Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa discussed the current and future state of the city of Los Angeles’ transportation system at the USC Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise’s Leading from the West series on Wednesday in the Town and Gown Ballroom.
Villaraigosa said the most efficient way to reduce traffic and create significant changes to the city’s transportation is by building a sense of unity around the city. Throughout the discussion he answered questions from Bedrosian Center Director Raphael Bostic and METRANS Center Director Gen Giuliano.
Villaraigosa recognized the changes that city officials need to make, but also urged for change to start with the individual.
“I love to make fun of myself and say, ‘You know I’m late today because the mayor hasn’t fixed the traffic,’ but then I’ll be serious with people,” Villaraigosa said. “You know why we have so much traffic? Because all of us are addicted to our single-passenger automobiles, and we expect someone else to get out of theirs.”
Villaraigosa said the city faces many “hurdles” in public policy to fix the conditions of transportation, noting that the change will take time, but emphasized that what is important now is to encourage residents to embrace change in Los Angeles for the entire city’s benefit.
“Come on, if you want to kill a gridlock it’s not going to be easy,” Villaraigosa said. “You need a political leadership that looks you in the eyeballs and says ‘Hey man, I’m sorry. It’s going to cost you a little more.’”
Villaraigosa said his goals are not just to improve transportation in Los Angeles, but also to re-imagine the city in a new light. He hopes the coming changes will help L.A. serve as a model city for the rest of the world.
“We are to the world … what New York was in the 20th century and London in the 19th. We’re the Venice of the 21st century. We’re the portal to the East and the South,” Villaraigosa said. “We are the future. … I’m going to keep promoting that wherever I go, because I believe it to the core of my being.”
Villaraigosa also stressed the importance of gaining the support of campaign leaders and the community to make progress happen. Responding to questions about his personal accomplishments, Villaraigosa emphasized that progress could not be made without the support of campaign leaders and the community.
“These were not my accomplishments,” Villaraigosa said. “Listen, we did this together.”