Footnotes from South LA schoolday walks

By Randal Henry and Manal Aboelata-Henry

As parents guide their kids to school on foot, the family experiences the joys of living in a walkable neighborhood. They soon launch Crenshaw Walks to encourage others to join.

The Henry family proudly wears Crenshaw Walks t-shirts at the 2014 Taste of Soul. | Randal Henry

The Henry family proudly wears Crenshaw Walks t-shirts at the 2014 Taste of Soul. | Randal Henry

It’s 7:20 AM on a brisk, sunny Monday in South L.A. Brothers Taj and Sadiq check the ‘‘velcro’’ on their hushpuppies and take one last look to make sure lunch pails and homework folders are tucked into their backpacks. Check. Off they go to the nearest Metro Station, about a 12 minute walk. Many people walk in our neighborhood, so most days, Taj and Sadiq say hello to other Crenshaw Manor walkers or talk to their parents along the way.

If the car traffic on Coliseum St. isn’t too heavy and the lights at Crenshaw and Rodeo are just right, they’ll stroll up the platform just in time for the 7:40 train. They might even have an extra moment to find a penny someone’s left behind at the TAP machine. Some days they get stuck waiting for a lull in the steady stream of cars at an unmarked crosswalk at Coliseum or the light at Crenshaw won’t turn until they’ve seen the eastbound train bolt through the intersection. In that case, they wait for the 7:52 train. But, either way, the 7 minute train ride will get them to school well in time for their 8:05 bell.  [Read more…]

The benefits of bringing light rail stations to South LA

LACMTA CEO Art Leahy (Courtesy of Transit Talent)

Congress member Maxine Waters wrote a letter urging Arthur Leahy, CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA), to seek funds for the construction of light rail stations in South Los Angeles.

The proposed light rail construction is in Leimert Park and Westchester on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor.

The funds for the light rail stations would come from a TIGER grant – a competitive nationwide grant program that creates jobs by supporting investments in transportation infrastructure.

Waters hopes to gain Leahy’s support in amending the transportation bill, H.R. 7, which would add one billion dollars in TIGER funds over the next two years in addition to constructing the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor in Leimert Park and Westchester.

In her letter, Waters states, “The Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor will improve air quality, relieve traffic congestion, and expand access to work, education, shopping, and entertainment opportunities throughout Los Angeles County.”

Leahy, who used to be a bus driver in South L.A., stated that he “do[esn’t] think there are negatives” to constructing the light rail system. He is confident, “When people ride [this] line, they’re going to love it.”

What other areas in South L.A. could possibly benefit from a light rail system?

imageSouth L.A. resident Pam Licavoli shared her opinion:

“A light rail system that would go down Crenshaw would be nice, but it would head north and south bound from Wilshire, all the way to [Pacific Coast Highway],” Licavoli wrote. “That would help tremendously for those who have jobs way out there.”

Leahy agreed that the new light rail system will provide “more access to job sites” and “more flexibility as to where [South L.A. residents] live and where they work.”

Licavoli further suggested, “Another area [a new light rail system] would help would be on Imperial, East and West bound way out past Kaiser, as that would help the elders and able them a chance to get to and from their doctor’s appointments.”

Leahy predicts that this new Leimert Park/Westchester line would be the “busiest light rail line in the country.” He imagines that this line would rival the popularity of even the Blue Line and Pasadena’s Gold Line.

“LACMTA is revolutionizing Los Angeles,” Leahy said. “You can do things today that were inconceivable 20 years ago.”

Mayor prepares LA transit plan

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

imageMayor Antonio Villaraigosa conceded Tuesday that the recession has overpowered Los Angeles’ best efforts to hang onto jobs. It will likely take ten years for Los Angeles to offer the same number of jobs it did before the 2008 recession. But he’s confident in the city’s ability to capitalize in the future.

The mayor sees light rail and subway development as the foundation for a robust local economy. Additionally, he visualizes public transportation as a catalyst for economic growth nationwide.

“Now, let me be clear: Transportation is the key to building our own road to recovery,” Villaraigosa told a Town Hall Los Angeles luncheon today. “We must avoid turning the wrong way down a one-way street into a double-dip recession. We’ve raised the money here in LA to build our own road to recovery – but we need the financing from Congress to break ground on that road now.”

Villaraigosa is working with California Senator Barbara Boxer to pass America Fast Forward, a Congressional bill which will increase the Department of Transportation’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan program to one billion dollars annually. Currently, its budget is $110 million each year.

