Telephone Town Hall Transcript, May 11
Hilda L. Solis, L.A. County Supervisor, representing the First Supervisorial district
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’ll be your moderator tonight as we talk about Metro’s programs and services and our long-range transportation plan to ease traffic all across Los Angeles County. This plan includes in it a drastic expenditure plan, which is just really a fancy name for a long-term plan of how we plan to increase mobility and enhance our bus and rail service, improve local streets and other projects that the local level all across Los Angeles County. And were bringing this to you because it’s all about you. It’s all about the people. And joining me tonight is LA County supervisor, Hilda Solis. Also sitting in to answer your questions is Phil Washington, Metro’s CEO; Mark Yamarone, director of long-range planning; and Carl Torres, transportation planning manager. So we thank them for being with us tonight.
Tonight, we are focusing on the first supervisorial district and that is the area that Supervisor Solis represents which includes the cities of Azusa, Baldwin Park, Bell Gardens, Claremont, Commerce, Cudahy, El Monte, Huntington Park, Industry, Irwindale, Lapointe, Los Angeles, Maywood, Montebello, Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, Pomona, Rosemead, Santa Fe Springs, South El Monte, Southgate, Vernon, Walnut and West Covina. Wow! That’s a major territory that she represents. So this is how it works tonight, if you have never participated in a telephone town hall meeting, you will have an opportunity to learn about our transportation plans for the future and, also, to ask us questions and participate in some live electronic polling. So what we are going to ask you to do is press zero on your keypad and you’ll be transferred to an operator who will take down some basic information and get you in the queue so that you can ask your question to us. And we want to hear from as many of you as possible. So we ask that you keep your questions brief and short and only ask us one question, unless it’ a quickie.
Once the operator has your information, then you’ll be able to listen in and when we call upon you, then ask your question live. Your opinions are very important to us. So we will be asking you to participate in those live electronic polling questions that will come up later in the meeting. And you can also participate online with us by going to our website, Metro.net/the plan and clicking on the interactive town hall link. So, again, if you’d like to get in the queue to ask a question just press zero, and you’ll get into the queue and an operator will take down some information. But it is my distinct pleasure tonight to introduce Supervisor Hilda Solis, who is also one of our Metro board members. It is a pleasure to have you with us tonight director. Nice to have you here.
Hilda Solis: Thank you very much and good evening. Buenas noches to everyone. Thanks for joining us on the call. Before we get to your questions, let me give you a quick update, if I can, on what’s going on at Metro. There is a lot to report. It’s very important for everyone to know that Metro provides 450 million rides a year. That in the past 25 years we have gone from having 0 miles of rail to more than 100. We also have 2200 buses providing services on 170 routes throughout the County. This year alone, Metro has opened the goal line rail extension from Pasadena to Azusa and the 501 NOHO to Pasadena express bus service, which connects to the San Fernando Valley directly with Pasadena for the first time. And on May 20th, the Expo line extension from Culver City to Santa Monica will open and link downtown Los Angeles with Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean for the first time in 63 years. In my neighborhood, I’m happy to report that the goal line extension has been a tremendous success since it opened on March the 5th. Residents from the Eastern San Gabriel Valley have flocked to the new stations. In its first official month of operation, Metro reports it ridership is between 5700 to 6200 boarding’s per day. Surveys indicated 71% of the riders are new to the line and that people are getting out of their cars to ride the train. The goal line now provides a reliable cost-effective alternative to the 210 freeway for the foothill communities. Let’s delve into this and other projects in our discussion tonight. Please press zero to participate.
Pauletta: Thank you very much Supervisor Solis. We’re pleased that you are with us tonight and, again, if you’re just joining us, this is a live telephone town hall meeting hosted by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, otherwise known as LA Metro. And we’re here to talk to you about our plan to ease traffic all across Los Angeles County. We have a bold plan looking out about the next 40 to 50 years on how we can make improvements together as a County through additional investment. And so, if you would like to ask us a question live tonight, please press zero to get in the queue. And we will call upon you when we get to our questions. So we are going to go ahead right now and actually take our first question. We’re going to go to June in Los Angeles. June, go ahead and ask your question.
June: I think I did. How is this all going to be funded? Where does the money come from?
Phil Washington: Hi June. This is Phil Washington. Thank you so much for your question. What we are proposing is a half-cent sales tax to augment the existing measure our half cent sales tax, to build many, many projects. 18 projects in the first 15 years. And 40 projects over a 40 to 50-year period. And so, with that half cent sales tax which equates to about $25 per year per average citizen or adult, we can build out 18 new projects in 15 years and 40 projects in 40 years. Now, those projects include bus rapid transit. They include light rail. They include bike paths all over the County. We believe that we have put forward, or we believe we have proposed, a balanced transportation system to build many projects. But also, to give money back to the local governments or the 88 cities in the County. We propose to give quite of bit back to the local cities to repair potholes and street improvements in the various cities. We think it’s a very comprehensive plan. And it is a half-cent sales tax that were proposing and extending the current one to pay for that.
