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.