Westside Rejects Some Service Cuts

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Last night, the Westside Service Sector Council rejected some of Metro’s proposed bus line cuts sparing owl service on Route 14 along Beverly Boulevard and the complete elimination of a Route 220 along Robertson Avenue. The Westside Service Sector Council is one of five regional councils assigned with approving Metro’s proposed cuts and other regional business.

Route 220 rides on Robertson Bl. through Cheviot Hills, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood before taking Santa Monica Bl. to San Vicente Bl. The line was due to be cancelled because of low ridership, but during public testimony Wayne Koons told the council that more than 500 people depend upon that line for service.

Councilmember Art Ida, also a member of Culver City Transit, chimed in that Culver City is planning on adding a service line similar to the current Metro Route 220 as soon as January of 2009. The Council decided to delay action on 220 until the next round of Metro service modifications which could be as soon as December of 2008. By then, the Council should know whether Culver City will move forward with their proposal for replacement service.

Opposition to owl service cuts grew out of two concerns. First,Council Chair Jerard Wright, worried that the distance between lines that ran owl service would have on current riders. In some areas, there would be over a mile walk between bus routes.

Councilmember Peter Capone-Newton raised the point that Metro has no standards to evaluate the success of owl routes. Holding a Metro publication given to councilmembers to make evaluating bus routes easier, Capone-Newton argued that without these standards, which exist for other time periods, it is impossible to evaluate whether owl service is working or not in certain areas.

Ultimately, it was a combination of these arguments that succeeded in saving owl service on Route 14. By a vote of 4-3, the council voted to protect service that runs from Beverly Boulevard just south of Beverly Hills to the downtown.

Votes on other owl routes went through as scheduled by a vote of 3-4, with Capone-Newton and Wright voting against every proposal. The cuts passed by the board include ending service between 12:30 A.M. and 4 A.M. on Route 10 and Route 37, between 11 P.M. and 4 A.M. on Route 38 and replacing service on Route 330 with Rapid Route 730.

(editor’s note: Peter Capone-Newton is not related to Damien Newton)

Photo: Damien Newton

  • Too bad you didn’t report on the San Fernando Valley sector council meeting, where after a lot of discussion no lines were canceled.

    The real problem, though, is that the Westside/Central council does not have the final say on those owl service lines, because they are designated “tier 1” and the council vote is only advisory to the Metro Board of Directors, which will probably approve the staff report anyway. Which makes the vote on Line 14 as much of a symbolic gesture as was Jerard and Peter voting against the rest of the cuts.

    There was a way to preserve that service, if Westside/Central sector staff had followed the lead of San Fernando Valley. The way SFV managed to avoid canceling lines was to widen the frequency of service on some high-service lines by two to four minutes, thus saving one bus all day which will be transferred to the lines that were in danger of being eliminated. It would take very little in the way of such “headway widening” to keep the owl service. Why this approach was not taken, I do not know, but I hope someone on that council will ask.

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