The Board of Directors voted this morning on service changes and cuts that would reduce Metro’s bus service by about 3.7 percent. The cuts include the elimination of five Rapid bus lines — the 711, 714, 715, 753 and 920 — although local service will be enhanced. Here’s the staff report with the full list but note a last minute change will retain 60 minute frequency service on Line 620. The line’s productivity will be re-evaluated in six months.
The cuts and changes will take effect in December. Metro staff recommended the changes and cuts to eliminate redundant service and to make Metro’s bus system more efficient. Several local lines were also canceled because they didn’t serve enough riders — typically 20 passengers or less per hour. The average Metro bus carries 51 passengers per hour and some of the busiest routes — including the Wilshire Boulevard corridor — have more than 100 passengers per hour.
One proposed cut to line 168 in the San Fernando Valley was not included in the changes approved today. Discussion of the elimination of that route was held over to next month’s meeting.
Of the 10 members of the Board of Directors at today’s meeting, none opposed the cuts and changes. County Supervisor Gloria Molina expressed concern that Directors were cutting about $15 million in service from the current budget while also being asked to approve new staff for Metro in item 8 of the meeting’s agenda. About $30 million is expected to be saved in next year’s budget.
“You’re asking us on the one hand to please cut out these service lines because we need to save money but on the other hand we need to hire all these people,” Molina said during discussion of the item. “I just think it’s a pretty ruthless approach.”
Over two dozen members of the public testified before the Board of Directors. Many were from the Bus Riders Union and opposed the changes and cuts, saying they would have to contend with longer walks to bus stops and more crowded buses. Others said the changes and cuts made sense because the routes were under-used.