DARIUS POPENHAGEN, Santa Monica, CA
The Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier, the Hollywood Sign and the Downtown L.A. skyline are some of the most iconic images of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, there is another icon that is just as well known to residents, tourists and even those who have never visited California: The endless trail of gridlocked traffic that spans across the entire city on freeways and surface streets… for hours everyday… even on weekends.
On Election Day, Angelenos have an opportunity to cast their vote on Measure M, the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan, which aims to improve mobility by implementing a half cent increase in sales tax. As a result, Los Angeles County could generate around $860 million per year to both improve and build new transportation infrastructure. Focusing on our roads, freeways, and public transit, Measure M would direct attention towards the overall connectivity of our mobility options, including bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
There is no denying that Los Angeles is a car-centric city and for the past few decades we’ve neglected other mobility options like public transit, bicycling, and walking. Our bias towards the car isn’t all our fault and is partly because we have not really been able to depend on public transportation. In the past, train lines haven’t extended far enough to efficiently connect passengers with their destinations and the overall lack of bike lanes/bike ways throughout the city has made it tougher for most people to commute by bike.
The Expo Line, which now connects Santa Monica with the rest of Los Angeles, has seen a significant increase in ridership since it’s expansion to downtown Santa Monica. With a viable link between the east and west sides of the city, residents and tourists can explore Los Angeles without having to depend on driving their car. Additionally, bike share options at either end of the train line, such as Breeze Bike Share on the west and Metro Bike Share in downtown, extend the reach of transit options even further.
The popularity of the Expo Line extension symbolizes a changing mentality throughout Los Angeles. In 1968, a plan similar to Measure M, Proposition A, was proposed but then rejected by voters. At the time, the measure struggled to gain traction and even The Los Angeles Times did not publicly support the proposed funding for public transit through out the city. Alternatively, Measure M is receiving a different response from both residents and the media. The Los Angeles Times is now a huge supporter of the measure, stating that “L.A. County residents need alternatives to sitting in soul-crushing traffic. Vote yes on Measure M.”
Despite support for Measure M, questions still remain regarding how it will actually change the way we commute and navigate our city. The basic goals are to ease traffic congestion, expand rail and bus systems, repave and repair local streets, and increase accessibility of public transit for seniors, students and the disabled. Additionally, Measure M would potentially create over 465,000 new jobs in Los Angeles County.
More specifically, there would be a new train station for LAX, a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass, and significant extensions to the Green, Purple, Crenshaw and Gold lines
. There would also be new transit lines and bus corridors through out the County and a street car through Historic DTLA. Huge improvements would be made to our freeways including truck and carpool lanes on the 5, an express bus lane in each direction on the 405, a 110 express lane to the 405, as well as several other major freeway projects.
Measure M proposes a massive make over for the current public transit and road systems that we use every day. These improvements will have a lasting effect on the way we travel around our city and the efficiency of our daily commute. The Santa Monica Bike Center is excited about the potential changes that this plan could bring forth and we urge all voters to educate themselves on Measure M and make an informed decision on November 8, 2016!