What L.A.’s 30/10 Plan Could Mean for Transit Funding Nationwide

From around the Network today, a potential transit funding breakthrough, the unequal impacts of air pollution and a state steps back from TOD:

New Jersey plans to pull funding for its transit villages program, which provided incentives for development near stations like this one in Metuchen. NJ.com

What If L.A.’s Transit Acceleration Campaign Goes National? Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was on Capitol Hill this week promoting his city’s “30/10″ plan as a model for boosting transit expansion around the country. The “30/10″ plan would deliver 30 years of transit projects in 10 years by leveraging revenue from a local sales tax measure with federal financing. Villaraigosa and labor and business leaders say the same model could be applied nationwide — an initiative they’re calling “America Fast Forward.”

Jarrett Walker of Human Transit weighs in on the implications: “Because it relies on Federal financing rather than spending, and because the funding sources are local tax streams that are relatively stable, it’s an approach that could potentially succeed even in lean times. It could well usher in a new era of these measures, in which most voters could vote up or down on a set of plans knowing that if passed, all of them would be built and running in just ten years, soon enough to affect most voters’ lives.”

Weakening Air Quality Standards Will Disproportionately Hurt Latinos: Crossroads looks at report from the Center for American Progress that found Latinos would be disproportionately harmed by a proposal to weaken federal air quality standards. Nationwide, 66 percent of Latinos, or 25.6 million people, live in areas that do not meet federal standards for air quality. According to the report: “This translates into shorter life spans: Latinos are three times as likely as whites to die from asthma. Latino children are also 60 percent more at risk than white children to have asthma attacks.” If air quality standards are relaxed, the report concludes, Latino families will pay the price with higher medical bills and more missed work and school days.

NJ Pulls Funds for Transit Villages, But Maintains “Commitment”: Just as we finished congratulating the state of New Jersey on its smart TOD tax credit policy, the state is poised to pull funding for a program designed to put more residents within reach of affordable and sustainable transportation. New Jersey Future reports that Governor Chris Christie is planning to pull $1 million from the state’s Transit Villages program, which provided funding for projects in 23 “villages” on a competitive basis. State officials say they remain committed to the program: The “villages” are welcome to apply for other funding programs administered by the state. But Jay Corbalis at NJ Future says the move would be a step backwards.

“Eliminating funding for the Transit Village program sends the wrong message to municipalities that have sought designation as a transit village,” he writes. “To qualify as a transit village, municipalities must meet a number of criteria, including the adoption of a transit-oriented development (TOD) redevelopment plan or TOD zoning ordinance. In return, they become eligible to apply for funding for capital projects related to their transit station area. Without that incentive, towns have little reason to pursue Transit Village status, and the state loses out on the local outcomes (more transit oriented development) that were envisioned when the program was created.”