The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) announced an enormously ambitious plan with its proposed new budget, and, no, it’s not a big increase in highway construction.

“In Fiscal Year 2020, METRO is ready to move into uncharted territory with ‘The Re-Imagining of L. A. County,’ a bold and innovative effort to transform the region,” according to Philip Washington, agency chief executive officer in an introduction to the 68-page budget. 

“While we work to eliminate congestion, we are simultaneously aiming to drastically reduce the region’s carbon footprint, combat climate change, improve transportation equity, and position the County to be the first major region in the world that could offer free transit services for everyone.”

According to the proposed budget, METRO is flush with cash—$7+ Billion for Fiscal Year 2020 with highway work getting $320 million and the rest going to transit and overhead for their 10,219 employees. Here’s where it’s coming from: 

 

2020 Revenue Estimates (in $millions)

 

Funding Source Estimates  

   Proposition A 

   Proposition C

   Measure R

   Measure M

   Transportation Development Act (TDA)

   State Transit Assistance (STA)/SB1 STA

   SB1 State of Good Repair

   Passenger Fares

   Bus/train advertising sales

   Express lane tolls

   Carryover Grants, Bond & Federal funds                            

Amount for 2020

$873

$873

$873

$873

$436.3

$215.6

$284.5

$58.4

$25.6

$71.2

$2592.8

 

The Next Big Thing—More Taxes

“To truly “Re-Imagine LA County,” we are undertaking a study that will investigate the feasibility and potential framework for implementing congestion relief pricing (taxes for using roads already paid for with taxes) in the most traffic-clogged parts of our region,” Washington said in his budget message. 

“But it doesn’t stop there: we are also exploring the possibility of levying fees for transportation networking company trips (Uber, Lyft, etc.) as a mechanism for further reducing the demand on our streets and highways,” Washington continued. He added this: “If we hope to eliminate congestion, we must go beyond the status quo to discourage single occupancy vehicle trips and enhance transit services.”

The construction industry is still plugging for different “congestion solutions.” We think it possible to build additional lanes where possible, complete existing freeways (e.g. 105), expand local community streets where there is existing right of way (like the needed additional lanes where the 710 extension was planned) and expand the use of technology to enhance the driving experience for all southern Californians. 

 

By Dave Sorem, P.E. ECA Government Affairs Chairman email: [email protected]