Pauletta: Thanks very much Phil. We’ve had a lot of progress that we’ve been able to benefit from. Just this past year, we opened up the Expo, I mean I’m sorry the goal line extension to Azusa. We’re getting ready to open up our Expo extension to Santa Monica and the beach. And Phil, that’s significant. We’re going to be celebrating that here in another week and a half. So that is one of those game changers across the Metro area. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that?
Phil Washington: Yes, Pauletta. It’s very, very exciting. Metro has three other major rail projects under construction right now. The regional connector through downtown Los Angeles that will provide for a one seat ride all the way from Azusa down to Long Beach. The purple line subway to the Miracle Mile on the eastside of Beverly Hills. And the Crenshaw LAX line to the airport that we just celebrated last Saturday, the halfway or 50% completion event, and a connection with the green line.
There are important roadway and highway improvements going on, like the I5 widening near the Orange County line. We have hundreds of new buses to make travel more reliable and comfortable for riders. But we believe there’s still much more to do. LA County is expected to grow by another 2.4 million people over the next 40 years. If we want to fund the transportation improvements, we need to achieve our goal of building a world-class transportation system for a world-class region. And we need a combination of local, federal and private dollars to do this. And especially local dollars which is why we are proposing this investment hopefully in November if our board so chooses. In LA County, we spend about an average of 81 hours a year stuck in traffic. Time is money. The longer it takes to build these transportation improvements around the region, the more expensive it will be.
We feel that if we don’t plan now for future growth, we will give way to even more traffic congestion. And that is why we are considering a ballot measure for this November. Now, the purpose of this ballot measure will be, as I said earlier, a half-cent sales tax for LA County and an extension of the current measure R. That means, again, about $24 a year out-of-pocket for the average resident to ease traffic and to help build a transportation renaissance for ourselves and our children. And so again, to keep that in perspective, buying a fancy cup of coffee, one of those lattes, once a week cost about $260 a year. We’re talking much, much less than that to provide and ease congestion. I’d also like to note another point. The plan provides for what we call an infrastructure inheritance for our children and our grandchildren. We don’t want to leave them crumbling bridges and crumbling roads. We want to leave them with a mobility system that has been well-planned and well maintained and that will work now and for the next 100 years.
Pauletta: Thanks so much Phil. A lot a great information. If you are just joining us, this is a live telephone town hall meeting hosted by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority or LA Metro. We’re here to talk to you about our programs and services and our bold plan to ease traffic. So this is 40 to 50-year plan looking ahead of how through additional local investment we can continue to improve our highways, our bridges, our rail system, our bus system, local streets, bike and pedestrian pathways. We would like to hear from you and take your questions. So press zero on your keypad and you can get into the queue to ask us some questions. So, we are going to go right now to Ann in Los Angeles. Ann go ahead and ask a question
Ann: Hi, this is Ann Walner. I live in Highland Park near Southwest Museum. I like to use the gold line. I’m thrilled with the extension of the gold line to East LA as well as to Azusa. However, we have a situation where children cannot visit Southwest Museum. We have a Southwest Museum station. They can’t visit it because it’s not open during the school week. We have an organization that proposes to raise money to have Autry National Center keep this Museum open two days a week rather than one day a week. So, I think I’m asking is the supervisor willing to help us in an endeavor like that?
Hilda Solis: I’m certainly of very interested in what you’re talking about because I to them interested in seeing that museum become more available to our residents in that area. And exposing people as far as Azusa to the richness of that museum. It is a historic place I know that, and it’s beautifully situated in very dense community that’s beautiful. The Metro South NTA does provide field trips for students that will help sponsor that. I’m sure that we can think of other creative ways too that the County can work with Metro to see how we can enhance more opportunities for that museum to stay open. So, I’m very supportive. And thank you for riding the gold line. I’m thrilled. I know this was a dream for me when I was in the Congress to work on getting the gold line going all the way to Azusa. Now we are hopeful that it will be able to go all the way Claremont if we get this measure passed. And hopefully be able to connect all the people that live in the Eastern San Gabriel Valley to downtown to East LA and eventually to Santa Monica and the beach. Thank you so much.
