April 23, 2014 1 Comment
At the April 24th Metro Board meeting, Metro directors will continue discussion on implementing the Active Transportation Program in Los Angeles County.
The Active Transportation Program (ATP) is a new statewide competitive grant program that encourages bicycling and walking, especially for students traveling to school and for residents of disadvantaged communities. ATP resulted from the consolidation of multiple walking and bicycling programs, including Transportation Alternatives (formerly Transportation Enhancements), federal Safe Routes to School program, state Safe Routes to School program and the state Bicycle Transportation Account, with additional funds from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program. Of these former programs, Metro used to have programming authority for only Transportation Enhancements, which is 53 percent of the total ATP. The new ATP, however, inherits a focus on travel to school and disadvantaged communities from the former Safe Routes to School programs, which were not selection factors in Metro’s previous programming decisions.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition continue to engage in this discussion, where this first came up at Metro’s February Board Meeting, and then last week at the Ad Hoc Sustainablity Committee and Planning and Programming Committee. Please read our comment letter here.
Fundamentally, Metro’s current predicament with ATP is a function of the agency’s over reliance on limited state and federal funding sources for active transportation. Los Angeles County is a self-help county with close to 70% of transportation investments coming from locally generated revenue. These funds are by and large not being leveraged for active transportation and safe routes to school, requiring cities to rely on state and federal grants like ATP for 80 to 90 percent of their walking and bicycling funds.
Over the coming year we hope to see Metro devote greater attention to active transportation planning, project development and finance strategy to ensure that Los Angeles County is better prepared for future ATP cycles, and work in partnership with local jurisdictions to identify needs.