Metro Operations Chief Says He Received “No Feedback” on Expo Overcrowding

Metro also announced that the Blue Line will reopen the week of October 28

Recent crowded Expo Line train - via Tony Scudellari @tvmxsup Twitter
Recent crowded Expo Line train - via Tony Scudellari @tvmxsup Twitter

Astonishingly, Metro’s Chief Operations Officer James Gallagher states he has received “no feedback” on whether a recent partial restoration of cut Expo Line service has affected overcrowding. Social media accounts of Expo Line overcrowding are very common since Metro cut 25 percent of peak-hour service in June. These posts continued unabated after Metro partially restored service last Friday. After Metro added service, continued Expo overcrowding was reported by Curbed.

The discussion took place yesterday during a report back on Metro’s “New Blue” Blue Line rehabilitation project. During that discussion, Metro staff reported that New Blue testing has been underway since September 16, and “so far proceeding nicely.” Responding to questions from Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Metro CEO Phil Washington announced that the Blue Line will fully re-open “the week of October 28” – a month after the “late September” opening that Metro initially publicized. Washington said that although he had pledged to cut ten minutes from end-to-end Blue Line trips, his agency has failed to achieve this; when the full Blue Line (now the “A Line”) reopens, Washington stated that there will be a seven-minute end-to-end time savings.

As part of New Blue, Metro closed two shared Blue-Expo Line stations in downtown Los Angeles. The Pico and 7th Street stations were closed from June 22 through August 23. Gallagher stated that during the closure Expo “lost some riders,” but after re-opening “these riders have returned.”

L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin questioned Gallagher about what feedback he had been receiving about overcrowding on the Expo Line. Gallagher’s initial simple two-word response was “no feedback.” This means that either he is lying or there is some serious communications breakdown preventing Metro leadership from receiving communications about on-the-ground operations.

Bonin replied that he had received plenty of feedback and was very unhappy about the situation and Gallagher’s response. Gallagher responded that Expo performance was within the “service standard” of 175 percent of seated capacity. This means that Gallagher is okay with ninety seated passengers and about seventy standees. When Bonin questioned if the board needed to move funding around to restore Expo Line service, Gallagher and Washington responded that they were “continuously monitoring” and that, without needing board action, they would “react to on-street reality” with service adjustments, as the agency did by adding back some cut service last Friday.

So, Expo Line riders, apparently you need to speak, tweet, email, call, and perhaps protest louder if your concerns are actually going to be heard by Metro leadership. Riders should continue to use social media – preferably with the date/time of crowding backed up by photos and videos. Riders may also want to talk directly to Gallagher and his board of directors when they meet at 10 a.m. next Thursday, September 26, at Metro’s One Gateway Plaza boardroom, located right behind Union Station.

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