Arraignment was postponed today for a Glendale man charged with murder in the stabbing death of a passenger aboard a Metro bus in Highland Park.
Allan Jay Milton, 43, of Glendale is accused in the stabbing death of Phillip Melendez of Los Angeles. His arraignment was reset for Nov. 30.
Milton, who’s being held in lieu of $1 million bail, allegedly stabbed Melendez Monday after getting into an argument with him. He allegedly fled when the bus stopped at North Figueroa and Meridian streets and was arrested by the sheriff’s Transit Policing Division the next day.
If convicted, Milton could face up to 26 years to life in state prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities previously said they were looking for three suspects but now say the other two men are considered witnesses to whom investigators would like to speak.
Metro will temporarily shut down Gold Line service between Union Station and the Pico/Aliso Station during the Nov. 20 weekend as part of pre-construction work for the Regional Connector Transit Project.
The preliminary closure will run from Friday, Nov. 20 at 9 p.m. until Monday, Nov. 23 at 5 a.m.
Major work on the connector transit project calls for workers to move existing Metro Gold Line tracks at 1st Street and Alameda 40 feet north in order to reconfigure the southern station entrance of the existing Little Tokyo Gold Line Station.
Work will begin Dec. 4 at p.m. and take up to three moths to complete, according to Metro.
During that time, there will be no Gold Line train service between Union Station and the Pico/Aliso Gold Line Station. The transit agency says it will operate a bus shuttle service between the two stations, giving Gold Line riders service to the Little Tokyo area and Pico/Aliso station. Riders will need to get off the Gold Line at Union Station or the Gold Line Pico/Aliso station to board the shuttle buses.
Travel delays should be expected, and travelers should adjust their travel schedules through the area, Metro advised.
Vehicle drivers should also expect lane closures and detours through the area during construction.
Once completed in late February 2016, Gold Line train service will be restored to normal operation with a modified south entrance, Metro said.
According to Metro, the “Regional Connector Transit Project completes a 1.9-mile segment between the Metro Blue and Expo Lines and the Metro Gold Line by providing a direct connection with three new stations planned for 1st Street/Central Avenue, 2nd Street/Broadway and 2nd Place/Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles.” The transit agency expects the new rail line to attract 17,000 new daily riders and provide access to over 88,000 passengers when completed in 2020.
“It will provide a one-seat, one fare ride for commuters from Azusa to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica without the need to transfer between rail lines for major east/west and north/south trips.”
For more information on the project and for construction updates, visit metro.net/regionalconnector
A 43-year-old man accused in a fatal stabbing on a Metro bus in Highland Park was arrested Wednesday and booked on suspicion of murder, but two other suspects remain at large.
Allen Jay Milton, who was detained Tuesday, was booked after being interviewed by homicide detectives. He was being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
The fatal attack occurred on Metro bus line 81 along North Figueroa Street around 10:40 p.m. Monday.
Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Barraza said three men boarded the bus at Avenue 57, walked to the back and began arguing with the victim, who was stabbed in the chest. The assailants fled when the bus, which was carrying about 10 passengers, stopped at North Figueroa and Meridian Streets, he said.
The name of the victim, who was in his 30s, has not been released.
The two suspects still being sought were described only as Hispanic men, reportedly ranging in age from 25 to 35. Anyone with information about their whereabouts was urged to call the Sheriff’s Information Bureau, (323) 890-5500, or Crime Stoppers, (800) 222-TIPS.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority rail stations received an overall grade of C in a statewide study released Monday of how transit rail stations encourage ridership and impact the quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods.
The report by the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment studied the stations and neighborhoods within a half-mile radius of 489 stops in the six rail transit systems in California.
As the C grade suggests, Metro stations finished in the middle of the pack of the transit systems studied. The best overall grade went to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which received a B. Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, received a B-minus. Sacramento Regional Transit received a C, while the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority both received a C-minus.
According to the study, the best-performing Metro station is the Westlake/MacArthur Park station that serves the Red and Purple subway lines. The Red Line’s Hollywood/Western station and the Wilshire/Vermont station, which serves the Red and Purple lines, also received high marks.
The Wardlow Station on the Metro Blue Line was deemed the worst in the Metro system, scoring poorly in nearly all areas. The report’s authors noted that the area around the station is “auto-dominated,” with little pedestrian activity and no concentrations of housing or jobs nearby.
Amtrak and Metrolink were not included in the study. According to the report’s authors, light rail lines are so expensive that attention needs to be paid to surrounding areas, which will determine how effective the systems will be. Studies show that the most effective rail lines serve job centers, retail and service areas and residential neighborhoods.
