Thu, Sep

The Dems Own Sacramento...So Why Is Transit Funding Taking a Hit?


ALPERN AT-LARGE - Welcome to the Post-Pandemic, One-Party World of California. Transit has taken a hit, developers and teachers unions make us all dance to their beck and call (and we still DO it, don't we?), and a budget shortfall appears to be inevitable.

Metro's numbers are down, but ongoing planning for taxpayer-approved New Starts programs (such as the Sepulveda Pass and Wilshire Blvd. subways) is still under way. 

But even the amazing, world-renowned BART system has plummeted to record-low levels, and mock funeral protests over reduced transit funding have occurred).

So why is transit falling into the metaphorical trash heap? Here are a few ideas:

1) When transit is being represented by folks who do mock funerals, and I emphasize that I am a transit advocate, then Sacramento will not take them seriously.

2) COVID made everyone afraid of large gathering and/or close contact (perhaps this is the most important reason of all). This is not anyone's fault.   

3) Increased virtual and remote commuting and workplace environments. This is a "thing" that won't go away, but it probably needs to be reconsidered with respect to workplace and corporate productivity.

4) Why commute and work a grocery store or restaurant when everything is now take out and at your doorstep with respect to purchases and food. 

5) Letting the homeless and criminals continue to be insufficiently controlled, if not hurled off, public transit that is meant to be convenience and safe for all to use, regardless to ethnicity, age, or gender.

6) The hideous lack of credibility transit received with the California High-Speed Ripoff Plan, which was supposed to be an alternative to planes, but was best described (and should have been described) as an alternative to the automobile.

7) Uber/Lyft...who knew?

8) Not enough parking at train stations, and absolutely not enough coordination between airports, Metrolink/Caltrain, and local Metro agencies. 

9) The ugly-but-very real issue of most Californians, even in this blue state, choosing convenience and efficiency and access over "saving the planet" with respect to choice of transportation and access to a given location, and/or to get one's purchasing needs quickly and affordably.  

10) A budget in Sacramento that is more focused on whatever the heck teachers unions and other public-sector unions want, regardless of how financially-stable the average Californian is. So long as Sacramento is "owned" by these unions, needs such as transportation and transit will be short-changed.

No one can possibly know where transit will end up, and perhaps the 2028 Olympics and the end of the pandemic will change everyone's outlook over the next 2-3 years.  

But right now transit, transportation, and other mobility priorities are undergoing radical changes with respect to priority both in Sacramento and in local governments. 

And it's more likely than not it won't be too good for anyone soon for the rapid transit that myself and so many of us fought valiantly for over the past 20 or so years.                                                                                                                                                                    


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband to a wonderful wife and father to two cherished children. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 9, years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees for 10 years. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)