As many of you know, there have been discussions underway to extend the Measure R half-cent sales tax past its expiration date of July 1, 2039, to accelerate transit and highway projects that are funded in part by Measure R.
Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa proposed such an extension in his State of the City speech last month. But the Metro Board of Directors hasn’t taken any action yet; their approval plus state legislation is needed to send the issue to Los Angeles County voters.
With a big election approaching in November, Metro staff have issued the following report on Measure R and are asking the Board to adopt a set of principles that, in essence, amounts to an agreement that Measure R should be extended. Staff are not asking the Board this month to decide whether to put the issue on the ballot. That is expected to happen in June.
The report discusses the financing options that a Measure R extension would make possible. The gist of it: a Measure R extension plus an expanded federal loan program known as TIFIA would make it possible to build the 12 Measure R transit projects in the next decade or so — instead of waiting until 2039. TIFIA loans could also add $3.7 billion in funding to the Measure R highway program, which is needed because many of the projects are only partially funded by Measure R.
The full staff report is below and here is the pdf version of the report. The staff report is scheduled to be discussed by the Board’s Executive Management committee on Thursday at 9 a.m. at Metro headquarters. If you can’t attend, the meeting can be heard over the phone by calling 213-922-6045.
Here’s the news release from Metro — the most newsworthy item, I think, is that the $4.5-billion budget does not propose raising fares for the 2013 fiscal year:
Metro will conduct a budget workshop and public hearing on a proposed $4.5 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2013 on Wednesday, May 16, at 2:30 p.m. in the third floor Board room at Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, Cesar Chavez & Vignes, next to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.
The budget can be viewed online by clicking here. The public can view a copy of the balanced budget proposal at Metro.net. Request copies via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Charlene Williams in Metro Records Services at 213.922.2342.
Metro’s Board could consider adopting the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012 at the board meeting that starts at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 24, at Metro headquarters.
Metro CEO Art Leahy’s budget proposal, which is balanced with no shortfall, does not propose raising fares, which already rank among the lowest in the nation. Metro’s farebox recovery will stay at 28 percent, again near the bottom of any major operator, and passenger loads also will be low compared to our peers.
The news broke Monday afternoon. Here is the news release issued this morning from Metrolink, the commuter rail agency that serves six counties and is funded in part by Metro:
Metrolink CEO John Fenton resigns for personal and professional reasons after leading the agency through critical period
LOS ANGELES – Metrolink Chief Executive Officer John Fenton has announced that he will step down from his post at Metrolink after leading a two-year comprehensive reorganization that has put in place new leadership, policies and standards that have increased ridership and enhanced safety in the region . Fenton has accepted a position as CEO of Patriot Rail Corp., a leading operator of short line and regional freight railroads in the United States. Patriot has recently agreed to be acquired by an investment vehicle managed by SteelRiver Infrastructure Partners.
“John’s impact on Metrolink and our customers will be felt for many years to come and we thank him for his vision, dedication to safety and leadership,” said Richard Katz, chairman of Metrolink’s Board of Directors. “Thanks to John, we have a strong blueprint for Metrolink’s future, and the Board is dedicated to ensuring that our high standards for safety and performance will continue well into the future.”
Here’s the news release from Metrolink, the commuter rail agency funded in part by Metro:
Metrolink Conducting Public Outreach Process for Potential 5-9% Fare Increase and Title VI Service Delivery Standards
Increase in fuel costs and contracts due to labor agreements drive $13 million funding gap for FY 12-13 budget
Los Angeles – On April 27, the Metrolink Board of Directors directed staff to initiate a public outreach process for a potential system-wide fare increase to help close an existing $13 million funding gap for Fiscal Year 12-13 budget and Metrolink’s proposed Title VI Service Delivery Policy. The public will be asked to give feedback regarding an average system-wide fare increase between 5 and 9 percent to go into effect on or after July 1, 2012.
“Last year, we were able to delay an increase to passenger fares and member agency subsidies while increasing train service by 14 percent. This year, despite continued efficient management practices, our costs have increased mostly because of the rising cost of fuel and an increase in our operations contracts due to a sweeping nationwide labor negotiation settlement,” said Metrolink CEO John Fenton. “A fare increase is a last resort to be able to maintain current service levels. The proposed fare increase will only cover a portion of the funding gap. It would take a 20 percent fare increase to cover the entire funding gap. Metrolink member agencies are also being asked to increase their subsidy to reduce the amount of the fare increase to passengers.”
EXPO LINE OPENING: First and foremost, a hearty congratulations to Los Angeles County taxpayers who mostly footed the bill for the $932-million first phase of the Expo Line. I thought the best part of this past weekend was watching those who paid for the rail line finally get a chance to ride it. That was sweet.
I also appreciate Source readers who have shown such a great interest in the project — the opening of Expo, by far, has brought this blog its largest audience since we started in late 2009.
I’ve also read your comments here and on Twitter and Facebook and forwarded them to the appropriate people at Metro. The biggest concern looks to be the issue of traffic signal synchronization for the train.
I’m told by Metro and city of Los Angeles officials that they are going to continue to work on improving all aspects of the line, including the signals. The issue here is rather obvious: They’re trying to balance public safety and providing the public with fast and convenient mass transit.