MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA PROPOSES PRIVATE FUNDING FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Mayor’s plan adapts successful approach used in London and Vancouver to fund vital expansion of LA County’s transportation system – including the Subway to the Sea – through a public-private partnership
LOS ANGELES – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today proposed a plan to establish public-private partnerships to fund vital public transportation projects throughout LA County at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board meeting.
As the state and federal governments face historic budget deficits and lack the funds to contribute to new transit projects, local leaders must find innovative ways to meet the transportation needs of the future. Public-private partnerships provide a unique opportunity for Los Angeles to support and construct public transit options.
“It’s time to recognize that the only true long-term solution to gridlock is an efficient, convenient mass transit alternative,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “It is time to get serious about investing in rail again.”
“LA commuters are fed up with traffic. We cannot be afraid to be bold and think differently about how we provide the transit solutions our region urgently requires,” the Mayor added.
In his recent State of the City address, Mayor Villaraigosa called on all Angelenos to recognize the need to invest in rail and subway options, and announced his intention to ask the MTA Board to seek proposals to privately fund, build and operate an expanded transit system in LA.
At today’s meeting of the MTA Board of Directors, the Mayor presented a motion requesting preliminary proposals for public-private partnerships within 30 days; setting a timeline for analyzing and evaluating transit plans; and moving the MTA toward adopting a public-private partnership strategy for upcoming and necessary transportation projects.
Under the proposal, the MTA would issue a “request for information” (RFI) in May 2008 and work with interested parties to provide the data necessary to develop transportation and funding ideas. By July 2008, the MTA would report back to the Board with the details of the RFI, analyze the benefits and drawbacks of different approaches, and recommend to the Board whether to proceed with a formal “request for proposal” (RFP) for a public-private partnership.
The City Council recently adopted a motion seeking a report on potential private financing options for the Subway to the Sea and other Subway, Light Rail or Bus Rapid Transit projects.
“It’s time to face facts – constructing subways won’t get any cheaper over time, and the governments that have funded transportation in the past won’t get any richer,” said Councilmember Jack Weiss, who sponsored the Council motion. “A public-private partnership could be just the ticket to the transit system Los Angeles needs.”
Last month, the MTA identified 23 new, unfunded transit projects that would offer local residents viable alternatives for their daily commute. Ranging from the Regional Connector to the Subway to the Sea, these projects would expand rail service in LA County by more than 200 miles; increase transit ridership by 122 million passengers each year; cost as much as $30 billion to build; and reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions throughout the region.
Under Mayor Villaraigosa’s proposal, the MTA and the labor organizations representing MTA employees could continue to operate and maintain rail and bus lines. The private partner could be responsible for financing, designing, constructing and overseeing the operation of the extensions and additions to the public transit system.
The Mayor’s motion is partially based on successful private efforts to revamp public transit throughout the United States and around the world. In London, a public-private partnership increased the capacity of the city’s transportation system by 20 percent and reduced costs by 17 percent. A similar model in Vancouver boosted rapid transit capacity by 33 percent – the equivalent of ten 11-mile lanes on city streets.
In the US, public-private partnerships are being explored as a potential way to fund and build a new three-mile connection between Oakland International Airport to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system; a 5.4-mile extension of Houston’s rail service; and operational improvements to Denver’s commuter rail and bus stations.