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Advocates Call for Metro’s NexGen Bus Re-Org to Invest in World-Class Bus Network

L.A.’s transit workhorse: the Metro bus. Photo via Wikimedia

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Eleven groups have signed on to a letter urging Metro to make its current NextGen Bus Study serve "to aggressively invest in a world-class bus network that Angelenos deserve." Signatories include representatives from ActiveSGV, American Heart Association, Central City Association, Climate Resolve, Investing in Place, L.A. Thrives, Los Angeles Walks, LURN, Move L.A., NRDC, and TransitCenter

The letter makes three primary demands on Metro's NextGen Bus Study:

1 - Advance Equity

The letter calls on Metro to apply its recently adopted Equity Platform Framework to NextGen. It urges Metro to clearly define what metrics it is using to foster equity in NextGen changes. The letter calls on Metro to transparently share NextGen datasets and maps, and "to place substantial weight in the NextGen analysis on the lived experiences of current and former riders who identify the ways in which bus service is falling short and what can be done to improve bus service for riders today."

2 - Remove Funding Constraints

To date, the NextGen study is looking only at zero-sum scenarios where any bus service added in one place must subtract from somewhere else. The letter urges Metro, in addition to a revenue-neutral scenario, "to remove the NextGen study constraint disallowing recommendations for new bus service funding and explore a range of bus 'budget increase' scenarios that could transform bus service throughout L.A. County."

3 - Regional Coordination To Improve Transit

The letter criticizes the lack of NextGen analysis of "trade-offs between transit and privately-operated automobiles, which dominate the public right-of-way." Acknowledging that municipalities have direct jurisdiction over these roadways, the letter calls on Metro to work with municipalities to create a "region-wide network of dedicated bus lanes." The letter urges Metro to include various features in that network: bus lanes, bus boarding islands, traffic signal priority, queue jump lanes at intersections, bus shelters, and the expansion of all-door boarding (something Metro can do on its own).

Read the full comment letter at Investing in Place.

At today's Metro board Operations, Safety and Customer Experience Committee, the NextGen study was discussed. Metro boardmember Mike Bonin cited the letter, reading from it extensively. Though the committee lacked a quorum to take action today, Bonin announced that he would be pressing the matter at next week's full Metro board meeting. He anticipated calling on Metro to coordinate with LADOT, to engage with other municipal bus operators, and to have a conversation about removing funding constraints to expand bus service.

(Editor's note: I've harped on this before, and it's just semantics, but one small step toward getting this important bus service improvement effort to be taken as seriously it deserves is to stop calling it just a "study." I don't want Metro to spend lots of resources re-branding this, but can the agency formally start calling it something that acknowledges it is more than merely a study? Maybe call it something like "NextGen Plan" or "NextGen Project" or "NextGen Bus Service Reorganization" or "NextGen Bus Network Improvements" or something else more substantive?)

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