By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Killough: At the time those sales taxes went up, transportation was in the top two or three of public issues. It's not even in the top 10 anymore. The share of people who use mass transit has been on a 100-year decline. Why? The first objective for the people on that bus is to get off the bus. Nobody here will deny that, even the Bus Riders Union.
Fairchild: It will take a generation, maybe two generations, to generate a culture of "Let's stay on the bus; let's not get off." But we're never going to create a transit culture unless we develop a transit plan in conjunction with land-use policies and economic-development policies. We need to frame transportation in a way that people will understand that it has something to do with economic development. We have to make people realize that transportation policy affects where they live in the future, whether their communities have jobs and much more.
Burgos: I do see transportation directly connected to economics, but it's wrong to think that somehow rail is the only thing that can economically revitalize communities. We can have bus-transit corridors along Vermont that connect shopping centers. That is a form of environmentally sustainable, ecologically sustainable, community-sustainable development that can actually provide jobs as well. The only people who've gotten jobs out of this rail-construction plan are a few workers who've been able to build rail for about three, four years, and then there's no more job afterward.
Fairchild: I agree that transit should supply job opportunities, and not just with buses. I'm a New Yorker whose whole family made it into the middle class as subway motormen - and women. I was floored by the talk here of building heavy rail and then having driverless trains. It just boggled my mind. Having drivers on those trains is a way to create a middle-class growth opportunity.
Horton: I have one final thing. Over the last decade, we've put together an elaborate plan and started building and spending billions on subways and light rail. But now we've come to a point where we're having to say, "Whoops, I guess we can't do this after all. At least for now." How did that happen?
De la Loza: Well, let me just point out that it's not like these have been wasted efforts. The Blue Line from downtown to Long Beach is the most successful light rail in the country. The existing Red Line, which will run from downtown to North Hollywood, is also very important. But any transit program has to constantly re-evaluate and look at what money is available and what is needed and make adjustments accordingly.
Cole: I think that what happened was we started out building a transit system to serve the county, and then it became the largest public-works project in the history of the United States, and therefore the biggest public-works project in the history of man. Rail became an end in itself rather than part of a transit system. So they did maniacal things like raise the bus fare to pay for rail. That's where they lost their way. They began to spend money for the sake of spending money, and forgot about why they were spending the money. It was a horrific mistake. Now that we've got the year 2000 staring us in the face, we all have to be asking what we want for the 21st century. What kind of communities do we want? What kind of economy? What kind of education system? What kind of health-care system? What kind of neighborhoods? It's those fundamental questions that need to shape our transportation planning.
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