Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, who transformed innovative local transportation funding programs into America Fast Forward (AFF), the financial centerpiece of the nation's new Surface Transportation Bill (MAP-21), is the recipient of the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) "2012 Distinguished Service Award."
The APTA awards will be presented Oct. 2 at the 2012 APTA annual meeting to be held in Seattle.
"The programs Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa has championed in Los Angeles — America Fast Forward, clean alternative fuels for buses, bus rapid transit, congestion pricing, sustainable development and many more — are part of the Mayor's vigorous transportation agenda to transform Los Angeles from the car capital of the world to the transit capital of the world," said Metro CEO Art Leahy.
When President Barack Obama signed the Surface Transportation Bill into law on July 6, 2012, it signaled a triumph for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, whose far-reaching national initiative "America Fast Forward" (AFF) is included in the legislation.
The America Fast Forward legislation evolved from a progression of local funding initiatives championed by Mayor Villaraigosa, who, as chairman of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and as a member of the Metro Board of Directors since 2005, sought to accelerate an ambitious transportation agenda while maintaining a first-class transportation system for the nation's third-largest transportation agency.
Due to the Mayor's leadership in the region and with the help of the California State Legislature, and despite the pressure of an escalating recession, the people of Los Angeles County voted in 2008 to approve Measure R, the half-cent sales tax that is now projected to generate more than $35 billion over the next thirty years to pay for traffic relief and transportation upgrades throughout the county.
Measure R projects took on a new momentum when the Mayor proposed the "30/10 Initiative" to build a dozen mass transit projects in the next 10 years, instead of the 30 years it would take the sales tax to accumulate, by using federal financing to accelerate the construction of Measure R transit projects.
Generating national interest, Mayor Villaraigosa leveraged the "30/10" accelerated funding program for transit projects into a national transportation initiative with provisions for highway funding entitled "America Fast Forward."
Now signed into law as part of the Surface Transportation Bill, AFF is a model funding program that gives transportation agencies across the nation a financial tool to accelerate transportation projects by using committed funds accumulating from local streams of revenue as collateral for up-front federal loans.