Transportation headlines, Friday, January 9

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Boston beats out L.A. to be sole U.S. bidder for 2024 Summer Olympics (L.A. Times) 

Photo by Brian Talbot, via Flickr creative commons.

Photo by Brian Talbot, via Flickr creative commons.

Although San Francisco and Los Angeles were seen as the favorites, the United States Olympic Committee on Thursday chose Boston. Perhaps not a huge surprise: officials there stressed that the northeastern U.S. has never hosted an Olympics and that using the many campuses in the area, they would have a ‘walkable’ games. By contrast, the L.A. area would have spread out the games a little more across our region (as is the case at most Olympics) while also relying on some facilities (many refurbished) that were part of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics here. In the end, it’s likely that the biggest strike against L.A. was simply that it been host twice before.

Bummer. An Olympics here would likely serve as a kick-starter for infrastructure and transportation projects. That said, there would likely have been challenges regarding expense and whether too much emphasis was being placed on a few weeks in 2024 instead of building for the day-in, day-out long haul. I suppose it’s probably better to lose at this stage rather than face another two years of trying to persuade International Olympic Committee officials to put the games here.

On the upside, the good news is that by most accounts, the L.A. area put together a good bid and downtown L.A.’s ongoing revival and the ongoing expansion of our transit system positions the city to be a good host to all sorts of events in the future — from routine conventions to the big stuff.

Metro regional bike share expected to open in downtown L.A. in 2016 (Streetsblog L.A.)

A good look at the request-for-proposals from Metro for a bike share pilot program in downtown L.A. The goal is to have it up and running by next year with stations throughout downtown — including a number of bike share stations near key Metro transit stops. Although some cities in the region are doing their own bike share programs, Metro’s Board instructed the agency to create a regional system and DTLA would be the first location. The current schedule has the Metro Board deciding on a contract in June.

Boehner leaves door open on gas tax proposal (Roll Call)

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) made it clear that he doesn’t want to raise the gas tax to fund the federal Highway Trust Fund. But he also didn’t rule it out. Temporary funding for the Trust Fund expires in May and Congress must find a way to keep it solvent. The Trust Fund supplies money for transportation projects around the United States, including transit projects.

The political dilemma facing all legislators is that gas is very cheap across the country (I paid $1.83 a gallon in Boehner’s district a couple weeks ago). That could make it a smart time to raise federal taxes or something that would greatly anger motorists and voters.

Related: Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer says now is the time to raise the gas tax by $1 a gallon while also cutting Social Security taxes. He says it’s a matter of providing the right incentives to taxpayers. A gas tax increase would incentivize driving less or using more fuel efficient cars while a Social Security tax cut would provide a greater incentive to work. Interesting ideas, but it’s hard to imagine anyone in Congress going for such a major increase — especially in the House, where the next election is always looming.

Metrolink Board Member resigns (L.A. Times) 

Carolyn Cavecche, who represents Orange County, said that she’s frustrated with the Board isn’t adequately dealing with the commuter railroad’s ongoing issues and that a plan that could deny chairmanship to a representative from the OC. Metrolink’s CEO recently resigned and there have been other notable departures in the past year. The agency is overseen by a Board comprised of elected officials from the five counties served by Metrolink: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura.

11 replies

  1. Both Metrolink and Metro at this point should just merge. What’s the point of having two seperate agencies where they don’t speak to each other?

    How long does it take for Metrolink to get onboard with TAP? BART and Caltrain manages to work together with MUNI and they both can operate under one single fare card. Right here, the solution is to issue TAP-able paper tickets which only works when you go from Metrolink to Metro, but not the other way around.

    Come on, seriously, this is the 21st century. Why are we still clinging to use paper tickets when TAP cards can do so much more? Why does it take forever to just move Metrolink over to TAP 100%?

    Quoting the smell good plumber ad on radio “Is it that hard and complicated?”

    No it’s not. Get in with the times. Seriously.

    • MTA is a Los Angeles County agency that partially funds Metro Link. Metro Link is ran and funded by five Counties. TAP Cards are a MTA method of collecting fares that at this point are not even accepted by all the bus agencies in Los Angeles County. The MTA can not impose it’s own fare media on another agency.

  2. Bummer about the Olympics. This was probably the only chance we had at getting the subway built faster.

  3. I work for a local agency. That being said, I remember some years ago I was invited to a Metrolink closed door meeting. At one point I raised the question of high fares on the Metrolink system. I asked if it would make more sense to lower the monthly passes and increase ridership therefore increasing revenue in the long term. Without hesitation, the representative said basically, were not MTA, we don’t want to pack the trains like they do on the buses. Amazing response. Metro gets it, yet they continue to partially fund Metrolink with their shallow vision. Metro should bid on the entire Metrolink system or stop the funding. No transportation provider needs to have such an opinion of the general public.

  4. If Metro was relying on the Olympics to get their infrastructure built, then it clearly shows they have no intention or idea of how to fund construction on their own other than tax, tax, tax, fare hikes, fare hikes, and fare hikes.

  5. I would await developments on the Boston bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Not all Bostonians appear to be enamored to having the Olympics and the bid looks vague and iffy on a lot of important details.

    Boston 2024 has all the earmarks of being another Denver 1976.

    For those in the dark, Denver Colorado won the bid from the IOC to host the 1976 Winter Olympics in 1970, but a taxpayer revolt led to prohibition of the use of public funds for the Olympics. Denver Colorado was forced to renege on hosting the 1976 Winter Olympics and the IOC had to find another host city in short order for the 1976 Winter Olympics.

  6. Officials stressed that a (summer-omitted in error?) Olypmics has never taken place in northeastern U.S. I’m guessing that Lake Placid NY is not considerd northeastern U.S. by these “officials”.

    • James and Jeff:

      Excellent point about Lake Placid. You’re right. Perhaps the officials in the article intended to say the large Northeastern cities such as Boston, NYC, Philly, etc.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • If New York State is not part of the northeast, then the term is MEANINGLESS.

      I grew up in upstate New York: 200 miles from Lake Placid, much closer to Syracuse. We considered all of New England and the mid-Atlantic states as part of the northeast. It’s north of the Mason-Dixon line and part of the original 13 colonies.

      I have my own theory about the USOC’s ill-advised selection of Boston, my home for 12 years, over my present home of Los Angeles. Bostonians actively protested against the selection. The IOC is famous for its graft, and Rome is bidding again. The USOC probably picked the one city that isn’t interested (it can’t even get an Ikea closer to town after more than a decade of trying) and has the airport but none of the other infrastructure nor the open land. It’s like the USOC is saying the US isn’t interested this time around, so give it to the people that will bribe you.

      • Hi Pseydtonne;

        I’m guessing that Boston won because it’s a leafy, historic and photogenic city in many places and the idea of a ‘walkable’ Summer Games sounds appealing, although I have no idea how realistic that is. I agree that the problem with winning the right to be the U.S. bid city is that you have to deal with the IOC and could very well come up empty.

        Quasi-related: I think our region would also be a good host for the Winter Olympics. The biggest challenge would be determining whether it’s worth building a bobsled/luge track and finding a California ski resort that is suited to hosting an Olympic-worthy downhill ski course. Just a thought 🙂

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source