A message to our customers and taxpayers from Metro CEO Art Leahy

Metro CEO Art Leahy.

Metro CEO Art Leahy is distributing the following message today to Metro customers and other interested parties. The statement concerns his views on the state of Metro’s transit operations and his views of the proposed service changes in June. A Spanish version follows the below English version:

Since becoming Metro CEO 22 months ago I have taken a hard look at Metro transit operations, ridership and recurring budget deficits. I rode many bus and rail lines, talked to passengers and operators, visited yards and pored over performance data, comparing it to other transit agencies. My experience working in transit for more than 40 years, starting out as a bus operator, helped with my assessment.

I realized we needed to improve service quality to ensure buses arrive on time, and that we cannot survive operating deficits that annually topped $100 million. And we had to recognize that the dynamics of transit in Los Angeles County have changed with the sharp growth of the two dozen municipal bus operators, Metro Rail and Metrolink, as well as voter approval of Measure R, a new half cent sales tax that funds a dozen new transit projects. The new and existing services have to be better integrated. We can’t afford to duplicate service, especially, against the backdrop of the worst economic downturn in 80 years.

So I’ve made organizational changes that emphasize quality over quantity. Today, we have leaner operations, cleaner buses, better on-time performance and fewer breakdowns. As a result, customer complaints in December hit an all time low. But we’re just beginning. We’re ordering new buses, dedicating more resources for major bus maintenance work, such as engine replacements and vehicle overhauls, and also increased road supervision.

We are committed to putting better service on the street in the most efficient manner possible, so all our customers benefit. This means we will move toward a more integrated bus and rail system that doesn’t duplicate service operated by Metro or the other carriers. In the end you will have a more productive bus/rail agency and lower overall costs.

Currently, Metro buses overall run less than half full. By boosting productivity we will make our system sustainable and enable us to improve reliability and performance for you, our customers, and dedicate resources where they are needed most.

This is not an issue of bus versus rail. Both serve the same customers. It is about being a good steward of public resources in managing the entire transportation system – including bus, rail, highways, ridesharing, bike and pedestrian programs.

Proposed bus service economies in June are designed to impact the fewest amount of customers possible. We targeted lines that have very poor ridership or duplicate Metro or municipal bus services. We took great pains to make sure that alternative service is available within a quarter mile if lines or route segments are discontinued.

Our passenger loads will still be less than what bus riders in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and other major cities experience, and Metro fares will remain among the lowest in the country. With this approach, we also will be in a better position to strategically add buses on individual lines if we detect overcrowding as ridership bounces back during the economic recovery.

Ultimately, we will have a great public transit system that draws riders from their cars, eases traffic and makes the air we breathe cleaner, but first we have to better manage today’s transit system. We need to do more with less. That’s why we’re putting a greater emphasis on quality and productivity and balanced budgets so we can deliver to you on that promise.

Here is the statement in Spanish:

Un mensaje para nuestros usuarios y contribuyentes de Art Leahy Presidente Ejecutivo de Metro

Desde que me convertí en el Presidente Ejecutivo hace 22 meses atrás he estado revisando cuidadosamente la operación del servicio de autobuses de Metro, el número de usuarios y los constante déficits del presupuesto. He viajado en muchas líneas de autobuses y trenes, hablado con los pasajeros y conductores, visitado las divisiones de autobuses y trenes y revisado minuciosamente la información del rendimiento, comparando esta información con otras agencias. Mi experiencia trabajando en la industria del transporte público por más de 40 años, comenzando como conductor autobús, me ha ayudado con mi evaluación.

Me he dado cuenta de que necesitamos mejorar la calidad del servicio para asegurar que los autobuses lleguen a tiempo y no podemos sobrevivir los   déficits de operación que anualmente llegan a los 100 millones de dólares. Y tenemos que reconocer que la dinámica del transporte público en el condado de Los Angeles ha cambiado con el agresivo crecimiento de dos docenas de operadores de autobuses municipales, Metro Rail y Metrolink, así como la aprobación por parte de los votantes de la Medida R, un nuevo impuesto a la ventas de medio centavo que financiará una docena de nuevos proyectos para el transporte público. Los nuevos y existentes servicios tienen que estar mejor integrados. No podemos darnos el lujo de duplicar servicios, especialmente, con el peor declive económico de los últimos 80 años.

Así que hice cambios en la organización que hace un énfasis en la calidad sobre la cantidad. Hoy tenemos una operación más ágil, autobuses más limpios, mejoró la llegada a tiempo de los autobuses y pocas descomposturas. Como resultado, las quejas de los usuarios en Diciembre llegaron a su nivel más bajo de todos los tiempos. Pero estamos comenzando. Estamos ordenando nuevos autobuses, dedicando más recursos para el mantenimiento aplazado de autobuses tal como el reemplazo de motores, reparaciones completas de vehículos y un incremento en la supervisión en el camino.

Estamos comprometidos a tener un mejor servicio en las calles de la manera más eficiente posible para beneficio de todos nuestros clientes. Esto significa que vamos a movernos hacia una mejor integración del sistema de autobuses y trenes para que no se duplique el servicio prestado por Metro y otros proveedores. Al final usted tendrá una agencia de autobuses y trenes mas productiva y con costos de operación mas bajos.

Actualmente ofrecemos servicio de autobuses a menos del 50 por ciento de su capacidad real. Al incrementar la productividad haremos nuestro sistema sostenible y nos permitirán mejorar la confiabilidad y desempeño para nuestros usuarios y dedicar recursos donde más se necesitan.

