So the big news this week is that LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been promoting the 30/10 Plan, which aims to bring mass transit to Los Angeles a full 20 years ahead of schedule. Is it snarky to say that it would be the first time LA Metro ever arrived early?
Snarkiness aside, the basic idea is this: since July 2008 we've all been paying a half-cent sales tax (passed through Measure R) that will pay for the expansion of Metro Lines, Light Rail, and Guided Bus Lines throughout Los Angeles County over the next 30 years. The projects range from extending the Green Line so that it actually goes to LAX, to whole new lines connecting the current network to the beach and West Santa Ana, and a plan this extensive takes time to plan, design, and execute, never mind the process of raising funds a half-cent at a time. The 30/10 plan would shorten the time span from 30 years to 10 by borrowing cash from the federal government (which is guaranteed to get paid back over the 30 years through the Measure R funding) and gives all the projects a nearly immediate green light. A couple of key things make this awesome:
1) We avoid 20 years worth of inflation and increased construction costs. Due to the overall economic slump construction costs are relatively low right now, and taking advantage of this could save up to $3.6 BILLION.
2) It would create jobs in planning, design, engineering, and construction which are sorely needed right now.
3) It would help LA shed its car-dependence that much more quickly. It will take time for Angelenos to embrace public transit, it's not going to happen overnight. By making this investment now, people might actually be ready to use it (and even live without cars?) by the time it was originally scheduled to be completed.
For more coverage on the 30/10 plan, I'd highly encourage you to check out this excellent post over at the Transport Politic. Also, stay tuned for further coverage here, starting with a dissection of the proposed routes. To help support this plan, head over to Move LA to see who to write or use one of their form letters.