Metro’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)
November 18, 2013 4 Comments
Recommendations for Best Practices
As Los Angeles County’s primary transportation agency, Metro’s responsibilities include all aspects of funding, constructing, operating and maintaining our multimodal transportation system. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition encourage Metro to revisit the makeup of its advisory committees to better represent all modal and geographic constituencies and provide the agency with the appropriate breadth of technical expertise. Metro’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is the most prominent and most influential of these committees.
Metro’s TAC, created in 1977, informs Metro’s policy decisions and investments with a regional perspective. The structure and membership is intended to represent LA County’s diverse geographic and modal interests with a combination of government agencies and non-government organizations. The current membership of TAC does not best reflect the technical expertise needed to implement the latest planning and policy for walking and bicycling, urban design, public health and sustainability. A common best practice for technical committees is to ensure adequate representation by all stakeholder groups
The TAC provides technical assistance and advice to Metro at critical stages in project planning and policy development by reviewing and evaluating various transportation proposals and alternatives within Los Angeles County, including highway and transit projects and Call for Projects. Metro staff regularly report to and solicit input from TAC on all major agency functions, including major corridor projects, legislative initiatives and agency policy.
Per the TAC Bylaws, the scope of TAC’s efforts include:
the funding, operation, construction and maintenance of streets and freeways, bus and rail transit, demand and system management, and air quality improvements. The Committee shall review, comment upon, and make recommendations on such matters as are referred to it by MTA.
Four subcommittees report to the TAC to inform their recommendations:
- Bus Operations Subcommittee (BOS) – review and provide technical input on all bus operations, capital, and legislative issues;
- Streets and Freeways Subcommittee – review and provide technical input on projects and issues related to seaports and airports access, goods movement, bicycle improvements, pedestrian improvements, Transportation Enhancement Activities (TEA), traffic systems management, and streets and freeways operations and programming;
- Local Transit Systems Subcommittee (LTSS) – provide technical input on issues affecting local transportation systems including fixed route circulation, commuter services, paratransit, and rail feeder services; and
- Transportation Demand Management/Air Quality (TDM/AQ) Subcommittee – provide technical input on TDM and air quality issues, and advice on bicycle improvements, pedestrian improvements and TEA.
The TAC is currently comprised of 32 voting members representing cities, the County, League of Cities appointments from councils of government (COGs) or subregional agencies, Caltrans, appointments from Metro, municipal transit operators, California Highway Patrol, 2 appointments from the TDM subcommittee, Auto Club of Southern California (AAA), and an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) citizen representative. There are additional non-voting members from regional agencies and industry representatives (SCAG, BNSF, AQMD).
Why this matters? In June, a subcommittee of Metro’s TAC, the Streets and Freeways Subcommittee, requested the TAC to add one pedestrian expert and one bicycle expert as voting members to its committee. After months of discussion, TAC declined that recommendation and opted instead to add only one voting pedestrian/bicycle member and an additional non-voting pedestrian or bicycle member. Eligibility for TAC membership was restricted to public agency staff, limiting the range of available expertise to that found within departments that have only recently begun focusing on bicycle and pedestrian issues. Nonprofits with technical expertise in pedestrian and bicycle transportation were excluded from TAC membership.
As Metro continues to invest billions of dollars every year into LA County’s transportation system, it is critical that the agency’s actions be advised by a balanced panel of technical experts, including representatives from all modes and additional expertise from related sectors as determined by the Board. Adding voting members with expertise in bicycle and pedestrian planning, urban design and public health will add depth to policy discussions and ensure that Metro’s decisions serve the transportation needs of LA County’s diverse communities.