At a rally and media event this morning at Union Station, Metro joined more than 300 organizations from across the country that are participating in “Stand Up for Transportation Day” on Thursday (#SU4T on Twitter). The purpose: to call on Congress to finally pass a long-term transportation spending bill.
The problem: the current spending bill provides agencies such as Metro with millions of dollars annually for a variety of programs. But the bill is set to expire on May 31 and Congress thus far has not approved a new bill.
Thus the reason that the American Public Transportation Assn. (APTA), an industry trade group, has organized communities across the country to come together today because of what’s at stake. One big example: Metro is using federal matching dollars to help build two key projects also funded by Measure R: the first section of the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector.
On the national level, a new analysis from APTA shows that more than $227 billion in economic productivity is at risk to the nation’s economy over the next six years without a long term federal investment in public transit. There is also a severe backlog of $88 billion of maintenance needed to bring America’s existing transit infrastructure into a state of good repair.
One big issue here is the federal gas tax, which has been 18.3 cents per gallon since 1993. Revenues from the tax have been in decline because Americans are driving less and using more fuel efficient cars. The gas tax is the major source of federal transportation dollars. One reason that Congress has failed to act on a long-term spending bill is their unwillingness to raise the gas tax, which is a political hot potato on both sides of the aisle. Especially when there’s an election approaching, the problem being that there’s always a Congressional election approaching. d
The bottom row of this graphic and the second graphic shows the federal dollars being used on Metro projects:
Below is the news release from Metro, Metrolink, Caltrans, LADOT and other agencies and stakeholders:
L.A. Transportation Stakeholders Stand Up 4 Transportation, Call Upon Congress to Renew Investment in Los Angeles County’s Transportation Infrastructure
L.A. area transportation stakeholders join more than 300 organizations and community groups throughout the U.S. to call for action as expiration of Federal Transportation Bill approaches on May 31
Los Angeles, April 9, 2015— The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) joined a host of transportation industry stakeholders, including Caltrans, Metrolink, LADOT, Torrance Transit, Mobility 21. L.A. County Federation of Labor, AFL–CIO, L.A./Orange County Building Trades and Construction Trades Council, Move L.A. and others today to call upon Congress to pass a fully funded long-term federal transportation bill. The current federal transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) is set to expire on May 31, 2015.
According to a recent report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), if MAP-21 does expire, key transportation and highway projects that will greatly improve mobility throughout the region may be placed in jeopardy due to lack of certain long-term federal funding, including some of the area’s biggest projects, including the Metro Purple Line Extension, Regional Connector, I-5 and numerous other projects. Metro currently has its own local funding provided by the Measure R half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2008, but needs federal matching contributions to complete these and other major transportation projects as well as for maintenance of the Metro system, the country’s third largest.
“The federal government is increasingly looking to local jurisdictions to assist in transit expansion and goods movement, but we can’t do it alone,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti. “We need a bill from Congress that provides the long-term funding we need to invest in transportation projects in our region and across the nation.”
On the local level, Metro currently has $14 billion in transit, highway and other major initiatives currently in the works within Los Angeles County. Approximately $8.5 billion, for example, is being invested in building five new rail lines. Another $4.3 billion is being invested in freeway improvement projects on the I-5, I-10, SR-138 and I-710, and the remaining $1.2 billion will be used to purchase new buses and rail vehicles, as well as to make Metro Blue Line enhancements and to build a brand new bus division near Union Station. The successful completion of these projects depend on the smooth flow of federal dollars into the region.
“In order to sustain our economy and the mobility of this region’s highways, trains and local transportation connections, we need a predictable, reliable and stable funding source,” said Carrie Bowen, Caltrans District 7 Director. “California is the fifth largest economy in the world, and it’s vital that that our goods and services coming through the ports, on rail or across the highways get to their destinations.”
On the national level a new analysis from APTA shows that more than $227 billion in economic productivity is at risk to the nation’s economy over the next six years without long-term federal investment in public transit.
“People who ride, bike, roll and drive deserve first class choices, that is why this day is so special,” said Seleta Reynolds, General Manager for LADOT. “ In particular, an investment in transit is an investment in getting people access to jobs, education, and opportunities. Providing safe, affordable, and convenient choices lifts everyone in our city.”
A critical aspect of transportation infrastructure planning is the certainty that a reliable and steady funding stream will be available on a multi-year basis. L.A. County’s public/private coalition of stakeholders urges Congress to find a way to finance a long-term surface transportation authorization bill of up to six years that will provide the certainty necessary for agencies to plan ahead and be as efficient with federal transportation dollars as possible.
“Southern Californians recognize the importance of transportation investment to address congestion, mobility, air quality and economic vitality in the region,” said Jenny Larios, Executive Director of Mobility 21. “It is past time for the federal government to step up with a plan to do its fair share.”
With the future of America’s public transportation and road network in jeopardy, L.A. County stakeholders join transportation and community leaders from across the country for “Stand Up 4 Transportation Day.” Sponsored by APTA, with support from national and local partners from various transportation modes, business and community oriented interests, Stand Up 4 Transportation Day united more than 300 participating organizations in communities across the country to urge federal officials to support the passage of a long-term, sustainable and reliable federal transportation funding bill.
“There are numerous projects and programs which rely on federal funding to move forward, and it is virtually impossible to undertake long-term transportation planning without some degree of certainty in terms of funding from the federal government,” said Metrolink interim Chief Executive Officer Sam Joumblat. “On behalf of Metrolink, I strongly urge Congress to enact a new multi-year authorization bill that provides dedicated funding for the current federal transit program and the growth of that program for transit needs.”
The American Public Transportation Association noted that the nation faces a $160 billion backlog just to bring public transit and road systems into a state of good repair. The lack of a long-term federal funding bill creates local funding uncertainty which jeopardizes transportation project planning and discourages private sector investment. With a lack of a commitment on the federal level, that stifles local business investment and job creation.
“A long-term federal commitment to our public transportation and road infrastructure is needed in order to create jobs and boost economic development right here in Los Angeles,” said Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Metro Board Member. “The transportation system is the life blood of the community and it connects employers to employees and provides a vital connection for people from all walks of life.”
To learn more about Stand Up 4 Transportation Day please visit www.standup4trasnportation.org or follow the conversation on Twitter at #SU4T.
Categories: Policy & Funding