Metro Misses Out on Federal “New Starts” Funding

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Earlier this week, Streetsblog Capitol Hill’s Elana Schor wrote about the transit agencies across the country that received federal "New Starts" funding.  As is common knowledge now, Los Angeles was shut out, receiving $0 in federal funds in this round of funding from the federal government for the two projects for which they applied, the Regional Connector and the Subway to the Sea.  Yesterday at The Source, Steve Hymon explained why Los Angeles was shut out, but also made the case that the most populous county in the country deserves a share of federal dollars.

The reason: the
projects haven’t yet been designated as official New Starts projects,
although FTA officials are working with Metro on the complex
application process.

As a result, the FY 2011 budget has no New
Starts money for Los Angeles County, the most heavily populated county
in the United States, with 9.86 million people…

…The county did
receive its last installment of nearly $500 million in New Starts money
last year to help pay for the Eastside Gold Line, which opened in
November. In fairness to the feds, it can also be argued that Metro may
have received subway and connector funds this year if the planning
process for both had started earlier than 2007 and the projects were
farther along.

Both advocates for the Gold Line Foothill Extension and opponents of the Expo Line have argued that Metro should apply for "New Starts" money for these projects as well.  Adding more projects to the list of projects Metro submits does increase the chance that Metro will bring home more of that federal bacon; but it also decreases the chance that those projects favored by the Board are the ones that are partially funded.

Regardless of where "the blame" should go for "the most heavily populated county in the United States" getting shut out of this popular transit funding program, let’s encourage both Metro and the Federal Government to make certain this doesn’t happen again next year.