Pauletta: Thank you so much, Supervisor Solis. We also, I want to mention, have a Seniors on the Move program. So for folks who also would like to learn more about Metro systems, senior citizens out there, you’re able to take advantage of our Seniors on the Move program. And the phone number for that, if you’re interested, is 213-922-2299. So 213-922-2299. And you can take advantage of our Senior program. We’re going to go now to one of our questions that came in through our Spanish simulcast. So we have many people listening tonight through our Spanish simulcast. So we’re going to go right to that question and I’m going to, on behalf of Graciella in Los Angeles, ask, “Why do the buses not run to Azusa? Why do the buses not run to Azusa?” And I’m going to ask Carl to go ahead and take this question Carl!
Carl Torres: Thank you. Actually, Azusa is served quite a bit by foothill transit at this time. Metro service goes as far as the City of Hope in Duarte. But there’s plenty of transfers that you can get servicing Azusa. Especially, also, the Metro gold line now goes all the way to Azusa Pacific. And, actually, that is a great alternative if you can get to any of the gold line stations from there. But foothill transit 496 actually is an express bus that goes Azusa downtown station from downtown. And the 187, which travels on Colorado, can get you to Azusa. So, actually that’s quite a bit of alternatives that you have using the foothill transit. In case you need to go and contact foothill transit, you can call them at 1-800-RIDE-INFO. And either that or go to the website and I’m sure you can find some type of connection going to Azusa.
Pauletta: Metro CEO, Philip Washington, is with us. And he wants to add to that. And I will make note that, actually, Mr. Washington is celebrating his first anniversary here with Metro this year. So, happy anniversary, Phil!
Phil Washington: Thank you for the shout out, Pauletta. I just wanted to add that many people don’t realize that we also fund the services out around the County, the bus services. And so, we were just talking about foothill transit. We actually fund foothill transit. And there would be additional funding for the foothill transit and the other muni’s in the County if this ballot measure is successful. People don’t realize that we fund the muni services. We also fund Metrolink as well. And keep in mind that the tow trucks that you see on our freeways, to help people change tires and those sorts of things, are funded by Metro as well and would continue to be under a successful ballot measure in November.
Pauletta: Thank you very much, Phil, for adding to that. If you would like to get in the queue to ask a question, please press zero on your keypad and you’ll get put into the queue so that you can ask Director and Supervisor, Hilda Solis or CEO Philip Washington a question. We’re here to talk about the future and how you can have an impact on that. We’re going to go right now to our next caller and that is Maxine from Los Angeles. Maxine, go ahead and ask your question.
Maxine: What is the time that it takes to come from downtown LA to Santa Monica on the Expo line?
Pauletta: Great question. We get asked that a lot and am going to turn it over to Carl.
Carl Torres: Thank you Maxine. Actually, with the Expo extension we’re going to have seven new stations past Culver City all the way to Santa Monica. The running time that’s going to be from 7th and Flower downtown LA to Santa Monica is going to be approximately 47 minutes. So, if you’ve ever been on our freeways during rush hour you know that going to be quite a bit faster using the Expo line than traveling in a car. But that is a great question. Thank you.
Pauletta: Thanks much, Carl. We’re to go right now to Joyce from Mar Vista. Go ahead, Joyce, ask us your question.
Joyce: Hi. I have to use the Culver City line to downtown and I find the TAP System impossible. And I have ridden on trains all over the world. I do not think this is the system that should have been installed. and I think you need to re-think it. It is cumbersome and it is not easily understood.
Pauletta: Thank you very much for your comment, Joyce. We’re going to go ahead and ask Carl to address that. Carl.
Carl Torres: Hi, Joyce. Actually, that’s a popular question that has come up. I know, if you’re like me, I’m not too, actually, good with these machines myself. But our TAP department actually has, just recently, come up with a more user-friendly screen. As a matter of fact, I think it was implemented maybe a month ago and of these screened actually are a lot more user friendly. I don’t know if you tried them very recently, but the if you haven’t give it a try. And if you’re still having problems I’ll give your phone number for Tap Customer service at 866-Tap-To-Go. And I’m sure they’ll hear your issues and will try to revolve. Thank you for the question.
Pauletta: Thanks Carl. We’re going to go right to our next question and that’s from Jack in Los Angeles. Go ahead Jack.
Jack: Hi, my wife and are seniors and we have TAP cards and we think they are an amazing way of working the system. It seems to be efficient. Although sometimes it is hard to figure how to add more money to the TAP card. But my question is that we live in Del Rey, what used to be Mar Vista, and so we are close to Culver City, we like to go downtown once in a while on the Expo line. But usually the parking lot is filled to capacity and there’s no other place to park. So sometimes we have skipped our trips to downtown restaurants. Is there any thoughts about that?
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Jack. I’m going to can ask Mark Yamarone from our Planning Department to go ahead and take your question. Mark.
