Metro’s $40 Billion Plan

Metro’s Plans Are Big on Expansion, Not So Big on Increasing Bike/Ped. Access to Their Stations

Before Metro can place a half cent sales tax increase on the fall ballot, it needs to tell us how it’s going to spend the $40 billion the increase would raise over the next thirty years.  At last week’s board meeting the figures were available to the Metro Board, but for the rest of us they just appeared online yesterday.

The plan itself contains few surprises.  The project that receives the most funds is the Westside Subway Corridor, a.k.a. the Subway to the Sea, which receives more than $4 billion.  Despite Mayor Villaraigosa’s claim that the Subway could break ground by 2012, Metro plans on beginning construction in 2016.

Other rail projects receiving major funding are the Crenshaw Corridor, more than $1.2 billion, the downtown connector, more than $750 million, various Gold Line extensions, several billion, and a Green Line extension to the South the South Bay Corridor, over a quarter of a billion.  Rail projects make up 40% of the funds generated by the sales tax increase.

The rest of the sales tax increase is spent on highway expansion projects, Metro’s maintenance and operations, “Local Return” and administrative costs.

As expected, there is no set aside for either bicycle or pedestrian projects.  While non-motorized transportation is flourishing and will only continue to grow as America goes through oil addiction withdraw Metro can’t even scrape together the half a percent of the total budget for bicycle and pedestrian projects that it found in the sofa cushions for the Long Range Transportation Plan.

Metro has tried to explain away this egregious hole in their plan by saying that much of the 20% set aside for “Local Return,” funds that will go back to LA County communities for local projects based on the amount of money raised, will go toward bicycle and pedestrian projects.

The Bus Rider’s Union is already complaining that the funds going toward bus expansion and operations are too small for the BRU to support the proposal.  Nearly $6 billion, 15% of the increase, would be spent on expansion and operations.  These funds would add hundreds of buses that are not already in the Long Range Plan and perhaps help stabilize fares.  However, the BRU is holding out for more.

An identical 15% will be spent on highway capacity expansion including a series of expansion projects along the I-5.

It’s certainly no surprise that Metro has programmed such a large part of the new funds for transit expansion and operations.  Truthfully, this project list looks like something that LA County can’t afford not to do; however I wonder if Metro’s abandoning of non-motorized travel will lead to a narrow defeat at the polls. 

The Metro Board will finalize the plans to place the sales tax on the fall ballot at their July meeting.  It will then require a 2/3 vote at the ballot box this November to pass.

  • It would take a tiny fraction of the MTA’s highway budget to convert our county’s private network into a bike-friendly road network.

    Imagine what $1 billion towards a county-wide, on-street, bicycle network could do! We would be able to shift our economy around that change in highway subsidy and prevent fuel shortages from shutting down our means of production and goods movement.

    That, to me, is a better reason to push for a bicycle network. It would insulate a chunk of our economy from fuel shortages that would cripple us if we continued, as we are now, to rely on cheap energy and oil.

    In my wildest dreams, L.A. dodges the coming energy crisis by building a bike and transit network. My rational mind only sees more of the same from our political leaders – and a lot of trouble on the horizon.

    Making bicycle facilities into good local politics is vital to ensuring that bikes get included in this spending plan.

  • I meant to say “private car network” there on the first line.

  • I must agree. We could have an incredible bicycle infrastructure in place fairly quickly and at a marginal cost. Redirect some highway money and BAM!

    I’ve been contacting the MTA and board of directors quite frequently, but now more than EVER cyclist need to unite around a common agenda and PUSH this over and over and OVER and get bicycles onto the agenda.

    I almost can’t believe the MTA hasn’t picked up on bicycles yet, they could really make themselves look good here….