Esto no es un tema de autobús contra tren. Ambos sirven a los mismos pasajeros. Es acerca de ser un buen administrador de los recursos públicos al  administrar el sistema entero de transporte incluyendo autobuses, trenes, carreteras, programas para compartir el viaje, de bicicletas, y de peatones.

Los cambios de servicio propuestos en Junio están diseñados para afectarán posiblemente a la menor cantidad de usuarios. Nos enfocamos en líneas con un número de pasajeros muy bajo o con servicio duplicado por Metro o servicio de autobús municipal. Nos esforzamos en asegurarnos que el servicio alternativo este disponible dentro de un cuarto de milla si la línea o segmento de la ruta es descontinuado.

Nuestra carga de pasajeros serán menor que lo que los usuarios de autobús en Chicago, Filadelfia, Nueva York y otras ciudades importantes experimentan, y las tarifas de Metro permanecen entre las mas bajas del país. Con este enfoque, vamos a estar en una mejor posición para agregar estratégicamente autobuses en líneas individuales si detectamos abarrotamiento cuando el número de usuarios se incremente durante la recuperación económica.

Por último, tendremos un gran sistema de transporte público que atraiga mas pasajeros de sus vehículos, alivie el congestionamiento de tráfico y tengamos un aire más puro para respirar, pero primero tenemos que administra mejor el sistema de transporte público hoy en día. Necesitamos hacer más con menos. Es por eso que estamos poniendo un gran énfasis en la calidad, productividad y un presupuesto balanceado para poder cumplir con usted esa promesa.

Categories: Policy & Funding

Tagged as:

39 replies

  1. Wake me up when this guy actually does something to Metro that doesn’t continue to asking me to fork over a portion of my paycheck year after year because the agency never achieves profit. You know, like introducing distance/zone based fares like every other successful transit agency in the world!? Or like getting the TAP’s cash purse option ready to go which should’ve been done from the start!? Or getting the darn train directly into LAX!?

    Seriously, why can’t we just hire a Londonite or a Tokyoite to do the job for us? It’ll be a huge eye-opener to this agency to bring in a public transportation official from transit oriented cities like London or Tokyo to head this agency than an Angelino. It worked for the LAPD!

  2. How about making sure all buses use the same TAP system? How about saying something that actually doesnt sound like double speak?

    There is no reason LA metro cannot be as world class as NYC/Chicago to say any less is stupidity. LA makes it difficult to take the system as the Metro for example DOES NOT STOP IN AREAS THAT NEED IT MOST.

    We still cannot take a direct metro to LAX, most Museums and cutting back the 750, for example, to NOT run on weekends is asinine…it is the route to Universal Studios, to the Metro Station. Now instead of 20 minutes from Sherman Oaks it can take up to 40 minutes if the 150 is the only bus in my time frame.

    I wont even mention how idiotic it is that day passes CANNOT BE PURCHASED FROM THE DRIVER. Tourist season anyone or dont we care about them anymore? Commuters? Yeah we dont need them anymore but we saved money! Yay!

    (that was sarcasm, btw)

    I agree w/Ken, bring in someone that is used to running a successful transit system, it is time if we really want to take this seriously.

  3. Since he got here 22 months ago he has done nothing allowing his managers to violate the contract and fired operators for rule violations without taken them through progressive discipline. Most of the operators get their job back costing thousands of dollars for back pay, and increasing MTA’s unemployement payment percentage. A lot of unemployement cases have been won

  4. Ken – please do some research. No transit agency makes money. None. Atlanta’s MARTA cut a whole suburb from service, New York reduced like 5% of their service, Long Island no longer has many bus routes, etc.. Research first, then comment.

    Lupe fight – how many work stoppages have we had under Leahy than Snoble?

  5. Mr. Art Leahy,

    This is a request from a disable person with pros. limbs, in future if the agency orders new buses, please do not have the seats no higher than the Rapid buses, and no metal edges like the Route #130 and #232, it is very uncomfortable for us, when the seats are too high, our feet cannot touch the floor and it creates poor circulation.

    Thank you.

  6. I’m not going to say Public Transportation in LA isn’t improving, because it is, but the pace at which it’s going is ri-di-culous-ly slow.

    Do the top dogs at Metro really think things through before implementing a new procedure or plan? I don’t think so. It’s constant mistakes, time after time, and we as transit riders suffer because things weren’t implemented correctly as they should have been done in the first place.

    Take a look at the latest “upgrades” to our system, the turnstiles and TAP card system they’ve set up. I think we can agree at their current state that they’re complete failures. Why can’t the agency release something that’s actually done and ready to go?

  7. I agree with Ken. I visited many cities around the world and the ones with the most successful and efficient transit systems all have one thing in common: They are all distance/zone based.

    Tokyo? check
    Osaka? check
    Taipei? check
    Seoul? check
    London? check

    Compare that with public transportation in the US where they are all pretty much a failure compared to these cities. What do they have in common? They all have static fares, continuously raising fares and asking taxpayers for more and more money and blaming their failures on low ridership.

    What this city needs is not just someone outside of Los Angeles, but outside of the US to fix things up.

