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 transportation bill.
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.
The Southern 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.