Have you ever taken the Metro Red Line train to get to Studio City or North Hollywood from downtown LA or some other location? Or maybe you've been on the Gold Line or hopped on a big red, orange or silver bus. If so, you're in good company. Last year, 1.4 million people took Metro buses and trains each day to get to work, school, museums, sporting events, theme parks and other places they wanted to go. In Los Angeles, mass transit has become a regular part of our lives, which was almost unimaginable just 25 years ago.
Back then, Los Angeles County had no rail system. No one took the Red Line because it didn't exist. Since the demise of the Pacific Red Car in 1952, San Fernando Valley residents were stuck in cars on clogged freeways and congested surface streets.
The ongoing project to change LA from transit wasteland to promised land began in 1990 when Metro opened the Blue Line, spanning 22 miles from downtown to Long Beach. It was a necessary step forward, a reminder of what we'd been missing for nearly 40 years and a taste of things to come.
We've experienced a genuine transit revolution in the years since. LA County now boasts six different rail lines with 86 stations on 100 miles of rail. There are two enormously successful Bus Rapid Transit lines, including the Valley's own Orange Line, which transported 74 million riders between 2005 and 2015. In March, Metro extended the Gold Line east and, in May, took the Expo Line to the beach.
Getting here was tough. It took political courage and vision, along with public support and sacrifice. In 2008, at the height of the recession, voters passed Measure R, a countywide half-cent sales tax increase that brought us the transit infrastructure we enjoy today.
Measure R had flaws. There weren't enough big projects funded in the San Fernando Valley, and there wasn't enough money allocated for those that were. But over the past eight years, Measure R has provided significant benefits to Valley residents and given our transit system the shot in the arm it needed to mature: the Orange Line extension west to Canoga Park, bus service to Hollywood-Burbank airport from NoHo, LAX Flyaway service from the Woodley Orange Line station, upgraded rail stations in NoHo and Universal City, miles of bike lanes and paths, and express bus service over the Sepulveda Pass. Recently, Metro inaugurated another express bus from NoHo to Pasadena. None of this would have been possible without Measure R.
As a Metro Board Member and Valley Councilmember, I have to look at the successes and shortcomings of the past to build a better future. That's why, over the past two years, I participated with Valley policymakers, community advocates and business groups in collaborative, bottom-up discussions about another possible Measure R -- now called the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan -- and our region's transit priorities for the next half century and beyond. My main goal throughout has been to ensure that the Valley gets its fair share of transportation investment. We engaged in this discussion because we know that the Valley's transit needs are vastly larger than the amount of funding that's currently available to meet them. We also understand that, in order to grow, we need to think about our future transit needs and what is required for us to achieve them.
The results of our collective efforts are showcased in the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan, which could go to voters as sales tax ballot measure this November. Yes, it's a sales tax measure, but the price is modest - amounting to just $25 a year per person - and the returns will be huge. This bold plan will extend Measure R and allocate more than $120 billion to boost transit investment, ease traffic and deliver on the Valley's top transit priorities, including:
• Completing a transit connection between the Valley and the Westside through the Sepulveda Pass,
• Constructing a light rail connection to the North Valley through the East San Fernando Valley corridor,
• Improving the Orange Line and converting it to light rail,
• Extending a transit connection between North Hollywood and Pasadena,
• Completing the full length of the LA River Bikeway, and
• Expanding walkways and additional bike paths throughout the Valley.
Over the past few months, Metro has received input from Valley residents about the plan, most of it positive and all of it helpful. As a result, Metro unveiled a revised plan last week, which will positively impact the San Fernando Valley. The goal of the plan is to give LA County a transportation network that cuts down on traffic and better connects our communities now and in the future.
In this special edition of Our Valley News, I'll discuss those changes to the plan and give you an overview of what Metro is, who uses it and some of the many things it does to improve the lives of people in your community.
Read about Metro's plan here. As always, if you have thoughts about the plan or Valley transportation in general, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 213-473-7002.
Very truly yours,
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