Both Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Michael D. Antonovich and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke this morning in Hollywood to Rail-Volution, the national conference of that draws hundreds of transit planners and activists.
A few highlights of what both men said:
Antonovich argued against Measure J, the proposal to extend the Measure R sales tax to accelerate transit projects. He said a regional transportation plan must include clear benefits for the county's 88 cities and he believes Measure R and J both clearly favor the city of Los Angeles over other cities.
Villaraigosa argued for Measure J, saying that Los Angeles was the pre-eminent example of a city re-thinking itself and that Measure R was the first leap forward. He said accelerating projects such as the Westside Subway Extension, Regional Connector, the Eastside Gold Line Extension and the Metro Airport Connector would have regional mobility benefits and lead to thousands of jobs being created.
•Antonovich also stressed the need to better integrate transit schedules across different agencies in Southern California and to use money from the high-speed rail project to create a seamless rail connection between Palmdale and San Diego.
•Villaraigosa made several other points about changes underway in Los Angeles, pointing out that although L.A. was late to the CicLAvia party — other cities previously held similar events — the version here is probably the biggest of them all. He also said that L.A. is aiming to do more than just build new transit — he wants to see the city emphasize livability in its neighborhoods by emphasizing pedestrian and bike connections, too.
•Villaraigosa also reiterated that the America Fast Forward loan program adopted earlier this year by Congress is not an L.A.-specific program. It can — and he believes will — be used by localities around the country.
In his remarks, Metro CEO Art Leahy said that the agency is learning to do things in a more sophisticated way. He cited the Red/Purple Line station at Pershing Square as an early rail station with “nothing there.” He contrasted that with the Hollywood/Highland station (next door to the Rail-Volution conference at the Loews) and said that Metro is becoming much more sophisticated in how the agency builds stations.