Telephone Town Hall Transcript, May 9
Stephanie Wiggins, Metro’s Deputy CEO
Pauletta: 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 will be your moderator this evening as we talk about Metro’s programs and services and our plan to ease traffic.
This is our long-term plan looking ahead 4 to 5 decades on how we can continue to make mobility improvements all across Los Angeles County and we want to hear what you have to say about the potential ballot measure that were thinking about pursuing come this next November’s election.Joining me tonight is Metro Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins and also here to answer your questions, Metro’s chief planning officer, Teresa McMillan, William Ritter who is executive officer of countywide planning and Scott Page who is director of service development here at Metro.
Tonight we’ll be focusing on the city of Los Angeles and that will be the parts of the city that are the Santa Monica Mountains including downtown and Central Los Angeles, Hollywood, the Westside, South Los Angeles and the harbor area.Those are the folks that we are proactively calling out to, but we also have people calling into and opt in line where anyone from anywhere across the county can call in and join tonight’s telephone town hall meeting.
This is your opportunity to share your thoughts and ask us questions about this draft transportation plan that is under consideration so if this is your first time on a telephone town hall meeting here’s how it works. To ask a question just press zero on your keypad and you’ll be transferred to an operator who will take down some basic information and put you in the queue to ask your questions live on tonight’s telephone town hall meeting. once the operator has your information you can listen to the conversation until you’re called upon and then you can ask your question and when I call your name please repeat your name, your questions and this is for a live audience so we’d like you to be brief because we want to get to as many people as possible tonight and also just state one question that is easiest for us.
And your opinions are very important to us so tonight were also going to be asking you some questions. We are going to be doing a couple of electronic polling questions where we will ask a question and then by way of the number on your keypad that corresponds with your preferred answer you will then weigh in and I’ll be able to tell you how you as a community feel together about these questions that we would like to ask you. You can also participate online by going to Metro.net/the plan and clicking on our interactive telephone town hall link on the homepage. So again press zero at any time to get in line to ask us a question and tonight were ready to get it started so it’s now my pleasure to introduce Metro’s Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins. Good evening Stephanie, thanks for being with us tonight.
Stephanie Wiggins : Thank you Pauletta, Good evening everyone. I want to thank you for joining us and before we get to your questions, I wanted to provide a quick update on Metro. Many of you may now,but we are the third largest transit agency in the country and were providing over 450 million rides a year on our transit system. Our rail system consists of six lines and we operate more than 2200 buses that operate on over 170 route throughout our County we been extremely busy building our rail system. We’ve gone from 0 miles of Metrorail to more than 100 miles in the last 25 years. And this year it is going to be another strong banner year for Metro. It’s really rare that we have two major rail lines opening in a single year but that’s really what’s happening here.
In March we opened the Metro Gold line extension to Azuza , and later this month, just next week will open the Expo line extension from Culver City to Santa Monica.This will be the first time a commuter rail line has connected Santa Monica with downtown Los Angeles in more than 60 years.Since we are talking about downtown Los Angeles the Westside, South LA and other locations, there are two other transportation projects that I think will interest our Townhall listeners. many of you know we are currently building the first section of the Metro purple line, subway extension we are also hoping to open the first section between Wilshire Western and Wilshire La Cienega and 2023 and downtown where now building the regional connector that will actually tie together three light rails for one seat ride across LA County. And when that project is completed in a few years there will be a train running between Azusa and Long Beach and another between East LA and Santa Monica.
This will reduce the number of transfers for our riders and make it much easier to travel to destinations across downtown. These are just two of the major projects now underway so let’s delve into these and others in our discussion tonight and remember please press zero to participate.
Pauletta: Well thank you very much Stephanie and were pleased to have you on the line with us tonight again as Stephanie said if you would like to ask a question and get in the queue to ask your question live please print zero on your keypad and were going to go right to our first question tonight and that is Lorraine in Los Angeles, good evening Lorraine go ahead and ask your question
Lorraine: Hi, I’m asking the question, how is it going to affect the Santa Monica to downtown train? And I have another question will go to pay for all these new railings coming up? I have one more, in the attitude between the east side to the west side how do we stop the violence from boarding our trains?
Scott Page: Hi, this is Scott page in service planning.The Gold line, I’m sorry, the Expo line will be operating from Santa Monica to downtown every 12 minutes.we will be offering two-car trains and the services is a $1.75, the service will be free on opening day.It’s anticipated based on ridership on the existing Expo line that a large number of people will certainly begin taking the Expo line from Santa Monica to downtown LA. currently we have over 30,000 people a day ridding the line just from the Expo station at Culver City to downtown LA so we expect a lot of people to get out of their cars go off the 10 freeway and get onto the Expo line.
