Thursday, November 6, 2008

Voters Choo-Choo-Choose More Rail

The results are in, the people have spoken. Californians have voted to approve Proposition 1A and Los Angeles County residents have approved Measure R.

Proposition 1A, which will fund the construction of a high-speed passenger rail network stretching from San Diego to Sacramento, won with over 52% of the vote. Interestingly, according to the state county results map, even counties not directly served by the proposed rail system, such as Imperial in SoCal and Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, Marin and Yolo counties up north, voted for high-speed rail. Of course, they would stand to benefit as well; San Francisco and Sacramento are just a relatively short drive away, and the high-speed train will do the rest.

Most people look at the Japanese Shinkansen bullet train or France's TGV as what the California high-speed train will be like. But both systems are already decades old. Perhaps take a look at Taiwan's high-speed rail system, which is closer in size to California's planned system and opened just last year:

More locally, and perhaps more suprisingly, Los Angeles County residents voted to increase the sales tax by half a cent to fund transit and road improvements in the county, most noticeably securing local funding for extending the Metro Purple Line (a.k.a. "The Subway To The Sea"). What made it surprising was that, despite a recession and sagging economy, this not only got a majority, but (barely) eked the 2/3 majority vote to pass. Perhaps traffic is indeed that bad that the public considers the tax a worthwhile investment. And tho those yellow-shirted sorry-asses passing out flyers before Election Day accusing Measure R of being "Racist" (the yellow-shirted sorry-asses passing them out in front of the Militant were blond-haired and blue-eyed, oh the irony!) well, YOU SUCK!

Measure R continues a 28-year trend of public support of transit, which started in 1980 when voters approved of a Proposition A that helped to fund today's Red, Blue and Green lines. Similar initiatives came before voters since the late 1960s, but they were soundly rejected, which is the primary reason why modern rail transit did not exist in Los Angeles until the 1990s.

The Militant will admist though, that sales tax revenue in a time of recession is not going to generate that much, and the MTA had to scale back on its plans during the last recession. But the prospect of over 210,000 new jobs coming to the region (and, similarly 160,000 jobs statewide as a result of Prop 1A) were probably the dealbreakers for most voters faced with economic reality.

Good work, California and Los Angeles County...can't wait to ride.

No comments: