[Remarks by Mayor Fisch at the November 20, 2021 Opening of the MOVE Culver Project]
Welcome to the grand opening of Move Culver City! This is a historic occasion in Culver City as this is the culmination of a decade of collaboration, visioning and planning.
We started a community discussion ten years ago about the economic growth that we anticipated and the worsening traffic that it would bring, as well as advancing technology that could help. The community and its leaders knew then that we had a choice to make. We could do nothing and deal with the community impacts of snarled car traffic. Or Culver City could become a public sector leader in the area of transportation mobility. We chose to be proactive and find solutions rather than watch gridlock overrun our community. We formalized those solutions through the Transit Oriented Development visioning process between 2015 and 2018.
• This included a discussion of bus service and how to expand bus ridership.
• We discussed local rail options and how to make them easier to get to without a car.
• We looked at electrification as a clean fuel and the positive impact it could have on our environment.
• We researched technologies that could turn transportation systems into mobility as a service—for everyone.
That process led, in October of 2018, to the Council’s decision approving a focus on mobility as one of our five strategic priorities. Over the past three years we’ve made great progress and have started to reimagine mobility to connect us to our jobs, our schools, great shopping, and excellent dining—mobility options that enhance our quality of life.
Next CCBus is one such example of our progress. Through this app, Culver City bus riders can track every local transportation system. Gone are the days of wondering when the bus would arrive. Now, right on your smart device, you can see real time arrivals and departures. Out of 150 bus stops in this city, 75 of them have electronic signs announcing real time arrivals—over 80 percent of our bus riders only have to look at the sign at the station to know when their ride will be there.
Oh, and we have also implemented technology that triggers traffic signals to give priority to buses to reduce bus delays.
Why we’re here today
Move Culver City—that’s why we’re here. It’s a day to celebrate our next milestone toward local, sustainable, equitable mobility. Today we’ll cut the ribbon on the first Move Culver City corridor in our downtown.
This corridor includes CityRide, a brand new pilot minibus circulator that is a first-in-the-nation amenity. This is an all-electric, low-floor minibus that will provide first- and last-mile transportation to and from buses and trains, as well as help downtown and Arts District visitors move throughout the corridor, enhancing enjoyment of all the local businesses.
We’ve enhanced bicycle safety with dedicated bike lanes and bike boxes that allow a preeminent spot for cyclists at intersections.
There are dedicated bus lanes where our minibus—as well as buses from CityBus, LA DOT, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, and Metro—can move quickly and efficiently through our downtown and connect with the E-Line Culver City Station and Arts District. To me, this is a very special part of the project. We’ve spent nearly 2 years talking about essential workers—people, largely in low wage jobs, who had to come to work during the worst of the pandemic. Well, 57 percent of bus riders in LA County live below the poverty line, and a lot of them are essential workers. The median household income of our bus riders is just $18,000. The $10,000 annual cost of owning and operating a car is more than half of such a household’s income. Now they can use the pubic bus on our public streets, without waiting behind the traffic of private cars.
• We’ve built bus and bike platforms for safer bus boarding and continuity of bike lanes.
• We’ve installed delineators and curb stops for safely separating cars and trucks from buses and bikes.
• We have added Bird as a new partner to Wheels, so residents and visitors can use e-scooters in the area.
And the road just got a lot prettier with the addition of Ballona Creek inspired asphalt art.
Now, with MOVE Culver City improvements, we have more options that are fast and convenient for us to move around. With all these new additions to our downtown corridor we understand there will be confusion for users as we get used to this new design. Please grab our “Take One” with more details about these amenities and how to properly interact with the new signals and signs on the corridor.
And before you think we broke the bank on this project—utilizing tactical urbanism, a fancy term for low-cost, scalable interventions that make our city livelier and more enjoyable, we planned and built this project for just 20 percent of the estimated cost!
Remember, this is a pilot project, the City Council has approved this project for a one-year duration, during which time we’ve charged staff with actively and critically analyzing impacts both negative and positive. And we’re making sure there is transparency in that analysis; the city will publicly publish a Key Performance Indicator report every quarter and will present a final report during a City Council meeting in the fall of 2022.
A major local initiative like this cannot happen without regional, state and federal partners. Culver City’s County Supervisor, Holly Mitchell, also sits on the LA Metro Board. She is an ardent advocate for Culver City and has a heart for bus only lanes and equity-based systems. Because of her LA Metro votes, the majority of funds for construction of this project came from LA County’s Measure M and LA Metro grants. Thank you Supervisor Mitchell.
Also with us today are Sen. Kamlager and Assemblymember Isaac Bryan who are also great Culver City advocates. Their help with a California Energy Commission grant for five million dollars was just awarded for construction, and another $200k grant was awarded for infrastructure planning around this project. Without their support of the new state law that made it easier for Culver City to implement bus only lanes, we definitely wouldn’t be here today. Thank you both!
Today we’re celebrating and tomorrow we get back to work. There’s much more to be done to reach our city’s goal of being zero emission by 2028, a full 12 years before California’s deadline.
Our Fareless System Initiative, FSI, will be expanded because low income kids, students and adults should have the opportunity for transportation to and from work and school. Culver City piloted the TAP (transit smart payment card) program even before LA Metro adopted it and between 2019 and today we’ve doubled student ridership to and from school.
• We’re also looking at additional circulator service in other areas of the city.
• We’re pursuing long term electrification of our city fleet.
• And we are one of the few cities that has shovel-ready projects—which is critical because it means we’ll be among the first to access the federal government grants just released through the infrastructure bill.
• We’re exploring how employer shuttles might use our dedicated bus lanes.
• And in January 2022, staff will bring to the Council a short-range mobility plan that will detail all the specific projects the city is committed to launching in the next three to five years.
We are busy, and I’m so proud of our top-shelf city staff who are leading this effort. Many thanks to all those on the city’s staff who have worked tirelessly to make this day possible.
This project is just three lane miles, and it is a paradigm shift. But imagine a network of 300 miles, or 3,000 miles. Imagine being able to get to Burbank in 30 minutes at any time of day. It’s possible, and it starts here. So my final message is to our neighbors. Keep an eye on what we’re doing in Culver City and connect to us