1. Metro bus ridership has dropped 25% over the last 10 years, as Metro has largely failed to provide quality and frequent bus service to transit-dependent communities including those in South and Central Los Angeles. It is clear that a wide network of frequent, reliable bus service utilizing bus-only lanes is a critical solution for low-income residents who depend on transit. If elected as supervisor, would you use your position on the Metro Board to support bus rapid transit projects prescribed by Measure M, and work with cities to aggressively implement bus-only lanes?
The final results of the final NextGen study will be released this year. Metro has released the preliminary report that suggests the following improvements in our bus system:
- Double the number of frequent Metro bus lines
- Provide more than 80% of current bus riders with 10 minute or better frequency
- Improve and expand midday, evening and weekend service, creating an all-day, 7-day-a-week service
- Ensure a ¼-mile walk to a bus stop for 99% of current riders
- Create a more comfortable and safer waiting environment
This a step in the right direction as our bus routes are more than 30 years old. I look forward to reviewing the final report and if elected, I will push hard to implement these changes, but we also need to put an emphasis on express buses with bus only lanes. I’m committed to exploring the viability of express lanes within the 2nd District on Vermont, Hawthorne, Manchester or Century Blvd. The goal would be to have three of them in demonstration projects by the end of my first term.
2. The lack of safe infrastructure in the Second District means that people on foot and on bicycles are especially vulnerable to being killed or injured while moving around their communities, including the late Frederick “Woon” Frazier, who was killed by a hit and run driver in South L.A. What would you do as a Supervisor to prioritize safe mobility for low-income residents and students who depend on active transportation options?
This needs to be a priority as the 2nd district houses more than its fair share of collision concentration corridors. I would implement a number of improvements outlined in the LA County Vision Zero plan including the installation of cycle tracks/separated bike lanes, roadway lighting, traffic circles and curb extensions.
I’m also eager to review the work of the State’s Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force, to understand how we can improve the ways we determine speed limits. Based on the findings of the task force I would ultimately like to commit more resources to slow cars down on busy thoroughfares in the 2nd District particularly those near residential areas and schools.
3. This past summer Metro incorporated Equity Focused Communities into its Equity Platform to prioritize the needs of low-income residents and households with low vehicle ownership. On the Metro Board, would you put meaningful financial resources behind the Metro Equity Platform and fund projects that improve mobility, access, and safety of these communities?
I would absolutely dedicate meaningful financial resources behind the Metro Equity Platform. Making sure we improve congestion, safety and access to transportation will be a priority for me. There are lots of funding sources including Measure M that should be dedicated to areas in the 2nd District that have long been neglected.
4. Gentrification is a major issue facing many communities across the District, especially where new transit investments are being made, such as along the Crenshaw Line. Metro’s power relative to individual cities lies with Metro’s power over funding. As a Metro director, how would you use funding incentives and existing programs (e.g. the Business Interruption Fund, Joint Development program, and Transit Oriented Communities program) to encourage cities to protect existing tenants and produce affordable housing, particularly near new transit investments?
I believe we need to work with smaller cities within the 2nd District that are struggling to provide services to their residents and do not have the resources to update their specific plans or create and implement economic development plans/strategies. I would use a combination of Metro and other County funds to incentivize those cities to create new housing and provide support to existing property owners so that they do not get leveraged out of their homes by speculators.
I would also be more proactive in reaching out to businesses that could be impacted by Metro construction so that they can take full advantage of the business interruption fund. I would also expand the fund to cover the impact of “soft” construction on small businesses. I don’t believe that Metro has done a good enough job of this.
5. Far too many Angelenos face barriers in their access to public space including on public transit. For example, many Metro riders—but especially women—face high levels of harassment from other system users. At the same time, teens and young men of color are too frequently the victims of police brutality for simply existing in public spaces. In 2017 and fed by the false narrative that more policing provides more safety for riders, Metro directors approved a 5-year, nearly $1 billion security contract which has expanded the presence of armed police on trains and buses. What will you do to address the issue of harassment on Metro services and what would you do to build a relationship of trust between communities of color and law enforcement?
The main issue here is that the County does not have a community-based policing strategy. We must ensure that the Sheriff department has adequate implicit bias and de-escalation training. And we can’t wait until we have video evidence of law enforcement crossing the line before we implement strategies. This must become a sustained effort to make sweeping changes in the Sheriff’s Department.
I believe it would be helpful to assign beat officers to bus and metro lines so that officers can become familiar with commuters/riders and vice versa. I would imagine we could post photos of the officers with their cell phone numbers on buses and trains so that riders can contact them if they need help. This would go a long way to prevent harassment and criminal activities and create good will between riders and the Sheriffs.
6. Metro CEO Phil Washington has called for congestion pricing to fund free transit in the Los Angeles region. A) What are your thoughts on Congestion Pricing and would you seek to expand Metro’s ExpressLanes program? B) Do you support making transit in Los Angeles County free?
While congestion pricing would bring a great deal of revenue into our transit system, it is hard for me to say that I support it. It could impact low-income commuters particularly those who people who work in the service and construction industries such as painters, gardeners, housekeepers and caregivers, etc. These workers cannot rely on public transit to get them to and from their places of employment.
I do support more Express lanes as they bring in revenue and have proven to move traffic along at a faster pace. I would explore placing them on the 405 toward LAX to add on to those lanes that are currently proposed from The Valley to UCLA.
I applaud the board allowing LAUSD students to ride for free, it is an important first step. And I do support making transit in Los Angeles County free at some point in the future. I would first like to lower fares and identify ways to backfill lost revenue over a 36-month period to see if it increases ridership. I think this would help get us data to make the case for making transit completely free.