Let’s Keep a Pork-Free 30/10 Initiative in Los Angeles
My colleague, Damon Nagami, recently posted on the positive attributes of the 30/10 initiative that is being pursued by Mayor Villaraigosa in Los Angeles. This initiative seeks to jump start transit projects approved by Los Angeles voters through their approval of Measure R last fall. However, with many good transportation ideas, there are attempts to dilute them and continue Los Angeles’ obsession with roads.
The Los Angeles Streetsblog recently posted a quick article that asked whether the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“METRO” or “MTA”) will try to overload the 30/10 initiative, which should be designed to jump start transit funding with a bunch of highway projects. Today, METRO will decide whether to support 30/10, but there have been significant attempts to add some fine print by the METRO Board. The current language being pursued by METRO goes too far to appease the road building lobby and other business interests.
The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Coalition for Clean Air submitted a letter to METRO yesterday asking that it not advocate to load up the 30/10 initiative with a bunch of highway pork projects aimed at expanding our highway system. Beyond the dramatic air quality issues we face in Los Angeles, we have a climate change dilemma that requires significant action to reduce our dependence on roads. My colleague in D.C., Colin Peppard outlines the climate concern in a recent post on the National Journal Transportation expert blog—
Transportation was responsible for 27% of total US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2008. This makes transportation the nation’s second largest end-use emissions source—larger than any other nation’s economy-wide emissions, with the exception of China. Over the past two decades, transportation has also been the nation’s fastest growing GHG source, responsible for 47% of the net increase in emissions between 1990 and 2007. (Transportation also accounts for close to 70% of US oil consumption, but that’s for an energy security post.)
Colin also lays out a good vision for what is needed moving forward--
Practically, what does this mean? It means better road and congestion management and strong consideration of road pricing. It means increasing investment in efficient non-road transportation options, and a real multi-modal freight strategy. It means much better coordination of transportation plans with local land use. And when new road capacity is called for (yes, this environmentalist recognizes that a road is often the best way to get from here to there!), it means being cognizant of the long term energy and climate impacts. And of course, this vision also includes ever-more efficient vehicles running on new low-carbon fuels.
Initiatives like 30/10 help achieve this more sustainable vision. And, supporting a transit-only 30/10 initiative does not mean we will not expand roads. It simply means we will focus the next decade on the transit system, which has been neglected for decades. All in all, I hope Mayor Villaraigosa will stand strong in making sure the 30/10 initiative stays a transit strategy and not just a grab bag to appease the road building lobby and other business interests that want to pave our way out of the Los Angeles transportation crisis. Attempting to expand one road after another has been used in Los Angeles for decades and is fraught with peril. It is time for us to take a fresh approach that will make Los Angeles a more transit-oriented city.