Activists Respond to DASH Cuts and Hikes. LADOT Schedules Public Hearings
Each of the three major groups in Los Angeles, Southern California Transit Advocates, the Transit Coalition and the Bus Rider's Union each take a different approach.
Kymberleigh Richards' statement on behalf of the Southern California Transit Advocates crystallizes the difference in how advocates view the LADOT's bus service as compared to Metro. Remember that two years ago, Richards was one of the leaders opposing Metro's proposed cuts, even threatening the Metro Board with retaliation if they went through with their plans:
So.CA.TA is okay with a lot of this. The three Commuter Express lines proposed for cancellation have very low ridership and displaced passengers still have options. On the lines proposed for modifications, we believe 422 and 423 should continue to Thousand Oaks Transit Center (a hub location) and that late night service on 142 should continue at less frequency...
...We're also okay with the proposed fare increases. although we think DASH fares should go directly to 50 cents (no interim step) as it has been unrealistically low as a quarter for far too long. We do think the interagency transfer (IAT) should be part of DASH's fare structure, though, especially to facilitate transferring to Metro where a DASH line has been canceled or realigned to avoid route duplication. It may well be that adding the IAT will be a condition of LADOT becoming an "eligible operator" for county sales tax subsidies anyway, so we think they should just go ahead and do it.
Fellow So.CA.TA. executive Dana Gabbard also pointed to the need to cut waste in the DASH system.
Overall my impression is DASH is using the budget crisis as leverage to address some long overdue issues regarding glaringly poorly performing services that politics made it impossible to touch heretofore. Can you think of any other transit service where the timetables list the names of the Mayor AND every council members whose district the route goes through? Plus every council member seems to have a pet new route that they constantly call for implementation even though LADOT has been tapped out of funding to do additional service for some years now, and has warned before of impending deficits and a need to trim what it already runs.
Speaking for the Transit Coalition, executive director Bart Reed takes the middle ground between support and opposition and offers a third way. While not rejecting the idea that DASH needs some major changes to its operating structure, Reed offers the media-friendly line that the answer "is not the slash DASH!." He also pointed to the excellent series of articles on restructuring at Metro Rider written by our friend Wad, aka LA Wad, aka HercWad. Using Open Source data, Wad constructs his own, improved, DASH Service for Central L.A., the San Fernando Valley, and the East and Northeast.
While they haven't responded to my email requests for comment, staff for the Bus Rider's Union has made clear in previous conversations the disdain they hold for cutting bus service while expanding other city services such as the LAPD. Organizers have vowed to educate their members about the cuts and I expect a more public showing from them in the leadup to the hearings.