Posted by GoldLine
The following Opinion originally appeared in the Thursday,
November 13, 2013 print edition of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and
Opinion: Better public transit is as good as Gold
By Mike Gatto
Los Angeles County has the most congested freeways in the nation.
Despite the years of congestion, we lack a mass-transit system to
effectively serve our communities, especially in the San Gabriel Valley.
Workers lament lost productivity, and families long for more time
together at home. We need a transportation system that will reduce the
time we spend sitting in gridlock.
Ten years ago the Metro Gold Line from Los Angeles to Pasadena opened
for service. A controversial project at the time, the Gold Line has
proven to be an efficient and worthwhile public investment.
Even better, it was completed on-time and under-budget, and now
serves more than 40,000 individuals in the San Gabriel Valley each day,
who complete more than a million rides each month.
Unfortunately, the system is incomplete. More than half a million
residents of the Foothills communities still have no reasonable means of
utilizing Metro Rail or any affordable or efficient public-transit
The original Gold Line proposal called for construction of the
project in two stages. Phase 1, a 13.7-mile line from Los Angeles to
Pasadena, would be constructed first. Later, Phase 2 would extend the
line an additional 20 miles to Claremont.
Since then, Phase 2 has been divided into two parts. Construction of
Phase 2A, which will extend service to Azusa, is currently underway.
But Phase 2B, which would extend service to Claremont and Montclair,
continues to face significant political and financial hurdles, and is in
danger of being tabled. Meanwhile, formal plans to extend the line to
Ontario are not even down on paper yet.
While the current effort to extend the line to Azusa is a step in the
right direction, this extension
will bring the rail service to less
than a third of the more than 550,000 people who live in the region.
Cities like San Dimas, which has more than 30,000 residents, will
continue to be out of reach. And Ontario, which is home to more than
150,000 people and the region’s largest airport, will still be more than
20 miles from the nearest Gold Line or other commuter rail service.
Recently, Rep. Judy Chu announced her support for plans to expand the
Gold Line to Claremont and Ontario International Airport, saying “This
will truly not be regional system until you get it going all the way to
the Ontario Airport.” I agree.
Public transit is about more than just commute times. It is about
connecting a region in a sensible and efficient way. It is about
reducing air pollution by taking cars off the road.
It is hard for any of us who take pride in our region, to accept that
the second-most densely populated metropolitan area in the nation
struggles under an incomplete, disconnected transportation and transit
system. Residents of other metropolitan areas around the country use
well-conceived public transit systems to connect to their airports,
shopping centers and business centers.
The San Gabriel Valley deserves effective and efficient
transportation options, including a light-rail system, and flexible
carpool lanes that are available to single occupancy vehicles during
nontraditional commute hours. (Another issue I am working on.) We
cannot continue to construct transit in a haphazard and patchwork
fashion. It’s time for community organizations and government officials
at all levels to come together and get on-board to complete the Gold
Line extension through the San Gabriel Valley to provide us with a
transit system that truly connects.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto
represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta,
Montrose and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East
Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz and Silver Lake.