In this relatively new feature for The Source, I express actual opinions while working for government. Members of the media: please take any of these ideas and run with them — we could use the coverage!
1. It seems clear that Republicans don’t have the votes in the House or Senate to eliminate federal New Starts funding as a money-saving move. That’s a good thing for Metro, as federal New Starts money is critical to both the Westside Subway Extension and Regional Connector projects.
2. That said, the fact that 165 Republicans backed cutting New Starts as a way to reduce the federal deficit is also a sign that the 30/10 Initiative to speed construction of Measure R projects won’t be an easy sell. Why? While 30/10 relies on the federal government making loans and providing other financing to local areas, it could also mean that the feds assume some of the interest costs. It will be very interesting to see how this goes down when Congress tackles the next transportation spending bill, which hopefully will have language needed to make 30/10 happen.
3. I thought it was interesting that President Obama emphasized inter-city high-speed rail in his State of the Union speech last week and not urban mass transit. If the idea is to get people out of their cars, the policy question is which does it better: fast trains connecting major metro areas or fast, convenient transit to get commuters to work each day?
4. Driving eastbound down 6th Street last week, I glanced down into a giant pothole I was trying to avoid — I think it was near 6th and Hoover — and thought I saw streetcar tracks at the bottom of the crater. I don’t think I was seeing things.
5. If you like old black and white photography, there’s some terrific vintage street scene shots from London, Paris and the U.S. for sale at the Peter Fetterman Gallery in Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station. If you’re in the area, check it out. In a few years, of course, there will be an Expo Line station at 26th and Olympic, adjacent to the galleries at Bergamot.
Categories: Policy & Funding