The Los Angeles region is trying to become the nation's leader in public transportation.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is pushing a novel plan to borrow billions from the federal government to build the largest transit expansion project in the nation.
Local voters agreed in 2008 to pay a half-cent sales tax over the next 30 years to pay for these projects, which routinely require federal assistance.
But Villaraigosa wants a loan instead of Washington handouts to get them built in a decade rather than 30 years. He contends that accelerating construction would save money in the long run, result in more construction jobs and less traffic and pollution. Experts say the time is right to test innovative ideas in transportation funding.