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Metro Rejects Service Cuts, Approves Congestion Pricing and Much, Much More

Villaraigosa Stands Tough on Service Cuts

(LA Streetsblog sends a cross country thanks to Bart Reed for all his help getting the facts straight for this article and for continuing his efforts to explain the Consent Decree to me.)

While almost all signs pointed to massive service cuts, the Metro Board reversed course today and rejected the proposed service cuts to "Tier 1" services with the the exception of cuts to lines 330, 115/315, 361, 350, and 394 . Led by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Board ultimately decided that the cuts were too severe to justify balancing the budget and ending the transfer from the "discretionary capital" budget to the operating budget.

The move was so unexpected that copies of Villaraigosa's motion weren't available to the general public at the time of the vote. Eventually transit advocates were able to get a copy of the motion and while it isn't perfect, its passage is still a major victory for activists and bus riders. A copy of the resolution's text appears at the end of this article.

In addition to rejecting all of the cuts, Villaraigosa's motion unintentionally made some changes that will make rider's loves more difficult.

For example, someone traveling from Sylmar to Glendale on a weekend currently does not have to transfer after the initial boarding. The new service changes require a rider to transfer twice to complete the same trip. Staff argued that fixing these routes without other changes could create issues with the now-ended consent decree. The Bus Rider's Union does not support the elimination of the limited service on weekends, where a five mile gap would have to be filled with local service.

This issue may be brought up on May 12 at a hearing between Metro and the Bus Riders Union.

Service changes weren't the only thing on the agenda today. The board also approved a study to explore placing an additional half cent sales tax on the fall ballot and voted to accept federal funds to construct HOT Lanes to move forward with bringing congestion pricing to Los Angeles. Unlike the cancellation of the service cuts, Metro staff was prepared for these actions and is trumpeting the, to the media and on Metro's website.

The Board was also expected to oppose legislation moving through Sacramento to create an independent authority to study and build an extension to the Green Line as they did with similar legislation last year. Instead, the Board voted to "oppose and work with author" signifying that they do have problems with the concept, but aren't yet willing to close the door on the idea entirely.

Continuing his strong day, KNBC reports that Villaraigosa's plan to partially fund transit improvements through public-private partnerships received a warm reception from most Metro Boardmembers. I'm still not sure how that's going to work given that rail in Los Angeles loses money on every rider, but for at least one day the Mayor gets the benefit of the doubt from this blog.

Here is the motion that passed the Board earlier today concerning the Proposed June 2008 Service Changes.

Villaraigosa-Parks-Burke Motion Item 39 - Proposed June 2008 Service Changes

MTA Board Meeting April 24, 2008

WHEREAS bus riders throughout Los Angeles County have testified that the proposed June 2008 change to MTA bus service will have a significant negative impact on the transit dependent in the county by reducing hours of service on some lines and eliminating entire routes.

WHEREAS transit service must be done in recognition of the needs of all riders and the need for safe and adequate transportation.

WHEREAS the proposed Tier 1, 2 and 3 service cuts occur in areas of high crime, gang activity, transit dependency, and hospital dependency where there is no alternative service available within walking distance.

THEREFORE WE MOVE THAT the MTA Board direct the CEO to cancel the proposed June 2008 Tier 1, 2 and 3 (including Night Owl service) service cuts with the exception of cuts to Limited Stop service on lines 330, 115/315, 361, 350, 394 and implement six new Rapid lines to achieve a total savings of $4.7 million.

WE FURTHER MOVE THAT the MTA Board direct the CEO to:

1) Identify $12.5 million in savings to maintain the current Tier 1, 2, and 3 service and report back to the May Operations Committee with potential options

2) Establish a 25% cap on headway increases to achieve the 215,000 revenue service hours in thinning


Photo: Juice Stain is My Contact/Flickr

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