Focusing on Finding $$ for a Universal Student Transit Pass Program This Year!

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This could very possibly be the year we win funding to implement a universal student transit pass program at LA Metro as a way to build transit ridership even as we build out the transit system in LA County. The photo above is of just a few of the students who showed up at the Metro board meeting in December, due in part to interest in this issue stirred up by the involvement of the LA Community College District Student Affairs Council, the Region VII Student Senate for California Community Colleges, and the Community College League of California.

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LA Needs a Transit Map That Details Rents at Each Transit Stop!

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On CityLab: You can now work out exactly how much it costs to rent a Berlin apartment, subway station by subway station. This new map, put together by property portal Immobilienscout24.de, details the monthly rent for an average one-bedroom apartment for each U-Bahn and S-Bahn stop in the German capital. The map, available in a zoom-friendly version here, is an interesting portal into just how much the city’s wealth map has shifted in recent decades. But this being Berlin, the property tool is combined with something that does a whole lot more than that. It also allows you to work out if your landlord is illegally hiking your rent. Read more here.


Regarding Transportation, the Governor's 2016-17 Budget Proposal Is a Mixed Bag

An analysis by Joshua Stark from Transform: In his January budget proposal for fiscal year 2016-17, Governor Brown reintroduced his plan for addressing the state’s dwindling transportation revenues and its crumbling infrastructure. When it comes to creating real transportation choices, the proposal is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the Governor’s proposal finally increases transportation funding, and directs that funding largely into sorely needed road maintenance and new public transportation. On the other hand, it fails to include a fix for our oversubscribed walking and biking fund, the Active Transportation Program (ATP). It also diverts climate funds to so-called “Low Carbon Roads” that may have dubious uses. Let me take you for a tour of the Governor’s plan, starting with the revenues.


LA vs. San Francisco: Which Has Done a Better Job Improving Mobility?

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Excellent interview on the Smart Cities Insider blog with former LA Metro Transportation Planning Manager Tim Papandreou, now Director of Strategic Planning and Policy at Muni in San Francisco. He says Metro has done a better job of unifying the transit network with one brand and one transit pass, in being innovative with its fare policy, Metro Rapid, passing sales taxes to create a strong funding base, and check this: About Metro's brand he says: "It's a very happy and upbeat brand . . . It says 'Try transit, it's fun, you're cool, [transit is] sexy.' LA Metro looks and feels like the Apple of transit." But San Francisco wins, he says, in terms of bikes, parking, TOD, pedestrian safety, shared mobility and overall transit network coverage: "There are only a few places in [San Francisco]," he says, "where you are more than a couple of blocks away from the transit network, and [transit is] also more frequent than in Los Angeles." Read it.


FINALLY: Tax Breaks for Transit Riders on Parity With Tax Breaks for Drivers

CityLab's Eric Jaffe writes: Under existing rules employees who ride public transit can get as much as $130/month in IRS commuter benefits, but people who drive to work and park can get up to $250. Beginning next year this playing field levels out. (Finally!! I worked on this issue way back in 1996 when I first became a transit advocate!) But, Jaffe writes, the lure of free or cheap parking is so great, especially when paired with the convenience of driving, that the benefits alone are not enough to make commuters give up driving. The better way, obviously, is to offer transit benefits but charge market rate for parking . . . Read it on CityLab.


Good Post From Joel Epstein: "The Transit Force Awakens"

A quick sum-up: Yes this is the largest transit expansion in the USA, with 5 lines under construction and 2 milestones coming up this spring with the opening of the Expo Line to Santa Monica and the Gold Line to Azusa, deep in the San Gabriel Valley. The Crenshaw Line to LAX is 50% done and the Regional Connector (which connects existing lines downtown to provide one-seat rides -- no transfers required -- from Pasadena to Santa Monica, for example, or Culver City to Long Beach) is almost 20% of the way toward completion. Still to come: the build-out of Union Station, which Joel likens to "a second downtown in DTLA," rail linkages to the rest of the state with high-speed rail and, of course, the possibility of a sequel to the Measure R sales tax for transportation on the 2016 ballot. Read it on the Huffington Post.


It's a Transit Jungle!

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See a dozen delightful photos like this one (Daniel Hoherd/flickr) of animal stowaways on San Francisco's public transit system — from rats to chickens, and lizards to parrots. At CityLab by John Metcalfe, a man after my own heart. Let the animals ride free!


Squint and You Can Find LA's Subway System: Great Present for Transit Nerds

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Creator Neil Freeman says people "disproportionately order the posters in DC, NY, OR, CT, or MA, and not in AR, MO, LA, OK." You can order your's here. 


If Parking On Campus Is a Problem, Student Transit Passes Could Be the Answer, Denny Zane Tells the LA Times

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Parking for students and faculty is a problem at colleges and universities across LA County and the nation, but land for parking lots/structures and the money required to build them (underground parking can range upwards of $30,000 per space -- money that should be used for educational purposes instead) is always in short supply. Moreover, schools are less interested in accommodating solo drivers these days and more interested in going green and encouraging students to carshare/bikeshare and use public transit. That's why Move LA has been working with LA County Supervisor/LA Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas on a universal student transit pass program. "[Student transit passes] would really give more students access to education, because mass transit is much cheaper than driving a car," Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane told the LA Times. "And community college students especially often work part-time, so it would make it possible for them to get to school and work and make it affordable." Read the story in Sunday's LA Times!


From Metro: President Obama Signs FAST, the New Federal Transportation Bill

Steve Hymon just posted this on The Source: Earlier today, President Obama signed into law the long-term surface transportation authorization bill recently passed by Congress - Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). Yesterday, both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the new transportation law.  The bill authorizes approximately $305 billion for Highway, Transit and Railroad programs over 5 years ($61 billion per year).  Passage of the FAST Act by Congress and President Obama signing the measure into law today ends a process of Congress repeatedly adopting extensions to the current surface transportation authorization law – MAP-21.

“The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is proud of the leading role U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and members of the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation played in passing the long term surface transportation bill that President Obama signed into law today,” shared Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas. “In addition to Senator Boxer’s remarkable effort to ensure passage of this bill, we are grateful of the leading role that Congresswoman Grace Napolitano played as a conferee for the FAST Act and the support of Congresswoman Janice Hahn, in her capacity as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Metro will be securing approximately $600 million in formula funding from the FAST Act over the next federal fiscal year to enhance mobility for Los Angeles County’s ten million residents.  We can also expect the FAST Act to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to Los Angeles County in the coming year to build our growing rail system. Lastly, I want to personally thank President Obama for signing the FAST Act into law today,” added Chair Ridley-Thomas.



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