The Metro Board voted their unanimous support for a proposed new student transit pass program Thursday after students from community colleges, state universities and UCLA lined up to explain why student passes are so important, especially for part-time students who are not eligible for Metro's current student transit pass program. "Part-time students are not part-time because they choose to be," Romel Lopez, student body president of East LA College, told Metro boardmembers. "It's because they are single parents, or students who have to go home and take care of their parents, or students that have to work 40 hours a week and go to school."
Afterward LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti came out of the board meeting for photo opps and selfies with students, and Mayor Garcetti wrote personal notes for students who feared they'd be in trouble for leaving school to testify at Metro.
Friends in Sacramento say the Metro board meeting was watched by some legislative staff members who took note of the enthusiasm for student passes and the bipartisan support on the Metro Board — which showed that transit agencies as well as students are interested in student transit pass programs! Go Metro!
Metro’s new student pass program—which is for now a pilot with 10 schools (we don’t know which will be chosen yet)—will go into effect later this year.
This bill, authored by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) and co-sponsored by Move LA and Transform (in the Bay Area), would provide $50M/year for discounted student transit passes for K-12 and public college and university students. It made it out of the Appropriations Committee Friday with a unanimous vote, though an amendment limited the funding to passes for low-income students. We haven’t seen the language yet so it’s unclear how "low-income" is defined—whether this means students in Disadvantaged Communities or students who get a free or reduced-price lunch, etc.
There will be a vote on the Assembly floor Wednesday. Please call or email your assemblymember and ask her/him to support the bill! Because the bill passed with unanimous votes in both the Transportation and Appropriations committees—and it's hard to get Democrats and Republicans to agree, especially when it comes to transportation—the bill may get off the floor. And then we will have only a week to convince the budget conference committee to include funding for the program in the budget trailer bill. Get those letters of support ready!
TAKE ACTION: Please call or email your Assemblymember and say that you support this bill as a way to improve student access to education and because we all need an educated workforce to keep California competitive!
It was a very good day Monday at Move LA's 8th Annual Transportation Conversation as 500 citizens of this great county talked with many of the leaders who will play influential roles in the decision about whether to put a $120 billion transportation sales tax measure on the ballot in November--and about what it can fund.
The keynote speakers--LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (currently chair of Metro's board), LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and USC Professor Manuel Pastor--all talked about the public transportation system that $120 billion can build and the opportunities it can create, including community improvements and jobs:
"Regional, rational and equitable is the way forward," said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.
"Every new rail and bus rapid transit line has exceeded our expectations. We can't build rail cars fast enough," said Mayor Garcetti. "We really are becoming the infrastructure capital of the U.S."
Added Manuel Pastor: "Let's keep equity and justice at the center of LA's new transit future!"
There was a remarkable display of unity and optimism among all the business, labor, environmental and social justice leaders who spoke, suggesting that--to use Manuel Pastor's term--this investment can become a "sweet spot" that unites us all.
WE NEED YOUR HELP! . . . THE METRO BOARD VOTES ON A NEW STUDENT TRANSIT PASS PROGRAM THURSDAY
Please come to the Metro Board meeting on May 26 to support the re-vamped student transit pass program that will be presented to the board—or send a student or friend. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. and LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will ask board members to consider the measure promptly at 10 a.m. so students can get back to school to study for finals!
Currently only fulltime students qualify for Metro’s student pass, which costs $43/month—a 57% discount over the regular $100 price but still too much for lower-income students, who say they sometimes have to choose between buying a ticket and buying lunch. Students, school administrators and other advocates are pressing Metro to lower the student eligibility requirement to 6 credits for undergraduate students, many of whom (especially community college students) go to school part-time because they have to work to help support their families and/or pay for school. These are the students who need discounted student passes the most!
The meeting will be at the Metro Headquarters behind Union Station in the 3rd floor boardroom, beginning at 9 a.m. There will be time for only 5 students to speak but as many as possible should come down to the podium or stand up in the audience so board members can see there’s broad support.