    I mean seriously, how sad is it that a city that is the 2nd largest city in the best nation in the world STILL has no direct rail line to the airport? Even Delhi, India has one. Everytime I arrive at LAX and see that horrendous traffic jam in the roundabout of that airport, I sigh in desperation and disgust. Have they not considered that LAX is now the 7th busiest airport in the WORLD, one of the largest O-D airports and that it continues to increase in number of passengers every year and expect close to 50 million passengers that go through that airport every year to just drive there? And you wonder why the traffic is a mess there!

    Sheesh.

  8. I’d fully support the idea of a distance based system if we could get the TAP fully operational.

    We need the Big Blue Bus onboard, Torrance Transit, all of the bus operators, Metrolink, and any other transit operators you can think of.
    We need a better TAP website and linking TAP with my credit card (San Francisco’s Clipper can do that).

    We can do it, we have the technology…

  9. Wow..tons of complainers here. I wonder if these people really understand LA’s problem with building efficient rail.

    1 – Fix Expo, NSFR are trying to stop the Expo Line, preventing you from a rail connection from Santa Monica to LA.

    2 – Beverly Hills is getting ready to sue Metro if they go with the logical station choice of Constellation for the Purple Line

    3 – Westside homewoners are also threatening litigation with the bus only lanes west of San Vicente.

    4 – The Expo Bikeway (a bikeway!) is under litigation from Westside homeowners.

    See how hard it is to build public transit here? It’s your neighbors stopping progress.

    By the way, in the last 20 years, Metro has added the Gold, Blue, Green, Red, and Purple rail lines. Name any other city in the US that added 79 miles of rail within the last 20 years. And we’re currently building Expo to Culver City and Gold Line foothill extension (also the Orange Line busway extension to Chatsworth). Any other city have that much invested TODAY?

  10. He hasn’t made the LA Metro system any better. At least they are other transit agencies to ride.

    As for rail direct airport access, the alternative way to get there is on LAX shuttle.

    As for this part of this message
    “Ultimately, we will have a great public transit system that draws riders from their cars”

    ” first we have to better manage today’s transit system. We need to do more with less.”
    I agree with this part on what he said and better be true.

    For the years we have been spending money on useless stuff such as The Metro Local, Rapid and Express Livery, Transit T.Vs, AVA system, and other stuff like the ATMS system, reaplcing Metro Limited service with Rapid, and so on especially changing most bus fleet with aloca rims (for those that had black steel rims).

    We better get more new buses to replace older ones.

    I will have to disagree but LA metro has not been improving to well for past years and for like almost 18 years, it still its terrible.

    I do agree with June service changes and cuts.

  11. Love the comparison to cities like New York, Chicago, London, Paris…etc…Los Angeles is extremely unique and spread out. Downtown Los Angeles is a nice grid and that is why mass transit works well, yet the rest of the city is awkward and difficult. Manhattan is a perfect grid and has a transit system over a 100 years old. Cannot compare. To be very fair to the MTA LA has much cleaner stations and train cars then NYC. Can they do better? Of course. TAP needs to get better. More express services (bus and would love down the road express rail and local rail on new lines). More integration between agencies.

    Yet, at the end of the day, I hear lots of complaints from certain people who want a Metro to come to them. Yet, I think you need to meet Metro half way and at least get close to where they are planning rail lines/or major express bus service. Metro cannot be everywhere for everybody.

    Lets hope for more private sector funding via selling branding rights for stations. That is a start to infuse much needed capital into a very thirsty organization. We cannot ask taxpayers for anymore. California and Los Angeles is already over taxed.

  12. There aren’t any easy solutions. Given the declines in tax revenue caused by the ongoing weak economy people are going to have to step up more than ever to support the transit system with their time and money.

    We have to fight for this system, as straphangers and as citizens, and as people who have complaints that reflect the everyday reality of seeing the system in action.

    In that spirit I ride the Blue Line, and I really wish it had better seat padding and displays that tell you when the next train is coming.

  13. Honestly, I am not thrilled with what he is doing at all and frankly, the statement about affecting the fewest people possible could not be more false. I just went to a meeting where over 80 people showed up to speak about a recently cancelled Line 31, a route that I initially wouldn’t have given a second thought to. However, after seeing how many people it affected and particularly after seeing how it affected ridership on the Metro Gold Line East LA extension, I have to say that I am rather disappointed. LA has a lot of work to do and I believe that taking Los Angeles’s transit problem on a corridor approach (i.e. busy streets, commercial areas, transit hubs, etc.) is simply not enough. The idea of community (i.e. feeder routes, community shuttles, etc.) must be integrated with the corridor approach. After all, without community, there can be no corridor. The Gold Line East LA Extension was proof enough of that. It’s sad to see how a route that was worked on so hard by the MTA is not performing as well as it should be.

    If anyone from Metro is reading this, know that without community there can be no corridor.

  14. 2 – Beverly Hills is getting ready to sue Metro if they go with the logical station choice of Constellation for the Purple Line

    Then don’t build a station anywhere near there; they don’t want one, their loss. One less station to build, one less expense.

    See, this is LA’s problem: they want to build stations at the same time they want to lay the tracks. No, just lay the darn tracks and add the stations later. Do you think Tokyo started out with gazillions of train stations on the get-go? No, they laid the tracks first and added stations later as time progressed and demand increased to a specific locale.

    This is why I say we need to bring in a person from places like Tokyo to head the agency. People who are far more experienced in making public transit work.

