As a part of Move LA for the next few months, my mission will be spread awareness of Los Angeles’ public transportation happenings to Angelenos. I hope to motivate residents, travelers, and tourists alike to see Los Angeles from outside the automobile — and to see the city from a lens closer to its people, architecture, and history.
Growing up on the East Coast, I never quite considered that public transportation would be an option to traverse this city. Before actually experiencing Los Angeles I pictured a city aligned with its popular tropes: A mass of freeways and urban sprawl riddled with unwieldy traffic jams. Like Reyner Banham in his famous self-defined "Autopia" of Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, I figured the only way to understand the city, like a true Angeleno, was through driving. Los Angeles was a far cry from the East Coast cities I arrived from, where public transportation was often regarded as primary rather then a brief afterthought.
Yet as a car-less (not careless!) college student I had no choice but to travel Los Angeles by an amalgamation of public transportation options, an experience that has opened my eyes to powerful role transportation plays in creating livable, communal, sustainable cities. Transportation is the lifeblood of a city, connecting people from all walks of life and purposes in everyday life in a single space. In the next few months I intend to show the tangible and intangible benefits public transportation can provide to Los Angeles residents — stay tuned for more.
Very big news from LA Metro yesterday: The agency has received several unsolicited proposals for "public private partnerships" or "P3s" to design, build, finance and help accelerate some of the major projects that would be built if voters approve Measure M on Nov. 8.
These include two proposals to accelerate the West Santa Ana Branch Light Rail project, also known as the Eco Rapid Transit Line, which would run along an abandoned Union Pacific Railroad ROW from Artesia north through several southeast cities and then along the west side of the Los Angeles River to downtown LA, with plans to eventually extend it to the Bob Hope Airport and even further north. Cities along the corridor have voted to oppose Measure M because they believe the construction of this line is unfairly late in the project implementation schedule.
One proposal to design-build-finance and accelerate this line comes from Skanska, an affiliate of a Swedish firm that has offices in Riverside, which built the Exposition Light Rail Line, and is now building the Regional Connector in downtown LA and the first phase of the Westside Subway Purple Line Extension. Skanska has also submitted a proposal to accelerate the Purple Line Subway Extension to UCLA and the Veterans Administration.
Another proposal to design-build-finance and accelerate the Eco Rapid Transit Line comes from ACS, based in Madrid and one of the leading construction companies in the world, which is currently working on stretches of California's high-speed rail line and the Crosslinx light rail line in Toronto, Canada.
The fact that there are two competing proposals makes it more likely that there will be serious acceleration of the Eco Rapid Transit Line.
Pledge to vote for Measure M HERE!
At Tuesday's #VoteYesOnM press event beneath Los Angeles Coliseum’s iconic peristyle, Mayor Eric Garcetti highlighted the popularity of recent Expo Line ridership as testament to Metro’s potential to move people fast and efficiently. The presser was attended by LA Rams Executive VP Kevin Demoff, Metro Board Director Jackie Dupont-Walker and Measure M’s broad coalition of community and advocacy partners including Move LA’s very own Denny Zane!
Metro’s Expo line has been heavily populated by football fans eager to ditch their cars for a less traffic-congested option. Attendance at the Rams' opener with the Seattle Seahawks was 80,147, according to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Metro's the Source calculated that this meant that about 26 percent of those who attended took Metro.Read more
The depth and breadth of the coalition that’s vigorously supporting Measure M is impressive, but today we’d like to call out AARP California and St. Barnabas Senior Services in particular for their enthusiastic support and active campaigning.
AARP California, representing 1 million older Americans in LA County alone, has endorsed Measure M—the first time this powerful organization has ever endorsed and is actively campaigning for a local ballot measure. AARP CA prioritized Measure M because the number of people aged 65 and over is likely to double in 15 years, making it critical that LA County’s transportation system works for people who can’t—or don’t want to—drive. St. Barnabus, LA’s oldest senior services agency, has also endorsed and is getting out the vote for Measure M.
The reasons both organizations are on board and pledging to get out the vote is because Measure M will:
- Make it easier for people of all ages and incomes to get to jobs, health care and other essential services by providing more transportation options in more neighborhoods
- Help reduce isolation for seniors and increase access to social connections that keep us healthy as we age
- Repair sidewalks and install curb cuts, making it easier for people to walk, bike, and push a stroller or walker to their destinations
- Ensure that fares on both trains and busses remain low for seniors and people with disabilities
- Create good jobs for grandchildren!
Move LA launched its mission in 2007 by convening business, labor and environmental interests, political consultants, pollsters and elected officials to assess whether a transportation ballot measure could win in the election of 2008—and we were there at the victory press conference when Measure R won. We were also there at Union Station on August 31 when LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the campaign for Measure M.
