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Metro Report Shows How Measure R Has Changed LA

Has that voter-approved sales tax hike paid off?

In 2008, Metro's Measure R ballot initiative got just above the two-thirds support it needed from voters to institute a half-cent sales tax increase that would pay for future projects. Many of those projects have now been completed, and, fresh off the unveiling of its new Expo Line Extension to Santa Monica, Metro will be asking voters for another sales tax bump this November.f. In advance of the election, Metro released a "quality of life" report Tuesday (via the Source) that shows how Measure R has affected the lives of Angelenos—with the help of pretty charts and data tables, of course.

Not surprisingly, the report is filled with some pretty flattering statistics (rider satisfaction is up five percent!), along with a few data points that seem hard to link solely to Metro (clean buses alone probably don't account for an 8 percent drop in LA County CO2 emissions). There's also a somewhat silly section that argues "riding Metro is quicker than driving during worst case peak period conditions." Of course, the time estimates only include the duration of the ride plus a few minutes of wait time, so that's probably only true if you live at a train station.

Fortunately, one very significant result of Measure R is that nearly a quarter of LA County residents now live close to a rail, express bus, or Metrolink stop. The 31 new stations added since 2008 have the potential to serve just under a half million customers. The transit agency is offering new options to plenty of commuters in these areas, with 40 percent of LA jobs now accessible to Metro stations.

Metro also acknowledges that ridership has dipped on both trains and buses over the past few years, though the agency is quick to point out that this seems to be part of a national trend. Another intriguing statistic: since 2008, riders report feeling more safe on buses and at bus stops, but less safe on trains and at train stations. It's not clear what's driving this disparity, but it's certainly something Metro will want to address as rail ridership increases and bus ridership goes down.