Pauletta: thanks very much that Scott page with our service planning, thank you very much Scott . The question that Lorraine had was how is all this getting paid for? Well were really proud to say that this is being paid through your tax investment, your local investment through measure R that was passed by voters in 2008, that is part of why the Expo two extension is happening but really its various funds that come together that make making these things possible so I’m going to go now and to talk to Will Ritter in our planning department and he’ll go ahead and tell us in on a little bit more about that. Go ahead Will.
William Ritter: Thank you Pauletta. It’s a great question Lorraine, and as Pauletta was mentioning for a number of improvements that are currently under development or in fact in construction opening like the expo line are very fortunate to have the support of Los Angeles County voters when they approved our measure R back in 2009 to be supporting those investments that are very much needed. As were talking about the potential ballot measure that there was noted for consideration by voters of Los Angeles County for November, many of those projects are rebuilding upon not only the existing measure our funds but looking to leverage those precious sales tax dollars with a number of other state and federal funds that we employ for these types of purposes and this is what so unique and so important about these local sales tax funds is their ability to help us leverage those other competitive funds from the state and the federal government to be able to deliver improvements over time.
Pauletta: Thanks very much Will. Lorraine also asked about something that is very important to us. is critical to our whole system and that is, what we do to keep our system safe and our security elements and I’m going to have Stephanie Wiggins our Deputy CEO address that issue, Stephanie,
Stephanie Wiggins: Thanks Pauletta, Lorraine I want you to know that security is our top issue at Metro and we have a partnership with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to actually provide law enforcement support on our trains we also have a complement with our actual employee staff to also serve to help with security at our stations as well as private security guards who are actually at all of our station so security is number one. But I also want to let you know that not just relying on the people power we actually have an App, that’s called the transit watch App, that provides direct connection to the sheriff department 24 hours a day, seven days a week on you can download that App at any time and report any incidents proactively as well. Thank you.
Pauletta: Thanks very much Stephanie. We are going to go now to William in Los Angeles William go ahead and ask your question.
William: What are you going to do to get the bicyclists off the sidewalks? They are endangering pedestrians , particularly people.
Pauletta: I want to go ahead and address the question about bicycle that William was and was asking and bicycling is an important part of our integrated system as part of us being a multi-modal system for the whole County we figure in active transportation which is better bike paths and pedestrian connections as we work to make sure that people have a way to get to our transit stations and then from our transit station so it is a critical component. No question, William, we want to make sure that that happens safely and were always encouraging folks who are out there and biking and walking that they are doing that safely and I’m now going to go ahead and in turn it over to Teresa and she will go ahead and – oh Teresa is still not online, okay. Well we want to make sure that everybody understands that what we are trying to achieve is a multi-modal system so that include buses that includes trains that includes bicycles that includes pedestrian it includes Metrolink in and everything that achieves what we are trying to do across this massive County of 10 million people and what we can do to make sure that that’s happening. So we’re going to go now to BJ. BJ in Los Angeles go ahead and ask your question.
BJ: Good evening everyone this is BJ. I actually had one question and it morphed into two after hearing some of the other questions and responses. It’s my understanding that there is going to be a charge for the parking along the Expo line. And my question is, doesn’t this defeat the purpose of having more moderate income individuals to use the system if in addition to the fee or the transit fee that we’re talking about high costs for parking? My second question is, that I heard the response in terms of safety on the line and as someone who rides the line to the Staples Center and other events downtown and comes back to the La Cienega station and Jefferson evening, I have never seen any security of armed or otherwise that share or otherwise when the trains come back after any one at the sporting events. I don’t know it if it’s the time that they are off but often times at 10 and 11 o’clock at night there is no one on the platform. And if it is evidenced by the amount of graffiti and the destruction that is going on in the car evidently the safety issue if people can do that with acute impunity then I think that there needs to be a strategic look at some more assertive ways of ensuring passenger safety.
Terese McMillan: With respect to parking, that’s a really good question and one of the things that I wanted to assure you is, we are studying the issue of parking at this point. In some of our parking lots there is so much demand that there’s not enough spaces and so one of the ways of dealing with that is to think through a comprehensive parking management strategy of how we are going to better manage the parking spaces we do have. So we are thinking of stepping back and taking a look at all of our current parking availability as well at the parking options plans for new lines and we will try to get as much information we can – take options to our board – this won’t be something that the staff make the decision on by themselves and see where we go from there. With respect to again the really important question about safety on our system whether it be rail whether it be our bus network – again you are customers and your safety and security in always the top priority.
