Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has an innovative idea. He's pushing a plan called 30/10, where he wants to accelerate the 30-year, 12-line mass transit program passed by L.A. voters in 2008 (a half cent sales tax increase) by using the sales tax money as collateral to borrow $9 billion in federal dollars.  The government loan would give L.A. the immediate cash flow to build the projects—light rail, BRT lanes—in 10 years instead of 30.

Pretty smart.

With light rail not scheduled to go online between Seattle and Microsoft (and Seattle and Federal Way and Northgate and Lynwood) until 2023—another 13 years—I wish someone would make a similar pitch for the Sound Transit's expansion (the half-a-cent sales tax for $17.9 billion) that local voters passed in 2008. (Full disclosure: After leaving the Stranger in the Spring of 2008 and before starting PubliCola in January 2009, I did media work for the ST2 campaign.)

Voila: This week, Bill LaBorde, policy director with Transportation Choices Coalition (a mass transit advocacy group), is in Washington, D.C. meeting with staff from Reps. Jim McDermott's and Norm Dicks' offices and Sen. Patty Murray's office to make the pitch. (LaBorde was also planning on dropping in on Reps. Jay Inslee and Adam Smith.)

Sound Transit has not reviewed or put their official stamp of approval on TCC's play for a light rail cash infusion from the feds to speed up construction, but LaBorde says Sound Transit told him that lacking cash flow is a factor in the elongated timeline.

Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick tells PubliCola "more money sooner is better ... there are [Sound Transit] projects that could probably move faster if there was money sooner."

However, he said Sound Transit would need to look at the details of any plan before signing off on it.