Mark Yamarone: Thanks Pauletta. I believe the plan is trying to address this in several ways. One is by the board just adopted a plan to look at better management of the parking at the stations through both permitting and pricing. The other way is also by trying to encourage folks to access stations without having to actually drive by coordinating our local transit service center, our partners in the cities with their local transit to better serve the station. The hope is perhaps you could make the trip without having to park at the station. Also, probably not specific to your case, but big picture, the plan places a large effort on first mile/last mile connections so that as we build the transit network our riders can actually more easily access the stations by having safe and convenient walking and biking paths to actually access the transit system.
Pauletta: Thank you Mark. if you would like to ask a question, just press zero on your keypad and you’ll be connected to an operator and provide some basic information. Then you’ll get in the queue so that we can ask you to ask us your question. Again, this is a live telephone town hall meeting being hosted by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, otherwise known as LA Metro. And we’re here to talk transit, talk transportation and talk about the future and how we all together can make a collective impact on improving mobility all across Los Angeles County. We’re going to go to Darrell in Los Angeles. Darrell, what’s your question?
Darrell: Hello. I rode the bus for many years, and I drove the bus MTARTD for many years. But when I finally retired and I had to get on the train I will never ride another bus or my car. I’m spoiled by the train. And I would like to know if the gold line, if there’s any plans to take it all the way to Pomona maybe, or to the Pomona area, to the County line?
Hilda Solis: Hi, this is Supervisor Hilda Solis, and I’m really pleased to hear your feedback. And glad that we’ve got you to think of great about our rail service now, which I think is a wonderful opportunity for so many people in the San Gabriel Valley. And folks who do want to go from downtown all the way to Pomona. We do have plans to go out as far as Clermont. So that is what the extension of this sales tax will help us do is to help us build out that way. And eventually and, knock on wood, but I’m saying this on my own, I’d love to see it go to Ontario airport. That’s my dream. I hope I am alive to see that. But am telling you right now, that the plans are to get out towards beyond Pomona into Clermont. And we do have also good bus service, foothill transit is out there. And we are opening up more lines there so the people who need to go to school, for example from Mount Sac to Cal Poly Pomona and get out maybe the Metrolink line out in Pomona that’s happening as well. So there are coordinated systems happening. I think it’s a real tribute to the folks out there that helped us last time when we voted on this measure. Now we need more people to get on board the training and help us build this out more. But thank you so much for your service in our own family here of not only riding the buses but driving them. Thank you, sir.
Pauletta: Thank you Supervisor Solis. And as she was saying, her dream is for the gold line to go to Ontario. Well, you know what? It all starts with a dream and a vision and a plan. And Metro has a plan to ease traffic, that’s what we are here to talk to you about tonight. And we are going to go ahead and go to our first polling question. So as we talk about this plan we’ve been talking about a lot of building more rail lines and enhanced bus service and bus lanes and local improvements right in your city. And so we build out all of these projects but there’s another important component to this and that is keeping all this system in good working condition. We call that state of good repair in the transportation industry but essentially what that means is having money on hand so that we can continue to maintain and keep up our system so that it is in good working condition.
Our first question for the night that we would love you to participate in by way of pushing the number on your keypad that corresponds with your answer. The question is: after we build out all of these projects, would you support part of the tax continuing to keep the system in good working condition? Press one for yes and two for no. So, again, after we build out the projects, would you be supportive of Metro keeping part of the tax to keep the system in good working condition? Press one for yes and two for no. And we’ll share the results with you just a couple of minutes.
We are going to go to Laura in Los Angeles who is been listening by way of the Spanish simulcast. And Laura, on behalf of you, your question is: Why do the buses not run every 15 minutes on the weekend especially the 252? it runs every 30 minutes now. So, Carl, I’m wondering if you help Laura with an answer on that one?
Carl Torres: Sure. That’s a great question. As of weekend service, as you can tell, is a little cut down than the normal weekday service. What we base our frequency on the weekend is by passenger demand. Actually we do that on weekends too. And, naturally, the weekday service is much higher and the demand for our ridership is much higher during the week as opposed to the weekends. So what we do is we collect the passenger data and we actually see what frequency will fit for the amount of passengers using that line. And that determines the frequency of the bus. And on the 251, 252, we actually have two lines running up and down Soto Street that we dovetail and they split the headway. So the 30 minute the frequency actually turns into 15 minute headway if you just riding up and down Soto. But naturally, if you’re just using the 251 I do understand it is a 30 minute frequency and I do apologize if there is any inconvenience during that time. But at least you know that’s how we determine what the kind of frequency we use.