  • Wow, talk about dense! Why can’t Metro see the big picture?!?!? There are so many cities on the East Coast that have fantastic bike networks. For goodness sakes, even Baltimore, which rarely gets ANYTHING right, has a great bike network now which hooks into their paltry transit system as well. And there, with the weather, the network is not usable during the full year. Why not take advantage of every opportunity we have available? Working with what we have here, take advantage of the fact that bicycle and bicycle/transit commuting is possible all year long, to overcome what we’ve inherited, city-sprawl.

    Of course it is already obvious that this kind of funding structure is going to lead to in-fighting amongst alternate transportation modes and their groups. We need a unified coalition to achieve our goals for a better transportation network which promotes community, mobility, and environmental responsibility!

  • of course that should say alternative transportation, not alternate. Sorry, jetlagged.

  • Seriously y’all. Can’t we leave the poor grammar to the writer?

    After I had written this article I thought of how London announced earlier this year that their spending a billion dollars on their bike network.

    While I’m obviously big on bikes, I’m actually more concerned that they are excluding pedestrian projects. It would be great if they took a sliver of the $40 billion to a “Safe Streets to Transit” program that fixed up the areas around the major transit centers, and provided better shelters/facilities at the ones that aren’t as big.

  • If a program to improve the pedestrian access to transit included a slowing of cars and general improvements to retail districts adjacent transit hubs, I think you’d have a serious engine for growth in different sectors of our local economy – even in the middle of a larger recession.

    Every business, and property holder, adjacent a transit project would get the gift of more foot traffic and access to labor – insulating them from the inevitably higher costs of bringing goods to market.

    It is sad that the Green Line, for example, terminates in a large parking lot with buses to take riders to their ultimate destination – and no comfortable pedestrian facilities to get a person to retail establishments nearby. There are also no on-street amenities to allow your average bicyclist to get from the station to their final stop without having to deal with 40 mph car traffic breathing down their neck.

    A reduction in car speeds and improvement ot pedestrian facilities in an area like that would enable the retail around that station to survive the high costs of bringing goods to market (due to rising fuel costs).

    It is so cheap to do, and so easily done, that I am quite surprised when local business interest groups, neighborhood safety advocates, cyclists, and transit users respond in the same way to these sorts of suggestions – an unqualified, “Huh?”

    If our advocacy organizations don’t come together around these issues, it is unlikely that anyone in power will give two seconds to consider them.

    Liveable Streets Summit, anyone?

  • UBrayj,
    Since when did I become the angry one and you become the rational one? :)

    And recession? W has clearly told me there is no recession.

    Livable Streets Summit, GOOD CALL!

  • Livable Streets Summit! Make it happen!

    Sorry for the bicycle bias Damien :)

    Pedestrians also deserve to be integrated.

    btw. damien — i LOVE how you asked the MTA board:

    “so, how many people walked as a part of their commute today?”


    Crickets chirping.

    Wait, wha—–HUH?


    We think it’s bad for bicycles — pedestrians have it the worst of all…

    Nobody walks in L.A.?????

  • M

    This morning I was kinda amused, but also annoyed because I came across channel 4 doing a news story on the hands-free law in the middle of the sidewalk, completely blocking pedestrian and sidewalk-bound bike traffic going towards/away the Universal City Red Line station. I walked around the newscaster, camera dude and CHP officer by walking into the street (there was no way I could have walked around this trio and remained sidewalk without walking through their taping). Conveniently, the area where I had to walk in the street was where people turn left coming off of the 101 freeway or they zoom over the crest of a freeway overpass (i.e. they can’t see “downhill” well). I haven’t written letters to official ppl yet, but I was completely blown away. I am glad that cars matter so much that they couldn’t think about the fact that they were completely blocking the walkway for people traveling to and from the Red Line station on a Tuesday morning just so they could get a shot of cars driving on the 101 freeway in the background. I thought NBC was supposed to be “green”, yet they don’t acknowledge that some people utilize the sidewalks to get to the train and around the city?

  • M

    And I forgot the funniest part.

    Can you imagine Channel 4 trying to do a news story on hands free cell phones in the middle of the freeway during morning rush hour traffic instead of the sidewalk?

