Setting Investment Priorities for Potential Transportation Ballot Measure

DTLA_Main.jpgIn Los Angeles County, one of the biggest barriers to building more and better bikeways has been the relative lack of funding for biking and walking, compared to much more expensive highway and transit projects. Despite the fact that 19 percent of all trips are on foot or by bike and 39 percent of the people killed on our roads are walking and biking, only one percent of transportation funding is spent on walking and biking combined. Metro, who most people know as our main transit agency, is also the primary planning and funding agency for all transportation in Los Angeles County. For the past several years, LACBC has worked in coalition with other partners to increase funding for biking and walking so that cities can afford more of the exciting projects we’d all like to see in our neighborhoods.

This week, Metro board committees considered draft objectives for a potential new ballot measure to raise additional funding for transportation projects across Los Angeles County. In 2008, Measure R added a half-cent sales tax to fund a slate of transit and highway projects, including the “Subway to the Sea,” Crenshaw Line to LAX, Regional Connector through Downtown L.A., Expo Line to Santa Monica, and Foothill Gold Line to Azusa, which are all now under construction. Building on that success, Metro hopes a new ballot measure can fund other priority projects and better connect these transit projects to the communities they serve. A new measure will include money for capital projects, operations and maintenance, and “local return” for cities to build and maintain smaller projects on local streets—though the precise amount for each need remains undecided.

Yesterday, our partner Investing in Place unveiled ambitious goals for the new ballot measure to make our county’s transportation system accessible, safe, and equitable. LACBC wholeheartedly endorses these objectives and will work with Investing in Place and our other partners to include them in Metro’s ballot measure expenditure plan. Specifically, we aim to fund the following priorities:

All Residents Have Access to Reliable and Affordable Transportation Options

Residents should have multiple options for traveling around their communities and the region. Metro is in the midst of one of the nation’s largest public works programs to build an impressive network of rail lines across much of the county. For this rail network to be successful, residents must have access to high-quality walking and biking infrastructure and high-frequency bus transit. The ballot measure should meet the following objectives:

  • 100% of Metro stations, bus stops, and schools are served by ADA-accessible sidewalks connecting to nearby origins and destinations.

  • 90% of Los Angeles County residents live within ½-mile of high-quality bikeways, including 100% of identified Disadvantaged Communities.

  • 80% of Los Angeles County residents are served by high-frequency transit (minimum 15-minute off-peak), including 100% of identified Disadvantaged Communities.

  • 100% of local jurisdictions have Active Transportation Plans, as defined by the California Active Transportation Program.

  • 100% of public schools are served by Safe Routes to School education programs.

A Transportation System that is Safe for Everyone

The City of Los Angeles is currently embarking on a ten-year campaign to end traffic deaths by 2025. As part of Vision Zero, LADOT is using collision data to prioritize investments in safer streets throughout the city. This data-driven transportation planning is a model for Metro to make strategic investments in traffic safety countywide. Metro should adopt this international best practice.

Investments that Prioritize Historically Disadvantaged Communities

Los Angeles County has tremendous disparities in wealth, health outcomes, and access to education, jobs, and services. Transportation’s role in perpetuating these disparities is increasingly understood, as are the opportunities to mitigate historical disinvestment with intentional policy to prioritize the needs of low-income communities of color. Race, income inequality, and environmental justice are complicated issues, but public investment plays an essential role in addressing them. We hope that the ballot measure can target investments in areas based on a shared definition of high need.

LACBC believes that these principles lay the foundation for an accessible, safe, and equitable transportation system for Los Angeles County. This vision goes beyond just bike advocacy—we are building a system that gives people safe and reliable options to get around both their neighborhoods and the region. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting campaign!

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