Pauletta: Thank you, Carl. if you’d like to get in the queue to ask a question, please press zero on your keypad. We’re going to share the results of the polling question that we just asked you a couple of minutes ago. And that question once again was: After we build out projects, would you support Metro being able to keep part of that sales tax so that we can keep the system in good working condition? 83% of you said yes and 17% said no. So we thank all of you for participating because it’s really important for us to be able to get feedback from all of you. And we’re glad you’re on the line with us tonight. We’re going to go right to Stephen in Los Angeles. So Stephen go ahead and ask a question.
Stephen: Yes, am Stephen. Actually, your ballot question with interesting because my question is what plan will be put into effect to establish a sinking fund for the repair of all these projects before they have to come up with this money all at one time. In other words, is there a way to tie this half cent increase into building the pockets out? You have not said how long a period of time it’s going to take to build the all out, but i imagine it will take a substantial amount of time. And why can’t that increase provide for some relationship between a new project and money put into an investment fund in anticipation of maintenance on the projects so you’re not left with an infrastructure that is devastatingly difficult to deal with. The LA times just featured a series of articles about the amount of money it’s going to take to repair so much of these infrastructures. In other words, can’t these sales tax be tied to a plan that will provide for construction of new projects and at the same time money to be invested to eventually repair them and maintain them?
Phil Washington: Yes, Stephen. Thank you for the question. This is Phil Washington, the Metro CEO. Yes, we do have a plan. In fact, we have been very, very diligent in proposing this potential ballot measure plan with state of good repair embedded in it. So in the expenditure plan for this proposal, there is a carve-out of 2% for state of good repair. But right now we have state of good repair needs right now even before the ballot measure. And so our plan is to move from a simple age based asset management plan were folks say well the bus is 12 years old and so therefore you know we need to rebuild that bus at the 12 your mark. What we want to do is go to a condition base plan where we check the condition of the asset and determine when it needs to be repaired. And so we have an asset management plan that we have just commissioned that lays out when we make repairs based on the condition of the asset. We’re being very, very proactive in our approach to asset management and the state of good repair. We, again, have called it out specifically in this ballot initiative to take care of, not just transit projects, but highway and actually active transportation as well. So we feel good about how we are approaching this plan. What we do not want to do is build a bunch of new projects and not take care of them. We see that on our northeast properties, in the northeastern part of the US, which are called legacy systems, where there was a lot of building but no real focus on the repair and the care of those assets. And so it’s almost like buying a car never changing the oil. And so what we are saying is that we must be diligent about that and it’s embedded in our plan as we’ve proposed.
Pauletta: Great, thank you very much, Phil. I’m going to go ahead and ask a question now on behalf of Isabelle in Los Angeles who’s listening by way of our Spanish simulcast. And Isabelle’s question is: I am a senior citizen. Is there a special program for us? Yes, Isabelle. There are couple of programs that we have for senior citizens and one of them is a special reduced fare that you can take advantage of and you can call our customer relations line at 213-922-6235. Again 213-922-6235. And then, we also have a metro Seniors on the Move program which teaches seniors how to use our system, get them more comfortable with how to use our ticket vending machines and the things to look for for safety around our system and it’s really just a fun program. So the number for that program is 213-922-2299. 213-922-2299. And Phil Washington, our CEO, is going to add to that.
Phil Washington: In addition to what Pauletta has just said, our existing services. In this proposal that we hope goes to voters in November, there is a carve-out, a slice for seniors, for students and for the disabled. The idea is to have dedicated funds for those groups, understanding that we’re living longer, that we also want to provide a relieve for our young people that are going to school and also our seniors and disabled. That, in addition to what Pauletta just mention and the phone numbers she mentioned, in this plan is a provision to keep those fares low for those folks.
Hilda Solis: Something, this is Hilda Solis. I just want to thank you for your call in. This such a timely question because we know how important the access is made available to our seniors, in particular folks out in our district. So i want to give you the phone number again. This is public access, this is dedicated for seniors and disabled. It’s the 800 number. 800-883-1295. And please utilize the services. We want to know what you think and how you see that moving along. Thank you. Muchisimas gracias.
Pauletta: Thank you, Supervisor Solis. I also have a comment from Rosa in Los Angeles. And the nice comment from Rosa, who’s listening through our Spanish simulcast is: She would like to thank Metro. She uses it a lot and she loves it! So you’re welcome Rosa and thank you for riding Metro. We’re going to go now to our next caller and that is Emily in San Dimas. Go ahead, Emily.
