Keeping Transit on Right Track : Statewide bond measure 156 would further the escape from auto gridlock

On Oct. 26, the first Metrolink trains will roll, connecting parts of Ventura and San Bernardino counties with downtown Los Angeles and offering commuters another alternative to jammed freeways. Metrolink is only the newest tangible evidence of the steady faith that Californians have in the future of mass transit for this region. A "yes" vote on Proposition 156 in November should be the next sign of that commitment.

Proposition 156 authorizes the state to issue $1 billion in rail bonds. This measure is the second in a series of three $1-billion bond measures that the Legislature approved in 1990 for the 1990, 1992 and 1994 ballots. The three measures are part of a single package; passage of each is necessary to create the 21st Century network of trains, light rail and subways that this region and this state so desperately need.

Voters passed the first bond measure, Proposition 108, in 1990. Metrolink will be the first local project to go into operation using funds from that measure. Its debut follows the opening of the successful Blue Line to Long Beach in 1990 and precedes opening of the first segment of the Red Line subway downtown next March. This region's transit network is becoming a reality; Southern California must keep it going by passing Proposition 156.

Los Angeles County would receive about $500 million, or half of the funds raised through the 1992 bond measure. This money would support extensions of the Blue Line and the Red line and expansion of the Green Line to Westchester, near Los Angeles International Airport. Without this money, these projects would be significantly delayed and others might be canceled. Transit projects elsewhere in the state also need funds from the measure.

Voters may be understandably worried about incurring more indebtedness at a time when the state's credit rating has been downgraded. Yet despite the economic troubles, the state treasurer asserts that California would still be within prudent debt limits if voters passed 156. Californians can vote "yes" on the state's future by voting "yes" on 156.

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