MTA celebrates 25 years of transportation service

LOS ANGELES — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority marked its 25th anniversary Feb. 15 and the series of bus lines, train lines, freeway improvements and other projects it has overseen during that time.

The agency was created under state law on Feb. 1, 1993, through the merger of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, which operated the region’s largest bus system, and the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, which was the region’s main transportation planning and funding agency.

Officials who gathered for a celebration at downtown’s Union Station said that with the passage of Measure M in 2016, which is expected to raise $120 billion over the next 40 years for transit projects, the best is yet to come.

“Today, we celebrate 25 years of a world-class transportation agency,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who chairs the MTA Board of Directors.

“With the passage of Measure M — the boldest, most comprehensive transportation investment in American history — [the MTA] is well-positioned to make the next 25 years even more remarkable than the last.”

Transit officials said some of its major milestones over the last 25 years include building five new rail lines consisting of 82 additional miles of service, starting 22 new bus lines, converting all of its diesel buses to run on natural gas, and a series of freeway improvements.

“I am the last of the original board members that were sworn in in 1993,” said Duarte Mayor John Fasana. “I am both astonished and proud of the numerous accomplishments this agency has achieved over the years in bringing new multi-modal transportation improvements to L.A. County. Our progress to date has been remarkable.”

Back in February 1993, the county’s transportation system consisted almost entirely of buses. Only the 22-mile Blue Line, which opened in 1990, and the first 4.4-mile segment from Union Station to Westlake/MacArthur Park of the Red Line operated at that time.

Southern California’s Metrolink commuter rail network launched the previous year in 1992.

The MTA now operates 2,438 buses on 170 bus routes crisscrossing L.A. County. It also operates four light rail and two subway lines totaling 105 miles of service.

The MTA and its construction partners are now building four additional rail lines or rail extensions, re-imaging and restructuring bus lines, improving system safety and security and funding repair and maintenance to keep its transit assets in good working condition for the next generation of riders.

Since its formation in 1993, the agency has had a total of seven chief executive officers: Franklin White, Joseph Drew, Linda Bohlinger, Julian Burke, Roger Snoble, Arthur T. Leahy and Phil Washington. Washington, the current CEO, came from Denver’s Regional Transportation District in 2015 and has launched a new era in the agency’s transit expansion following the 2016 voter approval of the Measure M Traffic Improvement Plan.

“At 25, we are only just beginning L.A. County’s transportation renaissance,” Washington said. “When I came [here], I wanted to make Los Angeles’ public transportation system the best in the world. We are now making rapid progress toward that goal.

“Measure M will change the face of Southern California and help us create an infrastructure inheritance for our children and grandchildren.”

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