On January 29, 1993, former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley stood among a swarm of public officials and transit agency staffers on the cramped Pershing Square subway platform. Standing shoulders above everyone else, including then-California Gov. Pete Wilson, Bradley proudly inaugurated the opening of the first modern subway in Los Angeles.
“Twenty years is a long time. That’s how long we have been pushing on this dream, this vision of what we should do in Los Angeles County,” Bradley said, referring to the subway’s quixotic path to reality in ‘93. “I made a promise when I ran for mayor in 1973 that in 18 months, we’d deliver by breaking ground for rapid transit. Well, I missed by only a few months…”
Today, Metro marks the 20th anniversary of the Metro Red Line’s first phase from Union Station to MacArthur Park, a nearly 4.5-mile construction milestone that began a brand new chapter in regional rail construction and placing L.A. among other major cities across the globe with high-speed, high-capacity subways.
The Bus Riders Union and other groups held a protest march Thursday in Los Angeles and made several statements about Metro to the media and others. In the spirit of setting the record straight, here are a few facts about Metro:
•1,222 affordable housing units are either planned, being built or have been completed in transit oriented developments in which Metro is a partner. That number includes the 172 affordable units that just opened this past spring in a development over the Red/Purple Line subway station in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, adjacent to MacArthur Park.
•Metro has never partnered with Walmart in any kind of development.
•Housing units lost to construction of the Eastside Gold Line Extension and for a planned subway station never built in Boyle Heights have since been replaced and there will be 52 affordable units in transit oriented development at First and Lorena streets. That project is expected to commence construction in a year.
•Metro has no plans to kill its rail program. Los Angeles County voters in 1980, 1990 and 2008 approved half-penny sales tax increases to help pay for the expansion of transit, including rail projects. In 2008, nearly 68 percent of voters approved Measure R, which will help pay for bus and rail projects, bus operations, highway projects, as well as return 15 percent of the taxes collected to cities in Los Angeles County for smaller transportation improvements.