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The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (LACMTA) board last week approved a $5.5 billion budget for fiscal-year 2015, including $283.4 million in maintenance spending to "keep the system in top form."Included in the maintenance budget is about $50 million for rail improvements on the Blue and Red lines, LACMTA officials said in a press release.The budget includes a base fare increase of 25 cents, from $1.50 to $1.75, that will go into effect Sept. 1 to help offset a projected FY2017 operations budget deficit of $36.9 million.The FY15 budget contains $48.7 million for safety enhancements, including improvements to cameras and video monitoring, security kiosks at various rail stations, signal system rehabilitation on the Blue and Green lines, and pedestrian safety improvements on the Red Line, with an underpass and overpass bridge planned for Universal City and North Hollywood stations, LACMTA officials said.Next year, the agency plans to continue construction on the "most comprehensive public works program in America with Measure R and other funding sources," they said. In FY15, the agency will have five major rail projects either under construction or prepared to begin, including the Gold Line extension to Azusa, the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica, the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Regional Connector. The Purple Line extension to Westwood has received a $1.25 billion Federal Full Funding Grant Agreement and $856 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan.
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