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Forward Motion, December 2020


Mobility 21 Southern California Transportation Advocacy Coalition Announces Two New Board Members

Mobility 21 is pleased to announce the appointment of two new board members, Danielle Borja of the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce, and John Hakel with Rebuild SoCal Partnership.

Danielle Borja is the President/CEO for the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest Chambers in the state of California with over 900 business members, serving the cities of Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills. This regional Chamber also oversees the Conejo Valley Tourism Improvement District, promoting local tourism, and the Greater Conejo Valley Community Foundation that provides grants to local nonprofits.

John Hakel is the Executive Director at Rebuild SoCal Partnership. The partnership is comprised of 2,750 construction firms who employ more than 90,000 union workers in the 12 counties of Southern California. Their mission is to engage elected officials and educate the public on the need for continued infrastructure funding creating thousands of career construction jobs in our communities.

 

 

The 2021 Mobility 21 Board of Directors are: Chairman, Darrell E. Johnson, CEO, Orange County Transportation Authority; Vice Chairwoman, Maria S. Salinas, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce; Treasurer, Phillip A. Washington, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Kome Ajise, Executive Director, Southern California Association of Governments; Danielle Borja, President/CEO, Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce (representing the Chambers of Commerce Alliance of Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties); Lucy Dunn, President & CEO, Orange County Business Council; Stephen Finnegan, Manager, Public Affairs and Government Relations, Automobile Club of Southern California; Paul Granillo, President & CEO, Inland Empire Economic Partnership; John Hakel, Executive Director, Rebuild SoCal Partnership; Darren Kettle, Executive Director, Ventura County Transportation Commission; Anne Mayer, Executive Director, Riverside County Transportation Commission; Stephanie N. Wiggins, CEO, Metrolink; Dr. Raymond Wolfe, Executive Director, San Bernardino County Transportation Authority.


Metro Micro Launches On-Demand Rides in Two Service Areas: Watts/Willowbrook and LAX/Inglewood

Metro launched its new on-demand ridesharing service — called Metro Micro — on Sunday, December 13. Metro Micro will be initially available in two zones, the Watts/Willowbrook and LAX/Inglewood areas.

Metro Micro will use small vehicles that will be operated by Metro in designated service zones in Los Angeles County. The service is designed to be a part of our existing transit system and to make it easier to get around in communities where it can be challenging for Metro to run fixed-route buses.

Info is below on how to order a ride, as well as COVID-19 precautions being taken on Metro Micro. Here are the maps of the service area:

The LAX/Inglewood service area. Please note that Metro Micro will not be providing rides to the LAX passenger terminals.

The Watts/Willowbrook service area, which includes key stations along the A Line (Blue) and C Line (Green).

Key service details and ordering a ride

•Service hours beginning Sunday will be:

–Watts/Willowbrook from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.

–LAX/Inglewood from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.. and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

•To book a ride, use the Metro Micro app for smartphones (available now by clicking the following links in the Apple Store and Google Play stores), this website or Metro’s call center at 323.GO.METRO (323.466.3876). Metro Micro will only pick up riders within the service areas above.

•After you order a ride, the app will provide a pickup location near your present location.

Metro Micro rides can be summoned using the Metro Micro app for smartphones.

•Fares for first six months of Metro Micro are $1 (transfer not included). Riders will be able to pay for the service by using their TAP card with stored value or with a credit card.

•The technology behind this service will allow riders to plan entire trips – both Metro Micro and their bus or train ride – in real-time using a single mobile app, internet browser or Metro’s call center.

•There are also plans to expand Metro Micro to seven new service areas around L.A. County in 2021. Stay tuned for that!

•We know that travelers are concerned about health and safety and our pilot program has been designed to address those concerns. Metro Micro has adopted several steps to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic for the health and safety of its riders:

–Face coverings will be required at all times for drivers and passengers.

–Clear vehicle sneeze guard partitions will separate driver from passengers.

–Vehicle capacity will be restricted to allow for better passenger distancing.

–Drivers will be trained on proper COVID-19 health and safety procedures and be provided with proper PPE equipment.

–Metro Micro vehicles will be cleaned with EPA-approved disinfectants.

–Metro will continue to follow guidance from health officials to keep its drivers and passengers safe.

Here’s the Facebook Live event from this morning — the stream begins 10 seconds in:

Some background on the Metro Micro project: In February, the Metro Board approved awarding a $29-million contract to private ridesharing company RideCo Inc. to partner with Metro to operate Metro Micro.

Metro Micro is a component of the NextGen Bus Plan — the first phase of that plan also begins Sunday. NextGen represents the first major overhaul of Metro’s bus network in more than 25 years and is designed to speed up bus trips and provide more frequent service on many routes. Metro Micro’s role is to help provide rides in parts of town that are challenging ridership-wise for fixed route buses.

