Wall Street Journal Visits L.A., Suffers

Wall Street Journal Visits L.A., Suffers

A Wall Street Journal reporter decided to spend five days touring the City of Angels using only public transportation. Guess what? He didn't enjoy himself.

Travel costs were less than $30, but the time spent getting from one place to another often felt like an "eternity" to writer/adventurer Stan Sesser. The poor fella spent his last day in L.A. trekking from West Hollywood to the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, which entailed two bus rides, one subway trip, a light rail excursion and, finally, a mile-long walk. And that was just one-way.

Sesser's article should be required reading for folks at the MTA. While transportation officials can't be blamed for Los Angeles' sprawl, perhaps they should be held accountable for their mismanagement and poor decisions -- which continue to burden Angelenos who actually depend on the city's buses and subways to get around. The last few days have brought plenty of examples of MTA mess-ups.

A recent audit found that an MTA "smart card" program that would eliminate paper tickets, making it easier to transfer between buses, subways and trains, is more than $70 million over budget and a decade away from being finished.

Just last week, the MTA voted to pay $300 million to an Italian firm to build new light rail cars, even though the firm has made a habit of missing deadlines for previous contracts with the agency. L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, one of three MTA board members who opposed the contract, called the firm "incompetent" and the decision to hire them again "sleaze."

Is it any wonder that progress on the city's public transportation system is so gridlocked?

The best chance for a truly improved L.A. transit system is Villaraigosa's ambitious "subway-to-the-sea" plan, which would extend the purple line from Koreatown to Westwood, and possibly all the way to the ocean. Last week the MTA applied for crucial federal funding for the roughly $6 billion project.

While the mayor seems to think he can get it done in the next 10 years, according to the L.A. Times the MTA predicts the project will be completed in the year 2036.  

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