How L.A. Metro Might Pay For Its Ambitious “28 By ‘28” Plan

A railway tunnel under construction in Los Angeles, part of the Metro Expo Line extension project connecting Culver City and Santa Monica, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The Olympics are coming to Los Angeles in a decade, and the L.A. Metro wants to be prepared. Mayor Eric Garcetti challenged Metro last year to a “28 by ‘28” initiative, trying to speed up 28 projects in time for the Olympics.

Metro is now considering a report that lays out how it could actually pay for these goals.

As Curbed LA reports, most of the 28 projects were and are already on track to be finished by 2028, but to accomplish the full plan, Metro needs to speed up eight projects.

The report’s authors found that fully completing “28 by ‘28” would cost an additional $26.2 billion. To address that funding gap, the report suggests new fees on Uber and Lyft trips or congestion pricing. The city could create a central-district boundary and charge vehicles that enter that boundary (similar to London’s congestion pricing scheme) or add congestion surcharges to a Vehicle Miles Traveled charge. The report’s authors also suggest a new type of congestion pricing called Corridor Pricing, “a new kind of congestion pricing that has not been implemented anywhere.” Corridor pricing would set fees on all roads with high traffic congestion but a “viable public transit alternative.” Anyone driving on those roads during peak times would pay a fee.

Congestion or VMT pricing could generate somewhere between $12 and $104 billion over the next ten years.

A complicating factor is that L.A. county voters passed Measure M in 2016, which provides some funding for each of the eight projects Metro is now aiming to expedite. Curbed LA reports that Measure M has a “strict funding schedule that can’t be altered without guarantees that other projects won’t be slowed down or lose out on funding as a result.” So Metro can’t simply prioritize the Measure M projects over others. Instead, it needs to raise more money to pay for the projects upfront.

Other options to raise money are raising transit fares (but even a 25 percent fare hike would only produce $757 million, a fraction of the money needed), taxing scooters and dockless bicycles, or selling the Metro-operated docked bike share system to the city. Metro bikeshare operates at a $8.75 million loss annually, the report said.

The report also suggested pursuing more public-private partnerships to build its projects.

The projects needing funding include building a rail line to LAX, extending the Purple Line subway to Westwood, bike infrastructure and greenways, and more.

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