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AVTA demands Metro coordinate with funding


Based on Senate Bill 125 guidelines

The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) has demanded that the  Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority immediately coordinate with municipal operators with regard to Senate Bill 125 funds so that LA County Metro will be eligible to receive such funds, to the benefit of all the municipal operators and the region, AVTA Chairman Marvin Crist wrote in a Nov. 30 letter to the agency.

SB 125 guides the distribution of $4 billion in General Fund money through the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program on a population-based formula to regional transportation planning agencies, which will have the flexibility to use the money to fund transit operations or capital improvements, according to a summary by the California State Transportation Agency.

In Crist’s letter to LA County Metro, he wrote that the agency was poised to receive an appropriation of approximately $9.35 million of Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program funds, plus an additional $1million in Zero Emission Transit Capital Program funds. The due date to submit the required paperwork to the state transportation agency for the funds was Dec. 31.

“As previously noted, (LA County Metro) has entirely failed to consult or coordinate with AVTA or, we believe, any other municipal operator in the LA region,” Crist wrote.

LA County Metro submitted an application Dec. 27.

“Despite our repeated attempts to get a copy of that (application), we were not provided a copy,” Judy Vaccaro-Fry, AVTA’s chief financial officer, said at the AVTA’s Jan. 23 meeting. “We were told that it was not ready for final and they were not allowed to submit it to us.”

She added she found it online and noted that the LA County Metro moved forward with the application.

“Metro has developed its SB 125 allocation package submission to the California State Transportation Agency in consultation and coordination with its transit operators,” Wiggins wrote.

“Unfortunately, I attend every one of those meetings and that is not what took place in practice,” Vaccaro-Fry said. “Although they administer the meeting, what they don’t do is answer the questions; they don’t respond to us; they push us off and they don’t respond to anything.”

Wiggins’ letter stated that none of the municipal operators that are eligible to receive funding identified an operational funding need for SB 125 or additional discretionary or nonformula state funding for the duration of SB 125.

Wiggins further wrote that millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding transit operators used for transit operations remained unspent, with an estimated $134 million left to be drawn as of Dec. 4, including $9.9 million for AVTA.

“We understand in the interim AVTA might have drawn down some of those funds, but millions of dollars remain unspent,” the letter said.

“For the record I just think that they’re being very unprofessional,” Crist said. “Just so everyone knows, when we first met, Metro was telling us what they were going to do for our region and everything. We weren’t even on the map. They gave us a map of Southern California and Palmdale, (and) Lancaster wasn’t even on the map.”