Measure J

Passengers waiting for the bus in Los Angeles. Photo by David from LA blog.

Passengers waiting for the bus in Los Angeles. Photo via Experiencing Los Angeles.

In 2008, Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R, giving our Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) $40 billlion over the next 30 years for transportation upgrades (everything from new light rail to expanded bus service to pothole repair) within the 88 cities that make up Los Angeles County. The $40 billion is funded through a half-cent transportation sales tax increase which will cost each resident around $25 per year for the next 30 years. In 2008, not only did I vote for Measure R (along with 75% of voters) but I did so enthusiastically. 

Four years later, the MTA proposed a new measure on our ballots (Measure J) which would extend the tax for an additional 30 years at the cost of $90 billion. Initially, I thought that voting for Measure J would be an obvious choice, that is until I started reading the opposition to the Measure and began to assess the cumulative impacts of Measure J – thinking regionally and locally.

In my research about the opposition, I learned that one of the unforeseen consequences of Measure R was that there were bus fare increases and service cuts which particularly effect those who depend on the bus system. Cuts that effect how they get to work, go to the store, transport children, etc. These cuts happened because the MTA has the ability to take current funds (not Measure R monies) and redirect them to other projects, taking money out of the bus system. 

20% of Measure J money will go to highway construction and expansion (including the extension of the 710 freeway which would tunnel through South Pasadena) which is something I do not support. Highway construction and expansion plus bus service cuts/fare increases means increased traffic and pollution and in my view, exacerbates our existing issues. Additionally, I looked at the development companies partnering with the MTA and how those potential projects could affect communities along the rail lines an determined that these projects could lead to a great deal of displacement in these communities.

I am a public transportation advocate and a passionate one at that. Some of the improvements proposed in Measure J seem like they would have a positive impact but many seem negative.The problem is that we can’t be guaranteed which projects MTA will choose (or who could suffer in unforeseen ways in the process ) to put our money towards and I’m not sure I’m willing to give Metro $90 billion to carry out initiatives of their choosing.

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About The Accessible City

urban planner, california

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