    People think all these issues are so specific to LA that they forget that Tokyo didn’t start out as a bustling metropolis of gazillions of rail and subway tracks since its inception. Every problem LA faces today, Tokyo probably went through it decades ago and they probably have solutions for those in their drawers from years of past experiences dealing with naysayers.

  15. This message/statement really is a cop-out for not improving the system enough. Although I also agree that many citizens are fighting themselves by opposing many projects, this problem is not mentioned and it really should be. It may not be the most politically correct thing to say but its the truth. And yes, these may be hard economic times, but the improvements were not made even when times were good either. No west side subway yet, still no metrorail in the valley, a fare system that is anti-transfer (i.e one way fare per line), bus service being cut instead of added, no rail to the airport, virtually no signal preemption on BRT or LRT (except RR gates on ROWs), we are just now building the regional connector which was supposed to be with the gold line, no WeHo line, the buses come infrequently which deters potential riders… I mean the list goes on and sure we’ve made improvements but not at the rate that we nearly could have. Many LA transit projects/additions were thought of more than 20 years ago and we’ve either scrapped them or are just barley starting them now. It just should have been done earlier and its unfortunate that as were finally getting some improvements, the economy takes a dive. Also I do agree that we need someone with more experience in transit to be running metro.

    Also, while other systems like MTA new york may be cutting, at least they already have a fully built out system which covers every part of the metro area, so the cuts leave just a little bit less service (which usually has duplicate service anyway) rather than leaving little or none at all. Cutting back does not have the same effect there as it does in a city which is just building its system now, and at a slow rate too. Metro needs to stop pandering to the naysayers and just get on with these much needed additions and improvements. LA can have a world class system and any rehashed statements like “its just to spread out” or “its not the same kind of city, people love their cars” are just excuses to delay or not build a great system. The more of a system there is and the more efficient it is, the more people will use it.

  16. Ken, the loss of the Constellation station isn’t their [Beverly Hill’s] loss; on the contrary, it would be their perceived gain. Also, laying the tracks now and building the Constellation station later isn’t a solution at all – technically, Beverly Hill’s residents have a problem with the *track alignment* (under the high school), not the station location. So if we just laid the track now, we would still have to fight with them over putting track under the high school so that we may have a properly located station in the future. Or, we could lay track along an alignment that Beverly Hills residents agree with, but it would not pass through the core of Century City (because of the high school being in the way).

    The real losers of a sans-Constellation station route would be non-Beverly Hills people all over LA that happen to have to commute to Century City for work.

  17. I really would like to know who Mr. Leahy actually talked too , probably no one that actually take the bus or train on a regular basis. There are a ton of routes out there that have a bad timing schedule due to a bad routing , such as the horiffic Line 232. Still have never gotten an answer why the Metro trains do not run 24/7 if we are supposedly the second largest city in the United States , lets keep the drunks of the road , and make the trains run round the clock. There are three routes , that go down mostly the same beginning of a route at nite , Routes 45 , 81 and 83 , one of these should be redesigned to incorporate a pick up at Union Staion. There needs to be a way for someone sitting at a stop to find out that a bus has went on the detour , rather than having them sit there and wait for a bus that has already passed around them. I would love Mr. Leahy to hear a report from me on just one week of public transportation to see some of the faults of Metro’s system.

  18. Trains did run until 3 AM a few years ago during the holidays and guess what, not too many people used them that late. Its a shame and I would love a 24/7 365 approach yet if its just a few people, not worth it.

    Living in downtown I love the subways, yet for most Southern California residents, it just always doesn’t make sense.

    Looking forward to reading your report.

  19. Wilton – let them win the battle. In the end, the war will be won to those areas that want rail to their neighborhoods.

    When Tokyo was first laying its track decades ago in the pre-war era, they faced the same NIMBY issue in many neighborhoods. Waaah I don’t want tracks running back through my neighborhood, waaah it’ll split up the community, waaah think of the [insert any lame excuse to derail to project].

    Yet there were equal number of neighborhoods that said, “sure bring it to our neighborhood, it’ll be good for our local economy, it’ll bring lots more people into a concentrated area.”

    What did city planners in Tokyo do? They said “fine, you don’t want it, we won’t build it, but don’t come asking us several years later crying about why they don’t have a line, how their economy is degrading while the guy next station over is booming.”

    The NIMBYs think they won, but in the end those communities that saw the light years down the road saw their local economies boom while those that opposed wondered why they missed out on a terrific opportunity.

    So if BH doesn’t want a rail going through their “Exclusive community,” the heck with them. Let their businesses rot and see what happens when all of their businesses are usurped to 3rd Street Promenade. They don’t want it, no need to even negotiate with them. Less money spent that could be used to fund projects to where communities that support it.

    Why should rail need to go through places they don’t want it anyway? Much better to work together with communities and neighborhoods that are more friendly to rail. People will adjust and when BH wonders why they see less and less people shopping at Century City and more and more people shopping at 3rd Street Promenade, they’ll figure out they didn’t win the battle, they lost the war.

  20. What LA Metro needs to do to speed up the process is not go step by step at each community meeting saying that rail is coming and hope they’ll go along for it. Seriously, this is what LA Metro lacks: a projection of public relations.

    Instead, they should just bring in all the community leaders in every neighborhood in LA into one big audience hall and give an explanation what the pros and cons of rail. Sure rail sounds good on paper and it may seem everyone wants it, but LA Metro also needs to explain the cons of bringing rail too. Stuff that people don’t think about until the dung hits the fan; right-of-ways, aerials, how it may split the community, what the challenges are to actually bring rail to the community.

