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Rail News: Passenger Rail

LACMTA proposes $3.9 billion FY2010 budget


Next week, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) will hold a public hearing to review its proposed $3.9 billion budget for fiscal year 2010.

The spending plan is $507 million, or 15 percent, more than the current budget, due in large part to new transit and highway projects. LACMTA plans to take on $636 million in new transportation programs in FY2010, funded largely by federal stimulus funds and the new Measure R transit sales tax the agency will begin collecting on July 1. For example, the agency will open the Metro Gold Line Eastside extension to East Los Angeles, continue construction on the Expo light-rail line between downtown L.A. and Culver City, and advance several planning studies for new transit projects.

However, like many transit agencies, LACMTA is facing higher operating costs and lower revenue in the coming year. California lawmakers eliminated state transit assistance, which had provided LACMTA about $100 million in operating dollars annually. In addition, transit sales tax revenue is projected to decline 10 percent in FY2010 due to the recession. The agency also is negotiating new contracts this spring with its major labor unions representing operators, maintenance employees and clerks.

LACMTA cannot raise fares in the coming year to help generate additional revenue, as mandated by Measure R. So, the agency proposes to cut expenses by more than $130 million, impose a hiring freeze and dip into reserves to balance the FY2010 budget.

The board will consider adopting the spending plan at its May 28 meeting. The next fiscal year begins July 1.