LA did it. So can we.
For decades, Los Angeles has been a city of snarled traffic and expansive highways, with few public transit options available for residents. All of that has started to change thanks, in large part, to Move LA, a campaign that successfully set up a new revenue stream to fund the construction of a robust transit system.
This year marks the sixth anniversary of the referendum that created this new transit funding. At Move LA’s recent Transportation Conversation conference, one of the main topics was “Imagining Measure R2.” Measure R2 builds off of Measure R, which voters approved in 2008 to create a half-cent sales tax in Los Angeles County to raise $36 billion for new transit lines over the next 30 years. Measure R2 would go even further, raising $90 billion over 45 years from the same half-cent tax, and over half the revenue would fund rail transit.
Along with the success of Measure R, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is also the new chairman of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, spoke at the conference about another of the city’s accomplishments: a $700 million federal grant to the subway system. Leaders hope to continue the momentum by putting Measure R2 on the 2016 ballot.
Move LA is quite the success story, signaling the emergence of a real transit network in Los Angeles that can help move the city away from its auto-dependent, traffic-riddled past. (And now, the State of California is about to make transit projects much easier for its cities.)
While we applaud the great success in Los Angeles and of Move LA, this also serves as a reminder to Cook County that we must invest in our own transit system to keep up with our peer cities. Despite the fact that we have the second-largest public transit system in the country, there has not been enough done to ensure that we will have the necessary funding to maintain an efficient, reliable, and sustainable transit network.
Transit Future offers the solution. By investing in transit the way L.A. did, the Chicago region will be able to make the improvements and expansions necessary to create a modern, globally competitive transit system. The Cook County Board of Commissioners can, for example, create a dedicated revenue stream to fund the investment our transit network needs. By creating this local match, the county will be able to take advantage of financing tools like America Fast Forward transportation bonds, an initiative spearheaded by former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who joined us to speak at the Transit Future launch event.
Transit Future offers a bold vision for the future of Chicago and Cook County, one in which we all have access to the jobs and amenities this region has to offer. Join us today to help make this vision a reality.
Photo by Matt’ Johnson/Flickr Creative Commons License