    Maybe one day.

  • David

    “Truthfully, this project list looks like something that LA County can’t afford not to do; however I wonder if Metro’s abandoning of non-motorized travel will lead to a narrow defeat at the polls. ”

    Well I know of two votes they lost because of their abandonment of non-motorized travel!

  • Fallopia Simms

    Continue advocating for bikes and pedestrians. But you really wont’ see any advancement in non-motorized vehicle and pedestrian amenities by shooting down this chance to raise enough money to continue building our fledgling rail transportation infrastructure. Bike advocates should be advocates for more public transportation just as transit advocates should be and are advocates for bike and pedestrian rights. This is not an either or situation. Please don’t be shortsighted on this one.

    And the BRU?? Why even mention them. Aren’t these the same people(funded by the car industry) who sided with the bus mechanics on strike that left millions of us stranded without a way of getting around? What a sham organization! Aren’t these the same people who say that RAIL IS RACIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Fallopia,

    Sadly, on this point I must disagree.

    If the “modal split” for bicycles is less than 1% – I think our nascent advocacy groups MUST oppose this measure.

    Things that should change any advocacy group’s mind:
    (1) Evaluation of Local Return projects based on bike, ped, and transit freindly criteria
    (2) $1 billion+ set aside (over the life-span of the tax) for bicycle and pedestrian improvements – to come out of highway funds and not to be used to improve Level of Service, ADT, VMT, etc.

    I know we’re not even a special interest yet, but those two conditions would satisfy me, and woudl help make this County a lot more equal access to other modal user groups. It would also allow local cities to fund business district improvements and revitalization efforts using transportation dollars – something they are restricted from doing now.

  • The Metro works for me in Los Angeles because I also ride a bicycle.

    Riding a bicycle in Los Angeles works for me because I complement my cycling with the Metro.

    Supporting the Metro by encouraging them to perform more effectively and efficiently, it’s the least we can do.

    Supporting the Metro by working together to properly fund a complete Transit system, it’s a great thing to do.

    Supporting the Metro while cyclists are treated like second class citizens, it’s a bad thing, I can’t do it, I ain’t gonna do it.

    The funding commitments speak volumes to our collective vision of the future. Funding auto-centric improvements at the expense of projects for cyclists is simply unacceptable.

    That is something that I will not up with put!

  • And the BRU?? Why even mention them. Aren’t these the same people(funded by the car industry) who sided with the bus mechanics on strike that left millions of us stranded without a way of getting around? What a sham organization! Aren’t these the same people who say that RAIL IS RACIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I think you have to mention them. As goofy as their positions might be, you can’t ignore that their well organized, know how to do media outreach and could be a big obstacle for the MTA. As Dana said in another thread, “100% of 0 is still 0” but they wouldn’t be the first group to “cut off their nose to spite their face.”

  • If there are no bikeways involvements in the proposal, they don’t get my vote. Period! I lobby hard to get people to use public transportation. But I will lobby hard for Metro’s bad practices if they shut out cyclists.

  • The BRU is important because all the other interested groups could take some tips in how they’re “well organized, know how to do media outreach and could be a big obstacle for the MTA,” car industry input or no car industry input.

  • Wad

    The BRU is important because all the other interested groups could take some tips in how they’re “well organized, know how to do media outreach and could be a big obstacle for the MTA,” car industry input or no car industry input.


    We should all know absolutely nothing about what we advocate for, carry on as shrill bullies, pander to our base’s sense of victimhood and frame our mission as a Marxist-Leninist triumph of the angry proletariat.

    The BRU, just like the communist theory that shapes its frame of mind, has proven to be a failure because its theories have been put into practice.

    This isn’t the ’90s anymore. The BRU succeeded in its legal challenge and gained an unprecedented opportunity to improve bus service. Instead, it only became more truculent to the point where it marginalized itself.

    The post-consent decree BRU is a sad, TMZ-ized self-parody, and what shred of legitimacy it has comes from a sympathy circle of leftists who support it just out of obligation.

