this sales tax measure for transportation? Seventy-three percent of you said “yes”, and 27 percent said “no”. So we appreciate all of you participating in our survey, and we’re going to go now to our next question which is from William. William, go ahead.
Speaker 18: Hi. My name is William. I was wondering if you guys are going to have more buses in LA from [Chatworth?] to Sun Valley and Sheldon, in that area?
Speaker 2: So William, how old are you? Can I ask you?
Speaker 18: I am 13.
Speaker 2: Awesome. So great that you’re calling. I love that, William. I used to ride the bus when I was your age in the San Fernando Valley, along Ventura Boulevard, and I know what it felt like to wait and wait and wait for a bus in the hot sun, especially in the summertime. Yes. You’re describing between, kind of, the west and the east of the north part of the San Fernando Valley. One of the things that I pointed out before is we’re looking at a rapid bus that would travel that area. From Sun Valley, and Northeast San Fernando Valley, we’re looking at a way that you could quickly come to the south. So you could go down to Van Nuys, Sherman Oaks, and beyond. We are looking at bus rapid transit, so you can actually have an express bus, and then we’ll look at continuing, making sure we have local connections. Once we build those lines, like we did with the Orange Line, we want to make sure that buses are feeding into those main stations from, say, where you live right down to the rapid line. So you could get from Chatsworth to the east part of northeast San Fernando Valley quickly. Thanks so much.
Speaker 1: That is LA Mayor Eric Garcetti with us. We also have Metro CEO Phillip Washington. Have time for a few more questions. We ask for you folks to keep it brief when you ask your question. Norman from Carson, go ahead.
Speaker 19: Hi. My name is Norm. I live in Carson. I was born and raised in Los Angeles and I’ve worked downtown for more than 30 years. I was wondering if any thought has been placed in connecting the Harbor area to downtown? I’m hearing a lot of the San Fernando Valley, but I haven’t heard much about the harbor area — There’s a corridor connecting downtown to the harbor, but I don’t know if there’s any plans about a light rail or enhancing that trip.
Speaker 2: So Norman, absolutely. I know we had a lot of callers from the Valley and I love that, but we also represent all the area around the harbor too. Just this year we extended the Silver Line – which is a rapid bus that doesn’t stop between downtown and the harbor area once it gets going – all the way down to San Pedro. Before you had to pick it up a little further north in Harbor Gateway, and that’s huge. We’re also looking at a Green Line extension. You can catch it, by the way, at Carson Street and 110. So that’s right there in the Carson area, and it zips you on the carpool lane all the way downtown. We extended that service this year because our previous measure allowed us to. But second, we’re also looking at the Green Line, which right now ends in Manhattan Beach, and we want to extend that further down to Torrence which is right next door to Carson. So you could actually hop on that way for those folks who live and work near LAX, West Los Angeles, maybe even hook up with Wilshire subway and go even faster some days than the Silver Line. We’re thinking really hard about the South Bay area. We’re going to make sure the Harbor area gets its connections. And for those folks who live in Long Beach who take the Blue Line, we’re improving those stations, those lines, and modernizing what was the oldest and one of the heaviest used rail lines in America. It’s been a few decades and it’s time to do that. I think that highlights we’re not just building new lines, but we’re improving the existing ones too. Thanks Norman.
Speaker 1: Okay, we’re going to go now to Suzanne in Sherman Oaks. Suzanne, keep it brief please, but go ahead.
Speaker 20: Yes. Thank you for this forum. Mayor Garcetti, I am born here and raised here for most of my life anyway. My family and I remember the bicycle club from the age of nine. However, having said that, I’m now totally blind and no longer have the luxury of getting around on a bicycle. I take paratransit access. It’s a two part question. I heard about the, I guess it’s a plan by City Council that was voted in to take two lanes of traffic off of Crenshaw, Venice, Westword Boulevard, [Linkershen?], Van Nuys Boulevard – just to name a few – and take two lanes of those busy streets, one for bicycles and one for bus only – which I really don’t think it’s a great idea, but I’m not in the majority here. However, having said that, since I do take access, I was wondering if access would be allowed to use these bus lanes since access does act as a bus line? I was just wondering what happened to that plan, and will access be able to use those lanes? Thank you.
