Thankfully, Metro had the foresight and built the Orange line to Light Rail Spec, so that in the future it will be relatively easy to convert it from bus to rail. All we need is the support of the people in the valley and its done.
I also believe Metro used state funds earmarked for rail projects when constructing the orange line, and there is a mandate that the corridor must be converted to rail by 2015 or metro must pay back the funds. We might see the conversion start within the next couple years, especially with Valleyites being choked in traffic and their envy of trendy urban/suburban communities like Culver City and Santa Monica getting rail and them being snuffed by metro.
I thought to myself, this seems a little strange. Can't be true. But check out Kimberleigh Richards post and got to her page on Prop 108.
Specifically, §2701.06 reads (again, emphasis mine): The money in the fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, shall be available, without regard to fiscal years, for acquisition of rights-of-way, capital expenditures, and acquisition of rolling stock for intercity rail, passenger rail, and urban rail transit and for capital improvements which directly support rail transportation, including exclusive busways which are converted within 10 years after completion of construction into rail lines, grade separations to enhance rail passenger service, and multimodal terminals.Part of the deal seems to be that the MTA needs to pay back money to the state that was used to buy the ROW if its not rail in 10 years. How much is this?
This obligation was acknowledged by then-CEO Franklin White in his October 21, 1994 memo to the MTA board of directors in which he responded to questions raised at the October 13 Planning and Programming Committee meeting:
Question: Does the MTA incur any financial loss if it does not build a rail project along this line?
Response: MTA ... has an obligation to pay the State of California $44.8 million in the event that it does not proceed with a passenger rail project on the SP right-of-way, unless CTC agrees to waive such repayment.
As of the end of 2007, the "then-present value" of the original $44.8 million was $67.4 million; if the inflation rate remains approximately the same, by October 30, 2015 (the tenth anniversary of the Orange Line beginning passenger service) it will be $83.1 million. While no one can say for certain whether or not the CTC would waive the repayment (which would presumably come due on that date, based on the Prop 108 language), the state's budget problems in the intervening years seems to predict that they would.
Very interesting. I wonder if this would actually happen or if its just a law that is not enforceable. I'm assuming that they would not make MTA pay it back. But who knows. Anyone know more about this?