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Opinion

Readers React: $120 billion for new transit, but will enough people ride it?

To the editor: According to The Times, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proposing a large sales tax increase over two generations to fund what is basically an expansion of the current transit system. (“Metro to unveil mass transit blueprint that includes tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass,” March 11)

However, as reported by The Times previously, in spite of spending billions over the last 35 years, Metro now has about 45 million fewer annual riders than it did in 1985. In contrast, L.A. County’s population has grown by nearly 2 million since then.

The MTA wants to double down on a system that currently fails to meet the objectives it set for itself in the 1980s. What is needed, instead, is an audit that examines its cost effectiveness vis-a-vis its objectives and in comparison with other systems.

If the current plans don’t work, Metro must reevaluate before getting $120 billion in new tax revenue.

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John Yard, Sunland

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To the editor: Most of the MTA’s plans for expanding mass transit are well thought out. However, the idea of constructing a tunnel under the 405 Freeway needs to be reconsidered in light of the imminent roll out of autonomous vehicles (AVs).

The first fully electric AVs will be available starting in about five years. While some will be purchased for private use, most will be purchased by ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. Tesla, Apple and Google probably will deploy their own fleets of AVs along the same model as Uber.

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The cost for this door-to-door service will be so low that millions of Americans will sell their cars and just use the service.

By the time the tunnel could be built, the huge traffic jams will be diminishing on their own. The money for the tunnel could be better used increasing mass transit options in existing corridors.

Paul Scott, Santa Monica

The writer is a founder of the electric vehicle advocacy group Plug-In America.

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To the editor: This article describes a group of transit improvements being planned by the MTA, with the implication that $120 billion may not be enough to cover the entire cost.

Comparison is inevitable with the massive bullet train project, currently estimated to cost $64 billion (up from the $40 billion voters were told when they approved the project in 2008).

Is Metro horribly inefficient, or is the bullet train projection impossibly low? Or is it both? Either way, both projects need a serious rethink of costs and benefits before it is too late.

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Dick Roberts, Laguna Hills 

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