Statement from Metro CEO Art Leahy; Measure J falls just short of necessary two-thirds voter approval

Here’s the statement just issued by Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy:

While the ballot effort to extend the Measure R transit sales tax by another 30 years fell just short of the necessary two thirds voter approval, Metro remains focused on delivering a dozen new transit projects and 15 highway improvement projects that voters approved four years ago in passing Measure R. In fact, within two years Metro should be overseeing simultaneous construction of five major rail projects. Also the Measure R transit sales tax for transit – approved in 2008 by more than 2 million voters – continues until 2039, so Metro directors have the option of asking voters in the future if they wish to extend the program.

The five projects are: Expo Line Phase 2 and the Gold Line Foothill Extension (both currently under construction) and the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Regional Connector and Westside Subway Extension, which are gearing up for construction.

14 replies

  1. Maybe the name should be changed to MCA, Metro Car Authority. Transportation, what’s that?

  2. Mr. Leahy, the arrogance and disregard exhibited by the MTA towards the completion of the planned Gold Line to Claremont is not only shocking but an affront to taxpayers in Los Angeles County. After Measure R passed, the area was thrown a bone with the beginning of the first phase construction. Wasn’t a commitment made prior to the Measure R vote to build both extension phases? Yet, after Measure R is in place, you come out and publicly say that the soonest that the second extension will even be considered by the MTA is 2039.

    It is obvious that the main function of the MTA is for fulfilling Tony V.’s campaign promises to be the transportation mayor. Yes, when it comes time for a ballot initiative, the MTA talks about “regionalism,” but when it comes to spending money on rail projects, it seeks to do so within the city of Los Angeles at the expense of all other areas of the county. This lack of transparency and forthrightness with voters is troubling and a blemish on what should be an inclusive public planning process–a process that should reflect the concerns and needs of ALL county residents. This might come as a shock, but not all commuters drive to Los Angeles. Many work and shop in places like Pasadena, and extending the Gold Line will greatly enhance efforts of getting cars off the road and providing an energy-efficient transportation alternative. With an average daily ridership of 47,000, the Gold Line has proven itself as a viable transportation vehicle within the suburban area. The new Expo Line, which is in the center of the city and services USC, has an average daily ridership of 17,000.

    Though I am 100% behind mass transit and have used it often (in Los Angeles and elsewhere), I am supremely happy that Measure J failed. Perhaps the Los Angeles-dominated MTA board should reevaluate how it prioritizes projects and works with its constituent communities. Like it or not, the San Gabriel Valley is an integral part of the metropolitan area. It’s resident population is similar to that of the San Fernando Valley and it should be given its fair share of mass transit projects. With a change in attitude, maybe ballot initiatives for “regional transportation” will be supported.

    Thank you.

  3. No, the “T” in MTA stands for Transportation, and MTA needs to reflect the needs of the millions of drivers in Los Angeles County – most trips are still made by car in LA County.

  4. Measure J was written by John Fasana, Mayor of Duarte and a MTA Board of Director. It included a 30 year extension of Measure R that would have taxed the LA County Taxpayers until 2069. How can this kind of money; $90 billion dollars be justified in this economy or by any fiscally responsible legislative body? It can’t. And we were not given specifics on what projects were being delivered with this money nor were we given the proper public participation by Metro Board of Directors or Metro Staff. The $4 million tax dollars that were spent alone on outreach never made it to so many communities and cities within LA County. Now spending Measure R money on designated projects…which we only find out about when they leak it to an article or local rag. People do not really know what that completely includes. Why don’t we know what they are going to spend the money on when they have their Community Liason meetings? This is one of the big problems with this measure and with Metro. The public is willing to fund most projects with clarity and transparency from Metro and CalTrans but we have not been given the proper disclosure on what they will build, how they will build the projects and what the impact on the communities at large will be? And, we don’t want a tunnel or a toll tunnel under our neighborhoods along an earthquake fault or anywhere. So, working on the campaign against Measure J taught me so much. What is possible is that a transparent plan and discourse with the public will gain Metro support and trust with the Los Angeles communities, businesses and corporations involved. We are not going away and we want fiscal responsibility with our tax money. We demand it.

