Steve Hymon posts another interesting blog on the Source today about a Metro staff report just made public that provides more detail on the possible new “augment and extend” sales tax measure that could raise $120 billion over 40 years if it's put on the ballot in 2016. It would augment 3 existing half-cent sales taxes for transportation with a fourth measure, and “extend” one of the existing sales taxes from a current end date of 2039 to 2057. The 3 existing sales taxes brought in about $2.3 billion this year—40% of Metro’s annual budget—indicating how important local sales taxes are in an era of declining and inconsistent transportation funding from the state and federal governments. Metro has 5 lines under construction now. The story includes links to several other documents: on performance metrics that will be used to help select projects, stakeholder input, subregional project priorities, a roadmap for the LRTP process and more!
Steve notes that LA County’s 9 subregions have already submitted a list of 2,300 "priority projects" that would cost up to $273 billion (!) and that about half the revenues would be distributed to the subregions using a formula based on population and employment. The rest of the money would divvied up among 88 cities and unincorporated parts of the county, and used for transit operations and state-of-good-repair projects, with hopefully enough money left over for the big icononic projects that help sales tax funding measures win: An LA Times story last week called out these 5 iconic projects: extending the subway to Santa Monica and the Crenshaw Line north to Hollywood, building the People Mover to LAX, converting the Orange Line to light rail, and linking the Westside with the San Fernando Valley via a rail line through the Sepulveda Pass.
Metro has scheduled public meetings and focus groups through March, when a draft expenditure plan will have been released, and plans to decide whether to put the measure on the ballot before July.
Good blog from Steve Hymon today on the signing yesterday of a bill allowing LA Metro to move forward on an "augment and extend" sales tax measure that could raise $120 billion for transportation if it gets put on the ballot in 2016. Steve makes the following key points: 1) Metro won't decide until spring or summer of next year whether to put a measure on the ballot but is working on an update to the long range transportation plan and a framework for the possible ballot measure, and 2) Metro has been working with local governments and other stakeholders around the county to develop a priority list of projects they'd like to see funded. More on The Source.
Good story also by Laura Nelson in the LA Times. She noted that voters in LA County have approved sales taxes for transportation improvements 3 times in the past (in 1980, 1990, and 2008) and that a poll Metro did earlier this year suggests that this new sales tax would be likely to get the 2/3 vote needed to pass. The Times also listed 5 rail lines that "could" be built with $120 billion, including: a Purple Line subway extension to Santa Monica, an extension of the Crenshaw Line north to Hollywood, the LAX people mover, the conversion of the Orange Line BRT in the San Fernando Valley to light rail, a rail project linking the Westside to the San Fernando Valley via the Sepulveda Pass. Read more in the LA Times.
Governor Brown has signed SB 767, the bill authored by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) that would allow LA Metro to put a sales tax measure for transportation on the ballot in 2016. Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane's response: "It's time to double down on Measure R! We'll have the right measure, the right coalition and the right campaign -- remember that in 2012 the bill authorizing Metro to put Measure J on the ballot wasn't signed until 2 months before the election, making it difficult for supporters to put together a winning campaign." Measure R was passed by voters in 2008 and will raise $36 billion over 30 years for transportation projects and improvements.Read more
#1 on Oct. 10: The Planning and Conservation League comes to UCLA this Saturday to talk with local leaders about local investments that are critical to making LA carbon neutral and a great city to live in.
#2 on Oct. 23: The Los Angeles Business Council stages their annual Mayoral Housing, Transportation and Jobs Summit.
#3 on Nov. 6: Climate Resolve, ecoAmerica and local leaders will draft a Los Angeles Declaration on Climate Change at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.Read more
Move LA's submittal to the Goldhirsh Foundation's annual LA 2050 grants competition asks for funding to work with Metro and community colleges to institute a pre-paid fare-free unlimited access student transit pass program in LA County. PLEASE VOTE FOR OUR PROPOSAL HERE. VOTING IS ONLY OPEN UNTIL NOON ON NOV. 3! The Metro Board voted unanimously to investigate the feasibility of a program and we want to work with Metro on program design. Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane helped develop Santa Monica College's very successful "Any Line, Any Time" program — 40% of all students, faculty and staff now take the Big Blue Bus to school.Read more
Motion To Study Feasibility of "Any Line, Any Time, For Free" Student Transit Passes . . . Passes Unanimously
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' motion to study the feasibility of Metro implementing a universal student transit pass program was unanimously approved at the Metro board meeting on Thursday. This led to jubilation and selfies with Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, LA Community College District Board of Trustees VP (and former Assemblymember) Mike Eng; Michael Woo, Dean of the College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly Pomona; Move LA ED Denny Zane; California State Students Association Sustainability Director Theary Monh; and a whole lot of students from LA Trade Tech! Staff is to report back in 60 days. It is our hope that funding could come from Metro's allocation of Low Carbon Transit Operations Program money from the GHG Reduction Fund.Read more
Donald Shoup and other researchers at UCLA have investigated the performance of universal student transit pass programs (all rides are free!) at 35 universities and the research is a powerful testament to the benefits of free transit: increases in student transit ridership of 71% to 200%; a reduction in parking demand of 400 to 1,000 spaces (leaving more land and construction money for buildings with educational purposes); a $2,000/year reduction in the cost of a college education; and approval rates of 54% to 94% in student referenda about using student fees to pay for these programs at an average cost of about $30 per student per year! Metro will decide whether to study the feasibility of such a program at the board meeting Thursday!Read more
Here's a study and 2 journal articles on persuasive student transit pass research at 35 colleges, by Donald Shoup and others at UCLA. Professor Shoup sums it up by writing: “To learn how Unlimited Access works we surveyed 35 universities that offered it during the 1997-98 school year. We found the average cost was $30 per student per year . . . [and] that student transit ridership increased between 71%-200% at different universities. At one school the number of vehicle trips to campus decreased by 26%. The reduction in vehicle trips reduced parking demand by 400-1,000 spaces. Because Unlimited Access allows students to get around without a car, the university financial aid budgets suggest it can reduce the cost of attending college by up to $2,000 a year.” Here's the 2001 study of 35 schools, a 2003 journal article on UCLA's BruinGo transit pass program, and a sum-up of the big study in the University of California journal Access.
LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, chair of LA Metro's Board, plans to introduce a motion at the Thursday board meeting to study the feasibililty of implementing a universal student transit pass program in LA County. Metro is looking at a number of strategies to increase transit ridership, especially with a new and maybe life-long group of riders. Metro does currently have a discounted student transit pass program. But best practices show the most successful programs allow students to sign up for deeply discounted passes during the registration process. Metro requires students to come to Metro and pay up front.Read more
Move LA is searching for funding for a universal student transit pass pilot program in LA County. Now is the perfect time: The pot of Cap & Trade dollars (the GHG Reduction Fund or GGRF) is filling up with money as new businesses come under the cap and need to buy emission allowances, and the state Legislature and recipients of GGRF money haven't figured out how to spend all that money yet. LA Metro, for example, must soon propose to Caltrans how it will use its share of Low Carbon Transit Operations Program funding. We suggest it could be a universal student transit pass program. Or at least a pilot project to start.Read more