The letter grades were based on 11 factors, among them transit use by residents and workers, the number of jobs or homes near a station, walkability, crime, change in real estate values between 2009-13, transit affordability and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Tuesday it is implementing technology allowing law enforcement personnel to access images from closed-circuit security cameras throughout the Metro system on their smartphones.
The LexRay Systems allows first responders to see inside a bus or train car that is in need of assistance, according to Metro board Chairman and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
“Metro has been investigating practical technologies that can help enhance the safety and security of the riding public and our employees,” he said.
Additionally, to augment closed-circuit TV coverage near parking lots at Metro Rail and Orange Line stations, Metro will begin deploying SkyWatch security towers as mobile “eyes in the sky.”
The towers are elevated, movable systems that use real-time and remote video surveillance to bolster the security presence. Metro received a state grant to purchase four SkyWatch towers and the deployment will begin in late September, Ridley-Thomas said.
Security kiosks will also be installed in nine subway plazas at high-volume rail stations, enabling sheriff’s deputies and other security personnel to access computers and other law enforcement tools where they have not been previously available.
The new technologies come a few months after Metro introduced the installation of polycarbonate barriers on buses to protect operators from assaults, and the deployment of closed-circuit TV monitors on buses to help reduce assaults and other crimes.
Since March, Metro “has been moving forward with the purchase of security barriers and video monitors on all new buses,” Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington said.
“To those who are inclined to commit crimes on our system: we will be watching you and are ramping up enforcement to catch you,” he said.
The rate of serious crime on Metro’s system is four incidents per 1 million boardings, Washington said. On an average workday, Metro has 1.4 million bus and rail boardings.
East Los Angeles resident and business owner Amaury Reducindo has attended his fair share of meetings about the State Route 710 North project. It’s a project he says always leads to his neighbors fighting over the freeway tunnel and light rail train alternatives proposed to improve traffic in the region.
“It seems we are being herded to pick the better choice when we should be asking for the best choice,” he said Monday during a meeting at the East Los Angeles Library.
“Lets return to the drawing board and look for something that is really going to benefit us,” Reducindo said.
He was not alone, a dozen speakers expressed frustration over proposals they claim will displace more homes and businesses in a community already divided by more than its share of freeways and the Metro Gold Line.
Sup. Hilda Solis hosted the meeting, which included health experts advising the 60 or so attendees they should also be worried about issues that could harm their health.
Dr. Cyrus Rangan, director of the Toxicology and Environmental Assessment Bureau for the County Public Health Department, said Metro’s Draft Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (DIR/EIS) does not adequately address the transportation project’s impact on public health. His unexpected assessment came just two days before the end of the public comment period for the environmental document.
It was the first time a county official had made such a declarative statement criticizing the report since its release in March.
From particle pollution and radioactive substances to noise and ground vibrations, the DEIR “does not address these exposures adequately to our satisfaction,” he said frankly.
Rangan and Andrea Hricko, a professor of clinical preventive medicine at the USC Keck School of Medicine, detailed their concerns with the state mandated document that is supposed to describe the impact each alternative will have on the environment.
“Due to the complexity of this extremely technical EIR document, I instructed both the Department of Public Works and Department of Public Health to review the document and submit letters specific to their respective areas of expertise,” Solis told EGP in a statement.
The supervisor, however, did not say whether she agrees with the health experts’ concerns or if she too would like to see the EIR redone.
Hricko said a major flaw of the DEIR is that it failed to include information about the project’s role in completing the plan for “goods movement” started decades ago when the freeway was first built.
“By ignoring this, they [Metro] are actually being very deceptive,” she said.
For years, critics of the freeway expansion, first as a surface freeway and now possibly a tunnel, have argued that financial interests tied to the movement of goods from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are at the center of efforts to extend the freeway, thereby closing the transportation gap for trucks headed north.
That goal would be met at the expense of the environment and public health, they claim.
Health experts have long said that large numbers of trucks moving goods come with their own set of potential health risks.
Rangan and Hricko agree.
Rangan said county health officials would be submitting a document outlining the department’s many health concerns. Hricko said she and other USC professors would be doing the same.
“Metro must redo the study,” Hricko said emphatically. At the very least, “if the light rail were chosen, then Metro and Caltrans must do an EIR just for that alternative,” she emphasized.
Metro looks forward to reading the comments formally submitted before the comment period closed, agency spokesman Paul Gonzales told EGP in a statement.
“After that, Caltrans will review the comments and questions and respond as warranted,” he said.
