I had the chance recently to speak with Ethan Elkind, whose new book “Railtown” does an excellent job of telling an important story: the history of rail transit in Los Angeles County over the past half-century. Our conversation can be heard by clicking above.
And it’s quite a story, replete with multiple failed ballot measures of the 1960s and ’70s, political infighting, competing transit agencies, and financial struggles. And, yet, many of those issues were resolved (or resolved enough) by 2008, when two million-plus voters in L.A. County approved Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase to fund a new slate of transit projects.
Measure R is the reason that five rail projects are currently under construction (Expo Line Phase 2, Gold Line Foothill Extension, Crenshaw/LAX Line, Regional Connector and first phase of the Purple Line Extension) while several other transit projects to receive Measure R funds are in the planning stages. It’s quite a remarkable story and I think we cover the basics in the above podcast and Ethan offers all the details in his book.
Some of you may have also seen Ethan at a Zocalo Public Square event earlier this month when he and Tom Zoellner, author of the book “Train,” discussed the history and future of railroads in Southern California. Please click here to read Zocalo’s article or listen to a recording of it.
Thanks for listening and, as always, your comments, thoughts and ideas are appreciated!