Metro Board to consider beginning development of ballot measure for 2016

One of the items to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors in this month’s round of meetings: whether to begin the development process for a new ballot measure in November 2016 to pay for transportation projects. Nov. 2016 will likely be a big election with voters deciding the successor to President Barack Obama.

Extremely important: This IS NOT the Board deciding to go to the ballot with anything. Rather, this is Metro staff asking the Board to begin the process of developing a ballot measure which would be either an extension of Measure R or a new sales tax.

As the above Metro staff report says, the Metro Board eventually must decide which to pursue and whether to actually take a ballot measure to voters. Those decisions will come at a later date.

Measure R was approved by voters in 2008 and raised the sales tax by a half-cent for 30 years to pay for a plethora of transportation projects (here’s the list). The tax expires on June 30, 2039.

Existing tax versus new tax? Both have their pros and cons. Persuading voters to extend an existing tax that they are already paying is presumably easier than selling them on paying a new tax. On the other hand, a new tax may also widen the field of projects that could receive funding, attracting support from more people. As you’ll see, the staff report contains some recent polling results on that topic.

Of course, the ballot measure issue has been on everyone’s radar since Nov. 2012, when Measure J — an extension of Measure R — received 66.1 percent approval from county voters but lost because it failed to reach the 66.67 percent threshold. The Board has continued to talk about ways to accelerate Measure R projects. Any acceleration plan almost certainly would would require new tax revenues to supply the local funding that would presumably be matched with federal funding and loans.


Metro staff report looks at issues involving potential ballot measures

Mayor Garcetti says another transportation ballot measure is possible

Should the threshold for future transportation sales taxes be lowered to 55 percent?

Metro statement on final Measure J tally

Final Measure J results

22 replies

  1. I have always felt Measure R had weak PR. People associate it with Metro bus and rail expansion and freeway expansion. Money is allocated to all areas and sometimes small improvements are often not praised to Measure R. I really dont know what most of the 8.75% in sales tax I pay but the .5% I pay for Measure if really tangible from the new buses, shuttles, new bus stops and shelters not just in Metro but other agencies, highway improvement to the low fares and rail extension and others. Hopefully the Gold and Expo line extensions will be on time or early and under budget by 2016. That is great PR of responsible use of Measure R funds; Like the poster child despite the costs overruns of the 405. Make it a public transit measure only and expand to new projects. Put up signs everywhere “Thanks Measure R!” was use to remind people that Measure isn’t a failure that only benefits some people, but money was used here in their neighborhood. Put posters on all county agency buses, bus stops, metrolink, metro rail, union station, at freeway entrances and exits and any street resurfacing with Measure R use. I remember when Measure J was on the ballot. I dont remember any Yes on J signs or anything like Yes/No on___” measure or Vote for ____ on any lawns, or TV adverts that were everywhere for everything else. I kept reading that people didnt vote for Measure J because it wouldnt benefit them, that they will die before every use it, and it isn’t fair to have their childrens’ children pay, or it was a new tax, or whatever. Not many people understood. Better PR! Thats how I feel if you want a new tax and or extension to pass for the 2016 ballot.

    Rail things I would love. Gold line rail to Ontario Airport. Orange bus line to rail. SFV to Basin rail, Crenshaw line to mid-city, west hollywood, hollywood. Green line down Torrance and meet up with Blue line, Downtown rail to Orange County line, underground or bridge of Expo line along Flower. Orange line rail from Noho to Burbank, Glendale to Pasadena.

  2. People are impatient these days. We want things done now and fast, not waiting forever to get these things done.

    Make the new measure:

    1. A temporary tax hike that is used solely for public transit projects and nothing else (no freeway projects!!)
    2. Cut through all the red tape, political and bureaucratic BS for all public transit related matters (no more dumb studies and project meetings that take forever to get stuff done)
    3. Get all public transit projects done in less than 10 years

    Then the people will vote for it.

  3. I think the City of LA needs to consider a special district tax for all the rail lines that it has already obtain from the other taxpayers who haven’t obtain a rail line.

  4. The report is on the Metro web site at

    I don’t think MTA should add an additional half cent to the tax. That would mean LA County would pay 2% for transportation (not including state return of TDA funds) – which has got to be the highest in the country. Extending out another 30 years seems like a better plan. Also there needs to be money to operate all of these services, which these taxes don’t often address.

  5. Steve,
    Can you please make this PDF file available via a direct link? The scribd website requires a facebook login, and not everyone who wants to download this has a facebook account.


  6. The most important improvement for transit is to connect a train to LAX. This is long over due like about 20 years over due. Stop letting the van and taxi lobbyists from having their own way with polluting the air with their vans and taxis. If we had a better transit system that would connect LAX we would not have the traffic jam at the airport every day of private vehicles. This situation has gone on entirely too long and something needs to be done about improving ground access to and from LAX now instead of later or life time from now.

  7. All LA county voters will foot the bill, again, and Downtown LA and a couple adjacent areas get all the transit. Many cities, again, will get zilch. Diane Dubois is a Lakewood City Council Member and sits at the helm of MTA/Metro. If she supports this new referendum, and Lakewood, again, receives nothing, she should give up her Lakewood position.

