Statement on Metro Budget and Cost Control Efforts

Metro construction at the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

“Due to a Board with an expansive vision and an agency motivated to deliver, we have found ourselves in a position to advance projects years before the commitment made to voters when they passed Measure M. The work to do so over the past few years has been audacious, driven by a reality that the infrastructure and transportation needs are significant in all corners of this region. I have long advanced a regional, rational, and equitable transportation policy at Metro.

“But this moment rightly forces us to reevaluate. First and foremost, our commitment must continue to be on delivering Measure M projects where and when they were promised. Then, this crisis should motivate us all – including our industry partners – to do some belt tightening.

“Investing in infrastructure has historically been the ticket to restarting the economy, and we should exhaust efforts to drive that scenario now. These efforts should be guided by unprecedented innovation and resourcefulness. This is a new reality, and we must be guided accordingly.”

NextGen Bus Plan in its Final Phase

Photo By Tupungato Shutterstock

Ridership on Los Angeles County buses has been in decline over the last decade. The bus system, which carries about three-quarters of the system’s passengers has fallen to the lowest level in more than 10 years.

Concerned with this decline, Metro conceived the NextGen Bus Plan. This plan calls for redesigning a network that will increase service to current customers, attract new ones and win back past costumers. The proposed plan was developed through consideration of both technical data and the personal experiences that Metro heard from nearly 20,000 residents and riders through questionnaires and 300 meetings, events, presentations and workshops.

The proposal also includes a $1-billion five-year capital program to improve travel, bus routes, reliability, speed, and comfort— $750 million for bus-only lanes, synchronized traffic signals, and about $150 million for shelter upgrades to make bus stops more comfortable.

About 80% of Metro riders would benefit from the new level of service proposed in the NextGen plan, by providing additional buses to arrive every 5 to 10 minutes for 29 major bus routes during weekdays and 14 lines on weekend days. The plan shows a potential ridership increase of 25-30 percent over the next half-decade.

The NextGen Bus Plan was divided into four phases which included:

Phase 1: Conduct of market research, travel demand analysis and existing service evaluation to identify areas of success, deficiencies, and gaps within the network; in summary, this phase consisted of understanding customers and what they want in a bus system.

Phase 2: Based on the research and outreach conducted in Phase 1, this Phase established a Regional Service Concept to guide the development of the NextGen Service Plan; it provided a planning framework to redesign the bus network.

Phase 3: Development of the NextGen Service Plan, including routing, stop spacing, frequency, the span of service, and coordination with municipal operators. Metro staff processed all the robust data and input received to date and restructured current bus lines and updated the entire bus system.

Phase 4: The current phase, will implement the NextGen Service Plan through an extensive engagement and public hearing process. These new services will be presented to the Metro Board and the public.

In January, the Metro Board approved releasing the draft NextGen Bus Plan for public review. Through March, LA Metro will host a series of public workshops to showcase bus line changes and system updates. This is an opportunity for the public to learn and provide feedback.

To find out more information about NextGen and to attend a public workshop please visit NextGen Bus Plan.

Celebrating a Significant Milestone for the Crenshaw/LAX Line

Metro trains line up at the new Southwestern Yard. Photo by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

Celebrating significant progress toward the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) joined federal, state and local elected officials and community leaders to mark the completion of the Southwestern Yard, designed and constructed to attain LEED Silver Certification with many “green” features. These features include: pollution reducing construction processes, easy access to public transportation for workers, treatment of storm water runoff and the use of low-emitting paints, sealants, coatings and materials. There is also energy-saving lighting and air conditioning.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at the ribbon cutting. Photo by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

“We are well on our way to connecting our public transit system to one of the world’s busiest airports,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This gleaming new rail yard is part of the effort to get the Crenshaw/LAX Line up and running, and offering passengers a convenient, not to mention state-of-the-art, way to reach the airport.”

The $172-million rail maintenance facility that will serve the future Crenshaw/LAX Line and Metro Green Line was designed and built by Hensel Phelps Herzog (HPH) under contract with Metro. Design work began in June 2015, construction in May 2016 and work was completed in January 2019 with the project on time and on budget.

