This morning, we celebrated the opening of the Expo Line Phase I. The line, whose construction and operation supports nearly 14,000 jobs, will initially run the 7.6 miles from the downtown 7th and Metro station to the La Cienega station. It will extend to Culver City this summer and by 2015 we will connect Downtown to Santa Monica for the first time in half a century.
Expo Phase I's opening is a critical step toward creating the 21st century transit network that Angelenos deserve. L.A.'s transit map is growing yet again, making it possible for us to travel -- without a car -- from Downtown to Long Beach on the Blue Line, to Pasadena and East L.A on the Gold Line, to Koreatown on the Purple Line, or to North Hollywood on the Red Line. And soon, we will be able to traverse the San Fernando Valley on the Orange Line all the way to Chatsworth. Add them all up and you get a clear picture of the breadth of the transit network we are building.
But we can do so much more. We want to see a region that leads in transit ridership, not gridlock. When we rallied together to pass Measure R, we sent the message -- loud and clear -- that we wanted to kick our addiction to the single passenger automobile. That is why we have been leading the way to improve and expand our transportation infrastructure and support jobs while we're at it.
To build our transit system faster, we launched the 30/10 initiative, and expanded the idea nationwide as America Fast Forward. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Barbara Boxer, Representative John Mica and our coalition partners from across the country, the America Fast Forward plan is a centerpiece of the Transportation Bill. If Congress passes a transportation bill with America Fast Forward, cities across the nation will be able to put up their locally raised dollars to compete over the next two years for $2 billion in low-interest loans.
Just last month, the bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 74-22, but it has hit a snag in the House. The House delayed action for the tenth time last week, making the Transportation Bill three years past due. We don't need more partisan gridlock: we need America Fast Forward.
Regardless of what Washington does, we are not going to wait another day. No ifs, ands, or buts: We are going to build the 21st century transit system that Angelenos deserve.
This is why we will be asking voters in November to continue Measure R until the voters themselves decide to end it.
By extending Measure R, we can be create jobs, make major highway improvements, and complete our light rail and subway projects in a single decade, instead of three. With these new resources in place, we could build faster, more effectively, more efficiently, and at a lower cost. Projects that were scheduled to be completed close to the middle of the century -- game-changing projects like the Sepulveda Pass rail line and the Wilshire Subway -- could be completed in a little over a decade.
What does this all mean? It means Angelenos will have more transit options. It means that Angelenos will spend less time in their cars and more time doing the things that matter: Playing with their kids. Talking with their neighbors. Enjoying a day at the beach. It means making Los Angeles the capital of sustainability, not smog. It means remaking the face of LA and finally taking us beyond sprawl.
In the end, continuing Measure R would bring us closer to a future Los Angeles we can all be proud of. A future where the most diverse city in the world is drawn closer together by a world class transit system. Just imagine how much more we can do -- together.
Join me, let's build our future today.
Follow Antonio Villaraigosa on Twitter: www.twitter.com/villaraigosa