Emily: Hi. Thank you for taking my phone call. I drive the 57 freeway every day. I’m actually on it right now. Don’t worry, Bluetooth. And I’m, of course, stuck in traffic to and from Orange County for work. And I was just wondering how realistic is it for there to constantly be rail or light rail that actually parallels the 57 freeway. Because right now if I want to take rails to work, I would either have to go into LA or into Riverside before I make my way to Orange County, which is not very effective time wise.
Mark Yamarone: Hi Emily. This is Mark Yamarone. The plan does have some solutions for that. The first would be the plan does include funding for Metrolink service. And as you probably know there is a Metrolink line that does run from the Inland Empire through orange county on into Los Angeles specifically to address that sort of directional commute that you are referring to. The second project a little bit further south is our west Santa Ana branch and that will tie to Orange County eventually and connect up into downtown Los Angeles. The plan also has a component for some specific freeway improvements to help ease your commute along that corridor as well. And included in the plan are some funding for some future bus rapid transits. And that probably would be the exact type of service we’d want to start along that corridor and build it up to see if we do have the ridership to actually support light rail along that corridor.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Mark. I’m going to ask a question on behalf of Maria in Los Angeles listening through our Spanish simulcast. And Maria’s question is: Why is there not a bus that goes straight to the airport? I live alone and it has been very hard to find transit to the airport. Well, our CEO Phil Washington has some information about what we have planned for the future in terms of connectivity to the airport.
Phil Washington: Thank you, Pauletta. In this proposed plan, right at the top of the list of projects is an airport connector. We believe, at least the staff recommendation is that we start on that airport connection right away after the successful passage of this measure. We believe that there must be a direct connection to not only LAX but as the supervisor said in aspirational piece to go to every airport in the region. When you go to places like Europe you see in every airport of a major city has a rail connection. We need to be there as well and right at the top of our list is that connection to the airport. Now i will say as well that there are partnerships and discussions that we have had would fly the flyaway services as well. There’s a flyaway service from Union Station that we work closely with and use our various partnerships to do that. We think the fast-tracks, the express lanes on the 110 is also LA Metro. People don’t realize that we fund that and we fund Metrolink and other services. So we could not agree with you more that we must have a connection to our airports.
Pauletta: I’m going to ask Carl, as far as getting to the airport, now Phil mentioned the flyaway, the fast lanes, is there another like bus connectivity Carl you might recommend for folks?
Carl Torres: Yes. Actually LA DOT has a transit bus. I’m not familiar with what number. The what? Oh, that’s actually the flyaway. Actually, that’s your best bet but depending on where you live, you could go to the Metro website and look up the trip planner and I’m sure you can find some type of local bus that will get you close to LAX in some fashion. But that is a very good question and I hope your trip to the airport is a lot easier than it is now.
Pauletta: Thanks very much, Carl. We’re going to go right Andrew from Los Angeles. Andrew, go ahead and ask your question.
Andrew: Hi. There’s a lot of people in the city that love their cars so what specific plans do you have to incentivize people to use public transportation? And the how many residents need to use the system to make it cost effective? And also is there any research this been done on the impacted ridesharing companies like Uber and Lift will have on the usage of public transportation?
Philip Washington: Yes, thank you Andrew, this is Phil Washington. A couple of things. We are partnering with Uber and Lift and Zip Car. We feel that we have put forward a balanced transportation system where the car is not necessarily the enemy. This balanced system, the partnership with Uber, for example, we are using on the opening for the expo line next Friday. We are partnering with them for their services to bring people to our train stops. This idea of partnership is a real thing. The other piece is, we talked about the fast-track and express lanes and all of that. Those are in this plan as well to build additional express lanes to allow people to get where they’re going faster. But i would say you’re right, folks do love their cars. And so our plan is to really educate people on how they can use our services. One thing i will say in terms of the benefits and the outcome of this plan, right now just for example on transit our mode share and transit mode share is the percentage of people that are using transit versus car and other modes. Right now in LA county, it’s between 7 and 10%, the transit mode share. With this plan, it goes to nearly 30% of the transit mode share people using public transit versus other modes. That is significant for a place like LA county or any place to go from 7% transit mode share to nearly 30%. So we believe that this plan, and are confident that this plan, will ease congestion in a big way as also almost 1,000,000 additional people come to the county and the next 10 years.
Hilda Solis: Hi. This is Supervisor Solis. I just want to add that another mode of transportation that we don’t often think about is our bicycles. And there is a program to also provide bicycles that you can rent use your credit card or TAP card and be able to get to the metro line or park-and-ride and be able to get out of your car. And so we’re experimenting with that. I know Santa Monica is well underway and other cities, Culver City. And I know I’m excited to bring it out to the San Gabriel valley because i think there a lot of people who would use that. Especially students and even seniors that want to get out there and exercise. Thank you.
