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Transit Coalition Blasts Service Cuts

Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition takes off the kid gloves in this week's LA City Beat accusing the Mayor of being the instigator for over 200,000 hours of cuts to Metro's bus system and Board Member Yvonne Burke of being hysterical and wrong about the need for turnstiles.

The interview can be divided into three sections, a defense of the lines to be cut, an attack on how Metro is cutting the lines, and then an assault on the plan to install turnstiles at subways. Before we go in to the highlights, let me re-state what I said last Friday, this is Bart Reed saying this stuff, not known as being one of the more radical of the local transportation advocates, and Metro would do well to listen.

First comes a vigorous defense of the bus lines on the chopping block.

There’s a lot of duplicity and mistruth coming from Metro. One specific example of a proposed cut where the lies are bigger than reality is a bus route on a street called Hubbard in San Fernando and Sylmar. The bus essentially connects a whole bunch of bus service with the Sylmar Metrolink station and it shuttles people up to Mission College and also to connect with other bus routes on streets like Glen Oaks, Borden, Foothill, and the college. It’s a brand new bus route that was created about a year ago, and it’s been accepted by the community.

The community ends up with a lot less service, because [Metro reported that] it “duplicates other service.” Well, in two and a half miles, for a quarter of a mile it duplicates some other service because if you’re coming out of a train station, and going on the radiating streets out, it shares the same street with two other bus routes. This one goes a couple miles north to the college – a direct connection to the college. But they put in their [report], “Duplicates other service.” The politicians who don’t know how to read see “duplicates” and say, “We’ve got to get rid of duplicates!”

Reed's remarks help shine the light on how Metro Board members are isolated from the decisions they make. Between the Board and the citizens lie Sector Government Councils, which are supposed to have autonomy to make decisions on things like routing. Reed notes, "... what ends up actually happening is: The bus cuts come before the SGC, and they’re told, 'Either accept these cuts or we’ll cut something else.'”

Last is the assault on the turnstile plan. Reed questions both the need for the plan and Metro's numbers.

Then [Metro] came up with a number, something like $5.5 million [a year] in fare cheating. If you pick through the numbers, you find that they’re really only losing $2.2 million in fares, not $5 million.

If you’re putting in a system that requires attendants – you go to New York, or you go to San Francisco to the BART system – every station has two employees working three shifts, seven days a week. Metro’s got 10 or 20 stations that would be eligible for employees to service the stations. You’re talking about putting in employees somewhere at the basis of $10, $20, $30 million a year in new employees.

The Transit Coalition helpfully provided me with the following maps that show exactly what Metro's cuts look like.

A quick key for the colors.
Red lines are being ended.
Orange lines are being "reducted"
Yellow lines are being altered
Blue/green are being extended/are new lines

Images by Nicholas Ventrone, The Transit Coalition

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