Metro in 2010: More Rail, BRT and Highways. Less Bus Service

5_20_09_metro_cuts.jpgPhoto: Marco Siguenza/Flickr

Even with Measure R, not even Metro is immune to bus service cuts.

At 2:30 this afternoon, Metro will hold its public hearing on the staff-proposed 2010 budget.  The budget will also be heard at next week's Full Board Meeting before being voted on.  The budget doesn't contain a lot of surprises, but tucked in the middle of the budget is news that Metro is planning on 120,000 hours of bus service cuts.

But first, the good news.  Metro still plans on opening the Eastside Extension of the Gold Line later this calendar year and work on the Orange Line Canoga Extension is also going according to plan.  As for the bad news, Metro lists construction of the I-405 Widening as it's top construction accomplishment and of course there are the service cuts.

Metro claims the bus cuts are really just "creating greater efficiency" in their bus operations.  In Metro's defense, 120,000 hours is a small fraction of the nearly 7.6 million hours of bus service that will remain.  The budget doesn't spell out what lines will see cuts.  Given the battle over 200,000 hours of planned cuts that was rejected by the Metro Board and Mayor Villaraigosa in 2008; next Thursday won't be the last time these cuts are debated in public.

But why are their cuts at all?  Didn't L.A. County pass a huge transit tax last year, at least part of what is going to bus service?  Anyone following Streetsblog or Sacramento politics regularly already knows the answer, but if you don't believe me, consider this email from So.CA.TA's Kymberleigh Richards.

I blame that completely on the state Legislature and Gov. Schwarzenegger, for canceling the State Transit Assistance account payments.

Given the rejection last night of a series of ballot propositions that would have helped the state balance its budget, it is wildly unlikely that the movement to restore state transit cuts is going to be successful anytime in the near future.  While Metro is looking at ways to tighten its belt in the coming months, and elected leaders call on them to reject cuts as they did last year; let's remember that these same Assemblymen and Senators are complicit in the budget deals that robbed Metro of its operating subsidy in the first place.