Today our mission took a giant leap forward with the LA Times lengthy endorsement of Measure M. Our interest in 2007 was in solving the problem of “soul-crushing traffic,” as the Times called it today. The best way to avoid that traffic is to take the train, and Measure M would build what would become the 2nd-largest transit system in the U.S. Pledge HERE to #VoteYesOnM!
Some of you remember Move LA's conference in the spring of 2014 when we released our “Straw Man” ballot measure proposal and encouraged all of LA County to “dream big.” It was a resounding message, and our coalition grew to include faith-based groups, social equity advocates, older Americans, people with disabilities, and students—a constituency so large it could provide the “margin of victory” allowing Measure M to win.
We believe Move LA has played a special role in what could be the imminent success of Measure M: We created the table around which a long back-and-forth conversation took place over several years and resulted in 51 more Straw Man proposals that eventually allowed stakeholders to reach consensus about which projects and programs should be funded by what became Measure M.
The end result was probably the most robust and well-informed engagement effort ever for a transportation ballot measure in LA County. This included a truly bottoms-up planning process at LA Metro with the result that local governments were fully engaged and that 48,000 people participated in Metro’s public outreach and engagement process—either speaking out at board meetings, writing letters, or attending public forums or telephone town hall meetings.
Of the 13 elected officials who served on the Metro board in 2008 only one remains on the board now who supported Measure R in 2008—Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian—which is indicative of the challenge we faced to keep the momentum going. But Move LA has been there since the beginning helping to develop and drive the conversation and coalition.
There are about 30 transportation measures on ballots across the U.S. in the Nov. 8 election, and ours is the biggest and most ambitious—we are, after all, the 2nd largest metro area in the U.S. so we have to dream big! We are proud of our contribution. We helped keep the dream of a transformational transportation investment alive and this is why Measure M — for mobility, momentum and mojo, at a minimum — is going to win. Especially if we tell our friends, neighbors, family and colleagues to #VoteYesOnM November 8! Pledge HERE to #VoteYesOnM!
The LA Times endorsed Measure M today, saying that in order "to maintain the region's quality of life Los Angeles County has to keep investing in transportation." Move LA says that for all who are stuck in "soul-crushing traffic"—as the Times describes it—#VoteYesOnM and tell family/friends/neighbors/people you work with to vote for Measure M too! The LA Times editorial also said:
"Los Angeles County residents crave fast, convenient and affordable transportation options. Just look at what happened when the new Expo Line extension to Santa Monica opened in May. It was crowded from the get-go, and ridership on the line since then has climbed 42% on weekdays and 90% on Sundays.
"That experience has been repeated again and again as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has opened new rapid transit lines. More than 70% of the riders surveyed on the Gold Line after the extension to Azusa was opened in March said they were new to the train, and 2/3 of those said that they used to drive prior to taking the light rail. The Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley has far exceeded ridership projections.
"There’s pent-up demand for alternatives to sitting in soul-crushing, air-polluting traffic. Los Angeles grew into a metropolis by relying on cars and freeways, but the region cannot continue to prosper without investing in a modern, efficient transportation system. Congestion makes it harder to conduct business and move goods — a problem in a region with the nation’s largest port complex. With a half-built transit system, people are left to drive long distances or rely on multiple buses and trains to reach work or school. Or worse, it means they don’t consider certain jobs or opportunities because of the commute."
In November, LA County residents will be voting on Measure M to build a 21st Century transportation network of subway, light rail, bus rapid transit, bus and bike lanes into every corner of LA County with the goal of easing traffic congestion by offering people alternatives to driving. Measure M also provides funding for maintenance of the system and for operations, as well as discounted transit fares for older Americans, people with disabilities and students. Here is a partial list of 74 organizations that have endorsed Measure M.
LA Area Chamber of Commerce
Los Angeles Business Council
Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed)
Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce
American Society of Civil Engineers- LA Branch
Crenshaw Chamber of Commerce
San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership
Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce
Valley Industry Commerce Association (VICA)
Civil Engineers for Infrastructure
Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc
Keller Williams Realty
Preferred Properties LA, Inc.