  8. I wholeheartedly agree with the other commentators that the next ballot measure needs to focus 100% on expanding LA county’s fixed-rail guide-way system (with a focus on HRT and dedicated right-of-way LRT, and no BRT). We don’t need any more highway expansions, extensions, or widenings. We need to focus on expanding our burgeoning mass transit system with a strong focus on delivering them sooner rather than later as these public works projects seem to take an excruciating long time to get built. We should also focus on speed of the trains as there are some lines that tend to go quite slow in certain sections (i.e. Gold Line eastside extension and Expo Line from 7th/Metro to USC).

    In preparation for 2016, Metro should partner with some movie and TV production studios to incorporate more Metro stations and trains in their footage. This will help people envision an LA that can be mass transit heavy, much like the movie “Her” has done.

  9. @tom savior yup you got that right. pro transit people i know opposed measure j cause of the 710 freeway. yeah and some voted for J anyway cause of the rail transit improvements. when will metro finally drop the 710? I mean that money could be put to way better use for another rail line.

  10. I think Metro made some major mistakes on Prop. J. Voters who live outside L.A. Proper will never vote yes for the following reasons:
    The Gold Line to Montclair was not included.
    The Green Line does not connect to LAX & LB Airports. It does not connect to Torrance and an Amtrak station. It will not connect to the future Santa Ana Brach project. The 105 Freeway also has similar disconnect problems.
    There is no mass transit project to connect Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank and the SF Valley.
    Metro does not use its resources wisely. Lines 686 &687 should be handled by Pasadena Transit. It doesn’t make sense to use 40-foot buses to run these routes.
    Metro uses short buses to run Line 256. This is crazy.
    45-foot buses should not be used to run on Balboa. Ridership is very low.
    I am sure that other readers will have more similar examples.

  11. I’m wondering whether Metro has the authority to impose other types of taxes as well. I’m thinking of a county-wide gas sales or excise tax. Does Metro have the authority to impose this, and wouldn’t a gas tax to fund congestion reduction/transportation improvements have some appeal? Perhaps there could be a partnership with the South Coast Air Quality Management District or the MSRC (agency funding the Dodger Stadium Express), which are responsible for reducing air pollution grant Metro the opportunity to introduce other types of taxes? Experts say sales taxes are regressive, hurting the poor more, and I think it is fair for drivers to help fund an alternative to driving. (By not taxing alternative fuels like CNG or electricity the same way as gasoline, this would also create an incentive to try those fuels out) Also, a new tax, whether it’s Measure J version 2 or a gas tax should probably include funding for operations, rather than just construction so Metro can run the newly-built system without dramatically cutting the service on other lines.

  12. Why does everyone have to be punished through higher sales taxes? All sales taxes does is punish the most vulnerable, the poor, the elderly, and the disabled with higher costs of living. And it’s not like the jobs are there to make up for it.

    Do it with a higher cigarette tax, alcohol tax, or higher gas tax instead. Or how about converting all the freeways to toll roads instead of this ExpressLanes thing. Then the money earned from car drivers can go into public transit.

    Don’t make everyone pay for it, make the car drivers pay!

  13. I think Measure J would have passed easily if it didn’t focus solely on accelerating Measure R projects already in the pipeline. A tax prop like that needs to offer more incentives like funding new rail lines or improving existing lines.

  14. The two transit projects for the SFV are grossly underfunded ($70M and $TBD) to where the only option is another bus route that won’t make any difference to residents or commuters. And the Council of Governments doesn’t even submit a request list for projects… shameful.

    Why doesn’t Metro just assign a West, South, East, or Central county resident to me so I can cut them a check directly to help pay for their improved quality life. Paying into the Metro coffers while getting nothing back just seems like an unneeded layer of bureaucracy.

  15. Yes, focus on transit and building in our life times, like entire Purple Line as soon as possible. Limited highway projects and NO 710!! no way!! Send the money on transit. Can we add in some important missing projects that are already environmentally clear in the the strategic plan Tier 1 group?:
    -Glendale/Burbank/Burbank Airport LRT (Resdiental and Employment Density is there and it goes to Burbank Airport too)
    -Crenshaw Line north to Purple Line
    -Goldline to East if that’s what it takes to get the SGV on-board
    -Greenline Southbay and Norwalk connection
    -And some double tracking and signal improvement for all of Metrolink in LA County.

    Lets do this and make LA great!!

  16. Agreed with Tom.

    The only way a transportation measure will have a chance of passing is that they make this solely a public transit ballot measure, not tack on a rider for more freeway expansions.

    Ridership on Metro is increasing each year while car ownership interest is declining among the millennial and younger generations of Angelenos. There’s no need to tack on something that people have declining interest in the coming years.

  17. I hope Metro doesn’t make the same mistake it did with Measure J and try to cram highway projects/widenings down our throats again. It’s time to dedicate ourselves to completing a world-class TRANSIT system that can adequately compete with the private automobile.

  18. If Metro limited a new measure for our tax money to be used only to increase public transportation with a master plan included for a total system and not to have our tax money support anything else such highway improvements, tunnels, groups supporting the 710 tunnel, street beautifying, etc., as has been done with Measure R, it would surely pass. A responsible transportation agency should be concerned mainly with changing the Los Angeles area to a more car-free one and one, consequently, with less health-destroying air pollution.

  19. Metro told me that Measure J lost because of unexpected opposition from the folks who objected to a proposed 710-tunnel thru their backyards, I hope that Metro does not repeat the same mistake again because there were some good things in Measure J. This is what happens when you try to cater to both the transit lobby and the highway lobby with the same measure. The Book says: “Ye cannot serve two masters.” Modern, rapid, public transit is too important to be piggybacked by a 1950s-style freeway bill.