The long battle did not originally include East L.A. An alternative for a light rail traveling on an elevated track through East L.A. was added in 2012, bringing eastside residents into the conversation that until then had for the most part been taking place in more affluent communities. As proposed, the light rail would go underground in those cities: South Pasadena, San Marino and La Cañada, leaving eastside residents to feel they will again be forced to bare the brunt of the region’s transportations needs.
In desperation, many people have decided to support the tunnel option because they want to keep the light rail out of their backyards, some speakers said.
“We have been taken by surprise,” said Reducindo. “The fact is that we are not well informed and [are just now] learning more and more about the real impact this project will have on our residents and community.”
If she had to choose just one option, Sonia Fernandez said it would be the tunnel because it’s “the one with the lowest impact to our community.” She accused Metro of not consulting with the East L.A. community before proposing alternatives that will greatly affect the area.
At previous meetings conducted by Metro, eastside residents said they are fed up with the “plague” of pollution and health issues their predominately Latino neighborhood has been forced to endure for the benefit of the region. They said they are tired of the dangerous toxic emissions from heavily traveled freeways in their area.
“I don’t think they take into account the health issues in the area,” said Rachel Vermillion, who lives a stone’s throw from the 710 freeway. “We have cases of asthma, autism and diabetes in the area.”
Residents have even gone as far as accusing Metro and Caltrans of environmental racism.
“For many years our community has been ignored, not just over health but cultural and environmental injustices,” Fernandez said.
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who represents the unincorporated areas of East L.A. and surrounding communities in the 40th district, previously told EGP the light rail alternative is one more example of a minority community being sacrificed to appease neighborhoods that are more affluent.
“While the light rail is being proposed under the guise of a regional solution, the fact is it is nothing more than an irresponsible and unconscionable response to the more influential areas opposing the logical completion of the 710 Freeway,” she told EGP in a statement.
Doelorez Huerta, an environmental activist in the area, gave Solis’ staff a stack of petitions Monday she said were signed by hundreds of residents. The petitions ask for Metro and Caltrans to hold more public meetings in East Los Angeles in hope that the process will be reset to the scoping phase.
“No tunnel, no train, no way,” she said. “Lets start this over and include East L.A. from the start.”
When plans for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles were first announced, there were dire predictions of massive traffic delays and citywide gridlock: neither of which occurred.
Years of preparation and extensive use of public transportation led to what media outlets labeled the “traffic miracle.”
Transportation officials are hoping for the same results as hundreds of thousands of visitors make their way to Los Angeles this week for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.
“Like 1984, we partnered with a public transportation agency,” said Steven R. Vanderpool, senior vice president of the Special Olympics World Games. “But we have an [added] advantage. There are now nearly 100 miles of train lines that did not exist in 1984.”
On Monday, Metro – the official transit provider for the World Games – announced that its rail and bus services would be in full swing during the weeklong international sporting event.
The agency plans to deploy additional rail, buses and staff throughout Los Angeles and Long Beach to accommodate the half a million spectators expected to attend the World Games from July 25 through Aug. 2.
“We plan to monitor service and adjust it if necessary,” said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero. “We have the experience…and flexibility to deploy trains to meet the needs of these events.”
The World Games were created to promote the acceptance and inclusions of people with intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics World Games will be the biggest event to hit Los Angeles since the ’84 Games.
Competitions will be held in Downtown Los Angeles, Encino, Griffith Park, Long Beach, and at UCLA and USC.
“The venues were chosen because they are first-class facilities, which have hosted events before and many are at USC and UCLA so athletes will not have to leave campus to compete,” said Vanderpool. “They are [also] accessible via public transportation.”
Service on the Metro Expo Line will be expanded starting Saturday to help transport the thousands of spectators expected to attend the Opening Ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Trains will be longer to increase occupancy to 700 people per trip, in each direction. That day, trains will run every six minutes. Passengers will be able to get off at the Expo Park/USC Station for the short walk to the Coliseum.
Games such as basketball and aquatics held on the USC campus will also be accessible at the stop.
The Los Angeles Convention Center and Lucky Strike at L.A. Live will serve as venues for games such as bowling and powerlifting. Metro riders on the Expo Line or Blue Line can get off at the Pico Station to attend those events.
The Balboa Sports Center in Encino will host 7-a-team soccer games. The venue will be accessible via the Orange Busway Line, which transfers from the Red Line in Hollywood.
Alamitos Beach in Long Beach will host sailing and the triathlon. The various beach venues can be reached on the Blue Line, and exiting at the 1st Street Station.
The UCLA campus can be reached by taking the 710 and 734 Metro Rapid buses. The school campus will host gymnastics, judo and other games.