One of the things that we are trying to do is again get more information about the demand a particularly after major events such as at the Staples Center when we might have much more traffic later in the evening at some of our station after some of those events and we redeploy our share of presence in those, during the time after the event at the stations where we are seeing an uptick in usage and at times a day that might not otherwise be such a heavy presence so again your comments about that, your observation actually help us in thinking through where we have to turn our attention so we appreciate your observations and comments very much Pauletta: Thanks very much Terese. Thank you very much, a lot of helpful information we are going to go now to Noami in Los Angeles, Noami go ahead and ask your question.
Naomi: My name in Noami , am very upset about the homeless people. They come and go when I try to get rid of them . The thing is that you guys have to help us get rid the homeless on the streets or from our towns. They keep going to someones house and when someone is not there, it could be dangerous. they can hurt someone they can pick something else in the house you never know. I would like to know what you can do to get rid of the homeless people
Pauletta : Hello Noami and thank you very much for your question. Without question the homeless issue around LA County is something that everyone all elected officials are concerned about and are looking to do something about that and Stephanie Wiggins our deputy CEO will share some information about that. Stephanie?
Stephanie Wiggins: Thank you Pauletta, thank you. Yes, we also have been really trying to focus on the homeless issue. we know that some of them seek refuge in our transit stations as well as ride our system. One of the things we’ve done over the last few months if we developed a partnership with the Los Angeles County homeless Association, LAHSA, to actually, number one, participate in the homelessness counts so we can develop a baseline of information on the usage by our system, as well as developing a task force with social service agencies that can provide information to folks about how they can be helped we also have a voucher program where we actually provide free tokens to provide people assistance to shelters and we are working with our security forces as well because we understand that this is an issue that just doesn’t plague the county but also plagues the system and we want to make sure we get people the services they need and in this area. So, we understand that it is an important issue we stepped up our forces and looking at this issue and actually have a task force to make sure we can get people the information they need.
Pauletta: Stephanie thank you very much. Again this is a live telephone town hall meeting put on by LA Metro and were here to hear from you from the public because really this is all about you folks it all starts with you and it all ends with you and we are here to educate you about our plan to ease traffic and how we are looking ahead 4 or 5 decades at what we can do to provide better transportation ease traffic provide better mobility and our plan is going to be going to the Metro Board of Directors in June when the board will then determine whether or not to put this sales tax ballot measure on the ballot in November for you to decide in how important it is for us to have more of a modest local investment so that we can continue to build out projects across this whole region and this would deliver major projects within the first 15 years of this program much like the goal line extension that we opened up in March to Azuza, and the Expo two extension that will be opening up next Friday, May 20, bringing rail to the beach for the first time in over 60 year as Stephanie Wiggins was telling but we have a lot more happening and for a little tidbit or that I’m going to go ahead in and ask Terese McMillan to fill us in on some of our other accomplishments. Terese?
Terese McMillan: Thanks Pauletta. Thank you for your observations about all of the additional things that need to happen in the county are really important and just as a bit of background in LA County we spend an average of 81 hours a year stuck in traffic. Time is money. It takes so much longer to build our transportation improvement than people might otherwise expect and the longer it takes the more expensive it can get. So one of the things we’re trying to do is make sure that were getting ahead of the need as much as we can, planning for the future. And that is again one of the reasons why were considering that ballot initiative. We’ve been doing a lot before coming back to folks for more money of course as you mentioned we were so excited for the 25th birthday of the Metro-rail system to the opening two more lines as you mentioned, nd also there is a very important project of the Crenshaw – LAX line to the airport that is going to connect to the Green line and provide a much easier access to one of the busiest airport in the world.
That’s very exciting , we in fact had a halfway way of event this last weekend with the Crenshaw community thanking them for all of their work in working with us as we have put this project into the fabric of their neighborhood. But it’s not just about rail. We have important roadway and highway improvements going on like the five freeway widening near orange county line and as you know. A number of folks have mentioned in past town hall meetings we need bus travel and were investing in hundreds of new buses to make that travel more reliable and comfortable for our customers but again we got a look ahead in considering this ballot measure in November folks might want to know how that structured it’s a half cent sales tax for LA County and an extension of the current measure R; that means about $24 a year I out of pocket for the average resident that would pay for that. But to keep that in perspective if you were to buy a fancy coffee drink once a year from your favorite barista, you would be paying about $260 a year and so when you look at it from that perspective hopefully that underscores what an important investment it is to strengthen our current infrastructure and importantly continue adding the pieces that will basically make our system ready for our children and our grandchildren.
