Transit Update: New Sylmar DASH, Metro Bus Service Changes Coming in September
On July 31, Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) transit launched a new DASH route in Sylmar.
The only advance notice was buried in the agency website. I only became aware of it thanks to posts on a Facebook group devoted to local transit. Longtime rail and transit advocate Jerry Martin photographed the new service on its inaugural day. His photos illustrate this post.
The launch of the route was unanticipated because when last I inquired to the agency about the status of the several new DASH routes it is planning to launch Colin Sweeney, Public Information Director at LADOT, had stated they “will be implemented by early 2022”.
The traditional press event to launch a new DASH route was held on the following Monday, August 2, headlined by Los Angeles City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez and LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds. There was a press conference, announcement on Facebook and video posted on YouTube plus a post on the LADOT news blog.
I reached out to Mr. Sweeney about the status of plans of improved service for 22 existing DASH routes plus several announced new routes:
- DASH Boyle Heights West
- DASH Canoga Park
- DASH Chinatown/Echo Park
- DASH Downtown C
- DASH Pacoima
Sweeney kindly responded:
As new, more frequent, and expanded routes come online, the department must first secure adequate resources and staff to ensure timely, reliable service on all routes. We have grown our fleet with the purchase of 130 new zero-emission, electric buses for which we are awaiting final delivery over the next year. However, the pandemic has also resulted in a shortage of drivers across multiple industries. LADOT is making progress on this front as the successful launch of DASH Sylmar indicates but obtaining and training credentialed drivers is a competitive marketplace. As such, we have not settled on fixed launch dates for all of our planned service expansions and improvements but are working hard to deliver these services in as timely a manner as possible. We plan to have all new routes in place by Summer 2022 and all improvements and expansions to existing routes by the end of 2023.
Personnel shortages are indeed plaguing the public transit industry at present as evidenced by the notice posted by Torrance Transit about these shortages causing possible delays in their service.
The other recent curious bit of local transit news was referenced at several Metro board and committee meetings: service changes coming in September, along with the traditional shake-up coming in December.
I reached out to Joe Forgiarini, Senior Director, Service Performance & Analysis for L.A. Metro and to my delight he was able to share the brochure (aka take one) outlining the September changes, hardcopies of which should soon be available on transit vehicles. I was surprised it is a substantial program of changes, including some NextGen implementation – most prominently discontinuing Metro Rapids 704 (Santa Monica Boulevard) and 733 (Venice Boulevard).
Speaking of NextGen, I asked Forgiarini about when the truncation of route 51 (which I have a keen interest in) is likely to occur. He responded, “Line 51 will be considered for change in December 2021.”
My gratitude to Sweeney and Forgiarini for their informative responses to my queries – and Jerry Martin for sharing his photos of the Sylmar DASH on its first day of service.