Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas took over as chairman of the board at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Thursday, and laid out his vision for making public transit a “driving force for improving the quality of life in Los Angeles County.”
“With the help of voters who generously committed to supporting the build-out of our transit system, and the riders we serve every day, Metro is on a mission to invest billions of dollars over the coming decades to make Los Angeles County’s public transit system one that really helps people get where they need to go,” he told a packed boardroom at Metro headquarters adjacent to Union Station.
“We can accomplish this by remembering three basic principles: riders come first; we are building a system for tomorrow; and transportation will drive economic development,” the supervisor added.
With funding from Measure R, a voter-approved half-cent sales tax to be collected through 2039, Metro is leading a dramatic expansion of the county’s public transit system. It’s the most ambitious transportation investment in the region since freeways were built half a century ago.
“And we owe it to all Angelenos to deliver projects safely, on time, and on budget,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.
He added the board also has an obligation to ensure Metro’s long-term fiscal integrity, improve on-time service, and attract a new generation of riders. Finally, he called for vigilance in caring for an aging system, paying special attention to customer service, and encouraging the hiring or local workers and small and disadvantaged businesses.
Metro’s chairmanship rotates among the members of the Board of Directors every year, to enhance representation of all LA County geographic areas. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas succeeded Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Metro’s The Source website reported Thursday that several projects will keep the board busy, noting the second phase of the Expo Line to Santa Monica and the Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa are both nearing the end of construction, with early testing now underway.
Meanwhile, construction is in full swing on the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Purple Line Extension section one, and the Regional Connector. According to The Source, Metro is also in the process of updating its long-range plan, looking at a potential ballot measure for Nov. 2016 to raise more money for transportation projects.