LA Metro announced that it is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins on Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 15, with commemorative TAP cards as part of a series it has been releasing throughout the past year to “celebrate the region’s incredible diversity.”
“We are pleased to help our riders celebrate [National Hispanic Heritage Month],” LA Metro said. “Our region is, of course, heavily influenced and informed by Hispanic culture—as is Metro as an agency.”
For example, according to the agency, 45% of Metro employees are Hispanic, 57% of Metro’s riders are Hispanic, and approximately 49% of Los Angele County’s population are of Hispanic origin.
The new TAP cards, Metro says, will be available at select vending machines on all rail lines, the G and J Lines and Metro Customer Centers beginning Sept. 15.
Metro says its Metro Art program continues to offer diverse range of artworks and cultural programing “to engage communities throughout Los Angeles,” including:
- A performance by Mariachi Las Colibri at Union Station in 2021
- Artist Yolanda Gonzalez in conversation with Metro Art and a virtual tour of We Are…, a countywide exhibition of Metro rider portraits that is a partnership between Metro Art and AARP.
- Artists Laura Vazquez Rodriguez and Stephanie Mercado in conversation about the Metro Art Silver Linings project and the importance of connecting with and caring for one another.
Additionally, Metrolink will have a “Mariachi Train” this afternoon to celebrate the beginning of Latino Heritage Month. The train features a two-hour performance by local act Mariachi Tierra Azteka, LLC, and will complete a round-trip on the Antelope Valley Line from Union Station to Sylmar/San Fernando and back.
Metro Transit Projects
Metro adds that it has several transit projects in the works that will “heavily serve Hispanic communities” in L.A. County, including:
- The East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project that will run between Van Nuys and the Sylmar/San Fernando Valley Metrolink Station, including new stations in Panorama City, Arleta, Pacoima and Mission Hills.
- The Regional Connector that will allow Metro to run trains directly from East L.A. into the heart of downtown L.A.— no more having to transfer at Union Station to the subway.
- The Purple (D Line) Extension that will greatly speed up transit service along the Wilshire Corridor and will connect Hispanic communities west of downtown L.A. to the Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills and Westwood (including UCLA and the VA campus).
- The soon-to-open first section of the K Line light rail between the E (Expo) Line and Westchester/Veterans Station serving the Crenshaw Corridor and Inglewood.
- An extension of the L Line from East LA to Commerce, Montebello, Pico Rivera and Whittier.
- The NoHo to Pasadena project to build a new bus rapid transit line between North Hollywood, Burbank, Glendale, Eagle Rock and Pasadena City College and another project to improve bus service across the northern San Fernando Valley.
- The West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor light rail project that will build a light rail line between Artesia and Union Station—with new stations serving Bellflower, Paramount, Downey, Cudahy, South Gate, Bell, Maywood, Huntington Park and Vernon.
- The Rail-to-Rail walking/bike path between the K Line, J (Silver Line) and A (Blue) Line in Inglewood and South L.A., as well as the L.A. River Path project to close the eight-mile gap between Elysian Valley and Maywood.
One of Metro’s affinity groups, the agency say, is the Advancing Latinos at Metro Association (ALMA), which “works to continue to increase diversity and culture awareness and help support Latino employees.” Metro says it continues to make a concerted effort to foster an inclusive culture at the agency.
As part of the Metro Connect program, Metro says Hispanic-owned businesses have been awarded more than 500 contracts as a prime contractor or a subcontractor totaling $235.7 million in just the past two years. There are also 652 Hispanic-owned firms that have been certified to do business with Metro.
Metro says this is part of its ongoing efforts to “have a fair, inclusive and competitive procurement program that gives a wide variety of contractors and vendors the opportunity to help build Metro’s growing system.”
Small Business Prime
“We are working to expand our opportunities,” Metro said. For example, Metro’s Small Business (SB) Prime is the agency’s “breakthrough initiative that paves the way for small businesses to bid and win contracts as prime contractors.” SB Prime enables SBE certified businesses to compete for certain contracts–up to $5 million–against only other small businesses.
Local History/Additional Resources
Metro says Hispanics have long played a prominent role in L.A. County’s local transit systems. The forerunner to the current ALMA affinity group was Hispanics in Transit (HIT) at the RTD, which merged with CTC in 1993 to form Metro. Here’s an article in the RTD employee newsletter on HIT.
Much of the work by Latino track workers so many decades ago, Metro says, continues to provide transit rides today. Both the Pacific Electric (PE) and Los Angeles Railway (LAR) that operated streetcars and rail lines in the region hired Latinos to build their rail lines. In turn, many of those old lines were eventually bought by Metro and parts of the A (Blue), E (Expo), G (Orange) and L (Gold) Lines are built atop the PE and LAR lines.
For a deeper dive into the legacy of Hispanic transit workers, see this article that appeared in Pacific Electric’s magazine in 1928.
Check out this article from the RTD’s old employee newsletter on Vic Muniz, one of the early Latinos promoted into management on L.A.’s transit systems—something that is routine today, Metro says, but was not in the past.
For more information on how Metro is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, click here.