    Being more open about the cons from the start is much better than just pitching the pros of rail and then coming up with the “hidden” cons of rail to communities which they backlash with litigation. I’m sure then LA Metro will find that the underlying reason of said litigations are not arrogance, it’s the public anger of a city that’s so automobile centric that they don’t know that running rail has cons that never crossed their mind.

    After that meeting, LA Metro should then take a tally of neighborhoods that still want it to those that don’t want it. Then build rail that links “rail friendly” neighborhoods that don’t pose much squandering over lame NIMBY issues.

    Walla! Much faster to build it that way than years and decades of quarreling with neighborhoods as you go along and trying to convince them that this is the right way to do it.

    I mean it works in everyday life. You don’t just build a nuclear power plant in your neighborhood like SimCity and assume most of the people there are gonna go for it. It gives an air of arrogance like “I know more than you, you guys are so stupid that you can’t figure out rail is good for the community.”

    It’d be much better to bring in all the neighborhoods from all over LA and pitch a sales strategy to them and take a tally of neighborhoods who see that the pros of bringing more economic activity to their communites outweigh the cons of splitting the neighborhood, etc. etc.

    It projects a better image than “oh BTW, we just planned to build a rail through your neighborhood because we decided it was good of LA. If you have any concerns, come to our meeting and we’ll try to convince you that this is the right way to do it.” And they wonder why they get caught up in litigation.

  21. @Ken

    Adding infill stations later is much more expensive than building them right the first time.

    And BH has no problem with the station. They’re opposed to the tunnel alignment.

  22. Ken – Mr. Leahy rides the Metrolink everyday from work. I see him hanging around Union Station, riding the Metro. Unlike past CEO, Leahy actually takes Metro to nearly all meetings he can attend via bus or rail. You are saying so many misinterpretations, I wonder why the moderators let you post.

    Beverly Hills is not disputing the station. They are disputing the tracks laid (totally against your Tokyo arguement). And Leahy DOES GO METRO nearly everyday. Every city in the USA is losing revenues due to the economy, is LA any different? We have expanded more local rail than any city in the last 20 years. Name one.

    If we go by your direction of just letting neighbors dictate our rail, you wouldn’t get a train to Century City. Isn’t that kinda stupid?

  23. ds – does that account for the years of delays that are faced from litigation, cost of overruns from rising material prices from that same duration, the wasted money and time meeting after meeting conducting tests and surveys, going back to the drawing board, only to face litigation there, etc, etc?

    That’s another problem with LA Metro. All said costs are based on assumption that everyone would just shut up and agree with what they say and let the rail run through without any opposition.

    Reality is, it’s much more cheaper, faster, and efficient to just skip stations who don’t want it and come back later and say “well well well, look who’s come back begging through the door. Well you had your chance when it could’ve been built through city funds, but since you missed out, we’ll give to you…except now you pony up 80% of the cost! mwahahahaahaha!”

    Problem solved and it’ll serve as a lesson to NIMBYs.

  24. For years, LA Metro has been running under the assumption of blaming the people on stalling the process even though they voted yes on it.

    Well that tactic may work in China where people don’t have any rights and have to do what the government has to say or face risk of being mysteriously disappeared to a gulag or tried for being a “anti-revolutionary against the State,” but that don’t fly in democratic USA.

    Reality is that here in America, people are distrustful of government and it was a nation founded upon those principles. People don’t like being told what to do, people don’t like to just “shut up and let the government do what it plans to do.”

    If there’s a government plan, they want to hear about it first. Straight-forwardly, no hidden cons. Lay it out the pros and cons, what benefit it has versus what the the consequences are. And we the people decide if that idea works or not, not the invisible hand of the government.

    That being said, there’s a democratic way to do this that is just as efficient as the Chinese way. It may not be the same, but it is simple as projecting a truthful image, tallying up the votes to areas that want rail and getting it to them first. Not everyone is gonna be for the huge piece of the pie in a city the size of LA.

    Breakdown the votes down to the neighborhood level and start linking from there.

    Whatever LA Metro’s cost analysis is, it sure doesn’t seem to account for all the consequences of litigation and cost overruns caused by delays over you know, a simple method of saying “heck with you then, you get no dessert!”

  25. @LAofAnaheim

    No duh every US public transportation loses money! Because they run on a stupid flat rate model like when other, more efficient, and less tax dependent public transit in the world uses the distance/zone based model!

    I constantly hear whining and moaning by pro-transit people here in the States, boo-hoo why can’t we have public transportation like Tokyo, London, etc. yet at the same time go up and arms when there’s a rate hike.

    This is what you all are expecting: services like Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul and other transit oriented cities, but at the same flat rate fare no matter how far you ride. That doesn’t cut it. You want service and efficiency, pony up your fair share by paying for it and stop expecting other people to pay through it via taxes or state and federal grants.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out and list the one major difference between US and other successful transit oriented cities: flat fare versus distance/zone based.

    Name me one successful flat-fare based public transit. None. Name me successful transit based on the distance/zone based model. Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Busan, Taipei, Hong Kong, London.

    Sure they still need taxes, but last time I checked, Japan only has a 5% tax rate and they still keep trains running on time like a Swiss clock and have gazillions or tracks and rail zipping through Tokyo without a need of a car. And look at us. 10% tax and this is the best we can do? Pitiful.