Metro’s Southwestern Yard, the Airport Metro Connector/96th Street Station, the Automated People Mover and the Aviation/Century Station will become the gateway to LAX for travelers and will provide better and equitable access to employment centers in this area.

Light rail vehicles will be maintained and inspected at the 115,000-square-foot facility where other work will be done including body repairs, painting, storage and cleaning and washing. In addition, the facility will house general administration and support service staff, miscellaneous maintenance shops and equipment housing and storage. The rail yard will have the capacity to store 70 light rail vehicles and will have about 200 employees.

“The Southwestern Yard facility is a much-needed asset for Metro’s rail operations team and will be used to bring quality and reliable service to this region using advanced technologies,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “Both the Crenshaw/LAX and Green lines will benefit from this facility, which will also help Metro deliver great service and an enhanced customer experience.”

The Southwestern Yard is part of the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, the 8.5-mile light rail line that will meet with the Expo Line and connect with the Green Line near the Aviation/LAX Station. When the Crenshaw/LAX line opens in 2020 it will offer the communities of Crenshaw, Inglewood, Westchester and LAX a modern transit option that offers easy access to the rest of the Metro Rail system.

In 2020, Metro is expected to begin major construction on the Airport Metro Connector/96th Street Transit Station, which will be next to the new rail yard. The station will be the transfer point between local transit — including the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line — and Los Angeles International Airport’s future Automated People Mover (APM) that will whisk riders to the airport terminals. The station and people mover are forecast to be complete in 2023.

Black History Month: Stephanie Wiggins

Stephanie Wiggins at the February 12, 2019 presentation. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

In the second celebration of Black History Month, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas presented a scroll to Stephanie Wiggins, the first female and first African American CEO of Metrolink.  In this role, she is now responsible for a commuter railroad that covers over 2.8 million train miles and transports over 400 million passengers per year.

“A true trailblazer, Stephanie Wiggins has enjoyed a stellar career in the transportation industry,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

Stephanie Wiggins was named chief executive officer of Metrolink by a unanimous vote of the board of directors in December 2018. Wiggins assumed leadership in January 2019 and leads the 275-employee strong commuter railroad with a budget of $793 million.

As CEO, Wiggins directs an agency that operates a commuter rail network on seven routes across a six-county, 538 route-mile system.  Wiggins has held high-level positions at three of the five-member agencies that comprise Metrolink and is well-known as a customer -focused leader who finds solutions from a regional perspective.

Wiggins’ vision for the agency is to create value and exceed expectations by prioritizing a customer-first orientation with three pillars to provide an outstanding customer experience: safety and security, an integrated system, and modernizing business practices.

Prior to leading Metrolink, Wiggins was Deputy CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) where she assisted the CEO in providing leadership and formulating and achieving strategic public transportation objectives, including the passage of Measure M, a half-cent sales tax approved by 71 percent of voters in LA County. During her tenure at LA Metro, Stephanie also served as the Executive Director of Vendor/Contract Management, where she implemented procurement streamlining initiatives and greatly expanded Metro’s utilization of small and historically underutilized businesses.  Prior to that role, Stephanie was the Executive Officer and Project Director of the Congestion Reduction/ExpressLanes Program where she launched the first high occupancy toll lanes in LA County, the I-10 and I-110 Express Lanes, which improved travel times and travel reliability on two of the County’s most congested freeway corridors.

Prior to Metro, she served as Regional Programs Director for the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) and oversaw transit, commuter rail, rideshare, goods movement and rail capital projects.

Wiggins began her career in transportation when she accepted a temporary assignment at the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority and fell in love with the mission of the agency. The six-month temporary assignment turned into more than four years. She then accepted a policy analyst position with the RCTC where she worked for an additional nine and a half years in management and senior management roles.

Feeling the need for personal and academic growth, Wiggins earned a Master of Business Administration from the USC Marshall School of Business in 2007. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Whittier College in 1992.

Wiggins is a self-proclaimed “military brat” whose father made his career in the Air Force. She credits her experience moving from base to base and country to country as a child for teaching her the importance of diversity.

