The Measure R workshop took place Thursday, and while the buzz around the blogs has been around the proposed acceleration of three rail projects, it turns out the attention was quite unwarranted. Why so? If you followed our live-tweet of the meeting yesterday, you would’ve known that the three rail projects – regional connector, Gold Line Eastside Extension 2, and Green Line to LAX – were “randomly selected” (Metro’s words) by Metro’s staff to showcase a potential funding scenario if Metro were indeed to go ahead and accelerate funding and construction of any projects outside of Measure R’s timetable. There were no indications that these three projects were specifically singled out or favored by Metro.
Most of the rest of the presentation by Metro’s staff can be found in the handout, but a significant portion of the meeting involved results from a Measure R survey (conducted in May of 605 Los Angeles County voters) that was not distributed at the meeting. Here are some highlights from the survey results:
- When Metro began survey in September 2005, 61% of voters would have voted yes (from “leaning yes” to “definitely yes”) for Measure R. In May this year, assuming that Measure R was up for voter approval, 68% of voters would have voted yes – the highest that it’s ever been. Playing that same scenario, 45% of voters would vote “definitely yes” for Measure R – also the highest that it’s ever been. Surprising during this state of the economy. Staff feels like this is the perfect time for Metro to reach out to the public because of such high levels of support.
- Metrolink, Metro, and Caltrans – three transportation agencies – are dwarfed by the Los Angeles County – Sheriffs Department and Fire Department in terms of approval rating.
- 43% of those surveyed use public transit. Of that 43%, 75% approve of Metro’s performance.
- 6 in 10 of those surveyed believe Metro is not building out promised projects fast enough. The survey analyst said this was a “red flag.”
- The two biggest reasons for voters supporting Measure R were job creation and contributions to the local economies. (READ: Foothill Extension)
A short public comment period followed and several supporters of the Foothill Extension were able to get their comments in. Duarte Councilmember Lois Gaston pointed out that the Foothill Extension would not only improve the region’s air quality for this generation, but for many generations to come. The most notable public comment came from a representative of Assemblymember Ed Hernandez, who had worked on the original state bill that became Measure R. He reminded the Metro Board of Directors that the original intent and expectation of the bill was to complete the Foothill Extension to Azusa by 2013. Can’t argue with voters.
All in all, the meeting was a warm-up for the big July 23rd vote on the Long Range Transportation Plan. We’re hoping for Metro to change the operations date from 2017 to 2013, which is when construction is expected to already be finished. Now we wait.