Students react to possible tax hike for metro
Last Thursday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled its potential plan to expand mass transit in Los Angeles. The $120 billion expansion plan would be funded by a potential sales tax increase set to be voted on in a November ballot measure.
If the proposed plan were to be approved, it would increase efficiency in public transportation in Los Angeles, as well as reduce traffic and improve highways and bike paths.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the transit blueprint would fund more than three dozen mass transit and highway improvements in the span of 40 to 45 years if voters support the tax plan. Some of these improvements include new rail routes through Claremont, Van Nuys, Westwood and Artesia.
“This is a bold, ambitious and necessary proposal that would finally deliver the comprehensive, interconnected transit network L.A. County needs. After more than two years of hard work, the draft plan addresses local concerns and would generate county-wide congestion relief, air quality improvements and economic benefits,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in an official statement. “We are losing billions of dollars while Angelenos continue to be mired in traffic, and we must take action now.”
The initial plan would be funded through Measure R2, a half-cent sales tax increase that would funds transportation projects.
Despite its plans to reduce traffic and increase efficiency in Los Angeles, critics raised concerns about the plan.
“The system is certainly stacked against [small] cities,” Palmdale Mayor James Ledford told LA Weekly. “Road maintenance is a real issue for cities, and I don’t see any help for that.”
Sooji Nam, a sophomore double majoring in broadcast and digital journalism and international relations, said that even though she appreciates efforts to improve the public transportation system, she thinks that the money allocated for it would be better spent elsewhere.
“Well, I personally don’t use the Metro or public transportation. I think it’s interesting that they want to refurbish it,” Nam said. “I think it’s a good thing to improve infrastructure, but I feel like the bulk of money should not go to that. I feel like money should be steered towards social change.”
Measure J, a half-cent transportation sales tax similar to Measure R2, failed to receive a two-thirds majority and was rejected in 2012.
“I think it should pass, but it’s probably not going to pass because there’s too many people in L.A. County without transit [and] this tax wouldn’t affect them in a positive way,” said Josh Chung, a senior majoring in business administration. “People in Diamond Bar will be paying the same sales tax, and they won’t be receiving the same benefits because there is not transit out there.”
Chung said that Metro should also address other issues, such as safety on the Blue Line.
Metro’s Draft Expenditure Plan can be viewed at theplan.metro.net. Metro will hold public meetings through the month of April, where residents can speak to Metro personnel, voice concerns and give feedback.