Pauletta: This is so true and it’s all about all of us investing together what we can all do to collectively together in investing in our future is really what makes a positive impact so thank you for that information. If you would like to ask a question live press zero on your keypad and you can get in the queue to ask a question. We are going to go now to Inelva in Los Angeles. Inelva, go ahead and ask your question.
Inelva: My question is that, you know, also they have these busses coming from like Wilshire coming down from Wilshire all the way down to Artesia and those parts, they always would be very very packed and sometimes the drivers don’t pay attention to see what’s happening in the bus. People are hurting people inside the bus, people are fighting there, cussing up and I see some of those things. I think that has to be changed. I think anything that between 7 o’clock in the afternoon they should have other bus running right behind the other bus so that these things won’t happen in the buses, you know.
Scott Page: Thank you Inelva for your comments. I’m sorry that you have had this happen to you on the Wilshire bus. The Wilshire line is certainly Metro’s busiest bus line with over 60,000 boardings a day. The buses run approximately every 2 to 3 minutes. Certainly crowding is an issue on the Wilshire line so we hope that the construction of the purple line which is currently underway will alleviate a lot of the crowding that you have today on the buses. One of the things is coming on the 720 is that we are going to have soon all door boarding which is certainly going to speed up the process of boarding along Wilshire Boulevard. In the very near future be able to board at all three doors and this will certainly alleviate some of the conflicts that go on at the front door on our buses. Inelva you also had a comment regarding Metro one 51, 52, and 352 and that you board the bus at Avalon and 41st St. and that the curb is in bad shape, so I want to let you know that I’ve taken this note down and I’ll be passing on this information to our stops to zones department. They in turn work with the city of LA to make sure that the bureau of street services can get out to that location and inspect that particular curb so I appreciate you informing us of the situation. Thank you.
Pauletta: thank you very much that was Scott Page who is the director of service development for us in our operations department we have had a couple of folks ask questions who are listening through our Spanish simulcast tonight and one of them is from Cecilia in Los Angeles and Cecilia’s question is: when will the improvements Metro will be making start to benefit elderly people? Actually we already have several programs that seniors are able to benefit from. We have access services of course that helped many seniors and the disabled. We even have a senior program that helps seniors learn how to use our system and how to buy their Tap Cards and to learn about safety around our system that happens through our community relations department. They do a great job reaching out to senior citizens. But we also have many other ways that were looking ahead to plan for how we serve seniors, the disabled, and students. And that is part of our plan that were putting forth right now carves out some funding to provide better and more ADA para-transit service and funding so that we can keep fares affordable for seniors, the disabled and student so that is part of the plan that we want you to hear about and want you to weigh in about that the board may be selecting to put on the ballot in November so thank you very much Cecilia for your question.
We also have had Francisco from Los Angeles who’s listening through Spanish simulcast and Francisco’s question is: who will pay for the project Metro is proposing will there be improvements to parking? I’m getting ask our deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins to address the first part of Francisco’s question about who pays for these projects. Stephanie?
Stephanie Wiggins: Thank you Francisco. Well we’re proposing as part of a potential ballot measure that a half cent will actually be paid by residents through sales tax as well as visitors and tourists. And that half cent is about seven cents a day. We also are proposing that the money generated locally through the half cent sales tax can be matched from state and federal funds as well so we are looking at multiple sources to help pay for these projects.
Pauletta: Thanks very much Stephanie. If you would like to ask a question please press zero on your keypad and will get you in the queue so that you can ask us one of your questions about how we’re planning to improve transportation all across Los Angeles County over the next 40 to 50 years. But next, we are going to go to Bob from Los Angeles. Bob what’s your question?
Bob: Yes, my question… I used to receive the Metro source every day on email, am not receiving it, I want to know if you discontinued that? The next question is, am a follower of Metro , I grew up in Los Angeles 1940, I took the red line the yellow cars and so fourth, I also grew up in La Cienega near the Olympic area. I still live in the area. But the question is why are Overland and western Boulevard they are not above ground of bridges the traffic is horrible you know, going down the Overland Avenue in the morning during the evening the traffic is horrible because of the left weights of the test trains and so forth and it just moves at a snail pace. Why didn’t they put the bridges over Overland and Western?
Pauletta: Bob thank you very much for your question. I will answer the first part of your question which is about the Metro source. So the source which is on our website Metro.net/the plan – It’s a great information tool that is done by Steve Hyman of our communications department is full of all kinds a great information every day. And if you would like to get on the mailing list for that or for anything else that we distribute you can press seven on your keypad and you can give your email address to our operator and we will get you on our distributions from here on out so thank you very much for that. In terms of the bridges and street running traffic and such, I’m going to go ahead and ask Scott page if he will address the matter about bridges and how we determine whether or not a line should be separated or should be street running and there’s a lot of very intense information that goes into how we end up constructing a project. So Scott why don’t you provides some insight to that?
