Metro’s decision on June 23 to move ahead with putting a sales tax measure with no sunset on the November ballot does more than double down on the promise of Measure R—the half cent sales tax for transportation approved by voters in 2008. Not only does it provide more money—another $860 million/year—but it extends Measure R so there is no sunset. And the combination of these 2 long-term revenue sources enables financing that will allow the acceleration of so many projects that the lesson learned is clear: Fortune favors the bold.
If voters step up and vote for the new measure—as polling shows voters are willing to do—LA County will embark on a transit expansion program that is unrivaled in the U.S.
Passing a funding measure like this requires a two-thirds vote in California, which means we have to be bold in order to build projects in all parts of LA County that will win over the necessary voters. This requires coalition politics of an extraordinary sort.
The new measure could deliver the necessary votes because it more than quadruples the connectivity of the rail system: Before Measure R riders could transfer from one line to another at 7 stations in the system, but the new measure would build projects that increase the number of transfer points to 32, enabling people to get from one corner of the county to any other corner. This is the secret sauce that will make ridership grow!
But that’s not all! Measure R did not invest in bicycle and pedestrian connections but the new measure will. So not only would there there be increased rail to rail connectivity, and bus to rail connectivity, but there will also be first-last-mile bike and pedestrian connectivity. And that adds up to a totally transformational transportation system in LA County, instead of the dystopian model we have now.
Eight years have passed since the passage of Measure R, and of the 13 elected officials who served on the Metro board then only 2 remain now who supported Measure R. We believe that our biggest contribution has been to help keep the constituencies and the coalition moving forward and the dream of a transformational transportation system alive!