Transportation headlines, Wednesday, March 19

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L.A. should hike sales tax to pay for street repair, report says (L.A. Times) 

Two city of Los Angeles officials — the Chief Administrative Officer and the Chief Legislative Analyst — recommend asking voters in November to raise the sales tax by a half-cent to pay for the repair of streets and sidewalks. The City Council will have to decide by July whether to put the tax hike to voters. If so, two-thirds of voters in November would be needed to increase the city’s sales tax, which is currently nine percent.

The office of Mayor Eric Garcetti told the Times that the mayor had not decided whether to support the tax or note. “Mayor Garcetti is committed to improving L.A.’s infrastructure and will continue assessing a range of options to determine the best way forward,” [a spokesman] said in an email. Garcetti, of course, also serves on the Metro Board of Directors and will chair the Board beginning July 1.

The issue has possible implications for Metro, where staff continue to explore the possibility of going to county voters in 2016 to ask them to either extend the Measure R sales tax increase beyond 2039 or possibly ask for a new tax to fund new projects. Voters in L.A. were among the largest supporters of Measure R. How would they respond to the possibility of sales tax issues appearing on their ballots in both ’14 and ’16? Stay tuned!

Metro fare change is needed to keep transit options rolling (Daily News)

The opinion piece by Metro CEO Art Leahy explains the need for the fare increase proposal by Metro staff. Excerpt:

In two years, Metro faces a $37 million operating deficit that will balloon to $225 million in 10 years. We’re squeezing every penny we can from local sales taxes and tapping dwindling operating assistance from state and federal coffers to make up the balance between what our riders pay and the cost of delivering service.

We cut overhead, eliminated non-contract jobs, beefed up efforts to curb fare evasion, and boosted productivity — but it doesn’t pencil out. And, no, we can’t legally siphon monies from voter approved Measure R street and highway projects or stop the rail program.

Without additional revenue, the momentum in delivering new transit and weaning solo drivers from behind the wheel will come to a screeching halt. Bus service would be cut and we couldn’t open new rail lines under construction.

Fare changes are necessary. Staff has proposed two options to gradually get us to a point in six years where riders would cover one third of our operating costs. Again, it’s not just about raising fares. Staff also is proposing free transfers within a 90 minute period instead of charging double for transfers as is now the case. This will encourage customers to more fully use their investment in the growing transit system.

 

There is a public hearing on the fare increases at 9:30 a.m.,  Saturday, March 29 in the board room at Metro headquarters that is adjacent to Union Station. More info on the increase proposals can be found on the fare change page on metro.net.

Anatomy of a near miss (Peninsula Moves, the Caltrain blog) 

The video is scary but it’s refreshing to see a government agency post it as a way to potentially save lives. In this case, the man went around a barrier that was down and almost gets hit by an express train on the San Francisco Peninsula.

First toll lanes in Contra Costa County to be installed along 680 freeway (Contra Costa Times) 

Twenty three miles of ExpressLanes will be up and running in 2016 in the East Bay. Tolls collected will help pay for an eventual 500 miles of similar lanes throughout the Bay Area. Officials are billing the lanes as a sort of “congestion insurance” for motorists — something they can pay to use when they positively, absolutely have to be somewhere on time.

 

 

 

7 replies

  1. There’s a lot of things Metro hasn’t done yet.

    How about some cut backs to your pensions? Having a taxpayer funded pension plan is ridiculous. Pensions are outdated. Get a 401k or a IRA like everyone else.

  2. “We’re squeezing every penny we can from local sales taxes and tapping dwindling operating assistance from state and federal coffers to make up the balance between what our riders pay and the cost of delivering service.”

    At the same time, Metro executives, city and county workers are giving themselves raises, spending millions of dollars in useless artwork installation, Union Station modifications, buying an overpriced mobile home in which who knows when it’ll get used, funding the Destination Discounts program that gives anyone discounts whether they take public transit or not, and restricting free market capitalism from taking shape on public property.

    We’re running out of money, yeah, let’s restrict market activity from happening on our stations because we don’t understand the concept that where there is demand, it means a prime opportunity to rent or lease out spaces and the potential to earn sales tax revenue from goods sold by legalizing merchant activity in our publicly owned properties!

    We’ll pay thousands of dollars to help poor a small group of starving artists, but we won’t spend thousands of dollars to add a dedicated merchant space in our stations that would help create hundreds of new jobs – including the poor starving artists, revive the economy, gain rental income revenue, and create sales tax revenue for both the city and the county.

    Brilliant!

  3. Another sales tax hike? This time to repair streets? Money was already allotted for that. Where did it go? L.A. politicians constantly blow taxpayer’s money.

  4. The fare raise is all based on baseless assumptions that ridership numbers do not decrease for raising their prices. However, anyone that has taken Econ 101 can immediately see the pitfalls of this. You raise the price, there will be a portion of that market who will become dissuaded to will find cheaper alternatives.

    A person going using the Blue Line from Long Beach to DTLA will still pay $2.50 because $2.50 is still worth it for a lengthy 20 miles trip, but the person using the Red Line from Koreatown to DTLA could just stop taking Metro and start seeking other alternatives because that person may not see any benefit of paying $2.50 for less than 5 miles of transit. The Koreatowner might end up riding a bicycle instead. What Metro ends up is losing the Koreatown rider for the sake of jacking up the rates without considering other factors like travel distance.

    My concern is that by raising fares, Metro might end up shooting itself in the foot and come out with a worse financial situation than it is today. And if that happens, what is Metro going to do? Come back asking the taxpayers again for help?

  5. Yeah yeah yeah, the money cannot be touched. Yeah yeah yeah, there will be more independent oversight. Heard it many times over and over again and it’s all bull.

    Don’t have the money? Then give yourself pay cuts. Oddly that NEVER comes up does it?

  6. I”m agree with Theo. It is time the City address the Pensions and that city employees should get 401k and less expensive Health Care coverage. They are CITY EMPLOYEES not somebody who is investing and creating jobs for others.

  7. Warren,

    Actually, Metro is a LA County agency so people who work at Metro are LA County public employees.

    That being said, I agree with Theo too there’s no reason why we can’t scrap public employee pension plans. We should just let them join a public employee credit union and fund their own retirement plans through an IRA Money Market account there instead. Perhaps they’ll learn a thing or two about how the market system works instead of being reliant on taxpayers to pay for their retirement. If they realize that their retirement money counts on the economy, they’ll stop making decisions that don’t pan out fiscally.

    Are Metro employees eligible to join the First City Credit Union? It says right there on the fine print: “Membership eligibility is also extended to the employees and retirees of the Los Angeles County Departments…” and Metro is a LA County agency.

    http://www.firstcitycu.org/home/openacct