Shannon & Wilson
LA/Orange Counties Building & Construction Trades Council
Los Angeles County Federation of Labor
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 12
Ironworkers Local 416
Communication Workers of America Southern California Council
National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians- Communication Workers of America Local 53
Service Employees International Union Local 721
Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters
Teamsters Local 396
United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, Local 770
LA Unified School District, Board of Education
Los Angeles Community College District
Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice
Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters
Global Green USA
Natural Resources Defense Council
Bike San Gabriel Valley
Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic (FAST)
Golden State Gateway Coalition
Investing in Place
Jobs to Move America
Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
Los Angeles Walks
Southern California Transit Advocates
The Transit Coalition
Justice in Aging
Central City Association of Los Angeles
Communities Actively Living Independent & Free (CALIF)
Independent Living Center of Southern California
Southern California Resource Center for Independent Living
The Los Angeles Coalition
Westside Center for Independent Living
City of Los Angeles
City of Montebello
City of South Pasadena
City of West Hollywood
American Institute of Architects – LA
American Planning Assoc.- LA
Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI)
Los Angeles Democratic Party
Los Angeles Young Democrats
Avance Los Angeles Democratic Club
Democrats of Pasadena Foothills
East Area Progressive Democrats
New Frontier Democratic Club
Stonewall Democratic Club
Tri Cities Democratic Club
Students have every reason to support Measure M and what would be a transformational investment in LA’s public transportation system ($120 billion in just the first 40 years). It includes, for example, a significant amount of money for bus and rail operations that would help keep fares low, including a dedicated $2.4 billion revenue stream (over the first 40 years) for discounted transit passes for students, seniors and the disabled—and that $2.4 million is a floor, not a ceiling, and could be increased. (Photo from the Student Senate of California Community Colleges Region VII meeting at LA Trade Tech College Sept. 16, with Treasurer Araksya Nordikyan, Legislative Affairs Director Saleem Moinuddin, LA Community College District Student Trustee Alexa Victoriano, Region VII Chair Lorena Aguilar and Parliamentarian Gerson Liahut-Sanchez.)
Measure M would also build at least 16 new rail and bus rapid transit projects, improve every major freeway and highway, repair sidewalks and build bike lanes including closing all the gaps in the 51-mile LA River bike path from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach. This pie chart shows how the money will be spent: 16%, for example, goes to the 88 cities in LA County based on their population and employment. Cities in Southeast LA County and in the South Bay, for example, would get $48 million each year to fund their transportation priorities—whether sidewalks or bike lanes, potholes, intersection improvements or traffic signal synchronization.
The investment plan was developed over an extensive 3-year planning process with all 88 cities in LA County, and 48,000 people weighed in at public hearings or telephone town halls, and the maps available on our website show you that every corner of LA County gets major projects.
In a nutshell, students should vote for Measure M because it will 1) build a bigger transit system, 2) fund better service and keep fares low, 3) build bike lanes and repair sidewalks to make it easier to get to and from stations, 4) create 465,000 good, middle-class jobs that will have Project Labor Agreements and a Construction Careers policy in place to help students and others get into apprenticeship programs, and 5) give us cleaner air and a cooler planet!
For all of these reasons we’d like to help turn out the student vote for Measure M, and are looking for 5 students who would be willing to host events on college and university campuses and help push out a student campaign on social media. Please email Gloria Ohland at Move LA if you have any interest in helping us! (Or call, 21-304-0444.)
(Paid for by Campaign to Move LA, in Support of Transportation Ballot Measure M, Major Funding by Aaron Sosnick, HDR Engineering, Inc. & Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.)
AARP has endorsed and will be campaigning for Measure M to build out LA County’s public transit system—the first time that AARP has ever endorsed a local ballot initiative. AARP is doing this because Measure M would provide funding to keep transit fares affordable for both seniors and people with disabilities—important because the population of LA County residents 65 years or older is expected to increase to 2 million soon (LA County’s population is about 10 million).
"Our county is undergoing a tremendous demographic shift, so we must take action now to keep up and ensure we ease congestion and help seniors get where they need to go," Mayor Garcetti said at an AARP press conference at a senior living apartment in Carson on Tuesday. "Measure M extends transit and improves freeway traffic flow countywide, and also delivers funds to each of L.A. County's 88 cities so they can pursue their own local projects to repave roads, fix sidewalks and fill potholes."
AARP California Director Nancy McPherson said that she looked forward to success in November. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said that he looked forward to joining AARP—in the future.
Also at the press conference were Carson City Councilmember Jawane Hilton, Ron Miller, executive secretary of the LA/OC County Building Trades, Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane, and Move LA Leadership Board President Marlene Grossman (in photo). Denny and Marlene have been discussing the idea of this ballot measure with AARP for more than a year.
At the press conference Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane said Measure M would build “the most modern, advanced and extensive transportation system in North America, with perhaps the exception of Manhattan—but ours will be new. This is an extraordinary opportunity."
Almost on the eve of Labor Day and the day after the launch of Measure M—the plan to build the 2nd-largest transit system in the U.S.—it’s important to remember what Measure R did for us. Approved by 2/3 of voters in November 2008, it gave us a leg up out of the Great Recession, playing an important role in bringing us back from the brink by providing billions of dollars for near-term investment in transportation and a total investment of $36 billion over three decades.
Unemployment hit a high of 10.8% in California in 2009, and 12.8% in LA County. But we are back! Unemployment is down to 5.9% in California and 5.2% in LA County—a rate low enough that some consider it “full employment”—and job production here now appears to be more robust than in the state and nation as a whole. We have a lot to celebrate as we head toward the Nov. 8 election. Read what Ron Miller, executive secretary of the LA/OC Building Trades Council, has to say about the significance of the public investment in jobs and apprenticeship programs.Read more