Improvements Underway at Metro’s
Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority kicked off major upgrades to the Blue Line’s Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station. The $109-million project will radically transform the fourth-busiest station in the Metro Rail system by improving access, expanding capacity, adding community space, and better connecting the station to the surrounding neighborhood.

Metro Board Member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the press conference to launch the Rosa Parks/Willowbrook Station improvement project. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors.

“The entire Metro system will benefit from the complete transformation of this highly utilized station,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a member of the Metro Board of Directors. “These long overdue improvements will increase safety, accessibility and mobility for current and future riders, and further solidifies the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station as the linchpin of transit-oriented development for the Willowbrook community.”

Among other improvements, the station will have a new Customer Service Center, Transit Security Center, Bike Hub and self-cleaning, automated public restrooms for patrons. The open-air plaza has also been designed as a public resource to be used for community events, special exhibits, celebrations and movie nights. The improvement project is funded by a combination of local money and state and federal grants.

Early construction work will take place over the rest of 2018. In early January, the station will close for eight to nine months as part of the New Blue project to modernize the Blue Line, which opened in 1990 and is Metro’s oldest light rail line. During the closure, rail service to the station will be replaced by bus shuttles.

“The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station has been used by millions of people over the years and it’s time to prepare the station for many more decades of heavy use,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who chairs the Metro Board. “The community deserves a better station and I’m pleased to see this very important work finally getting underway.”

“The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station Improvement Project is a welcome addition to the Willowbrook community and a positive step toward a more equitable transportation system. Safe, reliable, and affordable public transportation helps families better connect to education and job opportunities. My constituents throughout the 44th Congressional District will benefit greatly,” said U.S. Congressmember Nanette Diaz Barragán.

Improvements to the station include:

• expansion of the Blue Line platform to reduce crowding, along with an overhead canopy to protect passengers from the sun and rain;

• the creation of a new pedestrian crossing and entrance on the south side of the extended Blue Line platform;

• upgrades to the elevators, escalators, stairs and the mezzanine between the Blue Line and Green Line platforms;

• consolidation and upgrades to the bus bays to provide a safer and more comfortable area for riders; and
• new site-specific artwork by artists Jamex, Einar de la Torre and George Evans.

The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station will remain open until January 2019, when it is expected to close until September 2019. Rail service closures during that time will be as follows:

• January to May 2019: Rail service will be suspended from the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station to the Downtown Long Beach Station and replaced by Metro bus shuttles. The Blue Line will continue running between 7th St/Metro Center and 103rd St/Watts Towers Station.

• May to September 2019: Rail service will be suspended from the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks to 7th St/Metro Center and replaced by bus shuttles. The Blue Line will continue running between Compton Station and Downtown Long Beach Station. Red and Purple Line service will operate normally at 7th St/Metro Center.

• During the northern closure, Expo Line rail service will be suspended for 45 days at 7th Street/Metro Center Station and Pico Station with train service in that segment replaced by bus shuttles. Expo Line trains will continue to run between LATTC/Ortho Institute Station and Downtown Santa Monica.

“The transformation of the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station into a modern transit hub is being made possible by our local, state and federal funding partners,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “In addition to providing a better mobility experience for our customers, this crucial work will improve the quality of life for the Willowbrook community.”

For more information, including a fact sheet and renderings, visit https://www.metro.net/projects/blue-line-willowbrook/.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tantalizing Preview of the Crenshaw/LAX Line

The $2-billion Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project is scheduled for completion in 2019 but, thanks to students at Los Angeles Trade Tech College, we can catch a glimpse right now of what’s to come.

Working with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, LATTC students created a video simulating a bird’s eye view of the 8.5-mile light rail line that will travel between South Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport.

Construction is more than halfway complete. The project will serve passengers in the Crenshaw District, Leimert Park, Inglewood, Westchester, El Segundo, and points in between. There will be eight stations, with the northernmost connecting to the Expo Line and the southernmost to the Green Line.

The project is expected to have a daily ridership of 13,000 to 16,000, and would be the first to serve the area since streetcars – dubbed “Yellow Cars” – stopped running in the 1950’s. It is funded through a loan from the federal government and Measure R, a half-cent transit sales tax approved by voters in 2008.

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Metro Transit Plan To Ballot

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On Thursday, The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved the updated Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan for placement on the upcoming November ballot. The sales tax measure calls for a sustained funding approach that, if approved by the voters, would accelerate and pay for a wide variety of transit and highway projects, roadway improvements and pedestrian and bike paths.

