Feedback from DASH Hearings: Cuts Bad, Hikes Reasonable

Tonight is the last of the five hearings on the major service changes that have been proposed for LADOT’s transit services, DASH, Commuter Express, City Ride and Charter Bus Service.  The first four hearings have seen crowds of various sizes, with packed house’s at the hearings in the San Fernando Valley’s hearing and the one at Caltrans headquarters in the Downtown.  However, the message from the hearings was the same: raise fares if you must, but don’t cut service.

Echoing what a Metro rider survey showed just a couple of weeks ago, DASH and other riders are willing to pay more for better service…or in this case the same service.  Transit Coalition member Donna Gooley writes of the SFV’s hearing:

The speakers spoke on different subjects including an increase in
charter bus fees, Senior benefits, and changes to the 422 and 423
Commuter Express Lines.  A representative from VCTC spoke on that
matter.  Two representatives from the Sierra Club spoke on the charter
busses and about three seniors spoke on the senior benefits.  There
were a few comments on the Northridge and Warner Center DASH lines. 
The majority of the very emotional comments concerned the two Studio
City/Van Nuys DASH lines.  There were representatives present from the
Sherman Oaks Homeowners Asso, Greater Valley Village Neighborhood
Council, Councilperson Krerkorian’s office, So CA TA, and the TTC.

Southern California Transit Advocates Kymberleigh Richards tells a similar story from the Downtown.  According to Richards, almost nobody mentioned the fare increases but speaker after speaker rose to defend their favored bus routes.  Richards noted that the many of the riders had a greater degree of sophistication in their testimony than might be expected.  For example, riders of the Thousand Oaks service wanted to make certain the bus continued to run all the way to the end of its current line because stopping the bus at the county border makes it useless to them.

Richards also tells the story of a senior citizen rider from Fairfax who railed against local DASH service because it replicated that of the existing Metro Service along Beverly Boulevard.  As a current resident of the Fairfax area, I’m keeping more information on her name secret because anecdotally I can tell you that residents here overwhelmingly prefer the DASH service to the Metro Service.  I can also tell you the $1 difference in cost has a lot to do with that preference.

If you’ve got stories from the DASH hearings, either present or future, that you wish to share please or would like to share your testimony, please do so in the comments section.  For more information on the proposed changes, click here.  For the official testimony of the Southern California Transit Advocates, click here.  To read the thoughts of other transit advocates to the changes, click here.

  • Erik G.

    I’m just wondering if LADOT will ever get newer buses for the Commuter Express runs. I rode them for a period of time last fall and every day we got minimum-12-year-old high-floor diesel buses with exhaust-leaking-into-the-interior issues.

  • S.S. Sam Taylor

    One might wonder where the Bus Riders Union is in all this? Right, ya would have thought this would be right up their mission? But no, there mission isn’t to deal with non-Metro Bus Service. I have heard that many of the BRU members have been asking their leadership to get actively involved in this, but the BRU staff has been told that this isn’t their fight. Go figure.

  • Come on Sam… just say what you came here to say… BRU is a front organization for Metro’s bus driver union that’s why they don’t give two rats ass about LADOT buses falling apart.

    :)

  • The BRU was all over this issue a year ago. No idea why they’re taking a hands-off approach now.

  • S.S. Sam Taylor

    Absolutely not true. BRU is not a front for the mechanics or the drivers. BRU funding comes from old liberal Westside money from long time friends of Eric Mann. What BRU Organizers are telling members is that they are really too busy trying to stop the Metro fare hike approved 3 years ago and to stop the huge service cuts that they predict will hit Metro in December and in June of 2011.

    They are also concerned that Metro will again set up a pattern of yearly fare increases starting in June 2011.

    @bz: You should look at BRU tax returns. Their stock and bond portfolio included all the old school blue chips such as General Motors. It will be interesting to see the latest BRU 990 which should be out later this year. What kind of financial hit did they take? Will Eric and Leann reduce their annual pay from about $300,000 / year to less?

    Internally, the UTU (Rail and Coach Operators) can not stand Eric and during strikes BRU has operated scab transit.

  • The problem is that the BRU’s silence speak volumes about how relevant they want to be in the discussion. Here is an opportunity to coordinate service (i.e. the Beverly Boulevard situation), reduce costs, and serve more people, yet the BRU is absent from this issue. Traditionally they have been a central-LA focused organization, hardly ever going east of Atlantic Boulevard or south of the 105, but even so, as Damien notes, they spoke up before. A 50 cent fare would not be excessive, although they should accept the TAP card for cash purse deduction.

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