With ridership in free fall, transit agencies face a long road back to normalcy.
How people traveled to the Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles was itself extraordinary and could make January 21 the date that transit re-established its role as central to the L.A. experience.
With tongue firmly planted in cheek Thursday, a beaming Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti credited two secret weapons for helping him break a deadlock among a labor coalition, civic groups, Kinkisharyo International LLC and the city to craft a compromise to save jobs and keep construction of new light rail cars in Palmdale: “bad pizza and smaller meeting rooms.”
Garcetti also serves as chair of the county’s transit authority, Metro. His self-deprecating quip garnered a hearty laugh while setting the tone for a mostly celebratory morning press conference to announce the new agreement before Thursday’s regular Metro board meeting.
In addition to the mayor and Kinkisharyo reps, news conference attendees included L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford Jr., Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Maria Elena Durazo and Antelope Valley business group leaders.
All of the speakers heaped praise upon Garcetti for taking the lead in this 11th-hour process to broker the deal.
In a dramatic turnaround to what only last month was described as a hopeless impasse, Los Angeles Mayor and L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Chair Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday that an agreement has been reached between Kinkisharyo International, LLC and labor and community groups to expand its L.A. County manufacturing operations for its next delivery of Metro light rail cars.
The mayor’s office said the agreement will net the county a total of 250 new jobs as Kinkisharyo expands the light rail car assembly and testing operations at its existing plant in Palmdale. The accord also includes a “neutrality agreement” (stating Kinkisharyo won’t contest attempts to unionize its workforce), as well as a commitment to explore additional skills training and assistance for disadvantaged L.A. County workers.
The agreement covers a total of 175 cars slated for assembly at the facility, including the 78 that Kinkisharyo is currently assembling under a 2012 Metro contract,
As a member of the Jobs to Move America coalition, I was more than a little dumbfounded to read a blog post by Brandon Fuller promoting a study authored by three economists from UCLA and Cornell University that criticizes taxpayer investment in American-made buses. Fuller’s post appeared on The Atlantic‘s Cities website, which also tweeted: “@AtlanticCities: Subsidies require cities to buy American-made buses. Change that, and bus services can be cheaper”
Huh? The Jobs to Move America campaign offers a real-life rebuttal to the study’s theoretical arguments against American-made buses. Here are five reasons Fuller and the research he embraces are wrong:
1) The best use of American taxpayers’ money is buses Made in America.
Fuller’s argument that sending taxpayer dollars overseas is a better investment than buying American-made buses simply does not add up. Why?
The success of Measure R, passed by voters in 2008, the “30-10” plan to accelerate implementation of our transit revolution, and the 66 percent “yes” vote on Measure J each demonstrates that Los Angeles voters are ready to invest in a transportation transformation. There is an opportunity now and a coalition partnership available that’s too good to waste. Together with Mayor Eric Garcetti we must continue cultivating this voter trust and this partnership of labor, business, environmental, community groups and elected officials who share a common vision — of a Los Angeles with a clean public transportation system that is both robust and financially sound, and that has a vigorous economy with prosperity that is widely shared.
As Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has demonstrated so clearly, we can think big about solutions to our challenges as a region — and we can expect to succeed.
Growing up, I saw Leimert Park as our version of Harlem: the center of commerce, music and culture for the African-American community in Los Angeles. The last time I was in Leimert Park, I saw shuttered storefronts and empty sidewalks — a stark difference from the hustle and bustle I knew from growing up not far from there. I am sure that it is even more of a shock for the generations of Crenshaw residents before me.
We now have an opportunity to revitalize this once economically thriving community, though, via the Crenshaw/LAX Line, a $1.8 billion light-rail project expected to start construction in early 2014. There is a catch – a Leimert Park station, which would be the crown jewel of the line, is startlingly missing from current plans. There needs to be a Leimert Park station.
Last May, community residents and advocates packed the Metro board room in hopes of hearing good news about the inclusion of their community in the proposed stations.
Starting on November 10, Los Angeles will begin a one-year experiment to convert High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, better known as carpool lanes, to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on two major freeways. Toll lanes are not new to California drivers, but this is the first time we will see these lanes on L.A.’s busiest freeways.
The HOT lanes will allow lone drivers to access the current carpool lanes on the I-10 (beginning early 2013) and I-110 (November 10) freeways by paying a toll that changes based on the current level of traffic. Drivers who utilize carpools, van pools, buses and motorcycles will continue to access those lanes for free. (For more information on all the rules and details, check out Metro’s handy-dandy FAQ page.)
Metro argues that HOT lanes will reduce congestion in the regular lanes, and that all revenue from freeway tolls will go directly to fund improvements to public transportation and roads near the freeways where tolls are collected.