    Give me one good reason why one person going from SF Valley all the way to Downtown LA pays the exact same $1.50 fare as the guy who only rides the bus for three blocks makes any sense to you?

    Does hailing a cab for three blocks versus all the way from the Valley to Downtown LA cost the same? Duh.

    So long as this flat fare idea is stuck into LA Metro’s mindset, public transit will forever be on the dearth of taxpayers and still a “poor man’s way to get around town.”

    You want faster, efficient service with more buses running late at night? Then those that want for those services should pay for it.

    You want night owl service, charge passengers $2.00 for the privilege of riding night owl buses.

    You want to get from LB to LAX Aviation, tap in and tap out, and automatically deduct $5.00 with a daily price cap.

    How hard is this to do? If LA Metro can’t figure it out, bring in the cavalry from guys who figured out London’s Oyster system. If they can’t implement this on buses, bring in the team from Japan who used distance based fares on buses even before contactless or the years of computers.

    The longer you ride, the longer it takes and more fuel it takes to haul your rear-end. If you travel longer you has to ante up reasonable cost for the privilege of riding it longer.

    The guy riding the bus for three blocks should pay $0.50, the guy riding from SF Valley to Downtown LA should pay $5.00. BAM! $2.50 more revenue for LA Metro. This is the model that works everywhere but no public transit here in the US runs on that model. Gee, no wonder why every single public transit in the US makes no money and continuously ask taxpayers to fork over more money.

    The current flat rate model of LA Metro brings in only $3.00 revenue to LA Metro which surely as heck doesn’t make any sense to make up for the costs associated with maintaining a fleet of buses, paying for bus drivers, and getting profit which in turn helps put more money into investment. It’s all based on “tax, tax, tax, fare increase, fare increase, fare increase.”

    Enough of this BS, LA Metro needs to be more self-sufficient, more profit oriented, and run like a business. If it can’t figure it out, then it needs to be privatizing because I have had enough of being taxed for mediocre service. I want to see my taxes starting to decrease not increase!

  26. Dang, mad drama on the Metro blog.

    I understand the need for criticism, but a lot of this is just hating on Metro. They want to be the most awesome as well, but you can only do what you can do.

    One thing Metro can do is cut a lot of the fat off. That’d probably be bad for PR though.

  27. Building rail through an area without a stop is better than not building the rail at all or realigning the route and adjacent station because of opposition (like SM blvd. station instead of Constellation). People say just don’t build the rail through a neighborhood if they don’t want it, simple, but its not that simple. Many lines need to be routed through a certain area to be most efficient and if folks in an area put up a fuss, they can ruin a citywide transit connection just for one small area, so its not just as simple as not having a station or reconfigured route and/or mode just for that one area when there are so many other connecting areas at stake.

  28. Anyone who said there is duplicate service does not convince me that he takes bus/rail everywhere
    I was in the hearing.
    People have to take 3 or 4 buses to reach destinations. Some times, people just have to work to save the pain
    People already accept waiting one hour for bus is OK. One person mentioned that. She even said don’t discontinue the service even if we have to wait longer. People cannot stand anymore will current EXCESSIVE SERVICE.

    What went wrong with MTA and many US cities that is trying to renovate it is public transportation system. It is design for the people who drive not people who could not drive. That is the reason the system is so terrible even after 79 additional rail miles are built because so many people have hard time reaching those stations.
    Leachy has hard time understand
    LAofAnaheim has hard time understand too

  29. @Connor

    I believe that’s the part Ken was talking about.

    Everyone’s going to be for rail, but this city is so centered on the automobile that majority of Angelinos don’t really know what the cons are of having rails running through their neighborhoods.

    Being more open about what’s at stake and what the consequences are beforehand could lesson the shock so that neighborhoods know what they can expect beforehand.

    Instead, the current transit planning model has this image of some braniacs who think they are smarter than everyone else doing all the planning in a dark room somewhere without zero public or neighborhood input, and just slapping a notice on people’s doors that trains-a-coming.

    Of course they’re going to face opposition and litigation. Just imagine how you’d feel when you suddenly get a notice on the door that a rail is being laid in your backyard. If it were going to be laid in my backyard, why didn’t these people come ask me first? Did they just assume that I’m going to say yes because it’s the best, most efficient way to lay down the tracks? No, of course not and you betcha I’m going to sue the pants off of them.

    But things would’ve worked out differently had they knocked at my door beforehand, sat down with me in my living room over a cup of coffee and discussed that this is the plan we’re trying to come up with, this is what’s at stake and these are what the consequences are, etc. etc.

  30. The distance/zone based model sounds like an idea worth implementing. It appears to be the most logical solution to fair fares and to generating income for Metro. Has Metro considered this option?

    The bus I take is proposed to be cancelled. Rail does not serve me. My commute from home/work, by car takes 15-20 minutes for a little under 6 miles. I’m fortunate that I currently only need one Metro bus to get from home to work, which from door-to-door takes 40 minutes. I happily spend an extra 20-25 minutes on the one-way commute (an extra 40-50 minutes daily) because I believe mass transit is good for our community. If Metro cancels the line, one alternative involves a walk of 1.7 miles (30-40 minutes) each way to a Metro bus for a total daily commute of 2.5 hours. Compared to driving’s 30-40 minutes, it’s a no brainer what my choice will be. This is but one rider’s example of how Metro’s proposed changes does the opposite to “have a great public transit system that draws riders from their cars, ease traffic and make the air we breathe cleaner.”

