Take Metro’s (Flawed) 2022 Budget Survey
Every year, the Metro board approves the agency’s $6+ billion annual budget. Streetsblog has described the budget approval as “a high-stakes up/down vote. Always up, though.” There’s a lot of power in what the agency chooses to prioritize funding for. The budget sets Metro bus/rail service levels for the year ahead. It even has a few (important) crumbs for bicycling, walking, and open streets festivals – including CicLAvia.
Last year, after Metro staff presented false/misleading highway budget information, the board approved an 80+ percent increase in Metro’s Highway Program budget – predominantly to widen freeways/ramps/roads throughout L.A. County.
Typically, a lot of the budgeting is done internally, with minimal input from the public, until the week the proposed budget appears on board meeting agendas for approval.
Right now, you can have some input into the Metro budget via the online survey.
The survey has some flaws. Respondents are asked some Solomon’s judgement-type questions such as: would you rather have “Buses” or “Improving the Environment”?
Metro also forces all respondents to act as if you actually support Metro highway widening – er… “Modernizing Highways.” No such positive terminology appears before other modes: no “modernizing buses,” modernizing trains,” or “modernizing walking/bicycling.” Metro even uses the word “amenities” (something unneeded) to describe bike facilities.
Note that the survey’s highways question doesn’t even include “widening highways,” even though that is where most of the Metro Highway Program budget goes to – including to multiple projects that have demolished and would demolish housing. Maybe that’s just assumed?
Metro doesn’t let respondents just leave the Modernizing Highways categories empty (or use negative numbers.) Streetsblog tried and received an error.
But, flawed and biased as it is, the survey is one way to give some input expressing your support for specific Metro budget priorities – from bus service to affordable housing to unarmed public safety teams – and more.