Speaker 2: Thank you Suzanne. You’re probably referring to our city’s new mobility plan, which actually doesn’t mandate on those streets that any of those things has to happen. It allows for them to happen if there’s a desire from the community in those areas. We do already have some bus lanes that are dedicated during rush hour, like on Wilshire Boulevard right now. I think we’re very open to access, and car-share, and taxis to use those. I was just in our sister city of Auckland, New Zealand this weekend, trying to bring some jobs back to Los Angeles from companies that were there. One of the things that one of the taxi drivers were using said that the bus lanes are also available for them to use. That means whenever we have more than one person in a car, by him or herself, we should allow folks like you who are using access to be able to move more quickly. Absolutely, I will take that back to our general manager of the Department of Transportation and see working with Metro if we might not be able to allow some other sorts of vehicles where there’s multiple passengers to get in them as well. That’s what works really well on the freeway, and it should work well on our city streets too. We should reward people who are taking an extra car off the road. Thanks so much Suzanne.
Speaker 1: Thank you Mayor Garcetti. We had a comment. Someone wanted us to go through our polling question results again. So the question that we asked you last is: If the election were to be held tonight would you support this sales tax measure for transportation? Seventy-three percent of you said “yes”, and twenty-deven percent of you said “no”. I want to make sure that you are all aware that you can go to Metro’s website at metro.net/theplan to get all the information about our bold plan to ease traffic, and also to hear all of the recordings of the telephone town hall meetings that we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, and this one as well, if you wanted to listen to this one again. This will be online as well. If you want to press 7 to leave us your e-mail to get other information from Metro moving forward you can do that as well. Mayor Garcetti?
Speaker 2: So Pauletta hasn’t authorized me to do this, but I see six questions and I want to bust through them because I don’t want anybody to be left behind. So Andy in Calabasas, I hope we answered your question, but the Metro website does have stuff north-south on the 405. You said you were disappointed about that. I hope I’ve let you know there will be tunneling for the 405, and also a link from the north San Fernando Valley to there, and then beyond to LAX. Bill from Marvista, your question was about the private sector should pay for this. I want you to know that when we have a sales tax, the reason why it is so inexpensive for each one of us – less than a dime a day- is because a big chunk of the sales tax is actually paid for by industry. About half of our sales tax comes from purchases that companies make, not individuals. It’s like every dime that you pay gets an additional dime from the private sector. So I agree with you, and they are going to pay their fair share. Jim from Long Beach, south of the 105, I hope I also answered some of those questions. There’s a ton of stuff south of the 105, including connecting the Green Line along the 105 all the way out to the Amtrak line to take you into Orange County, which is very important. We also look at improving the Blue Line, bringing in what’s called West Santa Ana branch, which goes through our southeast cities, which has never had a line in places like Bell and other cities that are there in Southeast Los Angeles. And, of course, south of the 105, extending the Green Line. So I hope that is something that you were excited about, and I’m certainly excited about making sure south of the 105 there’s a lot there. Gary in Panorama City asks why we can’t run buses every day of the week, and every 20 minutes. Gary, the simple answer is the cost. If I had all the money in the world and Metro did, we would, but we want to increase the frequency of buses, and this will allow us, because we’re going to be able to do more – not only build new lines but have existing lines have better surface. Another person, Gregory, not sure where you are, it says unknown, but will you seriously consider bringing limited buses back to Ventura Corridor? We really need it. We’d love Ventura Boulevard to do that, as well as some of the plans that we have to improve the Orange Line that we mentioned just a little bit to the north of that. Then finally, Louise in Sylmar, you said you’re 66 years old and commit from Sylmar to UCLA. What are we going to do for you? Hopefully you heard it. We’re going to have a line that goes from northeast San Fernando Valley all the way down to the Sepulveda Pass, a tunnel through there. You might actually get to UCLA when that’s all done in less time than you can drive, again when there’s no traffic. Thanks to all those speakers in the queue, and hopefully we answered everybody’s question who was queued up there. I know there’s probably a few more underneath that, but we wanted to get to as many as we could tonight.
Speaker 1: Mayor, very impressive. That was quick work. So by the clock on the wall our telephone town hall meeting has come to an end. We want to thank all of you for joining us tonight, for staying on the line with us, for your great questions. If you did not get a chance to ask your question you can stay on the line and then you’ll be put into a voicemail where you can leave us your question. And if you’d like to leave us your e-mail so you can get future communications from Metro you can press 7. We ask you, and invite you, to stay informed and engaged about what we’re trying to pursue for improvements for all of us. Again, we thank you very much for joining us. I’m going to let Mayor Garcetti go ahead and take us out and say a couple of last words. Mayor?
Speaker 2: Well, thank you everybody for your time. It’s been an honor to answer your questions. I hope you will give us your feedback, and consider what we can do for each other, should we move forward this November with really getting the job done and easing congestion. As always, let us know what we can do. I’m on KNX Ask the Mayor tomorrow so feel free to call in there if you have questions about other things that aren’t transportation that will be at 10:00 tomorrow on KNX. Thanks.