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Transit Funding 101 — County-Wide Edition

Thursday at the Metro Board monthly meeting with little fanfare or media attention one of the most important agenda items for the entire year will be dealt with and approved most likely without any discussion or public comment via a single consolidated vote as just one of 27 items being handled as "consent."

I mean, who doesn't want to read a 21 page financial document?

The item I am referring to is agenda item #15, FY 2014 Transit Fund Allocations. Ever year as part of the budget process Metro must divvy up transit capital and operating funds from federal, state and local sources for use by Metro and the 16 included and eligible transit operators in Los Angeles County, collectively known as the munis who constitute the membership of the Bus Operations Subcommittee.

This is a trickier operation than it may appear on the surface given the inherent tension over Metro's role as both a Regional Transportation Planning Agency and an operator of bus and rail service itself and thus a recipient of the process that they also administer. Prior to April 1993 these functions were handled separately by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and the Southern California Rapid Transit District. The LACTC and SCRTD are the entities whose merger created Metro and in the process placed it in the unenviable position described above.

The consent portion of the agenda is set by the Board Chair and Metro staff via Government Code section 54954.3 (a) ("... the agenda need not provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the legislative body on any item that has already been considered by a committee, composed exclusively of members of the legislative body, at a public meeting wherein all interested members of the public were afforded the opportunity to address the committee on the item, before or during the committee's consideration of the item, unless the item has been substantially changed since the committee heard the item, as determined by the legislative body").

For those of you with an interest in delving into the arcane and complicated world of transit funding in Los Angeles County, I have shared enough links in this post that you can to some extent actually trace the process and make some sense of it. To the extent that is possible. Happy reading!

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