WiFi Is Coming To Metro Buses, And More Highlights From Metro CEO's AMA

How did you spend your lunch break? On Tuesday afternoon, Metro CEO Phil Washington took to reddit and did an hour-long "Ask Me Anything" during which he fielded questions from fellow redditors and Metro riders about the current shape and future of Los Angeles' public transportation system. Washington is also in the midst of stumping for Measure M—a proposed half-percent sales tax increase to raise $120 billion for Metro over forty years—which Angelenos will have an opportunity to vote for in November.

Here are the highlights from Phil Washington's AMA:

WiFi is coming to Metro buses:

The plans at this time are to continue installing cell phone coverage at underground stations. That will allow people to both make calls and get online via their phones. There is currently cell phone coverage for some carriers — Verizon and Sprint — between Union Station and 7th/Metro. The next phase will extend coverage on the subway to Wilshire/Western Station.

We are starting to implement WiFi on our buses. This will begin with the next buses we receive as a pilot in the coming months, and will grow over time.

More info is here: http://thesource.metro.net/2016/04/28/cell-service-now-available-to-verizon-customers-in-dtla-redpurple-line/

Don't worry, those Metro seats are cleaned daily:

Cloth is more comfortable for our customers and the seats are steamed cleaned daily.

Measure M plans to convert the Orange Line to rail:

Measure M would provide funds first for Orange Line improvements — including grade separations — and then later a conversion to rail.

It also includes plans to expand into West Hollywood:

Measure M includes funds to extend the Crenshaw/LAX Line north to West Hollywood. We are going to launch the environmental studies soon that will look more closely at this project and ultimately determine a route. We endeavor to accelerate this project to be completed prior to the published opening date.

They've recently doubled security system-wide:

I am aware of the need to improve late night security and law enforcement staffing system-wide. We recently doubled the number of officers patrolling the system, ensuring we have security guards on duty at our busiest stations until 1AM. We have also added an extra team of 20 deputies to patrol rail lines during the late evening hours. That said, we are also in the final stages of a security and law enforcement deployment plan that will maintain high visibility, system-wide, during all hours of bus and rail operations. We anticipate bringing this to the Board for approval in the coming months. Some of Metro’s stations were outfitted with fare gates several years ago to address fare evasion, but not all stations were ideally suited for gates. To address this issue, Metro is currently in the process of hiring 77 new fare inspectors/security staff that will be assigned to key locations.

And are still in the process of increasing it:

We are doubling down on our security. Starting in the next 30 days, patrons will see uniformed law enforcement presence at many of our stations, trains and buses, to include the Blue Line rail stations. Safety is our number one priority.

And this includes a hotline for people who experience sexual harassment on Metro:

In 2015, we launched our It’s Off Limits campaign to fight sexual harassment on our system. I encourage riders who experience sexual harassment to report it by calling 1.888-950-SAFE or by reporting it on www.metro.net. At the same time, we are expanding our security presence and are about to launch a hotline specifically for
sexual harassment victims.

Metro has been carrying a LOT of people to Rams games:

Taking Metro to the Rams games has been hugely popular. We’ve been carrying about 25% of the people going to and from the games. That’s about 20,000 passengers that aren’t clogging the roads around the Coliseum. The Metro Board voted earlier this year to create a Metro Line to Goal Line task force to study the best way that transit can serve the new Rams stadium to be built in Inglewood.

Currently, we are engaged in what we call a feasibility study to determine how and what rail alignment would be best to service the new stadium in Inglewood.

They're working on letting you do more with your TAP card:

Yes, our Office of Extraordinary Innovation is looking into how to integrate all fare media across the county. We already have integrated the TAP card with 26 of our municipal bus operators. So, we continue to work towards better integration.

He's pleased with the Kinkisharyo P3010, the cars currently in use by the Expo and Gold lines:

Yes! The feedback that we’ve received from customers is that they like the layout of the new cars. We’ve also had numerous people saying the new cars are both quiet and offer a very smooth ride. However, there are still some "kinks" to work out on these vehicles, which we're doing.

And more cars are coming to both of those lines:

We're receiving more rail vehicles every month and adding them to both the Expo and Gold Lines in the coming weeks.

They're getting reading for our self-driving car future:

We are certainly closely following the development of self-driving vehicles. But we also have to be mindful that self-driving vehicles aren’t here yet and we don’t know what form exactly they will take.

We believe that self-driving vehicles may definitely help improve road safety and help get more people to and from transit. But we also believe there will always be a place for frequent, high-capacity transit such as buses and trains.

He's a Metro commuter, too:

Daily. I ride to work.

He's from Chicago and proud of it:

We research and adopt good ideas from all over the world, and our vision is for LA Metro to become the best transportation agency in the world. In the meantime, what I intend to bring to LA is deep dish pizza, red hots and Harold's Chicken.

Sorry, Dodgers:

Being from the Southside of Chicago, Go Cubs!!