  • Fallopia Simms

    This is a sad commentary on my fellow cyclists who seem unbelievably shortsighted. A successful transit system, one that acknowledges all forms of non-auto transportation is not exactly hatched in full form overnight. Some of you act as if the MTA isn’t even aware that cyclists ride the trains. Try dragging your bike on a NYC subway during rush and see what happens to you. As if there are bike trails lining the D or the M & Q as we have with our Orange Line. I’m not saying that their is not massive room for improvements but shit c’mon! You’re telling me that you will actively attempt to halt the construction of possibly the most needed subway line in the US under Wilshire because you feel the MTA is dissing you? If you can’t see through your spokes at how successful transit systems help to level the playing field for the poor and working class and helps reduce class and race isolation….??…If you have no clue at what the construction of another 100 miles of rail can and will do for this county and our lives as cyclists and citizens you are sadly not visualizing the bigger picture. And now some of you are praising the BRU for their organizational skills? What, to get black and brown dissaffected people to smoke on (white)Eric Mann’s dick while he collects his $250,000 salary a year that comes from the DUES that every BRU member pays while they march around the MTA building like monkeys in yellow shirts shouting for 1,000 more busses! That he as a former auto worker has been paid off not just by the car industry but by all of those NIMBY’s up and down Wilshire who don’t ever want to see a black or brown face in their neighborhood to begin with! Shit, as far as organization skills as least you could have cited the Jehovah’s Witnesses or at least Scientologists on who has their shit tight. Sad, sad, sad.

  • “And now some of you are praising the BRU for their organizational skills? What, to get black and brown dissaffected people to smoke on (white)Eric Mann’s dick while he collects his $250,000 salary a year that comes from the DUES that every BRU member pays while they march around the MTA building like monkeys in yellow shirts shouting for 1,000 more busses!”


    The BRU is declining in influence, largely because of their anti-rail demagoguery. They were at their strongest in a period where more people feared rail and gasoline was cheap.

    There is an unspoken, unholy “alliance” between the automobile-entitled, elitists who fear people of different races and classes in their neighborhoods, and bus-only transit extremists — all who want to sabotage rail expansion for their own selfish reasons in the short-term, even if their long-term goals are very different.

    The BRU had to do something right in the 1990s to get the consent agreement and get the media to give them so much attention while ignoring other advocacy groups.

    Imagine if all that energy the BRU wastes were applied to something constructive. Even if they just advocated for better bus service without trying to tear down needed rail projects, they’d be useful. However, the BRU is turning itself into irrelevance by their own actions and so I am not worried about them in the long-term.

    If we could only get the media and Metro to give the same credence to Southern California Transit Advocates, The Transit Coalition, and Rail Riders Union as they have given in the past to the BRU.

  • faria

    The way I see it is, if the tax increase fails to pass, where will all of our little advocacy groups be? Same place as they are now. If we can come together and get this measure to pass, it will show the rest of the car culture that we are determined enough and organized enough and LARGE enough to have an impact. This would encourage more people to join our groups, be it Rail Riders, Bicyclists, or both.

  • Fallopia Simms

    Thank you! They all feed on one another. Density=rapid transit=more pedestrian friendly environs=better non-auto amenities=more density=more rapid transit……..Of course this is theoretical and doesn’t apply to places that are economically depressed but we’ll save that debate for another day.

    If anyone has read the last LRTP put out by Metro the biggest expenditures going towards roads and highways ARE NOT the building of new freeways or widening city streets. Rather the bulk of that money is to finish up the car pool lane system in the county and a huge chunk that is going towards the long overdue (like since the 60’s) 710 tunnel under S. Pasadena. Aside from road maintenance and upkeep which in itself can be pretty costly, this may be the last big batch of funds thrown towards our highways and roads where transit does not recieve the majority of funding. If you haven’t noticed LA has built more rail in the past 20 years than any other place in the US and now has a 400+ mile commuter rail system that many of us bike+train+bus advocates use everyday.

