Mr. Garcetti, Please Keep the Special Interest Hands Out of Metro’s Cookie Jar

ALPERN AT LARGE--For the past several decades, honest and generous taxpayers have bravely offered their hardworking dollars to creating an Expo Line, a Wilshire Subway, a Foothill Gold Line, a LAX/Metro Connection, and a Downtown Light Rail Connector to help wrap these projects together in a coherent rail network. 

Add in Metrolink grade separations, the Alameda Corridor East Project, a Union Station Run-Through Project, and other upgrades for regional rail commuters and safety purposes, and it's pretty evident that Metro and LA County taxpayers have linked arms to try to create a 21st Century rapid transit system. 

Before the 2016 elections, there were ominous trends, but after the 2016 elections, when Measure M passed, these trends became unignorable crises. 

There is no shortage of data that notes how local and regional transit ridership is down and people are buying and using cars more than ever. 

The relatively low cost of gas, blatant safety concerns (ask any honest woman or man and she/he will let you know about that), and the operational slowness and inconvenience of mass transit, and it's pretty obvious that many of those who fought for, fight for, and pay for mass transit are not using it in their own lives. 

But there are many who would love to use the future Wilshire Subway, Downtown Connector, and access the Ontario and LAX Airports with the future Gold and Green/Crenshaw Lines. 

They might also need to use their cars, but if the rail/bus lines link them to their destination, then they'd possibly use that as well. 

The Sepulveda Transit Corridor Feasibility Study addresses the Valley/Westside/LAX corridor, which is one of the most nightmarish of the nation with respect to traffic. 

However, the same political leaders (particularly, Mayor Eric Garcetti) who helped usher in the LAX/Metro Rail link are now frittering away their credibility with respect to ensuring that their constituents' taxpayer money will be well-spent

Ditto with the gas tax money from Sacramento, which is supposed to fix the roads. 

We need rail, we need roads.  Both are great--kind of like food and water. 

But a secondary freeway, Venice Blvd., after being purchased by the City from the state was quickly, without warning, and probably illegally turned into a quasi-bikeway by Mayor Garcetti. 

The rail right-of-way between LAX and Inglewood and Union Station is being prevented by Garcetti and other political leaders into becoming a rail line (with, to be certain, a bikeway as much as we needed and still need one with the Expo Line)...and is instead being relegated to a bikeway that will be used by a pathetic fraction of those who would use that corridor if it were combined to rail. 

Uber/Lyft and bus services between the Expo Line and the greater Westside are being harmed, and South LA residents and LAX-bound commuters are going to be given a lot less than they should with respect to first-rate mass transit. 

And people will continue to use their cars, and rely on their cars, merely to meet the agenda of a few  fitness buff/tech lords/donors to LA's political leaders. 

Goodbye, grassroots, and hello, special interests. 

And at the front and center of this awful change for the worse? 

Eric Garcetti's shining, affable persona, who has decided to follow the smashmouth, top-down policies that hurt the little guy while demanding the little guy's taxes? 

Fix the roads?  Creating first-class rail/transportation?  Spending the taxes well? 

Not anymore.  And we'll just have to see how much this plays out at the next election cycle.

 

(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at alpern@marvista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)

-cw