Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti went on the charm offensive again in late March to push his vision of a carless future for the gridlocked city. Garcetti appeared on another installment of ABC 7’s Ask the Mayor, and, whether he planned it or not, many of the viewers’ questions centered on transportation and traffic issues, which the Garcetti has made a centerpiece of his administration.
At stake is a new rail to the Los Angeles International Airport. The current light rail stops just short of LAX. On Ask The Mayor, Garcetti outlined the plan which could take half of all car traffic out of the terminal loop, and could generate $120 billion in tax revenue if voters approve the ballot measure. Garcetti had earlier confirmed that the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is planning to put a measure on the November ballot that would raise the countywide sales tax by half a cent and extend a transportation tax that’s set to expire by another two decades. Even without the measure, Garcetti said the city would find the funding to build the new rail line to LAX.
Garcetti also unveiled a plan to convert half of the city’s vehicles to electric cars within the next two years. The Mayor said the Los Angeles Police Department is currently in talks with Tesla and BMW about sourcing and prices. It’s not the first time that Garcetti has taken to the airwaves to discuss the details and the difficulties of his plan to cure Los Angeles of its traffic problem. On an edition of the Los Angeles Times’ California Conversations in late February, Mayor Garcetti and dozens of local and federal leaders came together to outline a future in which self-driving cars, vacuum tubes and rail lines will move passengers and freight around the city. Officials from the LA MTA were there to present a series of major highway and rail projects that its board could approve with an estimated $120 billion in extra sales tax revenue if its ballot measure gets approved. Included in the project list is the new rail line to LAX, among others.
Chris Urmson, the leader of Google’s self-driving car project, offered a presentation highlighting the safety features of autonomous vehicles. The biggest obstacle to self-driving cars are public concerns about safety, so addressing them head-on before they hit the road is crucial to driving early adoption. Meanwhile, Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop Technologies, presented his company’s plans to create a high-speed transportation network of large vacuum tubes that will moves passengers and cargo to their destinations at hundreds of miles an hour. Lloyd told the audience that his company does not accept that its technology is reserved for some distant future, and hopes to see it implemented within a decade.
In the more immediate term, however, Mayor Garcetti announced new automatic payment features on the city GoLA app, which tells mobile users the fastest, cheapest and greenest ways to get from Point A to Point B in LA.
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