Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Developing a program for the regions first ever local funding for active transportation. #MeasureM

Wayfinding embedded in sidewalk and mural in Go Ave 26 project.

While Measure M is LA County’s fourth transportation sales tax measure, it is the FIRST transportation sales tax that has dedicated funding for sidewalks, crosswalks, bicycle lanes, vision zero, safe routes to school and more.  Historically Los Angeles County has invested less than 1% of all transportation funding in active transportation. Measure M – and the advocacy movement behind it – has changed that. Thanks to community organizations, policymakers, business leaders, philanthropists and more, Measure M learned from mistakes of its past and ensured funding for a truly multimodal future for Los Angeles County in its expenditure plan.

A large majority of Measure M funding for active transportation is in the Council of Governments Multiyear Subregional Programs (MSPs), but Measure M also created a regional pot of funding for Active Transportation that is estimated to invest over $850 million into sidewalks, bus stops, bicycle lanes and more in the next 50 years.  This source of funding is referred to as Measure M Active Transportation 2% and, like the MSP’s, the Metro Policy Advisory Council (PAC) is tasked with coming up with recommendations for the administrative guidelines for this program that outline the way these funds will be prioritized and invested.

So far, Metro has convened two PAC work group meetings, and last month Investing in Place hosted a conference call with partners about this funding (see notes from the call here).  Over the next few months it is expected that Metro staff and PAC members will meet again and draft the guidelines for the September 11th full PAC meeting for discussion and a 30 day review/comment period for all interested stakeholders.

What was discussed at yesterday’s PAC working group meeting?

Metro’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has presented draft recommendation on how to invest these new funds for the next 5 years. The cash flow analysis recommended by Metro staff is divvied up into four major buckets.  

  1. The LA River Waterway and System Bikepath
  2. *Active Transport Program, Transit 1st/Last Mile Program
  3. Metro BikeShare
  4. Metro Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs

The PAC working group is now reviewing these recommendations and creating a shared vision for this program.  At yesterday’s meeting, there were more questions than answers and many ideas that are different than the funding allocations proposed by Metro’s budget staff.

Discussion points at the PAC workgroup included:

  • Policy recommendations that the LA River Project not absorb more than 1% of the funding in the next 10 years.
  • Ensure funding not be limited to capital, but include operations as well (education and non-infrastructure, open streets events, community engagement).
  • Focus on addressing First/Last Mile and implementing Metro’s Active Transportation Strategic Plan, project development around improving access to transit and creating shovel ready first/last mile projects (currently 255 of 661 bus/rail stops identified in Metro’s Active Transportation Strategic Plan are in project development), and also include curb management and opportunities to use technology in projects.   
  • Develop a shared definition of high need communities as one of the tools to help prioritize projects from Metro’s Active Transportation Strategic Plan.
  • Leverage project and planning work being done for the Blue Line first/last mile and NextGen for near term investments.

Next steps:

Several questions were highlighted as needing to be addressed before the next work group meeting in August.

  1. What qualifies as a “regional priority?”
  2. What are the opportunities for Board staff/non-PAC members to weigh in on the guidelines?
  3. Metro Bike Share
    1. How has Metro Bike Share been funded in the past?
    2. If funding from Metro Bike Share is removed from Measure M ATP funding (OMB has $23 million going towards it in the next 5 years in their cash flow recommendations) what other funding can be leveraged to keep Metro’s Bike Share Program fully funded?
  4. Metro Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs
    1. What specific programs does this program include?
    2. How was it being paid for before?  

We encourage our partners – PAC members and non-PAC members to join this conversations and provide recommendations, especially before the next PAC working group meeting in August.  To find out more and get involved please email me at amanda@investinginplace.org.

Since 2013, Metro’s average bus speed has declined by 15%. It is time for the LA Region to get serious about bus lanes.

by Jessica Meaney

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