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CITY OF COMPTON'S BLUE LINE TELLEVILLAGE CASE STUDY

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CITY OF COMPTON'S BLUE LINE TELEVILLAGE The Blue Line TeleVillage creates mobility through technology. Located in Compton, a California city of over 90,000 near South-Central Los Angeles, the TeleVilIage allows residents and employees to access many services without the need to travel. The TeleVilIage is a virtual Main Street which connects people electronically through a Telework Center, a computer lab with Internet access, a video conference center, and interactive kiosks. Funded by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the City of Compton, it is served by local bus routes, MTA routes, Greyhound and the Blue Line light rail at Compton's transit hub. Over 6,000 people a day get on or off either the rail system or the six bus lines at the Compton Transit Center. ~ I) A day care and Head Start program, a police substation, a business assistance program, a community meeting room, and a snack shop are also located in the same building. PROJECT HISTORY The genesis of the project occurred when a Boardmember of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (LACTC) a predecessor of the MTA attended a workshop on telecommunications in 1991. She was intrigued by the consultant's vision of a network of TeleVilIages. This vision dovetailed with the Comm~ssion's discussions about how to create Livable Communities through joint development at its light rail stations. The result was a 1992 MetroNet study by the same consultant for the LACTC. It established the principle of using telemobility for the transportation agency. In 1993, MTA issued its biennial Call for Projects to surrounding communities and transit agencies for use of federal Congestion Management and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds; state Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) funds; and local Proposition C sales tax funds. Although it is not usually an applicant, MTA itself submitted a $500,000 proposal for the Blue Line TeleVilIage, based on the MetroNet study. An influential factor in MTA's decision to fund the TeleVilIage proposal was its desire to contribute to Rebuild L.A. This was a consortium formed after the 1992 civil disturbance following the trial which exonerated police officers in the Rodney King arrest. The City of Compton was one of the geographic areas assisted by Rebuild L`.A. Compton's population is 53~o African-American, 44% Hispanic, 2% Asian, and i.5% Caucasian, with a median income of $24,971, according to the last census. The city is located along the Metro Blue Line, a 26-mile light rail system that operates on 5-15 minutes headways from 4:30 a.m. to ~ ~ p.m., connecting the central business districts of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The Blue Line was the only operating light rail line with a fiber optic network, planned as the transmission mechanism for the technological components of the TeleVilIage.

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Implementation suffered a setback when LACTC and the Southern California Rapid Transit District merged in early 1993. The General Manager of the new MTA froze funds, including the TeleVilIage grant, in order to evaluate MTA's financial situation. However, by mid-1994 the project was back on track. It opened on March 29, 1996 at the Martin Luther King, Ir. Transit Center in Compton. SERVICES OF THE TELEVILLAGE The Blue Line TeleVilIage, which operates from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and serves 20-80 people a day, consists of four components: Computer Cab; Video Conference Center; Telework Center; and Kiosks. Computer Lab Basic computer literacy and training in specific software, such as Power Point and Excel is offered on 12 Pentium computers. Although the classes have a fee, free workshops are available on Windows 95 and the Internet. An annual membership is $ 10 per adult, $5 per student, $20 per families and free for seniors. Members receive a free two-hour workshop; their own e-mai] address and the opportunity to create their own home page; access to the Internet; and free access to the computer lab every day for up to one hour between I-6 p.m.. Members use the Computer Lab for a variety of purposes. For example, students do research on the Internet; job seekers prepare resumes; and entrepreneurs design their own business cards and Web pages. With 956 members, primarily from Compton, and with the training classes, the Computer Lab is operating at capacity. On a late July afternoon, there were 19 in the Lab: a woman working on a Youth Ministry project two adults updating their resumes a "20-something" woman chatting with friends in Atlanta a man checking his stocks and mutual funds a woman working on her business a man bringing up an Amway site 7 youngsters playing computer games a youngster and a middIe-aged man surfing the Internet a man waiting for a computer to type a letter a junior college volunteer helping others to #` . gain experience tor llS resume an employee overseeing the Lab 2