Scott page: Thank you. back many years ago when the planning process first started for the Expo line, Metro conducted environmental impact review and in that environmental impact review we reviewed all the intersections and cross streets that had traffic and that traffic was measured to determine the level of service and then based on the level of service it was determined through the EIR process which streets would have the train going over those intersections. The California Public Utilities Commission is the final authority on grade separations so the outcome of this process – the EIR process – and through the PUC it was determined that certain streets such as Dundee such as the Supelveda such as Sawtelle those particular streets were great separated due to sometimes the complication of the intersection, the fact that it was near the 405 freeway. Sepulveda got a grade separated. So that is how these different intersections were determined some got great separation and some do not get great separation and that process took place probably about 10 years ago when the EIR first began for the Expo line extension from Culver City to Santa Monica.
Pauletta: Thanks very much Scott.if you’d like to ask a question press zero on your keypad and we will get you in the queue. Right now though, we’re are going to ask you a question. We are going to go to our first polling question of the evening and what you’ll do is press the number on your keypad that corresponds with your answer and the first question that we want to ask tonight revolves around something that we call state of good repair but what it really means is how do we keep our system in good working order and the transit industry typically has not done a very good job of having dedicated funding to keep our system up and running and maintained and replacing rail vehicles and buses and tracks and it has caused many problems across the industry.
You may have heard about the situation in Washington DC recently where they had to do safety inspections throughout their whole system and shut down the system for a whole day so that they can check on their system and see if it was safe and so we would like to know from you is as we put this potential ballot measure forward after these projects are built out would you support part of the tax continuing to keep the system in good working condition? press one on your keypad if yes two if No. Again the question is after we build projects out would you support the concept of us keeping part of that tax to keep the system in good working condition? press One for yes and two for No. Thank you very much for your participation . We are going to go now to Norma in Los Angeles, Norma go ahead and ask your question.
Norma: Hello, this is Norma. I had a couple questions. First of all I want to know how long the Crenshaw LAX extension was going to be on Crenshaw before it’s over. That’s number one and then the second one was, I had read that you were making a bike path and a walking path on but in the in the paper it wasn’t clear as to where this is to start, what are the cross streets you know that it would be located?
Pauletta: Okay Norma thank you very much, so you’re asking about our Crenshaw LAX project which is now in construction so I’m going to ask Stephanie Wiggins to first touch on the Crenshaw project. Stephanie?
Stephanie Wiggins: Thanks Pauletta ,I thanks Norma. The Crenshaw project is slated to be completed in 2019 as Teresa mentioned earlier just last Saturday we had halfway there event with the community to really just thank the community for all of their patient as we move forward with the construction of this project but currently it is slated to be open in 2019.
Pauletta: Thanks very much and we’re going to turn to Scott to answer the rest of your question Norma. Go ahead Scott.
Scott Page: Hi this is Scott in service planning. Your second part of your question was decision whether the line will bypass the Hollywood Stadium before it goes down to LAX and yes the line does off at Crenshaw at Florence were it uses a private right of away an old railroad right away to wander its way down towards LAX and it will bypass the Hollywood Stadium just to the north. But I have good news for you and that we recently secured a plan to actually have a transit center located at the La Brea Florence station and that transit center is going to come real and handy now that the NFL is coming to Inglewood so the plan is, and we are actually working on a NFL master plan as to how we are going to serve the Stadium from the Florence La Brea Stadium. The station would be to offer some kind of shuttle bus service that would connect people from the Crenshaw line to La Brea in Torrance, over to the new NFL stadium. And a number things are going into the study as well as a possible rail spur from the proposed stadium up to the Crenshaw line as well as connecting people from the green line via buses, also up to the Stadium from the Crenshaw station on the green line. So there’s a study in the works and is a number of good things are going to come out of it.
Pauletta: Thanks Scott. press zero on your keypad if you’d like to ask us a question live and the results from the question that we just ask you a couple of minutes ago was, if you would support us keeping part of the tax to keep the system in good working condition after we build out all these new projects. 68% of you said yes. 32% said no. So we thank you all for participating in providing us that feedback because really tonight it’s all about you. We are here to listen to you what your questions and input is to us so that we can better understand how we can put forth a plan for long-range transportation planning that meets the needs of the public. We are going to go to Alice now in Hollywood. Good evening Alice.
Alice: Hi there, this is Alice, personally I’m very excited about the extension to Santa Monica, and secondly I believe I saw at once an advertisements while I was taking the metro for Wi-Fi coming to the Metro area and I wanted to ask about an update on that because I think that could be a real game changer.
