Metro officials Friday unveiled a revamped transit tax proposal that could go before voters in November, this time calling for a levy that would remain in effect permanently instead of ending in 40 years, as was envisioned in the original concept.

Metro buses stopped at a bus stop. Photo by John Schreiber.
“We need to build and sustain a world-class transportation system here in Los Angeles County to accommodate our ever-changing and continually growing needs,” Metro CEO Phillip Washington said.

“Working with our community stakeholders, this updated plan brings us a step closer in defining what projects are needed and where a sustained level of funding could come from to accelerate and complete those projects.”

Metro initially envisioned asking voters to increase Los Angeles County’s sales tax by another half-cent, and continue the existing Measure R half-cent tax — set to expire in 2039 — for another 18 years, meaning both would end in 2057.

Under the new proposal, voters would be asked in November to raise the sales tax by an additional half-cent indefinitely and extend the Measure R half-cent tax indefinitely. The Metro Board of Directors is expected to decide June 23 whether to put the issue on the November ballot.

According to Metro, the permanent total one-cent sales tax for transit would create a sustained funding source for construction and operation, and would allow the acceleration of nine projects, including a five-year acceleration in planned improvements on the Orange Line, an eight-year acceleration of the northern extension of the Crenshaw/LAX rail line to Hollywood and a five-year acceleration of the Green Line extension to the Norwalk Metrolink station.

“This plan includes hundreds of local and regional capital improvement projects,” Washington said. “But this plan goes far beyond building and delivering projects. It includes operating and maintaining the system we build, developing new services that meet the shifting needs of our region and it creates a smarter system that takes full advantage of the technology that is out there today and technology of the future that has yet to be developed.”

Metro officials said the proposed tax increase — when it was planned to sunset in 40 years — would have raised about $120 billion.

— City News Service

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