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This Thursday, the Metro board of directors will consider adopting the agency’s first Transit to Parks Strategic Plan.
The plan is a response to a 2016 motion by directors Hilda Solis, Sheila Kuehl and John Fasana. There have been several pilot initiatives to connect transit riders to local mountains and beaches. For the most part, though, Southern California’s natural attractions remain more accessible to the predominantly white and well-off residents that can afford to live near them.
Metro’s 250-page Transit to Parks plan describes past examples from Southern California and other parts of the United States, then lists various initiatives that Metro and other local agencies could do to improve transit access to parks. Initiatives (summarized in this spreadsheet) vary from increased service, to incorporating park access in NextGen bus service changes, to mapping, to improving first/last mile connections.
Among the initiatives, the plan highlights four specific priority pilot proposals:
- Metro Line 212 Extension: Improve direct access to Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area from the surrounding community and transfer access from Inglewood Transit Center by increasing service levels, including adding weekend service, on Metro’s 212 bus line.
- Hansen Dam Circulator (L.A. City Department of Transportation DASH Pacoima): LADOT is developing a new DASH Pacoima route by 2020/2021 that would include a stop in Hansen Dam park. Metro could support lead agency LADOT by marketing, grant writing, and/or First/Last Mile planning.
- Beach Circulator (Beach Cities Transit 109 bus line) Frequency Improvements: Metro would partner with Beach Cities Transit to provide convenient beach access to Green Line riders. Though the Green Line ends in Redondo Beach, the terminus station is just over two miles from the beach itself. Redondo Beach’s Beach Cities Transit operates bus line 109 every 60 minutes on weekends, providing a low quality transfer for Green Line riders. Metro could partner with BCT to enhance weekend frequency on Beach Cities Transit. The plan recommends that “service levels are doubled to at least every 30 minutes throughout the day on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays” and that a “pilot should be conducted during summer months.”
- Chantry Flat Connector: Metro could partner with Arcadia Transit/city of Arcadia (and possibly the National Forest Service and REI) to operate a shuttle connection from the Metro Gold Line Arcadia Station to Chantry Flat hiking trails in the San Gabriel Mountains – similar to a 2016 pilot.
The Transit to Parks plan was heard at last week’s Metro board’s Planning and Programming Committee. At the committee meeting, there was extensive public comment mainly led by the Council of Mexican Federations (COFEM) whose representatives urged Metro to make transit connections to “mountains, rivers and beaches” to reduce air pollution, and improve equity, health, and quality of life.
Several COFEM speakers requested that Metro hire staff to support transit to parks efforts. Adoption of the plan itself would not guarantee any of the initiatives are ever funded or implemented, though it should set the stage for Metro to seek grants and other funding.
The planning committee continued (postponed) adoption of the plan, pushing the decision back to this Thursday’s full board meeting.