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Transit Decision 2016: Funding for Los Angeles

Part III: Funding for Los Angeles

It’s the final countdown — with less than a month to go until Election Day, voters are getting ready to head to the polls and make their final decisions on who they will elect as our next president.

Adding to the pressure? Voters across the country will be faced with ballot initiatives amounting to $200 Billion in national transit funding.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve explored how two different areas hope to improve their local public transit system with these proposed ballot initiatives. Last week, we explored Virginia Beach’s initiative to extend the city’s Light Rail as a part of their bigger Envision 2040 plan, and if approved, is estimated at a total cost of $330 Million. The week before, we saw how southeast Michigan is trying to implement a more unified approach to its regional transportation with a proposed $4.7 Billion plan.

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In the final part of our “Transit Decision” series, we take a look at the transportation issues facing one of the biggest cities in the U.S. — Los Angeles, CA.

When you think of some of the worst rush hour traffic, most likely the City of Los Angeles comes to mind. Mainly, that you would try to avoid driving at any cost. The City is notorious for its traffic, even outside the normal rush hour commute.

According to Metro, Angelenos spend an average of 81 hours a year stuck in traffic. This congestion is predicted to only get worse over time, with the city projected to grow by 2.3 million people in the next 40 years.

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This is a large reason for the City’s proposal of Measure M — the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan. Los Angeles County is asking voters to approve a ½ ¢ sales tax in order to accomplish the following:

 

  • Ease traffic congestion, improve freeway traffic flow, and reduce bottlenecks.
  • Expand rail and rapid transit system; accelerate rail construction and build new rail lines; enhance local, regional, and express bus service; and improve system connectivity.
  • Repave local streets, repair potholes, and synchronize signals.
  • Embrace technology and innovation; incorporate modern technology, new advancements, and emerging innovations into the local transportation system.
  • Create jobs, reduce pollution, and generate local economic benefits.

Supporters of Measure M are stressing the urgency of this plan’s approval:

“We think that people understand that L.A. County is going to keep growing, and unless we take bold action, traffic will only get worse. The status quo is failing us now.”

-Yusef Robb, Measure M Spokesman

Measure M is expected to generate an estimated $860 million a year in 2017 dollars, and according to the latest economic forecast by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, would add 465,690 new jobs across the region.

The Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan would require funding of $61.5 Billion over the next 40 years, however, given the city’s current traffic congestion and potential for transit expansion, it seems like a worthwhile investment:

“Right now, our transit system is a series of lines unto themselves,” said Measure M spokesman, Yusef Robb. “They’re very useful if you happen to live and work on either end of them. Measure M would extend existing lines and build new ones to a comprehensive network that’s tied together.”

Stay tuned on November 8th to see if Los Angeles County voters agree.