Pauletta: Hi Alice yes what you’re talking about is us recently having self-service in the subway tunnels from Union Station to seventh and Metro we now have self-service available for Verizon customers. Now this is the first phase of our program which we have another couple phases coming over the next year where other cell carriers are going to be coming online in providing self-service. So it’s not Wi-Fi service but self-service so folks will be able to make calls and texts. And this actually, we are very excited about because our ΓÇ£whole if you see something say somethingΓÇ¥ campaign in the spirit of us all contributing to safety and security on our whole system this will be important for us to be able to hear from you if you see something suspicious, or if an incident happens we encourage everyone to download our transit watch app which is a very popular app where you can get in touch with us right away by texting or calling. You can even take a photo and text it to our dispatch center right away and so we are very proud that we’re able to start the first phase of self-service in the tunnel from Union Station to seventh and Metro. That will be growing with other carriers coming online in the next couple of months and then throughout the subway system over about the next year. So thank you very much for that question Alice. We are going to go now to Patty in Los Angeles so Patty what is your question? Hello there Patty are you on the line?
Patty: Yes I am.
Pauletta: Go ahead and ask us your question.
Patty: Hi, I had a question regarding the 405. You probably know how congested the 405 is, both North and South and I was wondering what is it that you have in mind as far as the works on the Metro weather its repairs or adding more trains or Amtrak and what are the works?
Stephanie Wiggins: Thanks Patty for your question, actually yes I can relate to how difficult it is to try to travel on the 405. I actually try to avoid it and many of you may know that we actually opened a carpool lane a little over a year ago and while that has made some improvement it was actually largely on the side streets with Sepulveda so if you travel on the freeway every day, it kind of may not have felt like it really made a big difference. We did see a big difference on the side streets and actually ended up attracting more cars onto the freeway. We also made some safety improvements. So now what were focused on is really what can we do to relieve actually the 405 directly. So in our potential ballot measure , the plan that Pauletta has been talking about this evening, we actually have identified a transit project that would actually hopefully attract people out of their cars onto rail or the train system between Westside and San Fernando Valley. This project while it’s currently slated for you know around 2040, this project if it was passed in the ballot measure actually could be delivered a lot sooner and we’re proposing a couple of phases of that so the entire phases would be completed in the early 2030s so we are trying to look at an option to really attract people out of their cars and into rail. It is our hope that if the board approved of this expenditure plan and its voted on by the voters in November we can help accelerate bringing that project to the Valley a lot sooner.
Pauletta: Things very much Stephanie. That’s Stephanie Wiggins are deputy CEO here at Metro and we are here with a live telephone town hall meeting because we want to hear what you have to say about transportation, about mobility, about our local investment together at a community and how we can make a difference together not only for today but for the next generations that come after us. If you’d like to ask a question press zero on your keypad and now we are going to go to Mary Jane in Los Angeles. Mary Jane go ahead and ask you’re question.
Mary Jane: My question as a seniors citizen, I am considering giving up my car I would like to use public transportation including Uber, but I have no idea where to go to find to where you buy a senior citizen pass taken I have no idea they go North and South as well as East and West and I really would appreciate finding out how you go about giving up your car.
Pauletta: We are going to go ahead and ask Scott Page who is with our service development you go ahead answer your question Mary Jane.
Scott Page: Hi Mary Jane , do you have a smart phone by the way? Is she on mute?
Mary Jane: No I don’t.
Scott Page: You do not Mary Jane. Okay so when we’ve completed this call I’m going to ask you to please press seven on your phone and when you press seven on your phone that will allow you to give us your information, meaning your name and your address we will send you an application for a senior citizen Tap Card to take advantage of the senior fare and to be able to ride for only $0.35 cents in the most of all times that Metro operates you need a senior Tap Card and all you have to fill out an application and you have to have a picture taken to be put on that senior Tap Card and it’s all laid out for you in the application. Anytime that you need information regarding Metro you can always call our information number or have someone go to Metro.net and you can actually print out timetables and see where our service goes. Now regarding Uber , unfortunately if you don’t have a smart phone Uber is not going to be a transportation option for you because you really need a smart phone to be able to utilize Uber or Lift services. So when were done with this call please press seven. Pauletta, can you help me by talking a little bit about our senior programs that we have through marketing and communications?
