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4 Big-Deal Plans For the Future of LA Transit

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Mayor Eric Garcetti dropped some big news yesterday about a rail connection to LAX and more

In a series of discussions Monday morning, local officials, business representatives, and transportation experts discussed the future of transit in Los Angeles as part of the LA Times's ongoing California Conversation series, and made lots of big promises and predictions. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made several important announcements that will majorly change the way Angelenos get around and pay for the infrastructure they use to get around. Here are the highlights:

The Metro connection to LAX will be done way ahead of schedule

Previously, the Connecting LAX project, which would finally bring rail access to the area's largest airport via a people mover system that will hook up to a stop on the Crenshaw Line, was expected to be completed by 2024 (in time for the summer Olympics LA hopes to win). On Monday, however, Garcetti said that the improvements will be finished in just five years, according to a tweet from LAT transportation reporter Laura Nelson. The project will also create new locations for passenger drop-off and pickup, as well as streamline access to rental car and parking facilities. Garcetti said that, when completed, these and other airport projects will reduce traffic in the main terminal by 40 percent.

Riders will be able to pay via app

Last month, the city unveiled the new GoLA app, which allows users to compare the efficiency, cost, and environmental impact of different modes of transportation, including public transit, bicycling, and ride-sharing. Now, according to Garcetti, a new feature is coming that will allow commuters to actually pay for their trips through the app. The details on this new update are still a little fuzzy, but if the app can be used to pay for Metro rides, it could prove to be a welcome substitute for the reliably frustrating TAP Card.

Metro wants to a new transit sales tax

Well, you didn't think all this improvement was paying for itself, did you? With the announcement last week that the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica—funded largely by the half-cent Measure R sales tax increase passed in 2008—will open in May, Garcetti evidently feels the time is right to ask voters to approve another half-cent increase in 2016 and extend Measure R. The revenue would help fund and speed up existing Metro projects, as well as potential future endeavors to be revealed soon (West Hollywood??). Because tax measures require a two-thirds majority to pass in California, a 2012 attempt at extending Measure R failed by .2 percent.

We're all going to travel by Hyperloop soon

One of several business executives to speak during the event, Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop Technologies, laid out his company's plans for a high-speed transportation system that would transport both passengers and freight through a series of enormous vacuum tubes. (The Hyperloop concept was first proposed by Tesla founder Elon Musk in 2013.) While this perhaps sounds like a bizarre vision of the distant future, Lloyd is confident that construction of such a system could be completed in under 10 years; he wants to start work on the first project next year, which he hopes will be somewhere near LA. It remains to be seen whether the privately-funded venture will come to fruition, but regardless, the future of transportation in Los Angeles is quite a bit less depressing than it must have seemed just a few short decades ago.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

1 World Way, Los Angeles, CA 90045