Backers of the proposed extension and increase in a countywide sales tax to fund transit projects pointed Tuesday to the success of the Metro Expo Line, and its heavy use by fans attending Los Angeles Rams games, as an example of transportation improvements the levy would fund.
Standing in the shadow of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, supporters of Measure M said about 25 percent of people attending Rams games get to the stadium by Metro transit, most notably the Expo Line light rail.
“Twenty-five percent of Rams fans taking Metro to the games means 20,000 fewer people clogging freeways and parking lots, and that means less traffic for us all,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “It shows that the success we’ve already seen by extending the Expo Line to Santa Monica is only increasing, and it shows what we can achieve by voting yes on Measure M.”
Measure M would add another half-cent transportation sales tax in Los Angeles County, on top of the existing half-cent Measure R sales tax already in place. When the Measure R tax expires on July 1, 2039, the Measure M tax would increase to one cent, and remain in place permanently.
The measure, if passed by two-thirds of voters, is expected to generate $120 billion over the first 40 years.
Some of the dozens of upgrades proposed under Measure M, dubbed the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan, include:
— the Airport Metro Connector at Los Angeles International Airport;
— extending light rail lines throughout the county;
— adding rapid transit bus lines, including along the Vermont Corridor and Lincoln Boulevard;
— widening the Golden State (5), Santa Ana (5) and San Diego (405) freeways and widening or adding HOV lanes to many others;
— street repairs;
— a downtown streetcar project; and
— new bike paths and lanes.
Opponents of the measure — including the mayors of Norwalk, Beverly Hills and El Segundo, claim the tax would amount to a “blank check” for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority with no accountability.
“Measure M postpones transportation projects for the blue-collar neighborhoods, but projects for affluent communities move to the front of the line,” according to a ballot argument submitted by opponents of the proposal. “MTA has a poor record of safety and a history of prioritizing wealthy communities, violating civil rights and disenfranchising the poor and the people of color who need effective transit the most.”
But the supporters who gathered Tuesday insisted the measure will result in improvements in communities throughout the county, reducing traffic delay by 15 percent a day while creating 465,000 jobs and funding street repaving and pothole repair throughout the region.
Kevin Demoff, chief operating officer and vice president of football operations for the Rams, said the popularity of Metro “has become a hallmark of our Rams community.”
“We’re tackling an age-old problem for sports teams: How do you get people to stay until the end of the game?” he said. “Take away the traffic.”
–City News Service