  5. Mr Leahy:
    If Measure J was truly about just bus and rail line expansion and extension then it probably would have passed. However, those of us who do research new that a lot of the money was going to be used to fund freeway extensions and expansions.

    Perhaps now and in the future, Metro should be engaged in bus and light rail projects. The “T” in your company name stands for “transit” as in buses and light rail, NOT highway/freeway expansion/extension. For that, we have CalTrans.

  6. I wish it had passed. I agree with many that it may have been too highway focused. Metro needs to be bolder, retool to build less or no highway projects, and add some more rail projects to the mix. Let those that don’t benefit by J or live more distant have something they want to vote for. Plenty of examples in LRTP.:
    -LRT rail to Glendale/Burbank. Branch from Gold along existing ROW
    -Crenshaw line extension to Purple. (Creates a Wilshire/LAX Connection)
    -One seat Metrolink ride to LAX via Harbor Subdivision
    -Red line extension or frequent Metrolink service to new closer station at Burbank Airport airport
    -Close gap in Green Line to Metrolink
    -Orange line extension from North Hollywood to Downtown Burbank (Existing)
    -Gold line to Ontario Airport with partial contribution from SB County
    -A couple good Valley LRT lines with one seat rides to North Hollywood red line and Westside. (NO MORE BRT! Valley folks know they are getting jipped) These lines should connect to Metrolink stations too.
    -Bold Metrolink enhancements for north and northwest LA County and Valley residents. (Electrification/Grade Separation/More Service-Closer to LRT frequencies)
    -Something other than a vaguely worded Westside corridor (BRT=
    NO!) to Valley and LAX Airport connector. Develop these project concepts to make people think they are worth something.
    -No expensive very unpopular 710 tunnel project!

  7. I believe Prop J was a good idea. The MTA Board took such a rigid stand and rejected appeals from Civic Leaders, Legislators and the Gold Line Construction Authorty to see that funding would be available for Phase 2 B construction to Montclare. Prop J would have passed had that project been included. We were only talking about 750 million dollars. That small amount cost them the passage of Prop J. Also if the Board had tried to ammend Prop R
    to allow for the transfer of Funds between projects in any one sector that would have given assurances to the San Gabriel Valley that Phase 2 B would eventually be funded. Perhaps it would be a good idea if the transfer is implemented before you ask the public to vote on another Extension of Prop R.

  8. Kenny – Measure R/J already includes 20% set aside for bus operations.

    That was the problem, too much misinformation about Measure J. I wish people read the facts.

  9. I want to feel bad for voting no. But when the CEO’s statement doesn’t include a project to my benefit, it makes me think I made the right choice. What about the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor that has rail as an option? It’s cynical to have voted no, but Metro continues to provide little hope for my area. Maybe on day The Valley will have a big project to get excited about. Unfortunately, buses on 405 isn’t it.

  10. If that 20% highway part is replaced next year by a bill with 20% support for bus operations, will we see the Bus Riders Union support the new version?

  11. Dave, while I would have liked the highway component to be close to 0, it is not 35% as you state. Measure R has 20% highway funding.

  12. Ron,

    The worst traffic jam is the 405. Measure J did nothing in terms of linking the SF Valley all the way down the West side with mass transit as a 405 alternative.

  13. You will spend more money in lost time sitting in all of the traffic we have and will continue to get. It would have been more cost effective for the People to extend the tax for future generations that will be using this just we are using the freeways of the past.People need to put a value on their time. The traffic is almost non stop in the greater LA area we need more options certainly this would have helped.

  14. “15 highway improvement projects,” and only, “five major rail projects.” Sure it’s understandable that highway improvements are somewhat wanted by folks in LA as transit projects to get people moving in LA, but when you put on the ballot that Measure J is a transit tax and allocate more than 35% of the tax revenue to “highway improvement” projects, which in my honest opinion won’t do jack-diddly-squat for congestion and traffic relief for the future, voters such as myself become weary of having to pay 50+ years of taxes to Metro.