Monday, May 18, 2015

Finance Update: Metro Active Transportation Needs Assessment Coming in September


In July 2014, over 60 advocates attended the Metro policy meeting where the Short Range Transportation Plan was scheduled for adoption. Community leaders from across the county urged the Metro Board to increase investments in active transportation beyond the one percent of funds allocated in the plan. While the Metro Board did not immediately allocate new funding, they responded to these concerns by adopting a motion to develop an “Active Transportation Finance Strategy” to identify what level of annual investment is necessary to meet countywide goals for first/last mile to transit, safe routes to school and other walking and bicycling needs.

Historically, active transportation has been overlooked in regional planning. With insufficient planning at the local level, regional agencies have struggled to fill in the gaps and identify a coherent set of regional metrics to guide project list development. (In 2008 out of Los Angeles County’s 88 cities, 10 had a bicycle or pedestrian plan. After hard work by the Department of Public Health, SCAG, LACBC and others, as of 2014, 35 do.) The region has instead used a project-by-project approach to improving active transportation, with piecemeal funding that failed to allocate sufficient resources overall. However, the best solution–a countywide Active Transportation Strategic Plan–is a multi-year process just now getting underway.

With a due date of January 2015, this Active Transportation Finance Strategy was to be developed on an accelerated timeline to inform the draft expenditure plan for the potential 2016 sales tax measure with a basic analysis of the scale of investment required for active transportation, while the more detailed Active Transportation Strategic Plan was to be synced with the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) update. After inquiries from Metro Director Mike Bonin, this month staff released a memo outlining how they integrated the Finance Strategy into the scope of work for the Active Transportation Strategic Plan. With the recent delays announced in the timeline for the ballot measure expenditure plan, these two processes are once again in alignment for release in September. While the delay in producing a Finance Strategy has been disappointing, we are pleased to see both processes moving in tandem.

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