SIGN THE STUDENT TRANSIT PASS PETITION
You can do it online HERE. Only 12 hours left, though, if we decide to present signatures to the Metro Board!
SIGN THE “SUPPORT AB 2222” PETITION
You can do it online HERE. This bill, by Asm. Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), would provide $50M/year for discounted student transit pass programs for K-12 and public college and university students across the state, and is likely to be taken off the Suspense File in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday. But it is also likely to be stripped of its funding, which means it will need to be funded in the new state budget. However, student transit passes have not made it into the Senate, Assembly or the Governor’s budget proposals yet. We have only a week or so to fix that. You could reach out to your elected representatives! This funding source could help Metro keep student fares low.
Tired of screaming pundits and surrogates? Hungry for some civil dialogue on local issues? Tonight’s candidate forum in Pasadena may be what you are looking for.
The candidates are vying to replace termed-out LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich to represent the 5th Supervisory District. Organized by a group of 100% non-partisan non-profits and religious groups, the forum promises a thoughtful presentation of important issues the incoming supervisor will face: homelessness, lack of apartments with affordable rents, foster care, immigration, transportation, and re-integrating people returning to communities from jail.
Many of the groups involved organized forums in 2014 when Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver were facing off. KPCC reported this, a rarity, about the political debates: the candidates praised each other in their closing statements.
"I want to commend Sheila," Shriver said of Kuehl. “I think we’ve had a really progressive, really smart series of conversations.”
“I want to praise my opponent as well," Kuehl said of Shriver. "He has been such an intelligent voice."
The build-out of LA’s transit system has been and will continue to be a long and complicated process that takes many twists and turns along the way. But Metro has been delivering on its promises with a rainbow of rail lines—Blue, Red, Green, Gold, Orange, Silver, Expo, and soon Crenshaw and the Regional Connector—and the grand opening of Expo to the beach today is another compelling milestone.
But the best is yet to come if Metro decides to go to the ballot with the proposed sales tax in November. Sales tax measures are increasingly acknowledged across the U.S. as one of the only ways to ensure access to the significant resources needed to build local infrastructure, but no other region has been as ambitious in scope as big, densely populated LA County!
Metro's proposed 40-year half-cent sales tax would raise $120 billion to invest in more rail lines, to expand bus service and keep fares low (Metro’s are the lowest of any big city operator), provide better bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, discounted transit passes, road repairs, etc. — and all the other programs that keep the transportation system and the economy it supports moving.
But it’s very important that we continue the conversation about whether this is the best expenditure plan or whether important pieces are missing. Join several hundred citizens of this great county as well as agency staff and elected officials at Move LA’s 8th Annual Transportation Conversation on MONDAY, May 23, at the LA Cathedral Conference Center and add your voice to the conversation. REGISTER HERE.
And if you want to read Move LA’s history with the Expo Line, beginning with a campaign to save a little-known right-of-way back in 1989 when the Expo Line was just a sparkle in the eyes of Denny Zane, Darrell Clarke and some other folks that you may know, read Denny Zane's tale below. It all began one Tuesday night at a Santa Monica City Council meeting . . .
The Center for Transportation for Excellence in Washington DC monitors transportation sales tax campaigns across the U.S.—the successes, failures and lessons learned. When interviewed earlier this year Director Jason Jordan stressed that the first lesson is that success requires a “great, broad and deep coalition." Jordan said that coalition has to engage the public early, stick together, and keep talking about the value of the transportation investment—that it has to wage what is essentially a “permanent campaign.”
See some of the members of that big coalition below, and join them at Move LA's 8th Annual Transportation Conversation—REGISTER HERE—which is the wind-up and the pitch for LA County’s next sales tax measure, likely to be on the ballot in November 2016. At the LA Cathedral's Conference Center in downtown LA next Monday with lunch beginning at 11:15 a.m.
