LADOT Questions Metro’s Bus Cuts
Last month, the Metro Board passed a resolution requiring staff to prepare a memo outlining total service cuts from 2007 and expected cuts for 2008 and 2009. Board Members wanted to put the proposed bus service changes for this June into a larger context to better understand the impact on local economies and Metro's ridership.
A draft of the memorandum, obtained and released by LADOT as part of a report to the City Council, may surprise some people. Metro is projecting that because of added service on Metro Rapid lines, ridership will actually increase by as much as 1% as a result of the changes despite over 200,000 hours in service cuts on local lines.
The LADOT seemed less than impressed with this increase. In their report to the City Council, LADOT writes:
The Department's initial evaluation reveals that at least several of these routes proposed for elimination, such as Lines 168 (Chatsworth - Pacoima/San Fernando service on Lassen St.), 175 (East Hollywood - Los Feliz neighborhood service to local schools) and 634 (Sylmar - Mission College shuttle service), appear to provide vitally needed transit service to schools, businesses and homes and have no viable alternatives available. While it is encouraging to see that several new Metro Rapid Bus lines will be added to the Metro bus system, the proposed service changes coupled with the recent fare increase are likely to have a significant negative impact on local riders, particularly those who are transit-dependent.
While the report was written before the sector councils met to vote on changes, LADOT did mention that the local governing boards responsible for overseeing Metro service in various regions, have worked to lessen the impact of the service cuts. Some councils outright rejected parts of the plan, while others would make small cuts to a route to stop another from being eliminated completely. However, as San Fernando Valley Councilmember Kymberleigh Richards pointed out in LA Streetsblog's forums, the council's votes can be overturned by a vote of the Metro Board. For more clarification on the Sector Service process, see Kymberleigh's comment below.
LADOT's report also claims that Metro's memorandum is incomplete. The motion passed by the Metro Board required staff to include "geographic information about service cuts by sector and jurisdiction." While Metro staff did break down the cuts by sector, the information by jurisdiction is missing from the Metro report.
Noted Metro critic and Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard Alarcón seems to be gearing up for an 11th hour campaign to fight the proposed cuts. Alarcón asked LADOT to prepare maps of the proposed changes by City Council District so he would be prepared to answer questions by his constituents and help the Council present testimony to the Metro Board. The City had best hurry. The Metro Board could vote on the cuts as soon as next Thursday.