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MTA OKs Settlement on Subway Funds

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved a settlement Wednesday with the city of Los Angeles that frees $200 million in municipal funds for subway construction in return for the MTA’s promise to begin building a San Fernando Valley rail line by 2007 instead of 2011.

The settlement is designed to tie up the loose ends in a “recovery plan” sought by federal officials to show how the MTA will fund court-ordered bus improvements and the rail projects it has started. In other actions, the board:

* Received a report on tougher rules that go into effect July 1 requiring firms seeking MTA contracts to disclose more information about their business practices, including lawsuits, gifts to transit officials and even whether key executives have ever invoked the 5th Amendment in testimony. MTA contractors are already required to disclose much of the same information, but the new questionnaires require more detail.

They are the result of state legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles) at the behest of MTA Inspector General Arthur Sinai to “ensure that the MTA enters into contracts only with firms who have a demonstrated record of business responsibility.”

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* Adopted a $2.8-billion budget that includes the purchase of 223 low-polluting buses in the next year but the restructuring of “owl service” buses operated between midnight and 4 a.m. The night service is poorly used, officials say.

* Approved more than 150 transportation projects costing $666 million, including extending the carpool lane on the northbound San Diego Freeway from Marina del Rey to the Santa Monica Freeway; and $198 million for the Alameda Corridor, a rail and truck corridor designed to speed freight from the ports to yards near downtown Los Angeles. Also funded was a Union Station bike station, sought by Mayor Richard Riordan, an avid bike rider.


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