MTA plans 4% cut in bus ser­vice

Los Angeles Times - - California - Dan Weikel

Over the ob­jec­tions of some tran­sit rid­ers, L.A. County of­fi­cials on Thurs­day elim­i­nated al­most 4% of the county’s bus sys­tem by can­cel­ing or re­duc­ing ser­vice on 18 routes from the San Gabriel Val­ley to the South Bay.

The cuts, which are the first ma­jor re­duc­tions in years for the Metropoli­tan Trans­porta­tion Author­ity, elim­i­nate three Metro Lo­cal and five Metro Rapid bus lines and re­duce ser­vice dur­ing week­days and week­ends on the re­main­der of the routes. The changes be­gin Dec. 12.

MTA of­fi­cials say, how­ever, that the loss of the Rapid lines will be back­filled with con­ven­tional Lo­cal buses, which gen­er­ally travel more slowly and make more stops than Rapid ser­vice. One route, the 168 in the San Fer­nando Val­ley, was spared from can­cel­la­tion pend­ing fur­ther study.

Over­all, about 270,000 hours of bus ser­vice a year will be dropped at an es­ti­mated sav­ings of $30 mil­lion an­nu­ally. The amount, MTA of­fi­cials say, will help erase a $250-mil­lion deficit in its bud­get for bus and rail op­er­a­tions. Like other tran­sit agen­cies in the state and nation, the MTA has been buf­feted by the worst re­ces­sion since World War II.

Rev­enue has been re­duced be­cause of de­clin­ing rid­er­ship, the loss of state funds and de­creases in pro­ceeds from the county’s three half-cent sales taxes that help pay for trans­porta­tion projects.

“The changes flow from a great deal of anal­y­sis,” said Art Leahy, the MTA’s chief ex­ec­u­tive. “The data shows we can take these eco­nomic steps and still im­prove op­er­a­tions. We are run­ning ser­vice that is ex­ces­sive com­pared to other parts of the nation.”

MTA of­fi­cials said they tried to re­duce bus ser­vice in a way that af­fects the fewest rid­ers and causes the least in­con­ve­nience.

Sched­uled for cuts are routes that have low rid­er­ship, du­pli­cate ser­vice and those in which Rapid buses do not per­form much bet­ter than Lo­cal buses. Some of the bus lines marked for elim­i­na­tion carry 20 or fewer pas­sen­gers an hour com­pared with the MTA av­er­age of 51 pas­sen­gers hourly.

But Bart Reed, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the non­profit Tran­sit Coali­tion, said the MTA should have tried rerout­ing some lines be­fore tak­ing away ser­vice that peo­ple de­pend on.

A weak route at MTA, he added, is not nec­es­sar­ily a weak line at an­other tran­sit agency such as Cul­ver City’s.

In ad­di­tion, mem­bers of the Bus Rid­ers Union op­posed the re­duc­tions, say­ing that the changes will hurt low-in­come and mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties.

Union mem­bers also said re­duc­tions in ser­vice hours would un­der­mine the 1mil­lion hours of bus ser­vice that the MTA added un­der a fed­eral con­sent de­cree is­sued in 1996.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.