After months of dysfunction, California's budget finally passed. The Republicans managed to kill both a 12-cent increase to the gas tax and billions of operating dollars for the state's transit systems. As previously reported, and confirmed by Metro's Mark Littman, LA stands to lose $68.2 million more in state funding this year on top of the $136.3 million it had budgeted for 2009 but never received. For each of the next four fiscal years, the hit for the County could be $90.9 million. While Metro may receive up to $1 billion from the federal stimulus, none of that money can be used for operation, but only can be directed towards new projects. Operating money lost may eventually recouped from Measure R funds. But in the immediate, Littman says: "We'll just be tweaking service; if we eliminate efficiencies, we'll allocate those services elsewhere. Unlike other agencies, we're not raising fares or cutting service." Updated numbers above.
As far as any possible delays in new projects like the Wilshire subway extension, Littman says the Board still wants to go "gung-ho" on developments. "They want to accelerate projects, they want to improve bus service." But eventually, Metro will need money to operate these additions. It's not clear where this money will come from—yet. "I think it's going to come to a head in the spring when the Board adopts the 2010 budget."
Other news: Metro should be making an announcement in April on a confirmed summer opening date for the Gold Line extension to East LA. Also, tomorrow the Calif. Public Utilities Commission is supposed to decide on whether the Expo Line to Culver City needs to add pedestrian bridges/underpasses to two crossings. If the line does indeed have to make those additions, the 2010 opening date could be delayed six month to a year. More on this later.