Franklin once said nothing in this world is certain
except death and taxes. People in Los Angeles County might offer two other
gridlock and air pollution.

It doesn’t have to be this way. By engaging 15
specific but sensible strategies, the region can rid itself of routine gridlock
and reduce its air pollution. Solving these problems will help improve the
region’s economic outlook, and increase Angelenos’ quality of life.

The strategies are laid out in Vision
Los Angeles, a 30-year action plan-jointly  developed by Environmental Defense Fund and
the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation-to achieve clearer
roads and clearer skies in the county sooner than convention seems to offer.
Its solutions were developed after much discussion and research by a team of
top-notch consultants. The plan has been supported by a broad volunteer
advisory group representing business, local government and the non-profit community.

The response to Vision Los
Angeles’ strategies have been positive, and good news exists in the details. We learned,
for instance, it is easy to identify common ground when you bring up
transportation in Los Angeles County. Nobody likes sitting in traffic and
everybody wants clean air.

A lot of good work has already
been done by a number of entities to lay a foundation for reducing traffic’s
gridlock in the county. The
proposal to leverage Measure R sales tax in a way that allows 12 mass transit
projects to be built in 10 years instead of 30 is one example. The Southern
California Association of Government’s COMPASS plan and Los Angeles Metro’s
Long-Range Plan for the region contain a lot of good ideas that Vision Los
Angeles strategies complement.

missing ingredients up until now have been ways to identify and prioritize the
best ideas and foster their incorporation into everyday travel throughout the county.
If you think of the transportation system as a computer, Los Angeles County has
plenty of hardware but an insufficient operating system.  Most of the strategies we identified in
Vision Los Angeles, taken as a whole, provide a more efficient operating

A few examples of Vision Los Angeles’ strategies
that will improve the region’s economic outlook and quality of life include:

of our 15 strategies have been applied at some scale in Los Angeles County and
in other parts of the world, eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel.  Significant transformation will depend on how
fully these strategies can be implemented throughout the County. Their success
also requires engagement from all sectors of the community. No one sector-and
especially not government-can effectively tackle traffic issues alone. We are
all in this together.

Some Vision Los Angeles participants are
developing pilot programs to demonstrate the strategies. Two early programs will
focus on setting up TMAs in the healthcare, education and entertainment
industries and facilitating mobility between networked work centers and housing

Air pollution costs the Los Angeles Air Basin
at least $22 billion a year in lost days at work, lost days at school,
healthcare and premature death, according to a study conducted by California
State University, Fullerton. However, analysis by consultants Fehr & Peers
indicates that if the Vision Los Angeles strategies are fully implemented, air
pollution from transportation will be cut by more than 10 percent and
greenhouse gas pollution will be cut by more than 9 percent. The solutions will
also cut the number of vehicle hours of delay by 9 percent, a level that would
make a significant difference in daily commutes.

With hundreds of millions of dollars already
spent by the private and public sectors on transportation infrastructure each
year, we need to get smart about how to achieve the greatest return on that
investment.  A focus on fostering a more
effective and efficient system will deliver the quality of life Angelenos
expect and the boost to our economy Los Angeles County needs.