America Fast Forward is modeled on LA’s 30/10 initiative. Undertaken in 2008, this program reduced 30 years of transit development to just ten years, funded by a half-penny sales tax increase and a federal loan. The mayor credited this program with almost 200 million fewer miles driven each year, plus 166,000 jobs over the project’s lifetime.

The rest of the nation, for whom America Fast Forward is designed, will “look to Los Angeles and Southern California, and our new subways, our railways, our roadways and our busways. It will be a catalyst not just for LA but for the nation, if we can adopt America Fast Forward,” Villaraigosa said.

Los Angeles transit is replete with success stories recently, Villaraigosa said: the city is a finalist for a $646 million TIFIA loan, which will allow it to complete the Westside subway system and regional connector lines between East Los Angeles and Long Beach. The second phase of the Orange Line, which already carries nearly five times as many passengers as the city predicted, will extend the rail line to Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley. Both developments are 30/10 projects.

Also, Los Angeles will finish synchronizing its traffic lights by 2013. Currently, about 92 percent of lights work in time with one another – “We’re the only city that can say that,” Villaraigosa said. The resultant traffic streamlining will reduce carbon emissions by an estimated metric ton each year.

Finally, the city recently reached its 2005 benchmark of gleaning 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Villaraigosa calls Los Angeles “The only public utility in a big city to accomplish that goal.”

Despite these victories, a jobs crisis persists nationwide. Unemployment in California still hovers around 12 percent. Villaraigosa believes public transit can help rectify that impasse and simultaneously make U.S. cities greener, friendlier and healthier.

“The millions that we invest in transit flow to businesses large and small and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. So let’s make this clear: transportation investment equals jobs,” the mayor said.

Villaraigosa, Boxer, the bipartisan Senate Committee for Public Works and Senator John Mica (R-Florida), who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, publicly support America Fast Forward. It will continue undergoing Congressional discussion.

Bus riders protest cuts to bus routes and services

Listen to audio from Annenberg Radio News:


The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposed reductions to the public transportation system in early February. Eleven Los Angeles Metro bus routes would be cut, while others would have their services and hours reduced. Crystal McMillan, a rider and member of the bus riders union, knows what this will do.

McMillan: I know what that means to a bus rider. That means instead of being able to take one bus all the way from my home to my work, I suddenly have to take three buses. That means my commute went from an hour to an hour and a half. That means I suddenly have to find a way to afford a pass because my commute is going to cost a lot more.

MTA officials say these changes are needed to better integrate services between Metro buses and trains and also to save money. Hector Garcia is a security worker and bus rider. Like many others, he depends on public transportation’s late-night hours to get to work.

Garcia: We can’t afford these cuts. Our jobs are not a regular, 40-hour, 9-5, Monday to Friday job. We work every day of the week around the clock. It’s a 24/7 job. We need the buses. We can’t afford these cuts.

Senator Boxer and Representative Mica will be in Los Angeles tomorrow morning to hold a bipartisan hearing on transportation needs. Members of the Bus Riders Union, as well as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and transportation officials are expected to attend.

Photo courtesy of The Daily Trojan

More stories related to public transportation in South Los Angeles:

Inglewood expands free trolley service

Unemployed call for MTA to speed up transit plans and create jobs

Streetcar will possibly help revitalize Los Angeles

Listen to the audio story:


The downtown Los Angeles streetcar effort took a huge leap forward Tuesday. Results from a study show the new project will create thousands of jobs, more than a billion dollars in new development and millions more in revenue from tourism and consumer spending.

Los Angeles city council member Jose Huizar says these revenues will help benefit the city.

“With this streetcar, if you look at the numbers, in this economic time, how could we say no to this small investment that will bring so many jobs, economic development activity and connect all of downtown to make it a tourist destination, and also for Angelinos to enjoy?” Huizar said.

The $125 million project will run along a four-mile system, seven days a week for 18 hours a day. L.A. Live will serve as one of the anchor destinations for the streetcar.

AEG’s Tim Leiweke spoke about the streetcar plan’s overall importance to the city saying that, “this would be a vision that would connect all of downtown and suddenly give us an infrastructure so that we could go after every convention and every major event and bring it to downtown LA.”

The streetcar is expected to be ready for construction within five years.

More stories about public transportation:

Bus riders protest cuts to bus routes and services

Inglewood expands free trolley service

Unemployed call for MTA to speed up transit plans and create jobs