As transportation reformers continue to wait for the Senate to join
the House in offering a new federal
transportation bill, Senate environment committee chair Barbara
Boxer (D-CA) and Transportation
Secretary Ray LaHood will hold a town hall meeting at the headquarters
of L.A.’s Metro transit authority on Friday, February 19.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Boxer held a similar forum
downtown back in September 2008, where various officials from around
Los Angeles, ranging from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and then-Metro CEO
Roger Snoble, testified about their priorities for a long-term federal
The hours and
hours of testimony can be described in two terms: "new starts" and
"ports." There was no mention of words such as "bicycle,"
"pedestrian," or even "smart growth."
The key to whether
this new town hall will provide a chance to discuss what various
transportation stakeholders need and desire in a transportation
reauthorization bill will be up to Boxer, LaHood and Art Leahy, the new Metro CEO. Last time,
non-VIPs had to wait through hours of presentations by elected
officials and bureaucrats before any advocates — or other people that
don’t collect a government paycheck — got to take their turn.
If this is really a town hall, then hopefully all of the stakeholders, including commuters
that don’t have a paid driver, will get a chance to speak.
California Transit Advocate‘s Dana Gabbard agrees:
I’m glad to see
Senator Barbara Boxer and U.S. Transportation Secretary
Ray LaHood have announced they are reaching out to stakeholders seeking
input on the currently stalled federal transportation
funding reauthorization bill. Which is all well and good IF the
attendees reflect a wide range of stakeholders, not just usual
suspects. Heretofore our region hasn’t always done as well as it should
in that regard. If more a diverse group of people see the process as
being connected to their needs and concerns, maybe the chances of some
progress [for] passage sooner rather than later would improve. At least
the preliminary agenda includes some good concepts for discussion,
including livability and safety.