    Let’s vote to pass this sales tax and continue to galvanize and advocate for our place in the sun. Let’s continue pushing Garcetti to speak on our behalf and prodding the MTA to include us. Let’s continue to integrate train+bikes+busses+pedestrians.

    Please let’s not become shortsighted like the BRU who refuse to understand the relationship between different modes of transit therefore blocking the one that needs the other to survive. We can defeat the car mentality in LA county (and we’ve made some incredible headway already) if we don’t reduce this unique opportunity to bring about change to infighting and the ‘if I don’t gets mines then you won’t gets yours’ mentality. Please see the broader vision!

  • Fallopia,

    The point in bringing up that bike/ped is not funded at all in the planned budget for the Gas tax was to show that Metro is making enemies where they don’t need to be making them. Between the stories of cyclists being run off the road by buses, the LACBC reps not even getting called upon at board meetings where they turn in comment cards, and now a possible rush hour ban on bikes on trains during rush hour, it seems to me that Metro is taking a group that should be overwhelmingly supportive of their efforts and begging them to not support them. The comments in this section show exactly what I’m talking about.

    We can agree or disagree whether or not building an HOV lane counts as highway expansion. Personally, as long as your adding capacity, I’ll call it highway expansion. Especially in CA where we continue to insist that two people in a car constitute a “car pool” even if one of the people in the car is not old enough to drive. Sorry, but that’s highway capacity expansion without a doubt.

  • Fallopia Simms

    Given the fact that a lack of decent mass transportation can be considered a Civil Rights issue I think that this is so much larger than ourselves. Some of us are speaking of actively blocking further access of working to lower economic earners from an increased advantage of what the 3rd largest metro economy IN THE WORLD has to offer. Without proper funding for mass transit the Expo Line 2nd phase to Santa Monica could not be built. Nor will the further reaching into East LA perhaps via Whittier or Atlantic Blvd by LRT or HRT. This continued leveling of the playing field for example, for a kid with an interest in fashion living in Artesia who would like an opportunity to work in some high end boutique shop in Beverly Hills or Santa Monica must continue and the county needs be opened up. Or any of the millions of poor and struggling people in our county who are effectively shut out because of a lack of RAPID mass transit that plays wonderfully into the hands of the class and race stratifiers who think that mass transit is the same thing as WIC or welfare or a free lunch program. Far too much is riding on backing an expansion of our rail system which as we have seen throughout the world always has a trickle down effect on pedestrian and non-motorized vehicular travel.

    The worst thing that you can do is create a sky-is-falling atttitude amongst our cyclists community and have people start believing in a BRU type tunnel vision approach, one that sues the MTA for building more trains that have higher capacity, faster travel times, the ability to be grade seperated and most importantly has proven that this mode and more than any other mode can spark economic development and urban renewal like no other in lieu of buying more (keep the poor poor)busses, how shortsighted and what a detriment the BRU has been to the very demographic it claims to be serving.
    No, trains and bikes are not enemies nor are busses and bikes. If we refuse to be kicked off the train during rush then let’s organize ourselves and become an emailing MTA machine. Let’s pop up at every meeting the MTA decides to have. What about the numerous scoping meetings that the MTA has held in neighborhoods all over LA county for over a year? Were we there repeating that bikes are part of the solution? So it really comes down to not ‘what the MTA is doing to us’ but rather ‘what are we doing in advocating our cause to the MTA thereby shaping our own destiny and future in LA county’ and taking full responsibilty for that outcome?

  • OH HAI!


    “If you can’t see through your spokes at how . . .”

    LULZ, my spokez r opaque, how i can has see through them?

  • Holy hell, who let the LOLcats in here????

  • Is that what that is? I had no idea what as going on there…

  • u can haz unusually tense thred

    on midnites ridazz dis is taken care of by specail humor releese valve

    now dis also happrens on streetsbrog

    iz new feeture!


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