By Ken Alpern, May 22, 2015
GETTING THERE FROM HERE-It's great to learn that Metro has an excellent new CEO with
the hiring of Phillip A. Washington who comes to us from Denver.
Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Roger Snoble and Art
Leahy, Mr. Washington has a first-rate reputation to maintain--but his
first job will be to pass Measure R-2.
R-2 (perhaps it will have some other name) needs vetting, public
outreach, promotion and--overall, the excellent transparency that got
Measure R passed in 2008. It will involve either an extension of the
first Measure R sales tax decades in the future (to allow us to borrow
off that in the present) or yet another sales tax hike to pay for
decades-overdue rail and other transportation projects.
getting MetroRail to LAX. Like getting a train alternative under the
horrific Sepulveda Pass.
Like extending the countywide MetroRail system
to the South Bay, the Eastside, the Southeast L.A. Cities and even to
trains aren't just choo-choos that we ride for fun, and they aren't
always needed. More rural areas need occasional Amtrak and Metrolink
service, but most voters and taxpayers don't really distinguish between
MetroRail and Metrolink and Amtrak...nor should they be expected to do
so. And THAT is what Mr. Washington and his political allies at Metro
must confront as they canvass the county for what is required for
canvassing the county is exactly what Metro is doing. For example,
there is quite the debate over using Measure R-2 money to convert the
Orange Line Busway into the light rail line it always should have
been...versus the creation of the aforementioned Sepulveda Pass rail
line (probably a subway), which is about as fun a debate as having to
choose between food and water.
is also the debate about whether a north-south freeway tunnel to
connect the I-710 to the I-210 under South Pasadena should be funded by
Measure R-2. This idea would probably do much in the way of
environmental and mobility benefits, but the many issues and
cost/technical problems plague this problem to the extent that it might
not enjoy political support to be included in Measure R-2.
debates exist over the "right" order of projects for Metro to build,
and much of these debates will be resolved with an updated Long Range
Transportation Plan to allow the public to know what Metro wants to
prioritize, and what the Measure R-2 would do with respect to any
countywide "wish lists".
while LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has made great inroads with the rest of
the county towards achieving a "rising tide to lift all boats" approach
that allows all portions of the taxpaying county to benefit from Metro
largesse, his own ability to ensure Angelenos closer to home that he can
spend their money wisely is still up for debate--as my fellow CityWatch
writer Jack Humphreville so eloquently points out .
City of LA has misspent decades of funds that should have gone to road,
sidewalk, sewer, park, library and other City services, and the
question of whether dedicated Measure R-2 funds would make a big dent on
the overdue road and street repairs (to say nothing of more DASH buses,
medians, sidewalks, alleys, parking) our City needs must be answered.
the issue of Metrolink/MetroRail interactions and connectivity is
something that's not seen enough of the light of day--but which would be
particularly important as MetroRail (light rails, buses, subways)
extends out to the farthest regions of the county to potentially connect
to more regional rail service of Metrolink (freight trains that travel
very long distances for commuters) and even Amtrak.
the lack of connectivity and proximity of Eastside Gold Line and
already-existing Metrolink stations is appalling and mind blowing.
Fortunately, our last Metro CEO, Art Leahy, now is the Metrolink CEO
and it's hoped that the obvious connection of Metrolink to Metro's buses
and trains will be something that gets a lot more attention from
small-minded and ego-driven politicians and transportation planners.
all, the words "Metro" and "Metrolink" sound alike to the taxpayers,
and they'll EXPECT all rails and buses to seamlessly connect to each
other in the same way that our freeways, surface streets and residential
streets all connect to each other (and regardless of which government
agency is responsible for the creation and upkeep of each portion of our
"mass transit" is merely a way for megadense areas to transport large
numbers of individuals where there's just no room for roads and
freeways. It's primarily supposed to make our lives better and more
mobile, not be primarily promoted as a way to "save the planet" or
"create housing opportunities" or "create a car-free lifestyle".
obvious that mass transit, as with all transportation projects, will
have delightful environmental, affordable housing, and alternative
transportation opportunities and impacts.
in the end, mass transit must relate to what Joe/Jane Taxpayer wants:
a nicer, new alternative to getting from here to there, to getting to a
job, to a game or concert, or even just to the mall.
it's funding and budgeting should be so transparent that even the most
parsimonious of taxpayers would conclude that--despite the annoying
expense--it's what our taxes are supposed to be paying for in the first