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Private Funding for the 'Subway to the Sea'

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City Councilman Jack Weiss and O'Melveny and Myers law firm partner, Carolyn Kubota, teamed up yesterday in a Daily News op-ed piece urging the need to explore funding public transportation in Los Angeles by private sources. Chicago did it with the Skyway and Denver with their transit plan. So why not us?

They say everyone can agree on three things. One, a subway between downtown and the Westside is absolutely need; two, the subway system doesn't go places to make it viable for many people; three, "there is no realistic prospect of public funding from the federal, state, or local governments to pay for such a subway." So let's get out of the box, they say, and look into public-private partnerships.

Like in Chicago, a private firm could hold a long-term lease to operate the subway. Up front, the contract could put up fair rules on fares increases and expectations of service and quality. Or a private firm could invest by building the subway and operating it until they recoup costs and earn a return on investment.

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It's an idea to consider, but long-term contracts can be a recipe for disaster if written too loosely. That's why we have some of the most rancid bus benches.

Photo by alossix via Flickr