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The key to the Lab's success is the help provided by its staff. One learned on the job and the other took computer courses in the local community college. Between the two of them, they are able to help members with all software and hardware questions. Users have spread the word about the availability of this guidance and support, swelling the membership and increasing computer literacy within the community. Video Conference Center The Video Conference Center, which can seat up to 16 people, has been used for distance learning and teleconferences. City of Compton department heads recently took a course from California State University at Dom~nguez Hills by sitting in the Conference Center and discussing the material with the instructor via the video screen. Four-year-olds in the day care program located within the Transit Center interacted with the librarian from the Pasadena Public Library while she read them stories. A Women's Technology and Empowerment Conference connected the 90 participants with Edith Ssempla, Ugandan Ambassador to the United States, and artist/scuIptor Artis Lane. The Conference Center can also be rented on an hourly basis by businesses wishing to conduct meetings with others located anywhere in the world. Currently, the Conference Center is in use about 50~o of the available hours. Other planned programs include a telemedicine project and a government services linkup. Physicians from Drew Medical School will teach participants from a local senior center about glaucoma and diabetes. Ophthalmologists may also view the participants' eyes over the video screen to determine if a follow-up office visit is needed. In the Circuit Rider Program, representatives from government agencies will use the Conference Center to link citizens with the central office. For example, a case worker from the Veterans' Administration or the Foster Parents' Program could meet at the site with residents and help them file applications or access their records without having to travel to the home office. Telework Center Two work stations, equipped with telephones, computers and access to a laser printer, fax, and copy machine, are used by about 5-10 people a day and are busy about 80% of the time. Many users are self-employed, while others telecommute some days instead of making the stressful trip to the office in congested Los Angeles. The director of the TeleVillage calls the Telework Center "a small business incubator. Although initially envisioned as a center where those employed a distance away could work near home a few days a week, the Telework Center is actually used primarily by entrepreneurs. These budding business owners sign up for use of the private work spaces to make phone calls and compose letters for their fledgling enterprises while having the resources of the City of Compton's Business Assistance program also located there. The Center includes a video computer for teleconferences, allowing the separate parties to see each other and work together on the same document, such as a budget or proposal. Video ,, 3

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Mentoring is available for small business owners and entrepreneurs who wish to be counseled one-on-one by management experts and specialized professionals located elsewhere in the region. Smart Travel Kiosks There are three kiosks in the TeleVilIage and two located off-site at City Hall and Compton College. The kiosks provide information on transit schedules, city services, AIDS assistance, weather reports, movie showings and permit on-line access to the County Housing Authority's database on available housing. Plans are underway to include real-time information on freeway congestion and re-routings and the ability to enroll at Compton College via the kiosks. FUNDING AND FUTURE PLANS Federal, state, and local funds were awarded for the planning, implementation and first year of operation of the TeleVilIage. The $188,599 total came from the following sources: Federal Transit Administration grant Caltrans grant MTA local funds $100,000 $ 88,000 $ 599 Now in its second year of operation, the TeleVillage is funded equally by MTA and the City of Compton. The two-year funding of $ ~ million covers the salaries of four staff, operating expenses, and technology leases. The federal government is supplying Compton's share in the form of a block grant to train welfare recipients moving into jobs. MTA is providing the local match of a half million dollars with Proposition C funds. The federal block grant will add a new dimension to the TeleVilIage. It will become part of a one-stop job training center, where welfare recipients will be enrolled in computer courses and distance learning classes. The day care program, which is already available in the Transit Center, will be joined by an unemployment office, where welfare recipients can apply for job placement assistance. Applicants to Compton's Department of Job Training will be placed in a two-hour morning computer orientation class at the TeleViTIage. Already, those enrolled in the Department's summer youth job program must show that they have both a library card and a membership in the TeleVilIage in order to do research. Connect L.A., sponsored by the non-profit Center for Government Studies, is considering installing its software in the TeleVilIage as part of the job program. Connect L.A.'s program lists job openings, provides a template for a resume, and gives tips on interviewing for a job in several languages. Users can access a video where persons in selected jobs describe their duties, qualifications, and benefits. 4

