November 4: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History

1971:  California Governor Ronald Reagan signs into law Senate Bill 325, removing gasoline from its sales-tax-exempt status and earmarking the receipts for the benefit of public transit, city and county roads, and the general funds of cities and counties.

Southern California Rapid Transit District General Manager Jack R. Gilstrap states that:

“The Governor and the members of the Legislature have responded to numerous appeals from government, business and civic groups that it is imperative public transit be placed on a firm financial footing.”

His full statement and more information can be found in the November 12, 1971 issue of Southern California Rapid Transit District’s RTD Flyer employee news magazine.

1980:  Los Angeles County voters approve Proposition A with a 54% “yes” vote.

1980 billboard advocating passage of Prop. A

Prop. A was created to provide an estimated $225 million in its first year to reduce bus fares, begin construction of a 150 mile regional rail rapid transit system,

However, opponents of the measure contend that a two-third vote is required by 1978’s Proposition 13 for local tax increases.

The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission which sponsored the tax initiative claims exemption from such conditions because it is technically a state agency.

The LACTC was aware of a possible legal challenge, but maintained that their legal analysis indicated that strong arguments could me bade in support of a simple majority vote being sufficient.

On November 13, the Commission votes to file the sales tax increase with the State Board of Equalization and later enters into a contract with the Board for the collection and disbursement of the tax increase.

It also sets up a $75,000 legal fund to be used should a court challenge arise.

The State Attorney General would ultimately determine whether or not a simple majority is enough to put Proposition into effect on July 1, 1981.

Planning gets underway almost immediately for the “SCRTD Metro Rail.”

Some of the alternative names considered but rejected include “Los Angeles Regional Metro Rail System,” “Rail Rapid Transit System,” “Subway” and “Underground.”

1999:  The California Transportation Commission approved $83.2 million in funding, Thursday, for construction of the “Pasadena Metro Blue Line,” but CEO Julian Burke was cautious in his testimony about whether the LACMTA would have funding needed to operate the light-rail line.

Burke presented a full-funding operational plan for the light rail line, cautioning the Commission that, while the plan is reasonable, he could not guarantee that the LACMTA would be able to operate the line, due to scarce operating revenues and the potential for operating cost increases. The LACMTA estimates the cost of operating the line at $33.6 million in FY 2004, including $7 million in security costs. Fares are projected to cover $4.7 million, with the remaining operating costs to be made up by subsidies.

Additional information can be found in the November 5th, 1999 issue of MyMetro employee news publication.