Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) Board unanimously passed a motion to support the so-called 30/10 Initiative, which my colleague Adrian Martinez and I blogged about earlier this week (here and here). This approval is a major step forward in gaining the important environmental, job, and mobility benefits that will come from building twelve regional transit projects in the next decade instead of over the next thirty years.
Now the real work begins. Our elected officials and other transportation folks will soon head to D.C. to try to secure the federal funds necessary to make 30/10 a reality. However, yesterday’s vote signaled a growing desire by some local officials to add highway projects into the mix. As the L.A. Times reported, “[s]ome cities in Los Angeles County were concerned that they would not benefit from the 30-10 plan and wanted highway improvements in their areas expedited.”
Not only is this political pork-barreling at its worst, but it's also simply untrue. The entire Los Angeles region would benefit from much-needed improvements to the public transit system. The twelve projects in the plan were chosen carefully and with effectiveness and geographical equity in mind. Once built, they will stretch across much of the county, from Chatsworth to Santa Fe Springs. And they will have an impact on the entire region. The beauty of the 30/10 Initiative is that it's a win-win-win for all of Southern California, in terms of achieving better regional air quality, providing hundreds of thousands of badly-needed job opportunities, and improving mobility throughout the region.
The 30/10 Initiative must keep the focus on public transit and not be diluted with highway and road projects. Southern California’s obsession with highways and roads over the last several decades has left the region with poor air quality, insufferable traffic problems, and an undeniable deficit of public transit options for people trying to get to work and live their daily lives. Even the federal government recognizes that our current approach to transportation planning -- which historically has been "dependent on carbon-based fuels and automobiles" -- is untenable, especially if we want to make a serious effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. NRDC will continue to work to demand that the hard-earned tax dollars committed to 30/10 go toward shoring up the public transit system, which benefits everyone in the Los Angeles region.