Similar to other pilot projects, Metro Micro staff will be continually adjusting this service based on demand and real-time results from data collected during its operation.

Please see this post for a rundown of all the Metro Bus service changes this Sunday. Use this online tool to check your bus line for any changes.

One big benefit of Metro Micro is the service’s ability to accommodate wheelchair users.


Mobility 21 Advisory Board Member Spotlight:
Samuel Johnson

Chief Executive Officer
Transportation Corridor Agencies

Samuel Johnson serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Transportation Corridor Agencies — two joint powers authorities formed by the California legislature in 1986 to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s public toll road system comprised of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads. Since joining TCA in 2015 as Chief Toll Operations Officer, Johnson has had responsibility and oversight for the Agencies’ tolling systems, customer service, revenue management, violation processing, toll compliance, customer experience communications and information technology functions.

An accomplished tolling executive and industry leader, Johnson championed the statewide effort to adopt sticker transponders and implemented strategic contracting approaches for systems and services that have enhanced customer service and improved the Agencies’ fiscal position, saving millions of dollars per year.

Johnson serves as president of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), the global association for the owners and operators of toll facilities and the businesses that serve them. He is immediate past president of the statewide California Toll Operators Committee (CTOC).

Prior to joining TCA, Johnson spent 12 years with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) overseeing countywide efforts to implement innovative transportation solutions and serving as part of the executive team responsible for the region’s tolling enterprise, including the State Route 125 toll road and the I-15 Express Lanes, the nation’s first dynamically priced toll facility.

Johnson earned a bachelor’s of science degree in business management with an emphasis in accounting from San Diego State University


Mobility 21 Advisory Board Member Spotlight:
Stephen J. Polechronis
Senior Vice President
AECOM

Stephen Polechronis is a transportation industry executive and project manager with over 34 years of experience in the industry. His extensive transit project management experience includes development, design, and construction of light rail, heavy rail subway, and commuter rail projects. He is currently serving as the program manager for the Caltrain Downtown Extension for the Transbay Joint Powers Authority in San Francisco. Before joining AECOM, he served as a deputy executive officer with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and as a project manager with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. He has broad experience in communicating through public information meetings and various media outlets.

In addition to his project work, Polechronis has held a number of executive positions with AECOM, including his recent assignment as Regional Business Line Leader for West Transportation, South. Polechronis’s previous assignments with AECOM include responsibility for development of the Latin American transportation initiative, director of West program management, and West Coast regional manager of business development. He has held positions with both P&L and business development responsibility.

Polechronis is active in the Woman’s Transportation Seminar, American Public Transportation Authority, Construction Management Association of America, and the Central City Association of Los Angeles.


OCTA Board reviews 2020 Accomplishments that included continuing to make freeway and transit improvements and providing regional leadership among obstacles of COVID-19.

OCTA Adapts, Overcomes Pandemic Challenges to Deliver Successfully on 2020 Initiatives

Throughout 2020, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) adapted and pushed through the many unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to continue keeping its promises to deliver a balanced and sustainable transportation network for Orange County.

A summary of the many accomplishments for OCTA in 2020 was presented today to the OCTA Board of Directors, comprised of 15 elected and two appointed members from across the county, and a Caltrans representative.

The Board led the way in directing policy that made necessary adjustments to protect the health and safety of the public and OCTA employees, while continuing to keep Orange County moving.

“As an organization we worked diligently to proactively address the unprecedented challenges of this public health crisis,” said OCTA Chairman Steve Jones, also the Mayor of Garden Grove. “I’m proud of OCTA staff and our Board of Directors for accomplishing so much toward providing essential transportation improvements and services for Orange County.”

Milestones for the year were guided by five overarching Board Initiatives:

  • Comprehensive Mobility Solutions
  • Regional Leadership and Public Transparency
  • Resiliency, Sustainability and Innovation
  • Fiscal Accountability
  • Organizational Excellence

Accomplishments included advancing projects promised to voters through Measure M, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements. Among them are important freeway improvements on I-405, continuing to make improvements on I-5 in South County, and completing the I-5 Central County Improvements Project – four months ahead of schedule.

Other notable accomplishments included continuing to build the OC Streetcar in Santa Ana and Garden Grove, funding street improvements and enhancing the OC Bus system.

OCTA also took strong steps forward with zero-emission bus efforts, debuting the largest transit-oriented hydrogen fueling station in the nation and approving a separate pilot program for 10 plug-in electric buses.

OCTA demonstrated resiliency and regional leadership in dealing with the effects of COVID-19, to help protect employees and the public.

