We celebrated the 25th anniversary of Metro Rail and opened two major rail line extensions: the Gold Line to Azusa and the Expo Line to Santa Monica. This brings our system from zero miles of rail to 101 miles in just over 25 years.
Last year Metro welcomed 453 million boardings; that means millions of cars off our streets and highways.
We celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Metro Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) between North Hollywood, Warner Center and Chatsworth. Since opening day in 2005, the line has accommodated 74 million passenger boardings, making it one of the most successful BRT lines in the nation.
The popular Orange Line is moving faster, and our goal is to continue to decrease patron commute times and make the route more efficient.
We launched the Silver Line Express to provide faster and more frequent service between downtown LA and San Pedro. The route travels along the I-110 Harbor Freeway ExpressLanes and eliminates the need to transfer from one bus line to another, making the Silver Line service more connected for a faster journey. Also, to decrease dwell times and improve service and performance, we implemented an all-door boarding pilot program for the Metro Silver Line.
In our continuing drive to create a linked network that will serve all of LA County, we launched the NoHo to Pasadena Express Line 501 bus service. The 501 offers the first direct connection between the Red and Orange Line stations in North Hollywood and the Gold Line in Pasadena.
During the past fiscal year we put more than 250 new buses in service, lowering the average age of our fleet and making travel safer and more comfortable for our patrons. We’re testing zero emission electric buses as a future option. And we’re taking delivery of five new rail cars a month to make room for the growing number of patrons who have started riding our lines. Our rail car program is creating local jobs at an assembly plant in Palmdale.
We’re building bike paths near our rail lines, like those along the Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley and the Expo Line to Santa Monica. And this year we partnered with ride sharing services, such as UberPOOL and car-sharing companies like ZipCar, at our stations to encourage multimodal travel.
Since opening earlier this year, our two newest rail extensions – the Expo and the Gold Lines – have surpassed our ridership projections. On Expo, weekday boardings jumped from 29,000 in April – before the extension opened – to nearly 46,000 in June. On Sundays in June – beach season – Expo ridership skyrocketed from 16,000 to 36,000. The Gold Line carried nearly 8,000 more boardings on May weekdays this year than last and nearly 7,200 more on Sundays, offering further proof that the people of LA County will take advantage of more transit options when they arrive.
Three major rail projects are under construction. The Regional Connector will provide a seamless connection between Metro’s Gold, Blue and Expo Lines, so that passengers don’t have to change trains in downtown LA. The Purple Line subway to Beverly Hills will eventually travel to UCLA and the Veterans Affairs campus in Westwood. The Airport Metro Connector, which is a collaborative project with the Los Angeles World Airports, will add a new transit center at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard that will link with the airport’s proposed Airport People Mover to the central terminal area.
Metro celebrated the halfway point on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit project, and we broke ground on the Southwest Maintenance Yard, a part of the Crenshaw project, which will keep the existing Green Line and new Crenshaw Line in good working condition after its completion in 2019.
We know that major construction has an impact on the communities we serve. The Project Labor Agreement on our major projects allowed 1,834,859.26 hours, or 58.72%, of project hours to be worked by workers living in economically disadvantaged area zip codes. Major construction can also impact small mom and pop businesses. Metro’s pilot Business Interruption Fund designated $3 million in grant funds to support business during construction. Our Eat, Shop, Play marketing toolkit also promotes small businesses during construction.
We improved traffic speeds and reduced greenhouse gas emissions through programs like ExpressLanes on the I-10 and the I-110 freeways. Nearly 38 million trips were taken on ExpressLanes last year. The tolls generated from ExpressLanes were reinvested back into communities through the Metro Net Toll Reinvestment grant program, to fund new local projects and to keep the corridors in good repair.
Metro’s Freeway Service Patrol performed more than 300,000 assists on LA County freeways in FY2016. Assists come in various forms, towing motorists with disabled vehicles safely off of the freeway, changing out flat tires, providing up to one gallon of fuel, providing water for overheated vehicles, and removing debris from freeway lanes. As part of our program to create first/last mile options for our customers, Metro’s new bike share program debuted with more than 800 Metro Bikes at dozens of bike stations in downtown LA. It’s the first bike share project in the United States to be operated by a transit agency, and we predict healthy demand.
We completed the aerial Red Line Universal City Pedestrian Bridge so that subway riders and their kids could safely cross the street to Universal Studios Hollywood, in time for the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
To improve traffic flow on the I-5 Freeway, carpool lanes from the SR-118 to Buena Vista Street in Burbank have been completed and work is continuing from Buena Vista to SR-134.
Now in its sixth year of express service to the ballpark, the Dodger Stadium Express boarded its one millionth rider, introducing new customers to Metro and reducing traffic and smog in LA. Metro was awarded $400 million in federal and state discretionary grants in FY 2016, including $300 million in New Starts funds for the Westside Purple Line extension and Regional Connector projects, a $15 million TIGER grant for the Rosecrans/Marquardt grade crossing project, a $10.5 million Bus and Bus Facilities grant for new CNG buses and bus facilities, and over $400 million in federal formula funds for Metro programs. Metro was awarded more than $109 million in Cap-and-Trade grant funds from the State of California for upgrades to the Red and Purple Lines and new transportation projects, like the Airport Metro Connector/96th Street Station project.