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MTA has granted similar funds for one-stop job training centers to the cities of E] Monte, located along an MTA busway, and Inglewood, located on the Green Line raid system. Although MTA considers these centers an expansion of the TeleVilIage program, the new TeleVillages may not contain all the components now existing in Compton. MTA staff views the TeleVilIages as part of the agency's 12-point TDM strategy. MTA will develop methods to measure the mode switches that may result from the TeleVilIages. The TeleVilIages will remain as demonstration projects until they can be evaluated for their effect on trip reduction and increased transit readership. Preliminary results are quite encouraging, however. A survey of the membership indicates that a majority of people walk or take transit to the Compton TeleVilIage. Whereas 90% of those in MTA's service area drive to work, a survey indicates that only 30% using the TeleVilIage drive there. The survey of ISS] users, conducted in April and June, 1997, reports the following modes of travel to the TeleVilIage: Drive Carpoo! Walk Bike Transit Taxi 443 11 451 16 660 109 150 4 Blue Line raid MTA Bus Compton bus MTA rail and 397 bus o Figure 1 depicts the results of the survey in percentages of those travelling by each mode. TRAVEL MODES TO TELEVILLAGE April & June 1997 MTA Rail Compton Bus and Bus 25~o MTA Bus 9% 0% Drive 28% Blue Line Bike Walk Rail 1% 29% 7% Carpool 1% s

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Ninety-two percent of those who responded live within Compton. However, persons from 63 other zip codes answered the survey, indicating countywide interest in the concept. Besides the new one-stop center for job training, the director of the Compton TeleVilIage sees many other potential applications, if more funding becomes available. Some of her ideas include: . Teacher training, which would help fast-track certification to meet the demands of California's class size reduction program and prepare teachers for bilingual classrooms; Family reunions, where Compton citizens could reunite via teleconference with distant family members; Job interviews in the Video Conference Center, which would allow job applicants to seek employment in other parts of the state or nation without having to travel to the interview; Additional workshops to address community interests, such as how to fix a computer or how to create computer-generated invitations; Real estate searches, where families could view the housing opportunities in other parts of the county, state or nation via computer; and Wiring housing developments for cable television so that children who have no books to take home from the impoverished L.A. School District could receive educational seminars produced in the TeleVilIage through their televisions at home. BARRIERS ENCOUNTERED Many transit professionals have spent their careers concentrating on how to increase ridership and provide optimum service in a specific mode, such as bus or rail transportation. Therefore, having a transit agency involved in trip reduction is in itself a conflict in mission in the eyes of these transit professionals. MTA was able to overcome this internal resistance to the Blue Line TeleVilIage by focusing funding and implementation for the project in the planning section of the agency. Bus and rail operations were not eligible for the TDM funds used for the TeleVilIage. Consequently, there was no competition within MTA over the operating budget. The lack of involvement by the operations division did, however, have some fallout. A key reason for locating the TeleVilIage in Compton was its location on the Blue Line, the only operating segment of the light rail system at that time. Excess capacity in the fiber optics which MTA had installed for its own operations could be used as the transmission vehicle for the TeleVilIage's various functions. Because this plan did not get communicated during the design and engineering, inadequate fiber and connection points were installed, preventing a connection by the TeleVilIage. 6

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To avoid the high cost of retrofitting the network, the Compton TeleVilIage now uses Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) lines from the telephone company. Compton has since approved an of} pipeline project through the city which will provide fiber optics to the TeleVillage when it is installed. Based on the MetroNet report, MTA now plans "to sell the right to develop a countywide fiber-optic system along more than 300 miles of right of way, reserving space for public access," including connections to the new TeleViliages, according to the Los Angeles Times.62) Lack of a shared vision for the TeleVilIages continues to cloud their future. MTA is providing seed money for them as demonstration projects. Whereas the applicant and developer of the Compton TeleViliage was a local, non-profit economic development corporation, MTA is now restricting applicants to cities. MTA staff said that locating the management of the TeleVilIages with the cities will generate the community buy-in that is necessary for their long-term funding and usage. The consultant who wrote the MetroNet report and developed the Compton TeleVilIage has a much larger vision of the role of TeleVilIages. He believes that a network of TeleVilIages-perhaps 5~surrounded by neighborhood centers, would change the nature of public transit. Instead of serving the present dispersed urban form, transportation in the form of circulating community shuttles, demand-responsive vans, and electric vehicles could bring residents on short trips into the neighborhood centers. Retail shopping, schools, doctors and government services would be clustered there physically or electronically through the TeleVilIages. This vision would support the goal of increased mobility; it would also implement a policy of equity, "by giving everybody access to the broad-band world," he said. According to this consultant, his vision of 50 TeleVillages and the backbone network could be accomplished in Los Angeles County with $500 million for capital and the first year of operating costs. He noted that this cost is comparable to rebuilding the 2.6 miles of the Los Angeles Harbor Freeway, which included a second deck for buses and carpools. Another comparison he mentioned is the cost of reconstructing the Cross- Harbor freeway in Boston at $ ~ billion a mile. Thus, reconfiguring our transportation and our society to one centered in neighborhoods, not sprawl, "is a political problem," . . . . . . . - relating to funding priorities, "not a technological problem," he said. Where society places its emphasis has an impact on not only whether, but how, projects, such as the TeleVillage, are funded. As was indicated earlier, federal money for job training of welfare recipients will provide the continued funding for the TeleVilIages. Thus, the source of funds is shaping the future scope of work for the TeleVillages. Indeed, the use of demonstration grants can itself be a barrier to implementing a TeleVillage. The large investment required in capital equipment and space can be a deterrent if on-going funds have not been identified. Once the investment is made, staff time is best spent on developing programs that will fully-utilize the TeleVillage's 7

