To Speed Up Transit Expansion, LA Turns Again to its Voters

Impatient with the rate at which previously approved sales tax increases are able to fund the vast expansion planned for the region's transit system, and lacking in federal support, local leaders are asking LA's voters to extend a 1/2 cent sales tax.
Local leaders in Los Angeles, led by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, are hoping that area voters are as impatient as they are to see the plan for the nation's most extensive rail and fixed-guideway bus expansion program put into action, reports Yonah Freemark. With efforts to coax the federal government into advancing the region the funds to move forward more quickly having failed, "the county approved, the state legislature accepted, and the governor signed late last month the bill offering to the public in the form of a referendum Measure J, which will extend the Measure R tax 30 years past its original expiration date, which was supposed to be 2039."

"What is to be voted on is not a new tax," notes Freemark. "Rather, if approved on November 6, it will continue assessing the 1/2-cent sales tax between 2039 and 2069. The outcome may well determine the degree to which L.A. is able to produce a truly appealing alternative to automobile travel within a reasonable amount of time."

"L.A.'s voters, then, have a choice: Take a risk by assuming that people of the future will want the investments being made today and therefore be happy to pay for them, or slow down the rate of transit expansion tremendously."

Full Story: Los Angeles Asks Its Voters to Extend Transit Tax Far Into the Future

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