|Your tax dollars at work expanding the Metro Rail system. Image: Metro.|
In short, for every dollar you spend on something that owes sales tax in LA County, about one cent goes to pay for public transit. To put that in perspective, Metro's one-way fare is $1.75. So, how much would you have to spend on taxable products in LA County to contribute the equivalent amount of money to riding the system just once? Yay, an algebra problem!
.0098x = $1.75
x = $178.57
In other words, for every $178.57 you spend on taxable items in LA County, you have made the same financial contribution to transit that you would have made by riding the system just once and paying the full fare. So, if you are concerned about how best to provide financial support to LA County transit, actually riding it and paying the fare has amazing bang for the buck. Making a round trip on the system to buy a cup of tea has about the same financial impact in support of transit as buying a small television! Plus, transit boardings are a kind of political currency that allows Metro to say: "Look, people actually use this, so don't take away our money!"
Don't get me wrong, in a county with around ten million people, all of those pennies from the sales taxes really add up (to about $2.3 billion in 2014 for example), but if you're like me and impatient to accelerate the pace of change, almost nothing beats getting your butt in a transit seat and paying your fare.