Pauletta: Thank you very much Supervisor Solis. This is LA Metro’s live telephone town hall meeting. We still have about 15 minutes left so we are still going to be taking some calls. I am going to let you know that if you would like to leave us your email so that you can get future information from Metro, push 7 on your keypad. So seven if you’d like to leave us your email, 0 if you’d like to get into the queue to ask us a question. And we’re going to go now to Herman in Boyle Heights. Herman.
Herman: Hello, how come you don’t make the Metro service 24 hours all over the county?
Phil Washington: Hi Herman, this is Phil Washington, Metro CEO. The short answer is we need time to do repairs on our system. And we were talking about asset management and state of good repair, we need, especially on our rail system, maintenance time. And so what we try to do is have two to three-hour windows to do our maintenance on our various services. Yes, we stop service maybe one o’clock sometimes 2 o’clock on weekends and open back up at 4, 5 o’clock is our first line. it is very important that we have maintenance windows. And that is why much of your service, indeed around the country does not run 24 hours a day. I would say that if you show me a system that runs 24 hours a day, I will show you system that is lacking in their maintenance. That is the reason why we try to keep it at something like maybe 20, 22 hours a day and not so much 24-hour service.
Pauletta: Thank you, Phil. We’re going to go now to our next electronic polling question. So get ready to push the number on your keypad that corresponds with your answer. And we been talking tonight about Metro’s bold plan to ease traffic and our transportation plan that looks ahead 40 to 50 years down the road so that we can position our self for more growth and for more of an enhanced transportation system. So the question that we would like for you to respond to is: If the election were to be held tonight would you vote for the proposed sales tax measure for transportation? This is the half cent sales tax we been talking about. So, if the election were to be held tonight would you vote for this proposed sales tax measure for transportation? Press 1 if yes and 2 if no. so would you vote for the tax measure? 1 for yes, 2 for no, and I’ll share the results with you in just a little bit. Thanks very much. We’re going to go now to Collies in Los Angeles. Collies, go ahead.
Pauletta: Go ahead Collies. What is your question Collies?
Collies: My question is how do i know that the increase of the sales tax will be contributed to fund within my area. Like specifically the Crenshaw project. I thought it was going to be an extension further than it actually is. So how can I ensure that the funds will go where I intend for them to go?
Pauletta: Phil, go ahead.
Phil Washington: Yes, thank you for the question. The legislation of the ballot measure calls for us to include the projects in the actual ballot language. And to also include the sequencing of those projects with regard to when they will break ground, when they will be finished and all of that. So all of that will be in the measure. We also are required, and our board has directed us, to have a very, very robust oversight activity. And so for the entire length or the period of this investment whether it is 40 years of 50 years. This oversight provision checks to see that we are building the projects that we said we would build. Not only do you have the projects being identified in the ballot language, but you also have the oversight provision where we are proposing 7 people, actually professionals, who will provide the oversight to make sure that we are doing this for the next 40 or 50 years. So there are ample guarantees. I think what you see now just for example, with the first half cent or the measure R monies, you see the gold line opening up that the supervisor talked about, you see Santa Monica to the sea opening up next Friday on May 20. We celebrated at the half way event for the Crenshaw project last Saturday on May 7. So the proof is there with the actual physical infrastructure opening up as we move forward.
Hilda Solis: Can I just add something. This is Supervisor Hilda Solis. I know you’re not in my district but what i think is really important is we had new leadership at Metro. And our CEO Mr. Phil Washington, since he’s been here has really changed the way that we do business here at Metro. We are on time, we’re actually accountable, we’re transparent. And i think the public is starting of appreciate that we are moving quicker then we have seen in previous years. And I’m really proud of that because I’m one of those board members that ask a lot of questions. And I know i could be a big pain to people. But I know our constituents need to know what the result is. The bottom line is how we are spending your money. so thank you for your question and continue to hopefully support us as we move forward. Thank you very much. Bye.
Pauletta: We are going to let you know about the polling results of the question that we just asked you minutes ago. So we asked you if the vote were to be held tonight would you vote for the sales tax measure for transportation? 65% of you said yes, that you would vote for it. And 35% said no. So we appreciate your input and you taking the time to participate. We’re going to go now to David in Los Angeles. Go ahead David
David: Hi, thank you very much for the opportunity. I really appreciated it. It is my first time participating in this. Thank you Supervisor Solis and everybody involved. I’m one of the rare Los Angelinos. I’m born and raised here, that doesn’t make me rare though. But I work from home and I rarely commute and when i have to plan appointments, I plan them around rush hour. I travel and every city I’ve been to have streetcars for local neighborhood needs and community. It actually builds a tremendous sense of community. so I’m wondering why, in your whole grand scheme, you don’t have like a concept for neighborhood streetcars going through your five-miles. Like I like to hit the grocery store, my bank, my dry cleaners. You know, maybe go for brunch during the week, on weekends whatever. Portland Oregon did something similar. It’s revitalize their downtown district you could probably Google this. It created the pearl district. And they made the streetcars just 3 or 5 miles and it totally revitalized the neighborhood and younger people and international travelers love it. So why isn’t a streetcar neighborhood project a part of your grand scheme, your plan?
