Metro officials report that a majority of people informally polled at public forums about a proposed half-cent sales tax to raise money for transportation projects in Los Angeles County say they would support the tax hike if the vote were held now.
The Metro board is set to decide in June if it will place a measure on the November ballot that, if passed, would raise the countywide sales tax an extra half-cent above the existing Measure R half-cent tax approved by voters to fund transportation projects.
Once Measure R ends in 2039, the new half-cent sales tax — as yet unnamed — would become a full cent and sunset in either 2057 or 2067.
The proposed plan would raise about $120 billion dollars over four decades for public transportation and highway projects, as well as street improvements and upkeep of public transit equipment.
The tax hike plan appears so far to be well-received, based on informal surveys by Metro at recent informational meetings. About 68 percent of 929 participants in 14 live telephone meetings said they would favor the tax measure if they were to vote on it now.
Approximately 73 percent of 485 people who attended forums said they support the tax hike plan.
Additionally, 81 percent of telephone participants said they would support the idea of continuing on after 2067 with a smaller, quarter-cent tax to keep the system in “good working condition,” with that percentage going up to 88 percent for people surveyed at the forums, Metro spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas said.
Tonilas said Metro is in the midst of conducting a formal public opinion poll and plans to present results to Metro board members at committee hearings on June 15 and 16. The poll is being conducted by the firm FM3, or Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.
The full Metro board will vote on June 23 on whether to place the measure on the ballot, Tonilas said.
Metro officials reported the survey results and summarized their outreach efforts, including the fact that about 48,000 people took part in the telephone forums. In addition to the telephone town halls, Metro hosted nine public meetings.
The outreach also went out to almost 3 million people in Los Angeles County via social media. Metro’s blog posts about the tax plan has also clocked nearly 120,000 page views, officials said.
Public input regarding rail projects revolved around speeding up rail line construction projects, separating rail from road crossings, more parking at stations, upgrading the Orange Line bus system to light rail and improving connections between bus and rail.
Feedback on the bus system focused on asking for more local service and rapid transit routes along major corridor connections to rail and using technology to connect buses better with rail.
There was also interest in more funding for carpool and toll lanes, sidewalk and pothole repairs and improving pedestrian routes, while there were comments that urged less spending on highways.