Friday, November 09, 2012

More pork on the way.

It appears that Los Angeles County's Prop J (to boost sales taxes to pay for transit "temporarily" for another 30 years) failed because it did not muster the required two-thirds vote.  But it was close, coming within two percent of passage.

Whereas we have divided government in Washington DC, after last Tuesday there may no longer be a similar blessing in Sacramento. Will California voters next repeal Prop 13?  Will two-thirds voter approval requirements go?  We shall see.

I have posted re transit policy in LA many times.  The county's high-water transit use year was 1985 when there were 497.2 million boardings (data found at the U.S. Federal Transit Administration's  National Transit Database site)-- and when the county's population was 9.327 million.  But then they started building rail transit.

Transit use fell as fares were raised and bus service cut.  Although county population grew and rail capacity was added, transit's 1985 high-water mark was never equaled.  The closest was 495.2 million boardings in 2007 (county population then at 10.276 million).  In 2007, bus use accounted for approximately 80 percent of transit boardings while new heavy rail accounted for 10 percent and new light rail another 10 percent.

LA's transit renaissance never came.  We simply chose to move fewer people (and a smaller proportion of a growing population) at much higher cost.  On a per capita basis, 2007 was 10 percent worse than 1985.  And we are still below 2007. 

There is no way that serious people can make an outcome this bad look good.  But absent the two-thirds voter approval requirement, which could go, the spinning will conitnue and more political pork of this sort will be on the way.

People who get their climate news and policy analysis from people like Al Gore may take us all along for the ride.  (Look at the promo poster for the movie.  Love the hurricane coming out of the smokestack?) Where did most of those "yes" votes on Prop J come from?


Reader Rob Dawg reminds me that it's even worse. "The massive backbone reorientation (away from hub'n'spoke and ) of the LAMTA (and ancillary agencies) has resulted in a large increase in 'boardings' per completed one way trip.  What was a single seat trip in 1985 can now easily be counted as three boardings.  Second. the introduction of passes has inflated the number of discretionary trips.  Lots of two-three block walks are now casual boardings.  The actual number of people being moved is far smaller than 'boardings' would imply."

And "while not affecting ridership itself, the population within 1/4 mile of service has grown far more than the raw regional population served meaning popularity is not even holding even."