SGV Connect 63: SCAG Closes in on Final Passage of Connect SoCal and COVID19 Ravages Local Transit

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This week’s SGV Connect focuses on how the Coronavirus is impacting planning and transit throughout not just in the San Gabriel Valley, but all of Southern California.

First up, Kris speaks with Demi Espinoza of the Safe Routes Partnership about the upcoming approval of SCAG’s Connect SoCal plan.

SCAG is the Southern California Association of Governments – the regional planning organization for a mammoth six-country region that includes Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura. Connect SoCal is a long-range plan that seeks to balance future mobility and housing needs with economic, environmental and public health goals. 

Before their interview, Damien and Kris discuss whether or not it even makes sense to push such a plan right now. Damien references a recent statement and action put out by The Untokening that urges governments to stop planning processes that will not be able to reach many populations during COVID-19. Kris also mentioned, and it comes up in the interview, that things have changed so much since the plan’s outreach process began – does the plan still make sense?

Second, our hosts talk about the impact COVID 19 is having on the transit agencies that serve the San Gabriel Valley. This week L.A. Metro announced a second round of service cuts responding to  sharp declines in ridership. Metro bus ridership is down 65 percent, rail is down 75 percent. For more on Metro’s cuts and Metro’s commitment to maintaining much-needed minimum transit services, read this article by Joe Linton, published on Wednesday.

Three of the smaller L.A. County municipal bus operators (called “Munis”) have completely suspended regular service: Carson Transportation, Montebello Bus Lines, and Monterey Park Spirit Bus. Other Munis are scaling back service back due to steep ridership declines and revenue losses. Transit providers are seeing declining fare receipts, lower sales tax revenue, less parking fee payment, etc. – all while paying for added COVID-19 expenses, including personal protective equipment (PPE) for operators and other essential workers.

While many agencies are still providing on-demand MicroTransit or ride-hailing services for residents in-need of transit, there is no doubt that both the present and future of many transit agencies is uncertain. If you’re planning a transit trip, we recommend double-checking the relevant websites in advance and immediately before your trip to see if there are any changes.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Catch past episodes of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn, iTunesGoogle Play, or Overcast.

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