That agency-wide effort included providing consistent messaging in multiple languages to keep the public informed about safety measures on the OC Bus system, including temporary rear-door bus boarding, limiting the number of bus passengers for social distancing, implementing face covering requirements, and installing hand sanitizer and face-covering dispensers on all OC Buses.

The entire bus fleet was equipped with driver shields, which allowed a gradual and safe return to front-door boarding.

OCTA capitalized on years of planning to quickly transition to remote work and virtual meetings when the pandemic hit. All Board and Committee meetings were transitioned to a virtual format starting in March.

More than 500 administration employees smoothly transitioned to working remotely due in large part to extensive crisis planning, a remote-work pilot program, and a years-long effort toward cloud computing.

“We are proud of the leadership OCTA showed and all of the accomplishments throughout 2020,” OCTA CEO Darrell Johnson said. “All of those efforts put us in a strong position to continue providing essential transit services and building an even stronger transportation network for Orange County in 2021 and into the future.”

For a more complete summary of OCTA’s 2020 Accomplishments, please visit: http://www.octa.net/2020Accomplishments.


Construction is set to start in 2022 of the 71/91 Interchange in Corona, thanks to funding awarded to the Riverside County Transportation Commission by the CTC in December.

Riverside County Receives $78 Million in State Funding for Projects in Corona, Eastvale

The California Transportation Commission awarded funding on December 2 for three Riverside County projects, including the long-awaited 71/91 Interchange in Corona, through the Senate Bill 1 Trade Corridor Enhancement Program. Funding was provided for:

  • 71/91 Interchange Project, Corona: $58.1 million
  • McKinley Street Grade Separation Project, Corona: $10.3 million; City of Corona Sponsor
  • Limonite Avenue Gap Closure Project, Eastvale, $9.4 million; City of Eastvale Sponsor

The Riverside County Transportation Commission is sponsoring the 71/91 Interchange Project and applied multiple times for state and federal funding. The interchange improvement is part of the voter-approved Measure A transportation improvement plan, which provides partial funding for the project. The $58.1 million award will provide the final portion of the $121 million needed to rebuild the interchange.

“Funding for the 71/91 Interchange is long overdue, so this is welcome news for our Riverside County residents,” said RCTC Chair and Wildomar City Council Member Ben J. Benoit. “We look forward to completion of this work, which will help relieve traffic congestion, especially on eastbound 91 during the afternoon commute hours,” he said.

The interchange serves as a gateway between Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties and is a vital link for commuters and freight vehicles that use the 91. The new, non-tolled interchange is designed to reduce traffic congestion, increase travel reliability, improve safety, and enhance air quality.

Work is expected to start in 2022 and the new interchange is anticipated to open in 2024. The project will replace the existing single-lane loop connector between eastbound 91 and northbound 71 with a two-lane direct connector ramp, build a new, separate lane from Green River Road to connect with eastbound 91 and northbound 71, and realign the eastbound 91 on-ramp from Green River Road to improve access to the interchange. Learn more here.


SCAG’s Go Human program is a community outreach and advertising campaign with the goals of reducing traffic collisions in Southern California and encouraging people to walk and bike more.

SCAG Receives $1.25 Million Grant for Go Human Programs

Earlier this year, SCAG was awarded a $1.25 million grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to fund continued work through Go Human, SCAG’s regional active transportation safety and encouragement program. The new grant kicked off on Oct. 1 and will help fund Go Human activities through Sept. 30, 2021, including:

  • Go Human’s Community Safety Ambassador Cohort Program, a participatory and experiential planning and leadership series.
  • Resilient Streets Strategies, which implements street activations that address safety and resiliency in response to the pandemic.
  • Safety Mini-Grants, which fund local projects led by community-based organizations.
  • Sub-Regional Safety Peer Exchange Program, a series of community-informed virtual sessions for stakeholders and practitioners addressing traffic safety.
  • Co-Branded Safety Advertisements, print and digital graphics provided at no cost to jurisdictions who have committed to the Go HumanSafety Pledge.

SCAG will continue to focus outreach efforts in collaboration with local elected officials, city staff and community‐based organizations that serve communities disproportionately impacted by collisions. Please visit the Go Human webpage for details on future activities and events.


SANDAG is developing their 2021 Regional Plan, a blueprint for the future of transportation in the San Diego region that features new strategies and technologies like mobility hubs that will connect people to multiple forms of transportation in community centers.

SANDAG Prepares Vision for the Future of Transportation in San Diego with 2021 Regional Plan

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is the San Diego region’s primary public planning, transportation, and research agency, providing the public forum for regional policy decisions about growth, transportation planning and construction, environmental management, housing, open space, energy, public safety, and binational topics. The agency is currently developing its 2021 Regional Plan, a long-term blueprint for the San Diego region that seeks to meet regulatory requirements, address traffic congestion, and create equal access to jobs, education, healthcare, and other community resources. The Regional Plan must be updated every four years and as such, SANDAG has the opportunity to plan for the region’s future based on data-driven considerations, such as new traveler data, population and economic growth forecasts, laws, and trends in technology.

