This months LACMTA Board Meeting was held on September 24th at the MTA Board Room at One Gateway Plaza. This was the first full meeting of the Mark Ridley-Thomas era as the MTA chairman. These are some issue that may concern MTA operators and members of the SMART Transportation Division.
New Management Staff
CEO Phillip Washington introduced new members of the executive management team to the board on Thursday. The introductions included the new Chief Operations Officer James Gallagher. Gallagher has had a 35-year transportation career with management experience at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District, Washington Area Transit Authority (Metro) in Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Metro) and most recently at the Transportation Corridor Agencies in Irvine, Calif. The General Committee met with Mr. Gallagher earlier this month to meet begin the dialogue on issue that impact the operators. Former Interim COO Bob Holland, with whom General Committee 875 has a strong working relationship, will remain in Operations as Gallagher's #2.
Operator Safety Barriers
At July's MTA Board meeting, CEO Phil Washington requested an expedited procurement process of the operators safety barrier that had previously been approved. The expedited procurement was approved and will be arriving on the New Flyer buses as well as retrofitted on the existing bus fleet. General Committee 875 has been generally supportive of this barrier system that finally provides some form of operator protection. For operators who are uncomfortable with the barrier system, the General Committee is committed to giving operators the option to utilize the glass barrier in the open position as it was designed to do.
The MTA has been pushing a number of legislative items in Sacramento and many of them have passed in the last session.
SB 767, dubbed "Measure R2", allows the MTA to put a sales tax initiative on the ballot. The General Committee has been monitoring this bill closely because of its impact on the future on the operations budget. This bill, unlike the last Measure R, does not have a guaranteed set aside for operations. SMART TD, along with the ATU and Teamsters, haS notified the MTA that there will be no union support for a bill that does not provide for operations. With this tax measure needing a 2/3 vote to pass, this bill will need all the help it can get.
The Orange Line has been a victim of its own success leading to overcrowded buses during the morning and evening commutes. There are those who mistakenly think that a longer bus will be able to alleviate this issue, so AB 726 changes the maximum bus length allowed on the Orange line from 60 to 82 feet. SMART TD has been opposing this bill since its inception due to numerous safety and practicality concerns. The General Committee alternatively has been pushing to make the Orange Line a light rail line as it was originally intended.
As of now there is no manufacturer for an 82' bus that runs on either CNG or electricity. There has also been no funding identified to improve the Orange Line to accommodate a bus of that size, so any potential change on this matter is long into the future. Irregardless of its feasibility, General Committee 875 will continue to oppose this measure as well as offer better solutions to the MTA Board and to the public transportation riders of LA County.