Mark Yamarone: Hi David, this is Mark Yamarone, Director of Long Range Planning. Well, I have a few answers for you. The first is that the plan does include funding for the downtown historic streetcar. And frankly the streetcar project in Los Angeles that’s the furthest along and was actually proposed by the city to be included. Also, the plan of development real bottoms up approach. Metro reached out to all the sub regions and cities and asked them for what projects they would like to see funding for. And through that funding is provided, not only to the municipal operators as Phil Washington said, but also to the sub regions to provide for local transit. Also there’s a local return portion that would go to each city that, much like the Portland example you told us about, that would provide a very a powerful local match and part of the funding plan if the local city did want to put together a funding package for a local streetcar. But the plan has several options that to assist in local streetcars but one explicit plan to fund the historic downtown streetcar.
Pauletta: Okay, we’re going to have our last question of the night and that is from Ian in Los Angeles. Go ahead Ian and can you please make it brief.
Ian: Sure. Hello. We’ve been hearing about future plans and, while i understand the potential needs and routes may change, but could you speak more specifically on the actual future 40-year plan?
Phil Washington: Yes Ian. Thank you for the question. Phil Washington again. The 40-year plan that we’re proposing is actually on our website and we layout the first 15 years, the second 15 years, last 10 years. it’s all there and it is a very, very extensive plan. I mentioned earlier 18 projects in the first 15 years, 40 projects in the 40-year period. Those projects include doing something with the Sepulveda Pass, the tunnel. Working on the West Santa Ana line from Los Angeles Union Station all the way down to Artesia, the communities in the southeast. It includes an extension, as the supervisor said, from Azusa out to Claremont. It includes the Vermont corridor of bus rapid transit. It includes numerous highway interchange improvements. The 710 south. The 605. It includes bike paths that traverse the entire county. And then, as was just mentioned, it includes a huge portion for local return back to the 88 cities to repair the local streets in your community and potholes in your community. What we’ve talked about is this being about a $25 or $24 expenditure per year for the average citizen. One pothole can cause $200 worth of damage for your car. We are proposing to fix those in local communities as well. So go to our website look at that 40-year plan.
Pauletta: Thank you, Phil. And our website is metro.net/theplan. We have come to the end of our telephone town hall meeting tonight. I’m going to turn it over to Supervisor Hilda Solis for some quick closing comment. Supervisor
Hilda Solis: First of all, I want to thank the staff at Metro and our CEO and, again, congratulate him on his first year anniversary. He’s really taken us to the top. And I do believe that the public has been able to preview a better plan I’ve ever seen regarding how we go forward in the next 40 or maybe 50 years. I’m excited because people need to get to an and back and forth from work and school and recreation. We are going to see improvements in our freeways, which is really important out by my way. We’re looking at the 710 south freeway expansion. We’re also looking at improvements at the 5 and the 605 freeway. Improvement and connectivity with Metro rail and Metrolink. And, hopefully, this will be a whole new combustion that’ll change the way we get around Southern California. And all I can say that I’ve been back in DC working for a couple years, I come back home and I see a tremendous change. New improvement in terms of how we connect our rapid transit rail services, to housing, to retail, to access for people to get around to have more mobility. And do it in a manner that really reduces, in my opinion, our carbon footprint. Because i want to live a healthy long life as many Angelenos want to. And I think that this is one of the best roadmaps that we have before. So I hope you all join in supporting us and vote positively for extending the half cent sales tax as we move forward and push California and especially Southern Cali county to the top of the of the bill there. As I can say that it’s really amazing to see the transformation here in LA County. and I’m very proud to be a part of the Metro board and to be here with you all tonight to speak to you. Thank you for your input. And muchisimas gracias y buenos noches.
Pauletta: Supervisor Hilda Solis. Thank you very much for being on the line with us tonight as well as Metro CEO, Philip Washington, Mark Yamarone, Carl, thank you from service planning and thank all of you for participating. If you did not get to ask a question, stay on the line and you’ll be able to leave us a comment or a question. if you’d like to leave us your email press 7 and you can get in the queue to leave us your email. On behalf of all of us here at Metro, thank you for joining us and a good evening to you.