Rising Ridership Spares Some Metro Buses

The 751 to Huntington Park wasn't on the chopping block, but the 611 "Huntington Park Shuttle" was. Photo:MetroBusRider/Flickr

I was still on the Carmageddon high on Monday afternoon when the press release rolled in to my Inbox announcing more bus service “changes.”

I hate covering bus cuts, even when it’s a much more minor adjustment than what we’ve gotten used to seeing the last couple of years, and even when some advocated assure me the cuts and restructuring actually make sense; I can’t help but think how annoyed I would be if the bus line that runs outside my house was cancelled, or if the Expo Light Rail Phase II never comes to fruition.  A major reason we live where we live is because of the transit options (existing and future) near our house.

I read the release and began outlining my story.  Three bus lines, the 246 in the South Bay, the 611 in Huntington Park and the 612 in South Gate were going to be eliminated.  Two other lines would be truncated but three lines would be extended.

But then, two days later, Metro announced the cuts were being put on hold indefinitely.  One Metro official told me there were very few lines to do a costly outreach.  Last night, I got an email forwarded to me from a member of one of the service sectors that gave a different story:

As we have seen at our monthly meetings, Metro transit ridership has been increasing over the past six months.  Even though the regions unemployment rate remains very high, Metro is attracting more riders.  This is in spite of the fact that about 75% of the trips on Metro are historically work related.  This increasing transit demand should be taken into account.  Thus Metro staff will be analyzing the latest ridership data and travel patterns on these lines.  Staff may return with these proposals or modified versions next year for Service Council consideration.

So, there’s two pieces of good news for bus riders.  First, there’s no more bus cuts coming down the pike this year.  Second, an increase in ridership held off a relatively small service cut.  The big question is if ridership continues to rise, will Metro find itself restoring some of the 800,000 hours cut in previous years?