Metro does not have direct transportation via its rail lines or rapid buses to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center or the Wilson & Harding Golf Course in Griffith Park, where equestrian and golf events will be hosted. However, Metro recommends people headed to those events take the 94 and 794 buses to reach the venues.
In addition to more frequent and reliable trains, late night service will also be extended until 2 a.m. on July 25, July 31 and August 1.
“In 1984, Los Angeles County didn’t have any rail lines and officials resorted to scare tactics to keep people of the road,” said Sortero. “Fortunately we are now in a much better position to carry people to venues.”
For technically savvy commuters, the Go Metro app will be updated to feature a Special Olympics map highlighting stations near World Games venues.
TAP cards commemorating the Special Olympics World Games are also available for purchase at vending machines.
For specific competition schedules, visit www.LA2015.org.
Sports by Venue
1.Downtown L.A. (L.A. Convention Center/L.A. Live): badminton, bocce, bowling, handball, powerlifting, roller skating and table tennis.
2.Encino (Balboa Sports Centers): 7-a-side soccer
3.Griffith Park (L.A. Equestrian Center/Wilson & Harding Golf Courses): equestrian and golf
4.Long Beach (Alamitos Beach): beach volleyball, half marathon, kayaking, open water swimming, sailing and triathlon.
5.UCLA (various): gymnastics, judo, 5-a-side soccer, 11-a-side soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.
6.USC (various): aquatics, athletics and basketball
Metro celebró el lunes el 25 aniversario de su moderno sistema de trenes, que abarca 87 millas, con la recreación de la apertura de la Línea Azul, ocurrida en 1990.
Un tren de la Línea Azul apareció en el túnel de la estación 7th St/Metro Center a través de un velo de humo para romper una bandera como lo hizo en 1990. En la estación Pico, el presidente de la Junta de Metro y supervisor del condado de L.A., Mark Ridley-Thomas emergió de la cabina del tren, acompañado por funcionarios electos para saludar a la multitud.
“Estamos hoy aquí para agradecer a los votantes del condado de L.A.”, dijo Ridley-Thomas. “Este es su sistema. Ustedes nos dijeron que lo querían. Ustedes nos dirigieron. Ustedes lo apoyaron y a través de su generosidad y clarividencia, estamos creando un moderno sistema de trenes que es regional en su extensión, racional en su atractivo para los pasajeros y equitativo en los beneficios que ofrece a la gente del condado de L.A. No estaríamos aquí hoy si no fuera por ustedes”.
El moderno sistema de trenes de Metro es un logro impresionante. De cero millas de vías en 1990 a 87 millas hoy y con cinco líneas grandes de trenes bajo construcción, entre ellas dos que se abrirán el próximo año y que agregarán otras 17.6 millas, el moderno sistema de trenes de Metro es una reflexión directa de la voluntad de los votantes del Sur de California.
“Pero seríamos descuidados si no reconocemos también a los visionarios del transporte de ese tiempo – particularmente al supervisor del condado de L.A. Kenneth Hahn y al alcalde de L.A., Tom Bradley — quienes trabajaron arduamente para que se aprobara la Proposición A, que nos dio el impulso inicial para crear el moderno sistema de trenes de Metro y expandir nuestro sistema de transporte”, dijo el primer vicepresidente de la Junta de Metro y concejal de Duarte, John Fasana. “Sin su visión del transporte y su valor, dudo que estuviéramos celebrando hoy”.
Desde 1990, la expansión del sistema de trenes de Metro ha transportado a 1,500 millones de pasajeros. Eso representa millones de autos fuera de las calles, cada uno liberando nuestras vías del tráfico y nuestro aire de 4,800 libras de partículas por vehículo.
“Un estudio de USC de 20 años dado a conocer esta primavera reveló que el aire limpio puede estar directamente relacionado con pulmones más fuertes entre los niños que crecen en el Sur de California”, dijo la directora de Metro y supervisora del condado de Los Ángeles, Hilda L. Solís. “Sabemos que en los pasados 25 años lo niveles regionales de smog han caído y eso se traduce en una calidad del aire más saludable para nuestros niños. Los trenes de Metro no pueden tomar todo el crédito por nuestra mejor calidad del aire pero con más de 1,500 millones de abordajes en los pasados 25 años – que representan a miles de carros que no están en nuestras vías– esto ha contribuido indudablemente a cielos más limpios”.
Los trenes de Metro también han contribuido a la transformación de varios vecindarios. En Hollywood, Long Beach, Pasadena y Little Tokyo, las comunidades han mejorado después de la llegada del tren. Una mejor iluminación, desarrollo comercial y la llegada de más visitantes ha hecho que los vecindarios sean más prósperos y atractivos para los negocios y la comunidad.