Pauletta: We actually have several programs for senior citizens and Mary Jane your comment about that you’re considering giving up your car – it’s something that that not only you but a lot of people are considering doing and a lot of people have done. And if for some folks might find it intimidating to take transit because they just don’t know how to buy a Tap Card or they’re not sure where to pick up the train or the bus or how to transfer, it really is very easy and we have a program through our community relations department that teaches seniors how to get around by way of transit, how to buy a Tap Card for seniors, safety that we should all be aware of. They even take you on tours, and so again if you share your information with us after this call by pressing seven and leave your information that you would like more about our senior program it is called ΓÇ£Seniors on the moveΓÇ¥ and it’s a riders club program and then we’d love to have you as part of that program but it’s great that you are looking to transit as a way to get around because it’s very easy and convenient.
As I mention we do have special programs for seniors. I will mention that this plan that we are putting forth that will be decided on by the Metro board in June whether to ask for another sales tax increase does have a component of it that would fund service for the disabled, seniors, and students in keeping fares affordable for seniors the disabled and students and so that’s an important component. Also answering Mary Jane’s question about programs for seniors and anyone out there who would like to know more about our senior programs you can call our customer relations number at 213-922-6235 again 213-922-6235 and our customer relations folks can tell you more. We are going to go to Trey Sean now in LA, so Trey Sean whats your question?
Trey Sean: Hi, thank you for taking my question. I was curious to know that to know that with all of the great thing that Metro is doing, how is Metro working collaboratively with companies such as Uber and Lift to minimize the traffic on the street or promote taking Metro services such as buses and trains? Because I noticed that ever since Uber and Lift have come on the scene – which I think is a great idea by the way – there have been seen more traffic on the street because instead of people taking buses and trains they are taking Uber and Lift on an individual basis as opposed to everyone getting on the bus taking the bus.
Terese McMillan: Hi, this is Terese, and I just want to say that I really thank you for bringing this question at the because I think that illustrates the very dynamic environment that we at Metro have to deal with. Our transportation system is changing I think the emergence of Uber and Lift is just one of the really interesting places we find ourselves in terms of thinking about new partners new elements of the system that it’s not just buses and rail and highways anymore. Now we’ve got these your transportation network of companies and one of the things that really interesting is to think of them not as competitors but as a compliment to the public transit system that we have.
You may you now appreciate that for people that use transit we have what we call sort of the last mile first mile dilemma where you have to get to the transit system. Now some people are close enough to walk, some people can bike, but if it’s much longer than that often a disincentive for people to take transit. Well Uber and Lift might be that connection that makes it easier particularly when you maybe been out at night having a good time and want a safe way to get home you know the bus stop back home. the other thing I wanted to point out is bad we’ve recently established here a new department, the office of extraordinary innovation and one of the reasons we did that is to be able to think about the new and different and changing challenges that we have and how we can address them whether through new technology that companies such as Uber and Lift are bringing to bear in the system, or new partnership. New innovative ways of working with other folks and so trying to get ahead of that curve but I think there’s some exciting partnerships to be had with these types of agencies.
Pauletta: Thanks very much Terese. We are going to now ask you a question, so our second question for the night this is an electronic polling opportunity where you can use one of the numbers on your keypad to give us back instant results. And we’ve been talking tonight about Metro’s plan to ease traffic and this is the plan where we are looking out over the next 40 to 50 years at how to provide more rail, better bus service not only through Metro’s bus services but through the municipal bus operators. How we can provide better connections including bike and pedestrian connections. Also funding for Metrolink and ADA paratransit service in keeping fares affordable for seniors students and the disabled and a whole host of other improvements that we know we are going to need to start planning for today because we expect to have 2.3 million more people move to LA County over the next four decade.
So the question now that we would like to ask: if this election were to be held tonight would you vote for this proposed sales tax for transportation? Press one if yes two if no. So again, if the election were to be held tonight would you vote for this proposed sales tax measure for transportation improvements? Press one for yes and two for no. We thank you very much for your input and we will let you know the results here in just a couple minutes. But we are going to go right now to our next caller which is Martin in Los Angeles, Martin
Pauletta: Martin go ahead.
Martin: Good evening, and thank you for taking my call. One concern that I wanted to raise is the fact that while as a person living in Korea town for about the past decade and truly appreciate this final move to finally expand the purple line, I can’t really fathom why the people have to wait seven years before the first extension is actually available to the people. The congestion have just been getting increasingly worse for a variety of reasons, I mean I know Uber and Lift were excited as great alternative but still adding to the congestion and also to the fact that the narrowing of streets along the Wilshire corridor and along the miracle mile have really created an artificial snack that one has to allow for, but still, has any consideration ever been given to the fact that to do a partial light rail and partial underground is to help expedite the fact to give relief finally after all these decades to that area that is so under serviced and the second part of my question is that once this rail service goes into practice, will that also mean a decrease the amount of bus traffic on that same corridor and along the same route to at least know allow greater easement of traffic to flow and also give opportunity to people to go take rail of the definite higher-speed alternative to traveling along those lines?
