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Metropolitan Digest / LOS ANGELES COUNTY NEWS IN BRIEF

LOS ANGELES : Transportation Panel Asks Review of Train Lease Deal

March 25, 1993

Members of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to urge a review of the agency's controversial offshore lease arrangement for 54 commuter rail cars.

The commission recommended that any conclusions from the review be made public before another proposed lease transaction is authorized.

Because the commission is being merged April 1 with the Southern California Rapid Transit District, the request to review the lease deal was handed to the incoming top executive of the new Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Franklin White. Transit Commissioner Judy Hathaway Francis said she sought the review in response to a report in The Times that has raised questions about the $81-million lease arrangement.

By selling and leasing back the rail cars to anonymous Japanese investors, using offshore companies in the Cayman Islands, staff officials with the transportation commission say they will generate a $3.4-million windfall for taxpayers. The Times found that the expenses of the transaction erase any savings and are projected to cost $3.9 million.

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