State lawmakers — Adrin Nazarian, Ben Allen and Richard Bloom — visited a future Palms Expo Line station on Friday morning to urge the passage of two bills to greatly expand transit funding.
With the State’s roads, bridges and freeways slowly falling into disrepair due to lack of infrastructure funding, Governor Brown has called for a Special Session for legislators to discuss ways to address the problem. So far, public transit, which has its own infrastructure funding crisis, has not been part of the discussions.
Transit advocates statewide are now entering the fray, arguing that public transit has a similar funding shortfall of about $72 billion over the next decade. Some legislators are now proposing ways to increase transit funding via additional Cap and Trade revenues, raising the tax on diesel fuel and other measures.
Additional State dollars will clearly be needed in L.A. County, whose transit building boom is now in full swing thanks to the efforts of local voters who passed a new half-cent sales tax increase in 2008.
The 30-year Measure R sales tax is expected to bring in $36 billion in new locally generated revenues to help fund the region’s critically needed transportation improvements. These include five new rail projects that will in the near term add 32 miles of rail service to Metro’s existing 87-mile network. These projects alone total $8.5 billion of local investment and include extensions of the Purple Line, Gold Line, Expo Line, as well as the new Regional Connector and Crenshaw/LAX Line.
Coupled with Metro’s highway projects and other major initiatives, Metro’s transit transportation jumps to $14 billion in projects that are now “in the works.” The magnitude of L.A. County’s local transportation investment represents one of the most ambitious public works project in the nation.
While Measure R and other local sources partially fund these projects, a State commitment also is required to maintain and operate L.A. County’s expanding system. Metro estimates that its transit assets will more than triple from $2.4 billion in 2005 to $7.8 billion in 2025. Keeping these assets in good repair will require $980 million by 2025, easily outpacing future available funding if nothing is done to address the gap.
Because of its density, Los Angeles can no longer build new roads and freeways to solve its transportation problems. Public transit will play an increasingly pivotal role in providing a so-called “pressure relief valve” for mobility improvements, making it possible to move people more easily throughout the region.[youtube //www.youtube.com/watch?v=TImxpCkUSVE]
Here’s the official news release:
L.A. Coalition of Legislators, Metro and Key Transit Stakeholders Present Urgent Call for Critically Needed Public Transit Funding
California Legislature’s Special Session on Transportation must also include public transit funding to ensure an integrated, multi-modal transportation system that keeps L.A. moving
(Los Angeles, CA) State Senator Ben Allen and Assemblymembers Adrin Nazarian and Richard Bloom joined officials from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) as well as key regional transit advocates to call for over $900 million annually for critically needed public transit funding in California. Hundreds of millions of dollars would flow to L.A. County to help expand public transit options and maintain the existing transit system in a state of good repair.
Governor Brown has called for a Special Session on Transportation that focuses on increasing funding to repair streets, bridges, and freeways. Legislators and public transit advocates are calling for a more balanced approach that repairs roads but also invests in public transit that accounts for more than 1.4 billion passenger trips annually in California.
“California needs a balanced approach to our transportation infrastructure. We can repair our existing freeways and bridges while investing in smart mass transit projects that will relieve our congested freeways,” stated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “Investing in mass transit creates tens-of-thousands of jobs, reduces greenhouse gases, and eases traffic.”
“We strongly urge the Legislature and the Governor to make mass transit funding a priority this upcoming special session,” stated Senator Ben Allen. “Our proposals (SBX 1 7 & ABX 1 7) will invest nearly $900 million annually into mass transit projects across the state; creating close to 50,000 jobs”
“Improving existing transit infrastructure is an essential step in reducing California’s greenhouse gas emissions. I am pleased to jointly author this measure that will ensure funding for transit operators and planning agencies to make repairs, maintain existing facilities and increase fuel-efficiency,” stated Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica). “If California is going to meet its 2020 goals, it is vital our transit infrastructures are working at peak efficiency.”
Since 1985, Los Angeles County has seen a spike of over 1.7 million new registered motor vehicles; resulting in the LA region ranking the worst in gridlock nationwide. According 2014 Inrix Traffic Scorecard, Angelenos waste an average of 64 hours/year stuck in traffic.
The State’s transit infrastructure faces a funding shortfall of approximately $72 billion over the next decade.
“Transit is the pressure relief valve for roads and highways, which can no longer be easily expanded,” said Phillip A. Washington, Metro CEO. “Transit must be included in the mix of multi-modal transportation funding solutions to keep L.A. moving.”
Senator Allen, Assemblymember Nazarian and Bloom joined with Legislators and transit advocates from the San Francisco Bay Area, who held a mirror press conference, echoing the urgent call for the passage of a mass transit funding package in the upcoming Special Session on Transportation.
SBX 1 7 and ABX 1 8 Diesel Sales Tax
Increasing the diesel fuel tax from 1.75% to 5.25% will raise an additional $300 million for the State Transit Assistance (STA) program. The funding will be distributed to all transit agencies via the existing funding formula.
Los Angeles would receive an estimated $85 million annually for mass transit projects.
SBX 1 8 and ABX 1 7 Cap and Trade
Cap and Trade funding is available for public transit projects through two programs – the Low Carbon Operations Program (LCTOP) and the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP). The bill adjusts the funding percentage of these two programs. TIRCP would increase from 10% to 20%, resulting in an additional $200 million per year. LCTOP would increase from 5% to 10%, resulting in additional $100 million per year for the program.
Currently, Cap and Trade funding provides only $300 million for local mass transit projects. SBX 1 8 and ABX 1 7 doubles the funding for local mass transit projects to $600 million annually to help cities better connect and expand mass transit options; ensuring commuting by light-rail or subway is as convenient as driving.
“How are we to reach Governor Brown’s goals of reducing GHGs 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and reducing petroleum use by 50% if robust transit systems are not part of the equation?” asked Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane. “Increasing funding for transit is especially important now that we have set these goals. And it’s important not only for regions that have legacy systems but also for regions that are expanding or building new systems. We need to feed this momentum.”
“Increasing funding through AB17X for transit and inner city rail and Low Carbon Transit Operations are important ways to get us out of our traffic gridlock. When paired with roadway improvements to and from transit stations, and Mobility Hubs — promoting connections to low-emission car share and zero emission biking, walking and shuttles – these funds will be a huge improvement to our mobility and our environment,” added Hilary Norton, Executive Director of FAST – Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic.
Legislators and advocates all stressed that only a balanced approach to repairing our roads and investing in mass transit projects will accomplish the Governor’s goals of reducing greenhouse gases, ensuring safe well maintained roads and bridges, and creating tens-of-thousands of jobs.
Senator Ben Allen represents the Westside and South Bay communities of Los Angeles County.
Adrin Nazarian represents the 46th Assembly District, serving the San Fernando Valley communities of Hollywood Hills, Lake Balboa, North Hills, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Universal City, Van Nuys, and Valley Village.
Richard Bloom represents California’s 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.
Categories: Policy & Funding