“Today’s action paves the way towards building and sustaining a world-class, 21st Century transportation system here in Los Angeles County to accommodate the region’s growing needs,” said Metro Board Chair and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “The placement of this important measure before the voters in November is a giant step in order to improve mobility, create jobs and improve the quality of life for all of L.A. County.”

“This plan includes hundreds of local and regional capital improvement projects,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “But this plan goes far beyond building and delivering projects. It includes operating and maintaining the system we build, developing new services that meet
the shifting needs of our region and it creates a smarter system that takes full advantage of the technology that is out there today and technology of the future that has yet to be developed.”

The Board also adopted an ordinance that included the expenditure plan that will implement the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan through a transportation sales tax measure and also adopted a resolution requesting that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors place the ordinance on the ballot with specific ballot language for the November 8, 2016,
countywide general election. The Board also approved a Metro staff recommendation to add $10.9 million to fund election related and public information activities.

The new Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan is available at www.metro.net/theplan.

A Promise Zone in South LA

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The Obama administration has awarded South Los Angeles a federal Promise Zone designation, giving it priority access to federal funding as well as technical assistance to address the area’s 46 percent poverty rate.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti made the announcement during a press conference at Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC). She said the goal of the Promise Zone initiative, created by President Barack Obama in 2013, is to significantly reduce poverty by providing greater resources to serve residents.

The new South L.A. Promise Zone is home to nearly 198,000 residents in parts of Vernon-Central, South Park, Florence, Exposition Park, Vermont Square, Leimert Park, and the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw neighborhoods. It is one of one of 13 urban Promise Zones in the nation, and the second in the City of Los Angeles.

IMG_0656 (1)A coalition of 53 community partners and more than 50 allies who developed the winning application call it the South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone (SLATE-Z). They seek to capitalize on opportunities that new light rail lines bring for economic development and neighborhood revitalization.

“SLATE-Z represents an unprecedented partnership among dozens of diverse organizations with the collective vision of improving the quality of life in South LA,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “This place-based approach aims to transform distressed neighborhoods into destination neighborhoods.”

Larry Frank, president of LATTC and convener of the SLATE-Z coalition, said, “With preference points on most federal grant opportunities and a partnership with HUD staff, the existing LA Promise Zone received more than $100 million in grants since designation in 2014. It is now South L.A.’s chance to step up.”

The federal designation will bring crucial benefits to residents. For example, students at the 11 comprehensive high schools in SLATE-Z will receive increased support to prepare for colleges and careers. Currently, more than half of residents older than 25 have less than a high school education and only nine percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The coalition also plans to tackle the 12 percent unemployment rate and under- employment to move more residents into living wage jobs and career pathways.

One of the coalition’s early victories was securing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s unanimous approval to create the Universal Pass or U-Pass pilot program, making more part-time students eligible for fare discounts. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Metro Board chair, carried the motion.

“The Promise Zone designation will help build on the incredible things already happening in South Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “This will bring new resources, energy, and urgency into our movement to expand opportunity in all of L.A.’s neighborhoods.”

US Rep. Karen Bass added, “This isn’t just an incredible victory for South Los Angeles, it shows that when our community leadership works together, we can accomplish great things for our neighborhoods.

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Fare Discounts for Students

IMG_0651Commuting to school is about to become easier and cheaper, thanks to a newly revamped Universal Student Pass or U-Pass pilot program being implemented by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this fall.

Out of the County’s 1.4 million full-time undergraduate and graduate students, only 1 percent take advantage of Metro’s existing program for providing subsidized transit passes. It offered a 57 percent discount on a College/Vocational 30-day pass, but students balked at the lengthy application process and the requirement that undergrads enroll in at least 12 units

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To provide students with a greater benefit, Metro acted on a motion by Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas to launch a U-Pass pilot program at up to 10 community colleges, where students would receive a heavily discounted TAP card.

Starting in Fall 2016, undergrads enrolled with as few as eight units will be eligible for the discount, and Metro will work with schools to encourage sign-ups through the academic registration process.

“These reforms are a win-win, giving students access to safe, efficient and affordable transportation while also giving Metro a great opportunity to grow ridership,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

“If students get hooked, there’s potential for them to become lifelong riders, which would then benefit schools by relieving parking issues,” he added. “I anticipate that schools will also step up to the plate by increasing the subsidy and making the pass even more attractive.”