Pauletta: Thank you very much Martin. And our deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins is going to answer the first part of your question about how long it takes for these projects to get done and be operational. Stephanie?
Stephanie Wiggins: Thanks Pauletta, Martin thanks for your question I can really appreciate the challenge with dealing with the construction and thinking about seven more years of construction but I does want to take a moment to share with you know why we’ve chosen the subway and it’s really because of the high number of people that are expected to take the purple line and that a subway can carry more people in a faster way. One of the challenges we have is that as you know where building a very busy part of the city and its – there are number of businesses as well as residents and we are doing our best not to disrupt their day too much. We are also tunneling through very complex soil and we’re taking care to make sure we build this in the safest manner possible. So I know 7 years seems far away right now but we’re really building a key component of our system which is meant to last for generations to come so I want to thank you in advance for your patience. We also want to make sure that we limit our night-time noise disruption as well so it’s just trying to take into account a balanced approach to building this system in a way that’s less disruptive and is really takes the highest care when we are talking about safety.
Scott Page: Hi Martin, this is Scott in service development. I wanted to talk about your question regarding light rail. Light rail has it’s place in Los Angeles and certainly light rail is considered whenever we study for a future real line but more specifically and Stephanie just touched upon has a lot has to do with how many people were going to carry on the line and why rail doesn’t carry nearly as much people in one train as say for example the red line and the purple line does today. We also have to consider the street and think about Wilshire Boulevard if it were like say Washington Boulevard with the blueline goes back and forth through Washington which is a lot less traffic than Wilshire Boulevard we would be taking at least two traffic lanes and probably a third one because there has to be space between the two trains. The West direction and the east direction so we take into consideration the street configuration as well. if you look at our light rail lines that we operate today almost all of them use exclusively or almost exclusively an existing old rail road right of way that either belong to the Pacific electric, the LA railway lines or to Southern Pacific freight, so that keeps the traffic moving but it also keeps the light rail vehicles moving too. And if you have been around I know LA for a long time it sounds, and one of the reasons of the red cars and the yellow cars basically needed to go away is because their speed themselves were going slower and slower and slower as traffic got worse and worse and worse. So Light rail works very well when we have our own private right of way.
Pauletta: So we have time for maybe one more question. We are going to ask folks to keep it brief. We are going to go to Calvin in Commerce. Go ahead Calvin
Calvin: This is Calvin, I am curious about why we are adding sales tax to the highest sales tax in the country like that when Metro should be taking care of Metro?
Pauletta: Calvin thank you very much for your question so I’ll take a first crack at that. Basically, the option of us going to the voters and asking for more of an investment in improving transportation for the future and for our future generations is because no one thing funds Metro as an operation and it is a tremendous responsibility for us to provide transportation and also plan for that transportation for the whole County. Many people don’t know that Metro is also the regional planner we also provide transit and we also provide funding to local communities which a lot of people don’t realize. So a lot of the funding that comes into Metro we give back to the local communities so that they can fix their local streets and potholes and synchronize their signalization and improve their bike and pedestrian pathways. And so it all happens in a combination of local tax funding, state funds, federal funds, and our fares. Sometimes we get asked why we don’t just raise our fares more to accommodate the extra needs we have we would have to raise our fares substantially in order for us to be able to do all the things that we do. And so that isn’t going to be a realistic element either, so it’s the combination of all these things that really provides us an opportunity to provide quality, safe, reliable transit all across the county. We have time probably for one more question, so we are going to ask you to keep it brief. Richard from Los Angeles?
Richard: Why don’t you instead of widening the freeways, why don’t you put a mass people mover in the diamond lanes and use all the existing freeways instead of building new lines? That’s my question.
Pauletta: Okay Scott, real quick
Scott Page: Certainly we look at the middle of the freeways as the place to possibly run a special bus lane they recently did that from Denver to Boulder Colorado where the use of existing median strip. But our freeways don’t have too many medium strips left they have all been dedicated to cars. So certainly if we were to do that we would have to take a travel lane off of the freeway but we have looked at running down the medium as well as the shoulder. Regarding any consideration for electric trolley buses or more service back in the early 90s we did have a study for trolley bus service in the Los Angeles area. It’s is extremely expensive it requires putting up wires and overhead along the streets that it would serve. Trolley buses are certainly slower than our regular CNG buses and CNG buses are more agile. They can go around accidents they can go around traffic jams at intersections and people making right turns. So I think for Los Angeles as opposed to other cities that have electric trolley buses. The regular standard CNG bus on our streets today serves that purpose better than a trolley bus.