Metro Tips Its Hand on Endangered Bus Lines


Metro doesn’t usually do major changes to its bus service for contractual reasons with the bus driver’s union except for twice a year.  The next time major changes, including some line eliminations or service scale backs isn’t due to be until the winter.  But that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start figuring out which lines are most likely to be cut back or eliminated.

Following up on yesterday’s report on Metro’s Blue Ribbon Committee, another report to the Board’s operations committee lists some of Metro’s worst performing bus lines.  While this list is looking at total average boardings, and doesn’t break down the lines performance based on time of day, it gives a snapshot of what lines might be due for "restructuring" this winter.

Metro staff explains what ridership numbers are so low as to constitute "poor perfoming lines":

Our most productive bus lines average over 60 Boardings per Revenue Hour and our least productive bus lines average less than 20 Boardings per Revenue Hour. Reasons for the disparity in performance include the design of the bus line, population density near the bus line, nearby major generators, and competition from other bus lines.

The above listed lines are undergoing a "detailed evaluation" with "major adjustments" being promised.  If you see a favored bus line on the list, and it doesn’t duplicate an existing municipal service, it might be time to start readying arguments on why the line is essential.  Or, start bringing friends and family with you on bus trips.

The full report can be found under item 5 on this agenda.

  • The tentative list of December changes was made available to the Governance Coucils last month–as I wrote on this very blog:

    And indeed the poor performing lines listed above are among those on the chopping block and/or slated for overhauling. Public hearings will occur next month regarding the proposals.

  • Erik G.

    I wonder if 577 would have more riders if it incorporated the Metrolink station in El Monte into its route.

    Because it only services the El Monte Busway station, which is a good 15 minute walk from El Monte Metrolink, a person using the San Bernardino Line who is going to Long Beach is actually better off going all the way into LAUS and then using the Red and Blue lines.

  • Alek F

    Regarding line 220,
    the reason it’s a “poor performer” is because the service is very poor: only once an hour (!)
    Of course, when you cut service, you send customers away, resulting in extremely poor performance. If anything, MTA should increase (at least – double!) the bus service on line 220 – to bring its riders back, instead of eliminating it completely.
    I’ve been to public hearings regarding line 220, and many people opposed the line elimination,
    so hopefully MTA will use common sense and preserve the line.

  • Fred Green

    In my opinion, 168 and 220 are the only ones that are really essential and must be preserved.

  • I would hate to see the 439 go. It provides a unique service.

  • Mechazawa

    The 439 would be dearly missed. it is sad how they kept cutting service hours. the line use to run till 1am then the cut it to 11pm them now 9. if it ran more frequently and cut the free way fee, which i find is unnecessary, they would get more riders.

  • I have to question whether there is enough latent demand that shorter headways would do much for the ridership on the 439 and 220. Also the 439 will be less unique once the Expo line (and its eventual Crenshaw branch) penetrate the westside. The 168 is almost empty and really should havwe been ended years ago.

  • cph

    Wasn’t #220 always hourly service (or less frequent)? I’ll have to dig through some of my old schedules, but I recall (back in the day when it ran all the way to LAX) that service was hourly. Are there any demand generators along Robertson itself? Most of the “action” seems to be along Fairfax or La Cienega….

    #439 used to be “the airport bus” (at least since it started providing all-day service in the late 1980s). But the LAX-LAUS Flyaway stole a lot of that ridership. Once the Expo Line goes into service, a useful route might be to extend the #439 north along La Cienega into Hollywood….

    #577’s ridership seems (to me anyway) mostly seems to be CSULB students; I rarely saw anyone riding it all the way to Downtown Long Beach. A closer connection to Metrolink might help, although it would depend on where the stop was (in the parking lot, with the City of El Monte Shuttles preferable to the street stops that the other MTA buses use).

  • Lisa Tholen

    I used to ride the 439 frequently to downtown LA a few years ago, and it was quite busy, sometimes I had to stand.
    I ride it now about once a month or so to downtown LA, and there are far fewer riders no matter what time of day.
    The only change that I can tell is that the bus no longer goes any further south than the Green Line station. I wonder if this reduced the ridership? Do those people now ride the Green Line?
    The Expo line won’t help me much, as I would have to ride the bus to get to the Expo line to get downtown. The more connections you have to make, the more a deterrent it is, especially if the segments do not run any frequently than every 40 minutes. I can drive there in half the time it would take making those connections. I am lucky that I have the choice.

  • #439 used to be “the airport bus” (at least since it started providing all-day service in the late 1980s). But the LAX-LAUS Flyaway stole a lot of that ridership. Once the Expo Line goes into service, a useful route might be to extend the #439 north along La Cienega into Hollywood….


    That’s an interesting idea.

    The expansion of rail allows for new interesting possibilities for bus routing.


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