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San Fernando
Tuesday, Jun 6, 2023


REP. HOWARD L. BERMAN After years of false starts, poor planning, wasteful spending and broken promises, hopes for the much-discussed East-West San Fernando Valley subway line have all but evaporated. Even optimists acknowledge that under a best-case scenario, construction on a system could not begin for another 10 to 15 years. But the subway debacle should not dissuade us elected officials, business leaders and the community at large from continuing to work for a sensible, cost-effective transportation system. As anyone who drives on the Ventura (101) or San Diego (405) freeways knows, we need better public transportation in the San Fernando Valley. Not too long ago, members of Congress from East Los Angeles attempted to turn federal transportation funding into an “us vs. them” struggle, with “them” meaning the Valley. The argument was that the Valley has “gotten theirs,” the extension of the subway to North Hollywood, while the Eastside is still waiting for its fair share. I was pleased that a few weeks ago my colleagues from the Eastside agreed to give the MTA flexibility to consider a range of transportation options for their constituents. This was an acknowledgment that the subway beyond the completion of the North Hollywood line is not financially feasible. The change of attitude on the part of the Eastside delegation, however, does not negate the importance of the Valley members of Congress presenting a unified front on transportation issues. It’s essential to show Washington that we have our act together. Last month, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, convened a meeting of members and staff from his office, my office and those of Reps. Brad Sherman, D-Woodland Hills, and James Rogan, R-Glendale, to discuss transportation. This meeting involving two Democrats and two Republicans and a second one produced a statement of several points of agreement on the future of mass transit in the Valley: 1) The subway should not go beyond North Hollywood into the Valley because it is not cost-effective and would create too many management problems; 2) There should be regional equity in the distribution of transportation funds; 3) The Valley should have local control over decisions such as determining bus routes and smart shuttle service and prioritizing funding to meet Valley-specific needs; 4) There is general support for the proposal by Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to prohibit the use of transportation sales tax revenue (from local propositions A and C) for future subway construction; 5) The Valley’s political leaders should be unified to the best extent possible; 6) Bus service should be expanded and improved to meet the needs of the transit-dependent population in the Valley. Not one of us believes that we should micromanage Valley transportation policy. Members of Congress are not, nor need they be, transportation planners. But there is much to recommend the coordination of our efforts to make sure that the needs of our constituents are met. U.S. Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Mission Hills, represents the 26th Congressional District in the San Fernando Valley.

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