Wiggins is the founding president of the Inland Empire Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar. She is the recipient of many awards including the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials 2018 Women Who Move the Nation Award. She is a Board Member of the Los Angeles Chapter of Friends of the Children.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas presents scroll to Stephanie Wiggins. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

Modernizing Metro: The New Blue

The Metro Blue Line is undergoing a comprehensive $350-million modernization to improve reliability, upgrade safety and enhance the customer experience. Work to update the Blue Line — which opened in 1990 and is Metro’s oldest rail line — has been ongoing since 2014 with a series of safety and operational improvements.

“The Blue Line is Metro’s workhorse and in need of significant investments — not just to  provide a modern feel, but also to ensure  the infrastructure continues to work for many more decades to come,” said Metro Board Director and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The upcoming improvement project will require two extended four-month closures. Work on the southern segment of the line began on January 26.

In addition, Blue Line service to Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station will be closed for eight months while the station is rebuilt with more capacity, a new customer service center and community plaza, easier connections to local buses and surrounding communities, and upgrades to safety and security systems. During the closure, Green Line service will operate normally at Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station.

Work on the Blue Line will include improvements to the signaling, tracks and overhead wires that delivers the electricity to power the trains. Four new crossover tracks will be built to reduce service interruptions. There will also be numerous station improvements, including new interactive digital map displays for all stations, which will display train arrival and departure times, service alerts, and maps of the system and nearby area. Other visible amenities will include new signage and landscaping.

The Metro Board of Directors recently approved the naming of rail lines with letters and colors to accommodate a growing system and make our rail and bus rapid transit network easier to understand and more custom friendly. Upon completion of the entire New Blue Improvement Project, the new name for the Blue Line will be the “A” Line with the color blue.

“We have implemented a comprehensive public outreach program to notify the public of Blue Line rail service interruptions, construction and the bus shuttle service,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “Metro is committed to improving reliability, upgrading safety and enhancing the customer experience on the Blue Line.”

The closures are as follows:
Southern segment:

  • January 26 to late May 2019: rail service will be suspended from the Blue Line 103rd St/Watts Towers Station to the Downtown Long Beach Station and replaced by expanded shuttle bus service. The Blue Line will continue running between 7th St/Metro Center in downtown Los Angeles and 103rd St/Watts Towers Station.

Northern segment:

  • Late May to September 2019: rail service will be suspended from the Blue Line Compton Station to 7th St/Metro Center and replaced by expanded shuttle bus service. 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 segment closure, Expo Line rail service will be suspended for 45 days at 7th St/Metro Center 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.

Metro will offer three types of Blue Line Bus Shuttle Service during the closures:

  • Blue Line Local Bus Shuttle Service will be free with buses serving all closed Blue Line stations and 103rd St/Watts Towers, where customers can transfer to the trains heading to/from downtown Los Angeles. The shuttles will run the same hours as the Blue Line, seven days a week.
  • Blue Line Select Bus Shuttle Service will have a $1.75 fare and serve busier stations during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Customers with a valid TAP card can transfer for free to the Blue Line or other lines within two hours of starting a trip. Select bus shuttles will run Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. During the closure between Downtown Long Beach and 103rd Street Station, the Select Bus Shuttles will serve the following stations: Pacific, 1st Street/Downtown Long Beach, 5th Street, Anaheim, Pacific Coast Highway, Willow, Wardlow, Willowbrook/Rosa Parks, and 103rd/Watts Towers. During the closure between Compton and 7th St/Metro, the Select Bus Shuttles will service 7th St/Metro, Pico, Grand/LATTC, Willowbrook/Rosa Parks and Compton.
  • Blue Line Express Shuttle Service will have a $1.75 fare with limited stops between Long Beach and Downtown Los Angeles during morning and afternoon rush hours. Customers with a valid TAP card can transfer for free to other lines within two hours of starting a trip. The Express Bus Service will run Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Stations served will be Pacific Ave, Downtown Long Beach/1st St, 5th St, Anaheim St, Pacific Coast Hwy, Willow St, Wardlow, LATTC/Ortho Institute, Grand/LATTC, Pico and 7th St/Metro Center.

Metro is launching a robust outreach campaign to Metro customers, cities, communities, stakeholders and the public about the New Blue. The New Blue website at http://www.metro.net/newblue includes a fact sheet and map with the three bus shuttle services.