Metro Board and BRU on Collision Course?

6_22_10_bru.jpgPhoto: Corey Moore/KPCC

Looking over the agenda for the Metro Board meeting Thursday I see no
sign of any items
being included relating to the impending fare
increase and/or the holding of any public hearings to consider a delay
or rescinding of same.

I’m sure many of you are aware the Bus Riders Union has engaged in a
full court press
these past few months demanding such a hearing and
further that the fare increase not be implemented.

The May 27th Board meeting ground to a halt with a contingent of BRU supporters mounting a noisy demonstration.

Now with the increase due to take effect July 1st and no sign of any
support for their demands among from the members of the Metro Board (I
think it is fair to say their tactics have eroded whatever support the
BRU may have had at one point from a few sympathetic Board members
offended at the repeated BRU accusations of racism), one reads the BRU
leadership’s outlining of next steps from their monthly meeting agenda
as an indication of if anything their intention to escalate their
confrontational
tactics at this month’s Board meeting. I don’t see any
other way of reading "…what we need to do is have a deeper strategy
conversation about what we are willing to do from here on out. We must
continue to be in the faces of our key targets and build a broader
citywide force that lets them know that ‘we have had it up to here’ and
business as usual will not continue as long as justice is not served."

Metro’s
Board last month had two BRU protesters eventually arrested and the
rest of the BRU supporters decamped when the Board chair decided enough
was enough after the protest dragged on for hours, preventing the Board
from considering any agenda items.

I don’t see a reversal of course by the Board capitulating to BRU
bullying is in the cards. So I think it is fair to anticipate things
might get a little ugly this month. And while hordes of BRU supporters being dragged from
the room screaming under arrest may make for a lively picture, it will
achieve zero to stop the fare increase.

  • Spokker

    The BRU was so rowdy last time that at least one person I know of who was intending to speak out against the 710 extension could not do so.

  • The “consent agreement” is thankfully over.

    Metro should no longer set aside a block of time for the BRU to drone on endlessly saying the same thing over and over again, and just give them same one minute with one speaker that other organizations and groups get.

  • Alek F

    Who cares about BRU!

  • Bobby

    As a whitey who rides the Metro several times a week, I’m still trying to figure out the logic behind the BRU’s “Stop the Racist Fare Hike” signs plastered near the Wilshire/Western station.

  • i agree completely. the BRU is just a bunch of brown and black bus enthusiasts — do we really have to talk about them all the time? they’re just a bunch of anarchists trying to make names for themselves. they don’t care about anyone or anything. they just want to get on the cover of the newspapers. why does the BRU even exist? all they ever do is protest protest protest. if they started agreeing with the Metro board more often, then maybe we could take them seriously, but they’re so hung up on this ‘thinking for themselves’ thing, that they just won’t listen to reason. i, for one, hope they see the error of their ways and start acting respectfully to the people who want to raise taxes on them again.

  • Interurbans

    There is NO money! Either the fares go up or service goes down. How does the BRU propose to support all of the service and low fairs they are demanding? It is as simple as that. Let them come up with a better answer. They say to take the money from the efficient rail lines and use it for more buses, but it cost almost twice as much to move a rider in a bus as in a rail car in Los Angeles and the rail service is faster and much more comfortably. Is Erick Mann the head of the BRU interested in better service for its members and the transit rider of LA or in his own welfare and personal interest?

  • I care about the BRU. I care that fares remain as low as possible.

  • Fallopia Simms

    The BRU(Bus Riders Union)=The BDU(Bus Drivers Union). How can an organization that supposedly cares about transportation for the poor and leveling of the playing field EVER support the 2003 bus driver/mechanics strike that stranded and hurt the very people that they are supposedly fighting for? At least in Montgomery an intricate system of carpooling was set up until the system was on its knees and had to meet up with King and end the disciminatory and humiliating practice of rear bus seating for blacks.
    The BRU is nothing but a sham organization created to benefit anyone but the poor. Just a waste of piss yellow polo shirts.

  • LAMosca

    I think the BRU was quite significant during the 1990s and if it weren’t for their involvement, along with other civil rights organizations, some of you white yuppies and other haters wouldn’t be riding such CLEAN buses now.

    Now their significance in the present is up for debate, but the one thing I do give them credit for is the fact that they stand up for the majority of the Metro ridership—transit-dependent, poor people of color.