Don’t miss out. It will be a provocative conversation about what is in Metro’s proposed expenditure plan, and what isn’t—but should be. With LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Professor Dr. Manuel Pastor from USC, and a great, broad, deep coalition including (in alphabetical order):
Art Aguilar, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1277
John Boesel, CalStart
Tamika Butler, LA County Bicycle Coalition
Darrell Clarke, Sierra Club (and formerly Friends of Expo)
Andre Colaiace, Access Services
Mike Eng, LA Community College District Board
Nidia Erceg, Coalition for Clean Air
Cecilia Estolano, ELP Advisors
Chris Hannan, LA/Orange County Building & Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO
Rusty Hicks, LA County Federation of Labor
Zach Hoover, LA Voice
David Kersh, Carpenters/Contractors Cooperation Committee
Mary Leslie, LA Business Council
Romel Lopez, ASU President of East LA College
Dr. Joseph K. Lyou, Coalition for Clean Air
Jessica Meaney, Investing in Place
Jerilyn Lopez Mendoza, SoCal Gas
Hilary Norton, FAST (Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic)
Brandi Orton, St. Barnabas Senior Services
Erika Thi Patterson, Jobs to Move America
Jonathan Parfrey, Climate Resolve
Joyce Perkins, LANI (Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative)
Ron “Halisi” Price, African American Sheet Metal Workers Association and LA Black Worker Center/Black Labor Construction Council
Tracy Rafter, LA County Business Federation
Kevin Ramsey, SoCal Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors
Sergio Rascon, Laborers International Union of North America Local 300
Alberto Retana, Community Coalition
Eric Stockel, One LA and Leo Baeck Temple
Taylor Thomas, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice
Tanua Thrash-Ntuk, LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation)
Gary Toebben, LA Area Chamber of Commerce
M C Townsend, Regional Black Chamber of Commerce San Fernando Valley
Thomas Yee, LA THRIVES
Last March LA Metro released a stunning proposal for the expansion of LA County's rail transit system (click here to see the map). The system that is envisioned will provide robust rail transit service to all parts of LA County, creating a dramatic alternative to the doomed-to-be-congested future we face now.
This proposed measure will even invest significant funds in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, whereas Measure R in 2008 provided no bike/ped investments at all.
YES! And here's how:
• Metro can expand the bike-ped program by making a clear commitment to invest in first-last-mile connections and complete streets.
• Metro can expand transit services for older adults and people with disabilities.
• Metro can create a robust student transit pass program that will turn many young adults into lifetime transit riders.
• Metro can invest in clean alternatives to diesel trucks and finish the job of cleaning the air.
REGISTER for Move LA's 8th Annual Transportation Conversation at the LA Cathedral on Monday, May 23, beginning with lunch at 11:15 a.m., and talk with us about your priorities!
With LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, chair of Metro’s Board, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, USC’s Dr. Manuel Pastor, and leaders from our big and broad coalition, which represents the interests of business, labor, environmentalists, faith-based groups, social justice organizations, affordable housing advocates, students, seniors, and people with disabilities.
(Photo courtesy Streetsblog LA.)
In 2008 LA County voters knew that reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, revving up our economy by putting thousands of people to work, and also reducing household transportation costs was a challenging agenda that could only be addressed by a bold program. Voters approved Measure R by 67.9%, in part because they saw a program bold enough to address the challenges. Metro learned an important lesson: Fortune favors the bold.
In 2016 Metro's draft measure for November is bolder. The new measure will fund new rail transit lines that can reduce the need to drive; improve bus operations, expand service and help keep fares affordable; fix freeway bottlenecks and keep roads and bridges safe; build more and better bike and pedestrian connections; and help improve air quality. If approved by voters the new ballot measure will generate more than $120 billion over 40 years for transportation investments. And yet it will increase taxes by less than 10 cents per day per resident.
In the most recent Student Survey of Los Angeles Community College District campuses (fall 2014): 83.6% of students reported that “low cost” was important or very important in their decision to enroll in college; 58.5% reported that “availability of public transportation” was important or very important in their decision to enroll, and 54.7% reported that “financial factors” are a moderate or major problem in reaching their academic goals. With this in mind the Student Advisory Committee of the LA Community College District voted for a resolution last December to support the development of a discounted student transit pass program for the LACCD, working with their Associated Student Organizations/Unions/governments. Read more HERE.