L.A. Metro's Proposed Budget Cuts Capital Spending on Transit, Speeds Freeway Expansions

After repeatedly cutting transit service due to the pandemic and a labor shortage, L.A.'s transit agency plans to double down on freeway expansion projects.

2 minute read

March 22, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Joe Linton digs into Los Angeles Metro's Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget for Streetsblog LA. "While the full budget figures are still in flux, the current proposal shows a 30 percent increase in freeway expansion and a 9 percent decrease in transit expansion," Linton writes. "The overwhelming majority – more than 90 percent – of the FY22-23 proposed $617 million Highway Expansion budget would go to widening freeways, freeway ramps, and streets." The article details the proposed budget, comparing it with the past two fiscal years.

When questioned about the increase in freeway widening funds, "Metro’s staff report notes that the highway funding increase is 'primarily due to construction activities for I-5 North Capacity Enhancements, SR-57/SR-60 confluence, and progression of I-105 ExpressLane to Project Specification and Engineering phase.'" But Linton points out that "the proposed highway budget calls for several other freeway projects to be accelerated" while "many Metro rail and bus projects are delayed."

As Linton notes, "though there are fairly clear lines between capital and operations funding (and it’s difficult to shift some freeway money to rail), this is all happening at a time Metro has repeatedly cut bus operations – first due to COVID, then – last month – due to a largely-self-inflicted operator shortage."

Linton questions Metro's decision to cut transit capital funding in light of the positive fiscal outlook of the agency and its stated commitment to equity and climate action. "Given the need to address the climate emergency, and longstanding freeway expansion equity issues still very much present today, Metro leaders – from its CEO to its board – need to rein in the excesses of freeway expansion programs and double down on greener modes."

Thursday, March 17, 2022 in Streetsblog L.A.

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