Alarcón to Metro: I Don’t Trust You Guys
Public comment for Metro’s planned service cuts ended nearly two weeks ago, but that didn’t stop the City Council from taking its turn yesterday questioning the cuts. The results weren’t pretty.
During a pointed discussion of the impact cutting bus routes would have on ridership on Metro’s rapid lines, Councilmember (and former Metro Board Member) Richard Alarcón bluntly told Metro staff that he didn’t believe their numbers. Looking Metro Staffer Carolyn Flowers straight in the eyes, the Councilmember said, "I don’t trust you guys" when told that Metro’s planned changes will actually result in a 1 percent increase in seat capacity. Both the Bus Rider’s Union (370,000 hours) and the Transit Coalition (more than 200,000 hours) have estimated that the "service changes" will result in a massive loss of service hours for buses.
Alarcón has been a leading critic of Metro throughout his career. Recently he questioned their role in ending the free transfer between Metro and DASH services and has long maintained that Metro has shifted resources away from the San Fernando Valley. As an Senator, Alarcón earmarked funds for a San Fernando Valley Rapid Line nearly a decade ago.
Councilmember Tom LaBonge also skewered Metro’s cuts noting that many changes would reduce service on the "School Tripper" program. He was particularly agitated about changes to line 175 which "carries 700 students" to school every day.
Flowers blamed federal funding policies for the proposed cuts. She claimed that having trips just for school students violates a federal mandate that public transit provide a benefit for all riders. Metro is working with LAUSD to continue this program.
Councilmember Bill Rosendahl summed up the feelings of most of the audience as the Q and A was wrapping up by arguing that now was a terrible time to be cutting bus service. "We should be spending a lot more on buses. The Subway to the Sea is great; but only buses can be done quickly when a need arises."