“Pero el sistema de trenes de Metro no vuela solo”, dijo el director general ejecutivo de Metro, Phil Washington. “Es la pieza central de una red de transporte que incluye 2,200 autobuses de Metro que cubren 170 rutas con casi 16,000 paradas de autobuses. Junto con Metrolink, los transportistas municipales como Big Blue Bus, operadores locales como Glendale Bee y proyectos de mejoras para las autopistas como el de ExpressLanes para una mayor movilidad, estamos construyendo una red de transporte balanceado para abordar los problemas de toda la región”.
Para celebrar el 25 aniversario de trenes de Metro, se emitieron 5,000 tarjetas conmemorativas TAP en las máquinas expendedoras de Union Station y en las estaciones 7th/Metro, Pico y Willowbrook.
En metro.net/25 se ha creado una página de Metro con detalles sobre eventos para celebrar el 25 aniversario de los trenes, entre ellos conciertos, recorridos de arte y arquitectura, programados para el próximo año, así como la oportunidad para que usted comparta sus historias a través de un programa literario interactivo que está abierto al público.
A Metro Blue Line train chugged through a celebratory banner Monday near the Pico Station in downtown Los Angeles to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority mark its 25th anniversary of providing rail service.
The ceremony, featuring a host of elected officials riding the Blue Line train from the Seventh Street/Metro Center Station as it ripped through the banner, was a re-enactment of the celebration that was held in 1990, when Blue Line service began between downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach.
According to Metro, since that day, there have been 1.5 billion boardings on the now 87-mile system.
“This is your system,” County Supervisor and Metro board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said in a nod to voters who have backed the trains over the years. “You directed it. You supported it. And through your generosity and far-sightedness, we’re creating a modern rail system that is regional in scope, rational in its appeal to riders and equitable in the benefits it is providing for the people of L.A. County.”
Metro officials said the rail system has kept thousands of pounds of particulate matter out of the air for every year a car is not being driven.
“A 20-year USC study released this spring revealed that clean air can be directly linked to stronger lungs among children who have grown up in Southern California,” County Supervisor and Metro board member Hilda Solis said. “We know that in the past 25 years regional smog levels have dropped and that translates to healthier air quality for our children. Metro Rail can’t take all the credit for our improved air quality, but with more than 1.5 billion boardings in the past 25 years Metro Rail urns — representing thousands of cars not on our roads — it has undoubtedly contributed to cleaner skies.”
Metro is issuing commemorative 25th anniversary TAP cards through its vending machines to mark the occasion, and a series of events are also planned, including concerts and architectural tours.
Metro’s next rail line is scheduled to open next spring when the Expo Line is extended from Culver City to Santa Monica.
The Federal Highway Trust Fund will expire on July 31 and California’s highways are falling apart. The businesses and residents of California are angry and frustrated by the lack of focus on transportation at both the State and Federal level. Tax revenue is growing in Washington DC and Sacramento but none of that new revenue is going to transportation.
Transportation funding at both the State and Federal level is largely dependent on a per gallon gasoline tax that has been stagnant for years because the tax per gallon has not been increased at the State or Federal level for decades and the development of more fuel efficient cars has lowered the per mile revenue from every vehicle on the road. This has been welcome news for drivers and a major blow to the funding needed to maintain the quality of our transportation infrastructure.
Governor Brown has called a special session on transportation funding and the first hearing was held on June 2. It makes sense for the state to use some of its new general fund revenue for transportation improvements and to add to that funding pool an increase in other revenue sources that are directly related to the drivers that use our streets and highways.
In Congress, the Senate has made some progress on a bi-partisan bill to authorize a new Surface Transportation bill, but revenue to grow the Highway Trust Fund was not part of the proposal. The House has been less aggressive and seems content to vote for another five month extension.
Funding for transportation infrastructure is not an easy problem to solve, but it must be addressed if America is to efficiently move its people and products. Both our quality of life and our economy are at risk. Yes, it will cost money. Money that I believe businesses and residents are willing to pay if they see results in the quality and efficiency of their transportation networks.
Building a transportation network that meets the needs of a growing economy and the challenges of an aging infrastructure requires money and each of us must be prepared to pay for a portion of that cost. We also have the right to demand that more of the tax dollars we are already paying should be earmarked for transportation. I hope you will join me in sending that message to Congress and to our State Legislature. Traffic and potholes are not getting better as we wait.
And that’s The Business Perspective.
The Business Perspective is a weekly column by Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, produced with the input of Public Policy staff.