L.A. Times: Residents need alternatives to sitting in soul-crushing traffic

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The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board supports the passage of Measure M, saying Los Angeles County “cannot continue to prosper without investing in a modern, efficient transportation system.”

Los Angeles County residents crave fast, convenient and affordable transportation options. Since the new Expo Line transit extension to Santa Monica opened in May, ridership has climbed 42% on weekdays and 90% on Sundays.

That experience has been repeated again and again as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has opened new rapid transit lines. More than 70% of the riders surveyed on the Gold Line after the extension to Azusa was opened in March said they were new to the train, and two-thirds of those said that they used to drive prior to taking the light rail. The Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley has far exceeded ridership projections.

There’s pent-up demand for alternatives to sitting in soul-crushing, air-polluting traffic. Los Angeles grew into a metropolis by relying on cars and freeways, but the region cannot continue to prosper without investing in a modern, efficient transportation system. Congestion makes it harder to conduct business and move goods — a problem in a region with the nation’s largest port complex. With a half-built transit system, people are left to drive long distances or rely on multiple buses and trains to reach work or school. Or worse, it means they don’t consider certain jobs or opportunities because of the commute.

To have a thriving economy, promote upward mobility and maintain the region’s quality of life, Los Angeles County has to do a much better job moving people. Voters understood that in 2008, when they passed Measure R, a 30-year, half-cent sales tax increase that kick-started a public transit construction boom. But the need is great, and the job is not yet done. Measure M —a proposed sales tax increase on the November ballot to raise money for Metro—would finish the projects started by Measure R and, over the next 40 years, double the size of the region’s mass transit system, as well as fix highway bottlenecks, build bike paths and fill potholes. This is critical work, and voters should say yes.

The region as a whole would benefit from a massive, unprecedented investment in transportation infrastructure. Vote yes on Measure M.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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