I’m very curious to hear everyone’s comments on the article that ran in the Los Angeles Times this morning. I highly encourage everyone to read it — no grazing please. The story is very good and thorough.
The gist of it: Metro staff are recommending that congestion pricing — tolling roads in plain English — could be used to build 28 major projects in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in the L.A. area.
If the agency’s Board (12 of the 13 members are elected officials, btw) ultimately goes for it, Metro would launch a one- to two-year study on where to test congestion pricing. They could toll an area, corridor or charge a fee based on how many miles a motorist drives. As Metro CEO Phil Washington told the Board last month, such a plan could fund free transit.
Twenty of the projects are scheduled to be done by 2028. About $26 billion, however, must be secured to accelerate or fund the other eight projects, a list that includes a couple of big ones — namely the Sepulveda Transit Corridor. Enter congestion pricing, which has the most potential to raise the most funds, says Metro staff.
The staff report is embedded below or you can find the report + attachments here.
From Metro’s point of view, I want to stress that there is no firm congestion pricing plan on the table at this time. Metro staff this month are asking the Board to approve a list of key programs whose funding would be off-limits to the “Reimagining” program. Staff will return to the Board next month with a funding plan. Staff are recommending that the plan include tolling.
Also on the list of potential new revenue sources: fees on Uber/Lyft rides and fees on other “New Mobility” devices, i.e. scooters.
One notable excerpt from the LAT article:
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the Olympics transit and highway projects should be “disentangled” from the question of congestion pricing.
He said Metro can close the $26.2-billion gap by pursuing federal funds and other financing strategies to build on the money raised through Measure M, the sales-tax increase voters approved in 2016.
“I don’t yet support any particular proposal or congestion pricing as a philosophy,” Garcetti said. “But if it can work and if it can help us achieve our goals… I think it’s a conversation worth starting. I’m going to push very strongly to do that.”
“It challenges what Angelenos see as their God-given right to drive anywhere they want,” said Manuel Pastor, director of USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity. “It would be a challenging shift in a city that’s very much a car culture and an individual culture.”
The article notes that having a good transit alternative is essential — and maybe that could be in the form of new express buses. I thought the article ended with a fascinating quote from the Natural Resources Defense Council Carter Ruben (a Source alum): he suggests that tolling could turn every commute into a Sunday morning-like drive.
Which leads to a pair of obvious questions: how much will tolls need to be to take that many cars off the road during weekday peak times? And if driving is so quick and such a breeze, won’t that just highlight the travel time difference between driving and transit?
The LAT also published an editorial over the weekend that sidesteps the issue of how to do congestion pricing but favors the concept and concludes with this question:
Even if congestion pricing alone doesn’t save mankind, it probably could save Los Angeles from smothering in traffic and air pollution. The unanswered question at this point is whether Metro can do it in a way that’s both effective and fair.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’m guessing this part of the Board meeting on Thursday will, unlike some government meetings, not require caffeine. The LAT article, btw, has a bunch of comments and there are some more in reporter Laura Nelson’s Twitter stream. Click below.
Los Angeles transportation officials are considering charging drivers more to drive — by the mile, on some freeways, or in certain parts of the city — to tame traffic. To succeed, the plan would need politicians with spines of steel. My story: //t.co/E1hUZah9NY
— Laura J. Nelson 🦅 (@laura_nelson) January 22, 2019
Friendly reminder: the closure of the southern half of the Blue Line and Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station begins on Saturday. This is for work to upgrade the line. All the details here.
Caption contest! If you were marketing transit, what would your caption be? Comment please.
Mine: When life gets tough, we’ll still give you a ride.
Perhaps this is why I am not employed by our marketing department…
The pic was taken on Saturday after the Women’s March. Crowds were definitely nowhere near as large as two years ago but there were still a lot of people on hand and the extra Metro rail service seemed to handle everything just fine, IMHO.
Another funding story, this from the SGV Tribune: How LA Metro might close the funding gap for the Gold Line foothill extension to Pomona and beyond. Key excerpt:
While not set in stone, Metro is proposing diverting future Measure M tax dollars slated for Glendora, La Verne, Pomona, San Dimas and Claremont.
A big chunk of change from Measure M — 17 percent — goes back to cities and unincorporated areas on a per capita basis. That was a big part of the appeal of Measure M (and Measure R for that matter) to local officials: they were guaranteed to get something back even if a big project was not slated for their area.
Very understandable. On the other hand, that also denies money to big road and transit projects. So no surprise it’s may be a thorny issue as Metro tries to help find funds to get the Gold Line project to Claremont, as originally envisioned. Thoughts, voters and readers and denizens of the Foothill Corridor?
From the Department of Local Air Quality: well, it was pretty great thanks to last week’s rains and the winds.
Here are two different perspectives — Sunday morning from Mt. Wilson and Monday afternoon from the Baldwin Hills. One tiny thought: these type of photos betray how large our area is, thus the challenge in getting people around whether by car or transit or anything else.
Dept. of Go Metro to See The NFC Champion Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2019: the Rams will play the Seahawks, 49ers, Cardinals, Bears, Bucs, Ravens and Saints at home whereas the Rams impending slaughter of the Bengals will be a Rams home game played in London. As a Cincinnati native and Bengals sympathizer, perhaps it’s best that transpires on a different continent.
The guess here is that if the Rams win the Super Bowl, they’ll host New Orleans in the traditional NFL opener on Thursday night, Sept. 5. As for NFL officiating — it’s terrible and the rules have gotten so complex it seems that no one in the NFL can actually decide what is and isn’t pass interference, holding, a catch, roughing the passer or a illegal hit to the head.
The Chiefs, btw, have more reason to whine than the Saints, again IMHO. Edelman’s muffed punt should have given the ball to Kansas City in Patriots territory and a phantom roughing the passer call gave New England a Very Important 15 yards and a first down it did not deserve. Hmm.
— Metro (@metrolosangeles) January 21, 2019
Categories: Transportation Headlines