LADOT Questions Metro’s Bus Cuts

Last month, the Metro Board passed a resolution requiring staff to prepare a memo outlining total service cuts from 2007 and expected cuts for 2008 and 2009. Board Members wanted to put the proposed bus service changes for this June into a larger context to better understand the impact on local economies and Metro’s ridership.

A draft of the memorandum, obtained and released by LADOT as part of a report to the City Council, may surprise some people. Metro is projecting that because of added service on Metro Rapid lines, ridership will actually increase by as much as 1% as a result of the changes despite over 200,000 hours in service cuts on local lines.

The LADOT seemed less than impressed with this increase. In their report to the City Council, LADOT writes:

The Department’s initial evaluation reveals that at least several of these routes proposed for elimination, such as Lines 168 (Chatsworth – Pacoima/San Fernando service on Lassen St.), 175 (East Hollywood – Los Feliz neighborhood service to local schools) and 634 (Sylmar – Mission College shuttle service), appear to provide vitally needed transit service to schools, businesses and homes and have no viable alternatives available. While it is encouraging to see that several new Metro Rapid Bus lines will be added to the Metro bus system, the proposed service changes coupled with the recent fare increase are likely to have a significant negative impact on local riders, particularly those who are transit-dependent.

While the report was written before the sector councils met to vote on changes, LADOT did mention that the local governing boards responsible for overseeing Metro service in various regions, have worked to lessen the impact of the service cuts.  Some councils outright rejected parts of the plan, while others would make small cuts to a route to stop another from being eliminated completely. However, as San Fernando Valley Councilmember Kymberleigh Richards pointed out in LA Streetsblog’s forums, the council’s votes can be overturned by a vote of the Metro Board.  For more clarification on the Sector Service process, see Kymberleigh’s comment below.

LADOT’s report also claims that Metro’s memorandum is incomplete. The motion passed by the Metro Board required staff to include "geographic information about service cuts by sector and jurisdiction." While Metro staff did break down the cuts by sector, the information by jurisdiction is missing from the Metro report.

Noted Metro critic and Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard Alarcón seems to be gearing up for an 11th hour campaign to fight the proposed cuts. Alarcón asked LADOT to prepare maps of the proposed changes by City Council District so he would be prepared to answer questions by his constituents and help the Council present testimony to the Metro Board. The City had best hurry. The Metro Board could vote on the cuts as soon as next Thursday.

  • Justin

    How can Metro get away with taking away some people’s only link into the LA transportation system?

    Sorry folks, you get to be more disenfranchised than you already were.


  • I know this is a really broad question, but what is up with the MTA?

    They’re going to install turnstiles at train stations (for dubious reasons) – which are widely agreed to discourage ridership.

    They are cutting bus services – which I assume will reduce ridership.

    They recently allocated hundreds of millions to road widenings and highway improvements in their 2007 Call fot Projects.

    Why does the MTA blow so much of its money on automobiles? Their focus is so car-oriented, I’d call it a conspiracy – but that would require a degree of secrecy that they obviously aren’t concerned with. They just plain love private automobiles.

    When gas is $4 to $5 a gallon, and goods aren’t making it market, and employees can’t afford to commute 25 miles one way to the office in a car – we are going to be screwed. What will it take to get the MTA to start counting the number of PEOPLE being moved (and served) rather than the number and speed of cars?

  • Jason

    ubrayj02: I’m curious as to how installing turnstiles would discourage ridership. Can you please explain your thinking?

  • Despite my name being misspelled above, I should point out that LADOT did not update that report to reflect the fact that not every proposed service cut was actually approved by the governance councils.

    In the San Fernando Valley, all of the proposed line cancellations were either withdrawn by sector planning staff after the public hearing or modified at the council meeting to allow the remaining lines to continue operating. While the Metro Board of Directors can override the councils, that would only happen if sector staff was unable to meet budget targets after a council vote and then went to the Board for approval. Otherwise, the second- and third-tier services are directly controlled by the sectors and their councils.

    That said, a real point of contention is the San Fernando Rd. Metro Rapid proposal, which the council unanimously opposed but which the Board has the final vote on anyway, because those are first-tier services. It remains to be seen if the Board will approve a badly designed implementation proposal or go along with the sector council and allow it to be done properly.

    I have a headache from all this.

  • Damien Newton

    Thanks for clarifying Kymberleigh, I think we all are getting a headache from this.


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