By Néstor CASTIGLIONE
“There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” goes the old adage. Though it’s safe to say that many Glendalians are likely none too fond of the notoriety of its traffic-swarmed streets – to say nothing of the resulting accidents they leave in their wake. The Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) is offering residents a chance to voice how they want this problem tackled.
At five different meetings to be held from May 3 through May 12, the MTA will be soliciting public comment from community stakeholders as to how the agency will prioritize its funding in the fiscal year beginning in July. The first meeting will hear out people regarding services in the San Fernando Valley. That meeting will take place Wednesday, May 3 at the Rose Goldwater Community Center (6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd.) in Canoga Park. Another meeting dealing with services in the San Gabriel Valley is set to take place the following week on May 8 at the Metro Division 9 Building in El Monte (3449 Santa Ana Ave.). The meetings are set to take place at 6 p.m. and 5 p.m. respectively.
These meetings will be followed by a hearing held by the MTA board of directors at the agency’s headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles (One Gateway Plaza) on May 17 at 1 p.m.
According to David Sotero, communications manager for the MTA, the agency’s 2017-18 budget will be $6.11 billion – a nearly $100 million increase from last year’s budget.
For the residents and businesses in Glendale, the stakes are high.
“There is definite room for improvement with traffic and public transportation,” said Judy Kendall, president and CEO of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce. “Mobility, connectivity, public transportation – these are all of the utmost importance to our business community.”
Mayor Ara J. Najarian echoed her sentiments.
He said that Glendale’s overall connectivity to the region’s public transportation grid had improved in the seven years since he has sat on the MTA’s board of directors. Among the projects that he advocated for were the 501 Express Line that links Glendale to Old Town Pasadena and North Hollywood.
“It’s an excellent connector,” he said. “People in Glendale can be dropped off at the doorstep of the Gold Line in Pasadena. Or they can make their way east and have access to the Orange and Red Lines in North Hollywood. These are points that open commuters up to everywhere else.”
But he admitted that Glendale was still behind in its connectivity via public transportation.
Neighboring Pasadena is a major transit hub, with various bus lines as well as the Gold Line radiating out to the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, and Downtown Los Angeles.
Among the ideas Najarian is advocating for is the implementation of a bus rapid transit corridor that would connect the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys. Other ideas being explored are the addition of new stations along the existing Metrolink line that would serve residents with a potential light rail line that would connect Glendale to Union Station.
“This wouldn’t just take people to Downtown,” he said. “This would link Glendale to the whole MTA system, which is extensive.”
The MTA is strongly encouraging interested businesses and residents to attend the meetings.
“We encourage the public to participate in these meetings to help us prioritize the programs to be funded,” read a press release forwarded by Sotero. “Public input will also ensure our expenses are transparent and we are accountable for our planned activities.”
Public comment can also be given online by going to http://lametro.force.com/onlinebudget or by e-mailing the MTA at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for written comments from the public is May 12.