From L.A. to Detroit to Charlotte, local transit agencies are trying to adapt to an unlucky economy. Some are finding creative ways to keep rail projects afloat.
"L.A.'s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is deep into a drawn-out and expensive light-rail construction project: It's a 15.2-mile route known as the Expo Line, which will be the first rail connection between downtown and the populous Westside of Culver City and Santa Monica. Its first phase, an 8.5-mile segment, is under construction and slated to begin operations later this year. The second phase, however, has a future that's increasingly unclear.
Both phases of the project have relied heavily on a transportation fund created by voter-approved bond sales. But in an attempt to close budget holes, the state halted bond sales this spring. That essentially pulled $174 million of expected money out of Metro's pockets. And if things don't shape up soon, the state could be halting bond sales again in the fall, which will take another $400 million out of play. Such a decision would likely mean delays to phase two of the Expo Line, which had been expected to begin operations in 2015."