Metro to Fully Restore Transit Service December 11

Metro bus - photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog
Metro bus - photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

At the Metro board Operations Committee meeting last week, staff outlined the agency’s plan [staff report] to fully restore transit service to pre-pandemic levels. The service restoration will take place Sunday December 11.

In wonky statistics, Metro is currently operating 6.7 million annualized “revenue service hours,” down from 7 million RSH annually prior to COVID.

Early on in the pandemic, Metro slashed transit service by 20 percent. The board mandated (and approved funding for) fully restoring transit service as of July 2021. Then a partially self-inflicted bus operator shortage pushed that service restoration back from July to October. That month, Metro scheduled service matching pre-pandemic levels, but then failed to deliver the scheduled service. The agency was canceling upwards of ten percent of bus runs, resulting in inadequate and unpredictable service for riders, and excessive overtime (“ordered call backs”) for bus operators. In February, Metro again cut service by 10-12 percent – pegging it back to a level the agency could mostly deliver. Excessive bus cancellation numbers were reduced, but still hovered around three to five percent – well above the one percent that the agency experienced pre-pandemic. In June and October, Metro gradually restored some bus service, which currently operates at about 96 percent of the pre-COVID levels.

Metro operator staffing
Metro still has an operator shortage, but the shortfall is decreasing – chart via Metro presentation

The biggest factor in service restoration appears to have been Metro raising bus operator salaries, approved in August. The operator shortage isn’t over, but recruiting efforts have been increasingly successful.

Ridership
Metro transit ridership recovered from July through October, when the system saw a COVID era high. Other indicators are also mostly trending positively. Slide via Metro presentation

Trends – ridership, overtime, cancellations – have been heading in the right direction for the past few months. In October, overall Metro weekday ridership rose to just above 870,000. This is the highest month since the pandemic began, though it represents about 73 percent of pre-pandemic ridership.

Hopefully rising L.A. County COVID cases won’t put a dent in the recovery trends.

Metro service restoration
Next month, Metro will fully restore transit service cut in 2020. Slide via Metro presentation

On December 12, Metro will restore the remaining service deficit, including some additional routing changes – in the harbor area and to connect with the newly opened K Line. Riders will see increased weekday service on 55 Metro bus lines. Two dozen lines will see weekend service increased. See Metro’s listing for line by line changes.

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