The Transport Politic on the 30/10 Plan

I haven’t commented on LA Mayor Antonio Villagairosa’s 30/10 plan, which has been to go to the Federal government to ask for an up-front loan to fast track (see what I did there?) the rail projects currently programmed for 30 years into 10 years of construction. The revenue from Measure R, a local option sales tax, would then be used to retire the debt. This is an infrastructure banking strategy, and we don’t yet have that type of setup in the US. Perhaps its time that we did. I haven’t commented on it largely because I can’t see much to object to; the voters have already approved Measure R and the lines are decided (for better or worse). The Transport Politic calls this one right: it’s an innovative financing plan more than anything else:

How Feasible is Antonio Villaraigosa’s 30/10 Gambit for Los Angeles Transit? « The Transport Politic

Should the rest of the country go for it? I think so. The major risks associated with the plan are cost overruns, which basically just mean LA will end up with less rail than envisioned, and that risk is always there with project development. This upfront financing probably lessens that risk. As an innovative financing tool, this may be one of the most important steps forward in funding regional transit services rather than relying on lukewarm federalist arguments that transit in LA is such a worthy good that senators from Iowa and Nebraska and North Dakota should want to see federal dollars going towards it. These types of local self-help financing tools, then, mean that the regional transit agency could tap into LA’s enormous tax base directly rather than having to deal with the crap-shoot of trying to get the feds to pay for local projects. There’s a lot to recommend this strategy both practically and theoretically.