When the LA Marathon first announced its new point-to-point course last summer, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke to the significance of transporting participants for free on the Metro on race day. Yesterday, L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina, in her capacity as MTA Chair, said in a committee meeting that marathoners should not be provided with free race day transportation and withdrew the agenda item from next week’s MTA board meeting. Mayor Villaraigosa plans to take this matter directly to the MTA board meeting on February 22, 2007.
Please email Supervisor Molina and ask her to explain herself. Let her know that runners are going to be making traffic hell enough already without taking away this free pass!
Update: I sent an email a few hours ago and recently received a very interesting response. Continue reading for Supervisor Molina’s email reply.
Dear L.A. Marathon Participant:
Thank you for participating in the L.A. Marathon. It is a cherished Angeleno tradition that thousands of people participate in annually-with millions more watching on television-and it is a custom that keeps the Los Angeles civic family together.
I received your correspondence regarding my insistence that the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) not subsidize the L.A. Marathon-a “for-profit” business-to the tune of over $300,000. I feel compelled to explain plainly the reasoning behind my decision. It is truly unfortunate that a totally avoidable incident is tarnishing this much-anticipated, internationally renowned event.
It is critical to point out that L.A. Marathon organizers never received MTA approval for this subsidy. They promised a free ride to you, the participant, without obtaining the necessary clearance. They lied and they are now feigning outrage when confronted with the truth.
Their action is especially outrageous since the MTA is a publicly funded agency. It is currently facing a nearly one billion dollar deficit over the next five years. To avoid a fiscal disaster, the MTA Board of Directors is seriously considering raising fares. The cost of a day pass may rise from $3.00 to $5.00. Monthly passes may jump from $52 to $75. Monthly passes for seniors may climb from $12 to $37.50. Student monthly passes for children in grades K-12 may increase from $20 to $45 and monthly passes for college students will jump from $30 to $50.
These are increases of between 44 and 212 percent-and they will only cover our first year’s deficit. They might-and, most likely, will-rise even more.
Now the L.A. Marathon-a private entity-is asking these same taxpayers to foot an additional $300,000 because marathon organizers dropped the ball in obtaining a private sponsor. Already, the L.A. Marathon is charging you up to $105 to participate. That is quite a hefty sum. The lowest cost marathon entry fee, for the record, has grown from $75 in 2004 to $85 in 2007. That’s a 21 percent increase. L.A. Marathon organizers apparently feel this is the cost of civic participation-and now they want to charge the public another $300,000-or you-to subsidize a $1.25 fare per L.A. Marathon participant and their family.
As Chair of the MTA Board of Directors, I refuse to let this happen.
Indeed, $300,000 could pay for a great deal of public transportation services, including:
- 25,000 senior monthly passes
- 666,666 senior cash bus fares
- 857,000 senior night bus fares
Public agencies are increasingly asked to provide more services without raising taxes and fees. I strive to achieve this goal to the best of my ability every single day. This means that every penny counts-and those public dollars must go toward paying for public services. I have dedicated my political career to this principle and I will not stop now.
This debacle is unfortunate for everybody. It isn’t fair for you, the L.A. Marathon participant, to be blindsided with this extra cost because event organizers made false promises they couldn’t keep. But neither should L.A. County taxpayers.
I urge you to contact Bill Burke, the head of the L.A. Marathon, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to request that they fulfill their commitment to providing you with free shuttle service. They can be reached using the following contact information:
Thank you again for contacting me.
Chair, MTA Board of Directors
Well that certainly makes the story more interesting. While I commend Molina’s desire to save money, and while I am equally enraged to learn that the Marathon organizers are, in fact, the ones that are guilty here, I am still of the opinion that runners should get free rides. There is not a municipality on Earth that suffers as much from the mismanagement and poor planning of its traffic infrastructure. For the love of God! It seems like there are more left turn arrows in Gainesville, Florida (pop. 120,000) than there are in all of Los Angeles (pop 13,000,000)! If the MTA is currently facing a “one billion dollar deficit over the next five years” then it is BROKEN and was obviously MISMANAGED. That is a retarded excuse.
The LA Marathon makes the already-unbearable driving conditions in this city even more insultingly abominable on the day its run. Its organizers should be made to pay, yes. I agree. But runners should get free rides. If it makes the traffic .001% easier to manage on that day it will have been worth it.
Do you really want to know what my California taxes were last year? Except for the fire and police departments, the ROADS are the only part of the state towards which I want my money to go!
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