    Let’s give credit where credit is due…and don’t hate on them just because they make you feel uncomfortable when they say words like “racism.” Not all their tactics are wise, to say the least, but someone has to stand up for the little guy, even if there’s questions with their leadership.

  • Spokker

    “some of you white yuppies and other haters wouldn’t be riding such CLEAN buses now.”

    Your mistake is assuming we are all white, all yuppies or all white yuppies. I am of mixed descent and living under the poverty line while trying to put myself through school and I think the BRU is insane.

  • S.S. Sam Taylor

    LAMosca wrote:
    I think the BRU was quite significant during the 1990s and if it weren’t for their involvement, along with other civil rights organizations, some of you white yuppies and other haters wouldn’t be riding such CLEAN buses now.

    FACT: BRU had ZERO, nothing to do with Clean Air Buses. The Rapid Transit District started to buy the first generation of non-diesel buses in 1987. This first generation of buses failed and were repowered with diesel engines by 1994.

    The person responsible for the clean air buses was / is George Minter, who was then with Southern California Gas Company. He was able to persuade RTD to buy CNG powered buses. The CNG fleet ended up working and RTD / Metro switched over to CNG as a corporate policy decision. The Bus Riders Union played no part in this switch.
    ——————————————————

    Now their significance in the present is up for debate, but the one thing I do give them credit for is the fact that they stand up for the majority of the Metro ridership—transit-dependent, poor people of color.

    FACT: What do you mean by stand up? The BRU backed a number of bus strikes. It was the poor people of color who were transit-dependent, who lost their jobs and mobility over the duration of several long strikes.
    ——————————————————-

    Let’s give credit where credit is due…and don’t hate on them just because they make you feel uncomfortable when they say words like “racism.” Not all their tactics are wise, to say the least, but someone has to stand up for the little guy, even if there’s questions with their leadership.

    FACT: They never stood up for the little gal / guy. The BRU was and still is against reporting rude or nasty drivers and refuses to identify any problems with labor towards customers.

    Can you explain where the BRU was during:
    the recent Santa Monica fare hikes?
    the recent DASH service cuts / fare hikes?
    the recent Foothill Transit service cuts / fare hikes?
    the complete melt-down that lead to cutting over 1/3 of
    the Orange County Bus Service?
    the Long Beach Transit service cuts?
    the Norwalk service cuts?

    I will give you a big clue: The BRU paid ZERO attention to the plight of
    any of the riders impacted in the above systems.

    The BRU has always been about smoke and mirrors. Guys such as Joe are
    completely clueless about the real agenda practiced by the owner of the
    BRU and completely lacks critical and independent thinking.

  • Sameer

    Thanks for saying everything I wanted to say, S.S. Sam Taylor!

  • There are reports the BRU are AWOL from the Board meeting today with one lone yellow shirt in the audience. Sort of surprising, considering the inflammatory language they used leading up to it…

  • S.S. Sam Taylor

    The mystery of the missing BRU from the Metro Board Meeting has been solved. In the San Fernando Sun (available on-line), the BRU reveals that the whole crew is going to camp out over at the Mayor’s house, until he gives in. Memo to BRU: The Mayor is not running for anything, so you don’t have any leverage.

    Reports from the meeting last Saturday indicate that the Metro Board Meeting was not on the “To Do List”. It seems that Eric had to bail out a couple of his crew last month and he didn’t want to fork out more bail money this month, as he needed the money for his Cadillac payment.

    The BRU minions were told that Eric was going to just sue the pants off of Metro. They got all excited. Memo to Eric: That worked once, a long time ago and you haven’t won again.

  • Here is what the San Fernando Sun has about BRU plans:

    http://www.sanfernandosun.com/sanfernsun/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5413&Itemid=2

    Before the Metro board approved the increase, several protests were organized by the Bus Riders Union (BRU), which included a weeklong hunger strike held on Olvera Street in Los Angeles.

    Manuel Criollo, a BRU organizer, argues that Metro doesn’t have a budget crisis. Instead, Criollo said, the problem is the agency doesn’t have enough money to expand the rail system and needs the increase to pay for it.

    “This is all because of an emphasis on construction, not because they need money for operation,” Criollo said. “They’re building more than they can pay for; they’re creating their own crisis.”

    He added Metro receives additional funds from local transportation measures and taxes that should cover its operational costs.

    The BRU will continue to fight the increase, Criollo said.