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resources. Fundraising can detract from program development and marketing, eroding the potential for success. AS one way of addressing this issue, the Boardmember who initially spearheaded the Compton TeleVilIage believes that MTA needs to formulate a strategic plan to tie the TeleVilIages together. She shares the consultant's larger vision creating a community center when transit is involved in joint development around its stations or with its fiber optic resources. If TeleVilIages became part of the transit agency's strategic plan, their future would become embedded in the agency's vision and budget. However, because she is no longer on the Board, she is unable to directly influence this larger strategy. Nonetheless, support for the TeleVilIages still exists on the MTA Board. Although some Boardmembers are only nominally involved though approval of the grants, one County Supervisor who sits on the Board calls the Compton TelevilIage a positive and important project. "It's a way older people can learn new skills comfortably in their own community," she said. She continues to view the TeleVilIage as a transportation strategy that takes advantage of the presence of the transit hub to increase constituents' education, job, and communication opportunities. ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS MTA has demonstrated its ability to break out of a modal orientation, to take risks, and to become a mobility manager through its sponsorship of the nation's first-ever TeleVillage. The technology and transmission options are available to permit any transit system in the nation to replicate MTA's TeleVilIage project. The concept is transferable to a multiplicity of settings, including bus transfer hubs, customer service centers, and government offices. Although MTA's service area is highly urbanized, the concept would be particularly applicable for rural areas where mobility is restricted. Based on their pathfinder experiences, those involved had the following advice for a successful implementation: i. Insure the buy-in of the political leadership and high-level staff from the outset. This will promote the involvement of all the departments within the agency and foster coordination. Develop a long-range strategy for implementation of TeleVilIages, complete with performance measures to evaluate their contribution to the organizational mission and to the community in which the transit agency operates. This strategy may involve different vehicles and new ways of providing transit service. It should be linked to any joint development in which the transit agency is involved. 3. Commit to more than a one-year demonstration project and identify funding to support it. This commitment recognizes the tenacity and dedication needed to bring about change and innovation. 8

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4. Involve the surrounding community in its development, promotion, and responsibility for success. This includes working with city government and its land use planners to insure the TeleVilIage is part of a larger planning vision. 5. Link the TeleVilIages with other opportunities. MTA was able to contribute the TeleVilIage as part of the Rebuild L.A. project. Compton will take advantage of pipeline construction to link it to a fiber optic cables. Similarly, where funds or demographics do not justify a new bus route or rail line, the transit agency may be able to work in partnership with a community to build a TeleVillage. For example, the opening of a new civic center or library could be an opportunity for the transit agency to develop this joint project. The former Boardmember who championed the Compton TeleVilIage sees it as a way of giving life to the lip service about Livable Communities. The TeleVillage truly "uses the 'information superhighway' like a highway," she said. Instead of asking people to travel to the services, she advocates TeleVilIages as a way to promote mobility by bringing the services to the people. 9

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REFERENCES (~) Siembab, Walter, "TeleCity Strategy for Sustainable, Livable Communities: The Blue Line TeleVilIage in Compton, California," September, 1996, Los Angeles. (2) Spiller, lane, "It Takes a TeleVilIage to Revive a City," LOOS AngeZes Times, January 2S, 1997. 10