Confusion has arisen as to how the locking of turnstiles at Metro Rail stations has affected ridership numbers. A survey by the Los Angeles Times determined that the turnstiles have reduced as many as 800,000 monthly boardings, to 4 million boardings a month. Currently, Metro does not use turnstiles to count boardings as other agencies do. Instead, Metro relies on staff counting a sample of passengers at stations, then interpolating the data according to the time of day and adding seasonal adjustments. However, turnstile and sample counts have differed greatly, with turnstile numbers much higher than what was sampled, and vice versa. Metro depends on these counts to receive federal funds and hope that turnstile counts can be incorporated to ridership numbers in the future.
Former Caltrans Director Will Kempton proposes a ballot measure that, if approved, would double the vehicle license fee with the proceeds going to road repair and mass transit. Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger slashed the fee when he came into office in 2003. Since then, however, gas tax revenues have not kept up with the demand for repairs, and more fuel-efficient vehicles generate less revenue.
Celebrated architect Frank Gehry is back into the fold of the Grand Avenue Project. His firm Gehry Partners recently submitted a proposal for residences, retail space and a hotel on the parcel of property across Grand Avenue from Disney Hall, which currently houses a parking garage. The firm proposes developing the entire parcel all at once, replacing the phased approach initially favored by primary developer The Related Companies. The Grand Avenue Authority will review the new, $650 million project proposal. If things go well, construction could start in 2015 and be finished by 2019. The proposed project would sit a block west of the Civic Center Red/Purple Line Station. Readers weigh in on the news.
California HSR proponents are disheartened but not defeated upon hearing two rulings that sided with project opponents that claimed the project as currently conceived is in violation of Proposition 1A, the 2008 voter-approved mandate that also allowed the state to issue bonds and finance the project. Among other findings, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled that the Authority did not concretely identify all sources of funds for building the initial operating segment, which the Authority estimates will cost $30 billion. However, the ruling stopped short of halting the project, meaning that design work can continue on the first segment between Fresno and Madera.
The Los Angeles Daily News argued that what will soon be under construction is not what the voters wanted and that said voters should at least get a chance to approve a scaled-down but more costly project (at least in comparison to what was approved under Prop 1A). The San Francisco Chronicle, however, countered that, while the problems with the project should be addressed, now is not the time to send it back to the table or have it succumb to the actions of affirmed opponents who simply want to stop the project altogether.