    “We’re going to ask the federal government to do an audit to see how the money is being spent,” Criollo said.

    He said the BRU is planning to show up at Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s official residence on July 1st to protest the fare hike. Villaraigosa is on the Metro board.

    And BRU is also planning a civil disobedience campaign that includes refusing to pay the increase.

    “We’re not going to take this without a fight,” Criollo said.

  • “The BRU will continue to fight the increase, Criollo said.”

    Memo to the BRU: The increase takes effect a week from today. And you already wasted what was left of your credibility at last month’s Board meeting.

    “We’re going to ask the federal government to do an audit to see how the money is being spent, Criollo said.”

    Do let us know when the feds show no interest whatsoever in auditing MTA’s operating budget. All they care about is whether projects they funded get built … but of course you think that those projects should be canceled and the funds reprogrammed for operations. After all these years, you still can’t get it through your thick collective heads that money given to a transit agency for a capital project has to be used for that project.

    “And BRU is also planning a civil disobedience campaign that includes refusing to pay the increase.”

    I seem to recall that the last such campaign ended with a total yawn on the part of the Metro Board. Maybe this time it’ll be different … maybe this time there will be undercover officers on the buses you refuse to pay fare on and you’ll get ticketed.

    Either Manuel Criollo is ignorant or Manuel Criollo is clueless. Take your pick.

    Oh, and memo to the San Fernando Sun: Journalism means telling both sides of the story, not just assuming the one side you talked with has the facts.

  • Robert Chang

    The article includes the MTA’s side of the story, so that criticism is indeed unfair. You’re welcome.

  • “Either Manuel Criollo is ignorant or Manuel Criollo is clueless. Take your pick.”

    —————–

    I pick both.

  • My error. I only read the part of the article quoted here, and failed to realize that it was not the entire article.

    I stand by my remaining comments and thank Mr. Chang for the nitpicking of the one part which meant the least in the context of this discussion.

  • Kymberleigh, I think you are taking quite a leap when you assume that the BRU doesn’t understand how transit funding works. You made this assumption about me, and I found it insulting. To argue that Metro is too focused on capital projects and not focused enough on operations is NOT to argue that money allocated to capital projects should be reallocated to operations. Rather, it is to argue that Metro has misplaced its scarce resources in going after capital funding. Those capital projects will negatively impact operations. There is a distinction.

    The BRU has a fair point: All of these rail projects have operating costs. The federal government may not be interested in auditing that, but Metro should be. Metro should only build what it can afford to operate, and bus operations should not be hurt because of the increased cost from rail operations. That seems a perfectly sensible point to me.

    Like Joe and others here, I care about maintaining existing service and I care about keeping fares down. I am a transit-dependent rider living below the poverty line.

    In these aspects, the BRU represents me, and I support the BRU’s efforts.

    I am not sure why you speak of the BRU with such vitriol?

  • I speak of them with deserved vitrol.

    If there campaign to sabotage Measure R had been successful, you as a transit-dependent rider would be facing service cuts beyond your worst nightmare.

    If they speak for you, fine. However, I will never let them get away with claiming to speak for me or all transit dependent riders again.

  • Spokker

    “I am not sure why you speak of the BRU with such vitriol?”

    Because they are so bad that even us bleeding heart liberals think they are dirty socialist scum ;)

    But all these organizations are kind of dumb if you really look at them with a detached point of view. Everybody simply likes to think they aligned themselves with the good one.

    We all suffer from some kind of malady to be here in the first place. Transit advocacy isn’t exactly what the cool kids are into.

    I think we are all jealous Eric Mann figured out a way to make a great living off of it, though I can’t imagine I would be able to sleep at night if I were him.

  • Spokker

    “The BRU has a fair point: All of these rail projects have operating costs.”

    And buses run on candy canes and farts.

    “bus operations should not be hurt because of the increased cost from rail operations.”

    What is so sacrosanct about bus operations? What if rail can do a better job in a certain application?

    Every mode of transit has its job to do. There are some things buses do better than rail and some things rail does better than buses.

    I mean, do you not see the incredible gains to be made from the Wilshire Subway? Is it not desirable to replace some crowded, uncomfortable 720 service with Purple Line service to Westwood, even if you do not directly benefit?

  • Interurbans

    But Heavy rail cost about have as much to move a pasanger one mile as a bus does and LRT is still much less than a bus do to the efficancy and fewer opperators per pasanger. And as you said there is the confert factor.

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