    I work late hours, so another consideration should be made for the fact that the alternate/overlapping service does not run the same frequency and hours as the line being cancelled. For other riders that already have a distance to walk/ride or that currently take more than one bus and will need to add connections, the additional time and fare cost seems an extreme burden on these people that may not have the luxury of purchasing a vehicle. They may even run out of options all together if, by the time they make it to their connection, the bus has stopped running.

    It is understandable that buses cannot get people to their door, but the line they are proposing to cancel has ridership. It happens to be a late running bus, from 5AM until past 1:30AM, so the average ridership may look low on the surface. Rather than cancel the bus, take a look at limiting the runs during the low ridership times.

  31. This topic is very interesting and I agree with Ken that he pointed out a very credible point about distance/zone based fares.

    I too have wondered why we can’t be like other transit oriented cities around the world while the US keeps failing. He brought a great fact and I think he’s got something right on the track.

    Every US public transportation is in a sad pitiful state and I can’t think of any US city that runs on the obvious model of distance/zone-based fares. Whereas other successful and efficient transit oriented cities across the globe do run on distance/zone-based fares.

    It only makes natural common sense that the more you ride the bus/train across a longer distance, the more you pay than the person who rides it at a shorter distance.

    This method would be much better way to generate revenue on the basis of people paying their fair worth over a course of a distance rather than just flat out discontinue the service altogether. Not only does it makes sense, but by actually even lowering the fare for shorter distances, it might even increase ridership over shorter distances too. I don’t think anyone would pay $1.50 to get five blocks down the street, but if it were distance based like $0.50 for that first five blocks, all you need is three people to break even and the fourth person would be extra profit.

    Is there a reason why we cannot implement distance/zone based fares? It seems like the rest of the world has been doing these for decades before TAP-like contactless payment systems. That means this should be easier to implement in the US now. Maybe Metro can lead the example to other US cities.

  32. The TAP card is a total failure. Why do u think Long Beach Transit, Torrance Transit, OCTA, and Santa Monica BBB had second thoughts about getting in the program ?

  33. Distance based fares just make perfect sense. I just spent two weeks in Tokyo on a business trip and it was a real eye-opener to see how life can be without a need of a car to get to places.

    Granted, it was quite a surprise that the fares varied depending on the distance, but I could immediately tell the huge difference that the revenue from this model is able to support itself with constant improvements to while keeping taxpayer burden low.

    The fare gates at each station were all state of the art models with wide gates so that the flow of people can go both ways and handle the largest of rollerboard bags. People just charged up their Suica or Pasmo cards and just tapped in and out with automatic deduction of fares. I could buy and charge this anywhere, at local convenience stores to automated machines at any train station. Millions of Tokyoites use trains and subways without ever needing a car, and it sure does seem to help them in the physique and health; I lost ten pounds easily in just that one week alone because I never once needed a car.

    And guess what, Tokyo isn’t a compact city as everyone thinks to be! I had to travel 50 km (approx 32 mi) one-way from the suburbs into downtown, and all it took was 45 min from out the door of my place of stay, walking to the station, riding on the limited/express commuter train, and walking from the station to work. And the 45 minutes commuting time was always constant; never a minute delay because there were no variables like being stuck at traffic signals, freeway traffic or weather factors. Be it snowing or shine, 45 minutes to the exact second. And by the end of the week, I figured out that I can save extra money buy just transferring at a certain station and getting off at another one that takes only a two minutes more walk to the work place.

    Trains were all clean, very quiet, and always on time, they were all equipped with digital LCD signs showing where they were going, announcements like “those who want to go to station X faster, it is adviseable that you get off at the next station as the express train that’s coming 3 minutes later will overtake this train at station Y.” Even the station train sounds made this nice jingle that’s less stressful than the annoying buzzer. Marvelous service indeed! Signs were easy to read; I didn’t have to look or search for signs, it was if the signs were strategically placed so that people were to look at it without the need of searching for it. Everything that Tokyo did just worked perfectly and made darn good sense.

    If this is what distance based fares can do, I’m all for it. And if LA Metro can’t do this themselves, I say it’s time to get 30/10 really on board by recruiting people who makes public transit run in Tokyo. I’m sure they have lots of ideas and expertise to really jump start transit it LA and provide us with a good lesson to not just for LA Metro, but to every public transportation agency in the US.

  34. As an economics analyst, I can vouch for why the US public transit system has never tried to implement the distance based scheme.

    For years, gas prices in the US remained fairly stable, in which the flat rate system worked well. There wasn’t that much fluctuation in oil prices to keep buses running so it made perfect sense to keep it as a flat rate.

    Whereas others like Britain and Japan, are island nations which doesn’t have much natural resources. They had to import oil from abroad so gas prices was high and fluctuated on demand. In order keep their buses running, they had to charge passengers according to distance to make up for the cost. And in order to save cost, they invested heavily in trains and subways which aren’t chained to gas prices on the market.

    But, and here’s the huge but: the US public transit agency does not seem to reflect that what worked fifty years ago, is not going to continue to work for the years ahead. We are now facing the exact same issues as Britain and Japan did as we now import most of our oil from overseas. Be it buses that run on petroleum gas or natural gas, prices of these consumables are so volatile these days that a single flat rate model cannot keep up with the huge fluctuations in prices that we see everyday.

    As such, if US public transit agencies really want to see their situation improve rather than this image of “taxpayer subsidized transit,” it is time that they all take a serious look at going to a more volatile model that’s more inline with market prices.

