MTA’s Third Sales Tax to Hit LA County Cash Registers and Pockets on July 1st
by Esperanza Martinez on Monday, June 29, 2009
No Concrete Bus Plan in Sight for Bus Riders who will be Hit the Hardest - BRU Unveils a Plan
For Immediate Release
MTA's Third Sales Tax to Hit LA County Cash Registers and Pockets on July 1st
No Concrete Bus Plan in Sight for Bus Riders who will be Hit the Hardest
Super Pasajera and the BRU will unveil a plan for mobility, air quality and job creation
Los Angeles - The Bus Riders Union will unveil their Clean Air and Economic Justice Plan (CAEJ) just two days before Measure R, MTA's third ½ cent sales tax for transportation, hits LA County cash registers and pockets. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spearheaded the campaign for Measure R, promising LA County voters $40 billion in taxes for public transportation over 30 years. 80% of this funding was earmarked for highway and rail capital projects meanwhile 20% for the bus system. As the struggle for an unrealistic set of rail and highway projects becomes the center of debate amongst the MTA Board of Directors - working class bus riders of color will get hit with another sales tax, reductions in bus service an no concrete plan to improve the bus system.
Economic Stimulus, Green Jobs, Global Warming and Civil Rights are the cornerstone principles of the BRU's Clean Air and Economic Justice Plan. Through fare reduction and service expansion, the plan will generate $4 billion in economic stimulus for LA. It will generate 3,800 unionized green jobs in Los Angeles alone and over 4,000 additional manufacturing jobs in the US. It will address the regional public health and global warming crisis by promoting public transit in clean-fuel buses over the single-passenger automobile. MTA's repeated service cuts and fare increase threaten to re-create the civil rights violations that led the BRU to sue the MTA, 15 years ago. The BRU's CAEJ plan will ensure that the civil rights of working class and poor Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander bus riders are protected and expanded.
In a time of economic and environmental crisis, LA County needs bold and visionary political leadership. The BRU is demonstrating that leadership through working to identify resources to pay for this plan-understanding that in order to create a world-class bus system, 20% of Measure R funds will not be enough. Our national campaign Transit Riders for Public Transportation is partnering with members of Congress and mobilizing allies nation-wide to secure more federal funds particularly for operations and bus capital. We are also working with allies around the state to demand reinstatement of California's State Transportation Assistance fund.
As the MTA moves forward with an unrealistic list of highway and rail construction projects outlined in Measure R, the 20% bus system improvement plan is missing in action. The BRU is concerned that in the absence of a concrete plan with benchmarks for bus improvements, the Measure R 20% bus funds will become a raid-able pot of money to feed a rail construction agenda that it cannot realistically pay for with the funds currently available. This practice led to the BRU's Civil Rights law suit in 1996 and informed the BRU's opposition to Measure R in 2008. Sadly, MTA's decision to cut 120,000 hours in bus service in the 2010 budget-which included $50 million additional unprogrammed bus funds from Measure R-deepens this fear and signals a lack of political will to protect these funds.
The BRU's calls on MTA Director Villaraigosa, who controls four votes on the Board, to direct staff to adopt the plan as a basis for the 30-year Bus System Improvement Plan.
The core components of the BRU's plan are:
- 1. Expand the peak-hour bus fleet by 500 buses
- 2. Expand service, including night, weekend, local, rapid and freeway service
- 3. Reverse the 2007 fare increase, reducing the Monthly Pass from $62 to $52 and the Day Pass from $5 to $3.
- 4. Invest $150 million for the first phase of a county-wide network of bus-only lanes
BRU Press Conference - 11am on the Northeast corner of Wilshire Blvd & Western Ave.
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