Twenty years ago, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) made a promise to voters, a promise to reduce congestion on our freeways, improve our local streets and invest in our transit system. Called Measure M, voters approved adding a half-cent to the county sales tax to fund a slate of transportation projects.
Since 1990, the county has added more than 700,000 residents and 250,000 jobs. As a result of Measure M, OCTA has been able to manage that growth through upgrades to the county’s transportation infrastructure.
March 31 marks the final day that the half-cent sales tax will be collected to go toward Measure M. It represents the sunset of a successful program that has helped keep this county moving with more than $4 billion invested in transportation improvements.
Out of California’s 58 counties, Orange County is one of 19 in which residents have voted to tax themselves for improved freeways, streets, and rail and bus systems. Local sales tax measures now account for 60 percent of transportation funding in the state. Over the life of these local sales taxes, they will generate an estimated $140 billion statewide.
Because OCTA successfully delivered projects as promised, the voters of Orange County once again entrusted the agency with their tax dollars by renewing Measure M in 2006. To that end, on April 1, 2011 the first half-cent of what is estimated to be $15 billion over the next 30 years will be collected for Measure M2. A seamless transition will take place between the two programs.
The end of Measure M is a time to celebrate significant accomplishments and a successful partnership with Caltrans, Orange County’s 34 cities and the private engineering and construction sectors. More than 1,000 Measure M projects have been completed. A 2009 report on congestion management determined that traffic had improved 10 percent since 1992, despite a 32 percent population increase in that same time period.
As approved by voters, Measure M revenue was divided into three general categories with 43 percent for freeways, 32 percent to local streets and roads, and 25 percent to transit. In dollars, that has translated into $1.75 billion for freeway projects, $1.3 billion for streets and roads projects, and $1 billion for improved transit.
Because of the significant investment in transit, more than four million passengers a year now take Metrolink in Orange County. On a daily basis, the trains remove the equivalent of one lane of traffic from the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) during rush hour.
Other accomplishments of the Measure M program include:
• 192 freeway lane miles added
• 170 intersections and 38 freeway interchanges improved
• $600 million provided to local agencies for improvements
• Metrolink commuter-rail service implemented in Orange County
• Transit fares stabilized for seniors and people with disabilities
As our county continues to grow, so does our need for ongoing congestion management solutions. This is vital to our county’s economic well-being and our residents’ quality of life. The renewed Measure M program will carry on the tradition of Measure M and serve to improve our freeways, streets and railways for the next generation of Orange County residents.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "What is best for motorcoach safety: Science or politics?" here.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Regional (commuter) Rail system was inherited from the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads and the infrastructure in many sections of the system has been serving the Philadelphia area for more than 100 years. Fifteen years ago, overhead catenary system (OCS) failures were a common occurrence on SEPTA Regional Rail, a result of fatigue cracks and wear. The all too common OCS failures were frustrating for SEPTA customers who occasionally found it difficult to depend on train service for their travels and for SEPTA, whose crews were constantly working to repair and maintain the system.
London is one of the grand cities of the world and in the midst of the cycling revolution. Led by the city’s transport organization – Transport for London, but supported by more fundamental changes in the city’s society, economy and perceptions of lifestyle and mobility, cycling is “on a roll”!
Tech-enabled ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft already appear to be acting as a complement to public transit. Uber analyzed its Los Angeles trip data to in this light. Over the course of a month, Uber found that 22 percent of trips taken near Metro stations took place during rush hour (between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday). This data could be telling us that people are using Uber like they might use bikeshare, as a last-mile and first-mile connection to transit.
Driverless cars have been in the news for quite some time. Last September, I speculated in PC 360, an insurance trade magazine, that insurance premiums for autos could decrease by as much as 40% over the next five years as autonomous cars made travel much safer. I increased my estimate to a 75% decrease in insurance premiums by extending the timeline to 15 years. When I wrote those two articles, I remember thinking how much of a personal paradigm shift was needed to accept a driverless car as safe. Now, it appears that driverless buses are in the near future as well.
What do transit authorities like SEPTA, MBTA, MTA and BART have in common other than transporting thousands, even millions of riders every day? All were recently ranked as four of the U.S.’s 500 “Best Employers” by Forbes magazine.
SEPTA, MBTA, MTA and BART were among 25 organizations included in Forbes’ “Transportation & Logistics” category, along with Southwest Airlines, Amtrak, CSX, Union Pacific and Greyhound. In fact, SEPTA (#33) and MBTA (#49) placed higher than Apple (#55) and SEPTA was the highest ranked company in Pennsylvania.