Metro Board Preview: Long Range Transportation Plan, Federal Funding, Measure R and One More Time with AnsaldoBreda
Tomorrow the Metro Board will meet and is widely expected to finally pass the Long Range Transportation Plan, which just like the city’s Draft Bike Plan, was the subject of public hearings in the early winter of 2008 and hasn’t been subject to much public scrutiny since. Many Board Members are already offering amendments to the plan to protect and advance their preferred local projects. The goal of moving projects in the plan is to better position them to receive federal funds to hopefully get them off the design table and on the ground, or under the ground, as quickly as possible.
And, we have a chance to say goodbye to AnsaldoBreda’s monthly appearance on the Board Schedule. Last month the Board approved an extension to the exclusive contract for building rail cars to the Italian company, so they’ll never truly be gone; but an update on the contract is on the agenda providing gadflys and opponents one more chance to blast Board and AnsaldoBreda, for now. To read the full Board Agenda, click here.
But the big ticket item will be the Long Range Transportation Plan and the battle to advance local projects. At The Source, Steve Hymon has a handy F.A.Q. that answers some of the basic questions but only covers the politics in general terms. For a breakdown on some of the issues the Board will discuss tomorrow, read on after the jump. To just dive in to the 54 page Draft Long Range Plan, click here.
But first, let’s speak to the issues that don’t seem to have a champion on the Board. It’s something of a surprise that the LRTP document doesn’t include the words "bicycle" or "pedestrian" so we’re back to having no firm number for how much funding is included for "non-motorized transportation." I’ve got a call into Metro to make sure that’s just an oversight and that the funding remains at the increased level of $324 million for each mode over 30 years.
Second, our friends at the Bus Riders Union programmed some street theater outside of Metro Headquarters yesterday to demonstrate their argument that the LRTP, if passed as is, will cause future fare hikes as the agency struggles to reach the stated goal of 33% "fare recovery ratio." From their press release:
The Long Range Transit Plan calls for 14 fare increases
over 35 years, a reduction of the overall bus fleet, a draconian "33%
fare recovery ratio" that cuts public subsidies for bus riders of
color. The LRTP will also undermine the environmental
sustainability of the region, as car use in the region cannot
significantly be reduced with it recommendations to: 1) significantly
expand highways in the region, 2) expand subway and rails: LA’s failed
rail experiment has meant that the region has the same amount of
transit riders since the early 1980′s, and 3) provoke reduce transit
riders rider ship, as service deteriorates and increased transit fares
will drive more people out of public transit and into autos (as shown
by the 2007 fare increase).
The BRU has been hard at work lobbying three Board Members in particular, South L.A. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Downtown Councilman Jose Huizar and Mayor Villaraigosa. We’ll see if their efforts pay off tomorrow.
Speaking of Ridley-Thomas, he offered the first amendment to the LRTP which is designed to protect the funding for the Crenshaw Corridor, be the final project BRT or LRT. Given the political pressure from Mayor Villaraigosa to push up the opening date for the Subway to the Sea, he again mentioned opening the line in ten years instead of 27 earlier this week, and the push for the Gold Line Foothill Extension, Ridley Thomas wants to protect his turf.
And speaking of Huizar, he could present the second motion. It’s no secret that the Downtown Streetcar has been a favorite project of the Councilman and he is seeking to get the project added to the "unfunded" portion of the LRTP. While the streetcar wouldn’t fight for any currently allocated funds, its presence in the LRTP might qualify it for additional federal and state funds that it doesn’t qualify for today.
But the biggest debate will be a motion put forward by Board Members Dubois and O’Connor that would instruct staff to create a list of all projects available for a variety of federal funds. The long-term purpose of this motion is to get the Board to advance projects for immediate federal funds besides the Downtown Connector and Westside Subway, both of which the Board forwarded last night. The Foothill Extension advocacy blog I Will Ride explains the logic and politics behind this motion.
Also up for debate tomorrow are two motions having to deal with how Measure R Local Return and bus funds are allocated. Currently, my link to these documents aren’t working, but Streetsblog will provide full coverage of these motions later this week.