Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa applauded Congress Thursday, July 12th, for moving forward with bills that would repeal the ban on the use of federal funds for city projects, including the “subway to the sea.”

“Los Angeles needs a public transportation system worthy of a great global city,” Villaraigosa said. “The ‘subway to the sea,’ new Rapid Bus Lines and an expanded Metro system will allow Angelenos to get out of their cars, save gas money and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the city.”

The moves by Congress would lift the more than 20-year ban on federal support for extending the Metro Red Line along Wilshire Boulevard to reach riders and workers in Santa Monica, Century City, Westwood and other parts of mid-city and West Los Angeles, Villaraigosa said.

The measures are part of the House and Senate versions of the 2008 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bills, and include language originally introduced by California Representative Henry Waxman and Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

“Congressman Waxman and Senators Boxer and Feinstein understand the interests and needs of their constituents, and have acted to help thousands of people in and around L.A.,” Villaraigosa said.

Last month, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro or MTA) board of directors selected a consulting team to conduct a formal study of the “Westside Corridor,” which includes a potential “subway to the sea.”

The preferred route will be presented to the Metro board for approval next year.

An independent safety panel previously unanimously concluded that a Wilshire subway could be safely built and operated.

A Metro staff analysis showed that the Wilshire corridor would generate the highest ridership of 18 major transit projects studied.

In addition, the House version of the bill appropriated $16.8 million from the Small Starts initiative to add eight new Rapid Bus lines. These routes reduce passenger travel times by an average of 23 percent and ridership in these corridors is up as much as 40 percent, city officials said.