Residents Get on the Bus in the Valley
Just before last night's hearing was gaveled to a close, Board Member Kymberleigh Richards stopped the chairman before the meeting was ended. It was a good thing she did, because each board member took a turn discussing their views on the service cuts (all were negative in some way,) and those statements offered a look at the dilemma facing these volunteers. I doubt that they volunteered to serve on these regional councils because they liked messing with bus schedules, and last night we got to see the emotional impact these cuts will have on the people that are being forced to vote for them.
Richards was one of the more pragmatic board members. She recognized that Metro's ongoing financial crisis must lead to some cuts, but proposed her own plans for several lines. Her plan was backed by SO.CA.TA. and the Glendale Hills North Neighborhood Council. Richards' plan proposed alternatives for cuts to four lines (Lines 96, 154, 155, and 237) that would preserve service on the lines by trimming the fat elsewhere.
Here's some of the other interesting quotes and ideas from the board at last night's meeting.
Board Chair Coby King, "Our hands are tied...the full board has mandated the creation of rapid bus lines...some of these lines will cause cuts in other areas."
Richard Arivzu called on greater involvement by the public sector, "we need more of you to come to these meetings to help us send a message."
Joan Lenard, who like Richards rides the bus, called for a greater public process. "We need the numbers on specific cuts...these numbers should be public."
Later, she offered a general attack on cuts and the public process Metro is pushing, "At a time we should be encouraging people to get on the bus; we're encouraging people to get off the bus...we're being forced to pass our approval on cuts we don't believe in."
The most impassioned came from Nury Martinez, who noted that her father rode the bus to work six days a week. Martinez offered a combination of Arivzu's and Lenard's comments, "to be under the kind of pressure to accept these cuts...we need your help. We need more bus riders at these meetings....We must stop balancing the budget on the back of working class people!"
In a board with seven voting members and a board chair (if they're following Roberts Rules of Order, the chair votes only in the case of a tie), three board members speaking so forcefully against cuts and for making a statement is a significant number. However, the board won't vote until March 5, and it remains to be seen what will happen in the next month.
Photo from Metro Rider