Through the implementation of this data-driven analysis and input from residents and stakeholders throughout the region, SANDAG is working to create a world-class transportation system that benefits all San Diegans.

Looking Ahead to 2021 

In the coming year, the 2021 Regional Plan will go from development to reality. SANDAG is preparing for an exciting year with numerous opportunities for public input and engagement throughout the process. Throughout the coming months, the Regional Plan team will be working to prepare two key documents: the draft 2021 Regional Plan and the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Both documents will be released and undergo public review processes mid-year. Based on public input provided, the final 2021 Regional Plan and final EIR will be released in the fall and will go to the SANDAG Board of Directors for final approval before the end of the year.

Stay up-to-date on the 2021 Regional Plan by following SANDAG on social media—Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter—and make sure you’re subscribed to SANDAG’s email list for the latest news and updates.


Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency Approves Plan to Refund Bonds for Significant Savings

The action could save more than $100 million without extending bond maturity dates.

The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) Board of Directors has approved plans to reduce debt service and save millions by refunding some of the Agency’s outstanding 2013A and 2013C bonds.

The refunding is estimated to save the F/ETCA in excess of $100 million without expending cash or extending bond maturity dates. The refunding would also enhance the Agency’s cash position, which is key given the uncertainties of COVID-19, but also allows the Agency flexibility to pay down other bonds early – something the Board has expressed interest in – or invest the savings in key capital projects.

“At the direction of our Boards and Debt Management Policies, we continuously look for opportunities to bolster our creditworthiness and capitalize on low interest rates, reduce debt payments and generate cash flow without extending bond maturity dates,” said Amy Potter, Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) Chief Financial Officer.

Over the last five years, the F/ETCA has repeatedly taken actions to save nearly $500 million in interest without extending bond maturity dates. TCA’s debt is structured to follow conservatively projected revenues to ensure the Agencies can meet financial obligations while aggressively attracting traffic from congested highways and local streets.”

“We owe it to our more than 2 million customers and the public at large to explore every opportunity to improve our strong financial position,” said TCA CEO Samuel Johnson. “This is yet another sound fiscal decision by our elected leaders, which has positioned the Agencies well for managing the pandemic while still supporting critical projects like Los Patrones Parkway and the Oso Parkway Bridge. Today’s decision allows the Board to consider future options for further reducing debt while advancing projects like the 241/91 Express Connector and keeps the Agency paving a path to success well into the future.”

TCA’s management strengths and long-term financial model have been recognized repeatedly by credit rating agencies including Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s, which have rated all of TCA’s bonds as investment grade.


First on the West Coast: Port of Hueneme Secures Cold-Treatment Finishing On-Dock

Known as the Banana Port of the West Coast, the Port of Hueneme can now add another title to their brand: the Peruvian blueberry pilot Port. Being the specialized reefer port of the U.S. West Coast, Hueneme has been able to receive completed cold-treated produce containers for years; however, they now are now going to be making history by offering the ability of completion of this treatment on-port. This new service is the first of its kind on the West Coast and stands to reduce the cost of transporting blueberries, eliminate thousands of pounds of Green House Gases, and support local California and Peruvian growers.

Oxnard Harbor District Board President Jess J. Ramirez stated, “This new opportunity is not only a game changer for our blueberry partners, but also will help reduce air emissions across the U.S. and spur local job creation, a win-win-win.” This new service will begin immediately as a one-year pilot program, and will eliminate over 2.2 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) across America. The blueberries will be imported from Peru’s Callao and Paita Ports via the Port of Hueneme, a specialized seaport in the reefer segment located near the largest consumer base on the West Coast market for which these blueberries are intended for, instead of being trucked from the East Coast. This reduction will consequently cut air emissions by 3,660 tons of CO2, 11.56 tons of NOx, 900 pounds of PM10, 820 pounds of PM2.5, and 60 pounds of SOx each year of the pilot.

“I would like to thank our partners at USDA, CDFA, and Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner Ed Williams for their collaboration and faith in our Port to bring this program to fruition,” said Kristin Decas, CEO & Port Director. “This new pilot program will enable blueberries to come directly to the West Coast from Peru during the growing off-season in the United States, benefiting consumers and local blueberry companies alike.”

Additional safeguards will be implemented to help reduce any risk of insects hitching a ride on the blueberries to California including: monitoring, security, and working closely with the local Ventura County Ag Commissioner and Customs and Border Protection Agricultural Inspectors as the blueberries arrive.

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