With applause to Jonathan Parfrey of Climate Resolve for his listing of 2012’s environmental milestones, which inspired us to come up with our transit milestones for 2012.

•  Measure J got 66.1% of the vote, proving once again LA County very much wants a robust transit system. Working- and middle-class communities voted overwhelmingly to extend the Measure R sales tax, which still failed to get the required 2/3 vote.  But J’s defeat could turn into an even greater victory if it provides the momentum to reduce the voter threshold from a 2/3 majority — an anti-democratic requirement that makes every “no” vote worth twice as much as a “yes” vote — to 55%.

• Angelenos will get good jobs and training building LA County’s transit system. LA Metro unanimously adopted a Project Labor Agreement proposed by the LA/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, and a Construction Careers Policy proposed by the LA County Federation of Labor and Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). These policies will make tens of thousands of good jobs available to people struggling in low-income communities. Metro is the first US transit agency to win federal approval for a PLA with targeted hiring goals for federally funded projects.

•  The Westside gets its first rail line since the Pacific Red Cars. In June, LA Metro opened Expo from downtown LA to Culver City, making it possible to travel to USC football games, check out the Endeavor, visit the Staples Center and Nokia, or celebrate New Year’s in Los Angeles — without driving.

•  The San Fernando Valley gets more Orange Line. Metro’s highly successful bus rapid transit line was extended to the Chatsworth Metrolink station in June, on time, on budget, and connecting to Warner Center and the Red Line in North Hollywood.

•  The transit expansion program is getting into full swing.  Measure R funded lines now underway include Expo to Santa Monica, the Foothill Gold Line to Azusa and the Crenshaw/LAX Corridor. Metro is even showing off station designs for LAX. Utility relocations have begun for the Regional Connector downtown and the Westside Subway.

•  Congress passes the America Fast Forward loan program proposed by Metro and LA Mayor Villaraigosa. Passage of the $1.7B TIFIA loan program — up from $120M and the biggest transportation infrastructure financing fund in USDOT history — was a big victory. Metro and the mayor are now back in Washington D.C. to secure passage of America Fast Forward Bonds, which, together with the TIFIA loan program, were “Plan A” for accelerating Measure R-funded transportation projects. (Measure J was “Plan B.”)

•  Metrolink gets $1 billion for upgrades from CA High Speed Rail Authority. The state Senate approved the release of nearly $1 billion in high-speed rail funds to increase the connectivity, speed, capacity and safety of Metrolink. The goal is to upgrade some commuter rail corridors to become part of the statewide high-speed rail system.

Transit usage up 10% in LA County. Rail ridership was up 10% in September 2012 over 2011 for an average weekday ridership of 92,000. Bus ridership held steady at 1.2 million.

Regional Council unanimously approves plan hailed as visionary, and positioning SoCal as the nation’s “next environmental success story.” The Southern California Association of Governments 93-member council approved a Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy that promises to reduce per person traffic delay by 24% by locating 87% of jobs and 82% of housing within walking distance of transit. A motion drafted by Move LA and its coalition partners emphasized further development of regional transit, pedestrian and bike projects.

•  LA showed off at the national Railvolution conference at the Loew’s Hotel atop the Hollywood/Highland Red Line subway station.  Metro hosted the premier national conference on “building livable communities” around transit in October. More than 1,000 people listened to LA County Supervisor Antonovich and LA Mayor Villaraigosa offer conflicting views on expanding local transit, and then heard Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane bring it all home with a rousing keynote address about our transit vision.

•  LA’s love affair with bikes blossoms! CicLAvia staged its fifth event since 2010, this year with 100,000 walkers and bikers on an extended 9-mile route of closed-down streets.  Mayor Villaraigosa took the opportunity to announce LA would soon have a bike-sharing program with 4,000 bikes at 400 kiosks around the city. And the LADOT implemented 76 miles of the city’s bike plan, far outpacing any year on record.

Cap and Trade will fund good stuff. AB 32 set the framework for the California Legislature's Cap and Trade program to reduce GHG emissions, and while negotiations are still underway on what exactly will be funded with cap and trade revenues, projects are likely to include equitable development near transit, bike/ped projects, transit operations, and discounted transit passes for residents, employees and students in transit priority zones.

•  The bottom falls out of affordable housing construction across the state as the post-redevelopment era begins. But new ideas have materialized to re-employ tax increment financing around transit stations and to help implement SB 375 projects. Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg plans to reintroduce his SB 1156 as SB 1, which would re-focus redevelopment in transit priority zones.

•  Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa creates a Transit Corridors Cabinet. The cabinet includes eight city departments with the express goal of focusing investment in transit corridors. The cabinet is less focused on development or density, however, than on providing residents and workers with more choices and more opportunities as elemental as making it easier to walk or bike to a business lunch, yoga class, or job at a local business.



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