    Jacking up flat rate fares every year is not going to earn happy riders. Instead, it would be much better to make it fair for everyone who rides the bus/takes the subway: introduction of distance based fares.

  35. I rode metro exclusively for several years because I didn’t have a car, but now I drive exclusively, and I’m much happier. The vast majority of 10 million Los Angeles County residents share my perspective. That speaks volumes about the quality of mass transit in L.A.

    Distance based fares seem very reasonable, but I think the case for them has been overstated. Y. Fukuzawa wrote a glowing report on Tokyo’s system, but seriously, do you attribute all of that primarily to distance based fares? Or is it that overall, the Japanese society proportionately invests more in mass transit than the U.S.? How much do they tax their gasoline? How much are vehicle registration taxes?

    Also, based on my memory, Paris, Madrid, and Barcelona all had flat fare based subway systems 10 years ago.

    It may be a good idea, but I don’t think it would make that big of an impact.

    I believe that the biggest factor that could transform mass transit in L.A. and throughout California is if California were to increase its gasoline tax and use the majority of the revenue to fund mass transit. With gas at $3.50 per gallon I’m currently being taxed about 70 cents per gallon, including state, federal, and sales taxes. That’s a very low amount by international standards.

    It’s also a very low amount considering the profound ecological damage that results from such consumption. However, it’s not just that I’m permitted to cause that profound ecological damage for such a low amount, it’s not just that I’m encouraged to do it, I’m compelled on a daily basis to destroy the planet, because as an independent adult in L.A., I cannot live my life to the fullest without driving a car.

    Californians spend upwards of $60 billion on petroleum based fuels. It is only rational that part of this money be redirected to fund the solution. I don’t see the plight of Metro improving much until this or another similarly serious step which prioritizes mass transit is taken. Nor do I see the American economy improving until the U.S. reduces its radical oil dependence.

  36. @Pancho

    Yes, you’re definitely right that the US pays one of the lowest taxes on gasoline. While I was in Japan, I did some number crunching. While there are fluctuations and variables like foreign exchange rates, the market price of crude oil and the big difference of Japan having to import almost 100% of their oil, they pay an average of approx 130 JPY per liter (approx $6.02 / gal) and are taxed 53.8 JPY per liter (approx $2.49 / gal).

    But you have to also consider that close to 42 million people live in the entire Kanto region encompassing an area three times as big as LA County. Out of that 42 million, probably anywhere from 30-50% of that probably don’t even need or even own a car as public transit on the distance based model serves them better. And the first hand experience has shown me that Tokyo is perfectly capable of efficiently transporting tens of millions of commuters every day on a to-the-second perfect efficiency and lots of frequency on a myriad of connections, express, limited, and local services that are available within 10 minutes walking distance at most.

    But said is much more different in Los Angeles where it’s such an automobile centric city that suddenly having $6.00 / gal gas with taxes making up $2.49 is not going to gain much support from Angelinos. Even if you somehow manage to convince everyone to ditch their cars and go to buses and rails, LA Metro does not have the infrastructure built to handle millions of Angelinos everyday, let alone the lack of on-time performance, infrequent services and cutbacks due to “double up” lines, we have no frequency on rails that offer a myriad of connections, express, limited, and local services that are anywhere near within 10 minutes walking distance at most.

    That is why some here, including myself are asking LA Metro to consider a fair option like moving to a distance based model which meets us half way. Continuously taxing gasoline is not going to be the saving grace. Neither are continuously asking for federal and state grants. All this just gives us the impression that Metro is just lending out their hands and saying “gimme, gimme, gimme” without putting some effort into it.

    Is it going to be easy to switch over to distance based fares? No it isn’t, but that’s part of Metro’s job. Whining that “oh it’s so confusing, it’s so difficult to do, it’s much easier to just tax everybody” doesn’t leave a good impression to people. And with that, it’s quite understandable why some people are angry at Metro and are advocating if they can’t do the job, they need to be replaced with someone else that will.

    I’m willing to bet that many Angelinos here would gladly pay $7.00 one-way from SF Valley or the South Bay to LAX if there was a direct rail line to the airport that whisks past all the traffic jams on our freeways. No one is going to pay $7.00 for the LAX Flyaway bus because so long as it buses along on the same freeways and streets as other cars, it’s just the same as driving yourself there. Nor does LA’s public transit has a fleet of FlyAway buses shuttle the close to 165,000travelers passing through LAX each day.

    But if you introduce a direct rail line along the 405 all the way to LAX that can shuttle hundred of passengers in one shot and on a mode of transportation that isn’t held hostage to the SigAlerts, oh you betcha a lot of people are willing to pay that $7.00 for the convenience of getting to LAX. Just imagine what that does; 165,000passengers everyone of them paying a $7.00 train ticket directly to LAX 365 days a year brings in over $420 million in revenue alone.

    See? Introducing distance based fares is not only fair, but it is now real alternative provider for the people of Los Angeles that differentiates itself from people being chained to behind the wheel. And at the same time, by being a differentiator that provides a better (frequent, efficient, plenty of seats available, on time service that isn’t held hostage to traffic jams) service, people will gladly pay $7.00 for the convenience of getting to the airport. Or what, does LA want to just keep that fare to LAX at $1.50 on the Green Line and the Crenshaw Line and care to lose out on a potential $330 million in annual revenue?