Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New way to fund transit

The following story appeared on AP called "LA pushing to become nation's mass transit leader". I suggest that you check out the whole story, but basically Metro Los Angeles is looking at leveraging the 1/2 cent transit tax that voters passed in 2008 to get more transit money out of the US federal government.
But the mayor, who sits on a county transportation board, wants a loan instead of Washington handouts to get the projects built in a decade rather than 30 years. He contends it would save money in the long run, result in more construction jobs and less traffic and pollution.

If the approach works, it could set a precedent for cities and states across the country considering major rail and road improvements.

"We can't wait because traffic is unbelievable and the environmental problem is too severe," said Denny Zane, who is building a coalition of business, labor and environmental groups pushing for the plan. "The need for jobs and economic development is also very severe."
In the next 10 year the region will see a doubling of this rail and bus rapid transit system if the plan works out.

In Metro Vancouver, the local cost of most transit projects are funded by debt (TransLink has $1.4 billion of direct loans) and we have the Municipal Finance Authority of BC which gives out low interest loans. This 30/10 scheme is unlikely to work in our province, but it certainly sounds like a great idea for cities in the US that have transit taxes to leverage. In LA, I have to wonder if voters will approve another transit tax increase to pay for more transit projects between years 10 through 30 though.

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