SMART Transportation Division General Chairman Marco Gudino met with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at City Hall on Tuesday, February 2, to discuss concerns over MTA's proposed service changes and the proposed tax measure likely to appear on the November 2016 ballot.
Leaders from SMART General Committee 875 have had a number of meetings with elected officials over the past 2 months about the proposed service changes, specifically the elimination of lines 190 and 194. The message in every one of these meetings has been clear. These service changes are bad for public transportation, bad for the MTA, and bad for middle class jobs in LA County. Mayor Garcetti was very helpful the last time these lines were first put up for elimination in December 2014 while he served as the LACMTA Board Chairman. Now that he is no longer the Chairman, Mayor Garcetti could make no promises as to the fate of lines 190 and 194.
Mayor Garcetti was very sympathetic and responsive to the message delivered by General Chairman Marco Gudino, but advised that the recommendation from the MTA San Gabriel Valley Service Council will carry the greatest influence with the MTA Board.
"The Mayor has told us that the local communities of LA County get a very big say on the transportation services they receive in their area," said Gudino. "That's why it is so important for our members to show up to the public meetings this month and convince the service council to keep these lines. Its good for public transportation and its good for middle class jobs in their communities."
The Mayor did say he would try to talk with some of the other MTA Board members to see what, if anything, could be done about lines 190 and 194.
Also on the agenda was a new transportation tax measure that is planned to appear on the November 2016 ballot. Currently nicknamed "Measure R2", will extend the current Measure R half cent sales tax and place an additional half cent sales tax on top of it. The new tax measure is estimated to raise $120 billion for transportation projects over the life of the measure.
Unlike the previous Measure R, no money had been set aside for public transportation operations' budgets in the bill sent from Sacramento that allows the MTA to put the tax measure on the ballot. Without money for operations in the measure, there would be no mandate to the board to use this money to provide for the services. The General Committee and State Legislative Board have lobbied from the beginning of the process for a minimum of 25% of the new tax measure be set aside for operations, just as it was with Measure R. Without the 25%, the message from SMART and General Chairman Marco Gudino was that there would be no support for the measure from the bus and rail operators. Needing 2/3 majority to pass, the tax measure will need all the help and support it can get.
Yesterday, Mayor Garcetti gave General Chairman Gudino the assurance that there would be money for operations in the tax measure that goes to the voters. The General Committee should get its first look at the language that will appear in the measure in the coming weeks. The LACMTA is currently drafting the language and the MTA Board will need to vote and approve it soon if it is to be ready for November.