The Metro Board of Directors voted 7 to 6 on Thursday morning to approve changes to Metro bus service, including the cutting and shortening of some lines. The changes are scheduled to go into effect June 26.
The changes amount to about 300,000 hours of service annually — about 100,000 hours less than originally proposed by Metro staff earlier this year. Metro CEO Art Leahy told the Board of Directors that the cuts will help remove low ridership lines and duplicative service from the Metro bus system and that the money saved — about $32 million annually — will help produce a balanced budget for Metro.
Nine million of those dollars will go back into the bus system. Leahy said that the money will also allow him to reallocate 212 Metro employees to improve the cleanliness and maintenance of buses and to work on a real-time system to improve on-time performance.
The yes votes were by the following Board members: Pam O’Connor, Zev Yarolsavsky, Ara Najarian, Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe, Diane DuBois and John Fasana.
The no votes were by the following Board members: Antonio Villaraigosa, Richard Katz, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mel Wilson, Jose Huizar and Gloria Molina.
“I’m not convinced that all this does is consolidate and make [the bus system] more efficient,” said Villaraigosa. “I can’t find myself being convinced of that argument.”
Lines impacted include the 26, 71, 94, 96, 155, 217, 230, 247, 254, 445, 450x, 485, 577, 634, 751, 757, 760 and 794. Some lines will be shortened, some expanded and some will not run on some times or days. Please see the full list of changes beginning on page 15 of this Metro staff report. In addition, the Board approved a number of bus service changes that will go into effect 90 days after the Expo Line light rail opens; those changes are on page 17 of the staff report.
The lines that will be entirely discontinued are the 26, 247, 445 and the 634. Existing bus service will replace those lines and/or Metro will modify existing service to replace those lines.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post erroneously stated that the 757 Rapid Bus on Western Avenue will be discontinued. It will continue service on weekdays and articulated bus service on Western will be bulked up.
In discussion, Supervisor Gloria Molina asked Leahy if the service changes were motivated by cost savings alone — i.e. was he looking to carve a particular dollar amount from the Metro budget. Leahy answered no, that the changes were motivated by removing low-ridership lines and duplicative service so that resources could be used to improve the rest of the system.
The Board also approved a motion asking for a report on service changes by Metro and other local transit agencies since 1997. In addition, the motion asked Metro staff to develop a policy on how savings from service reductions are reinvested and criteria for ensuring continued service in the future to “regionally significant destinations.” The motion was by Mayor Villaraigosa, Supervisor Molina and Mel Wilson, a city of Los Angeles appointee to the Board.
Metro staff will provide that information to the Board next month, giving them the chance to possibly reconsider the service changes if they find the information to be troubling or problematic.
Several dozen members of the public testified to the Board of Directors, including many members of the Bus Riders Union. Many protested that the changes will inconvenience them and make it more difficult to reach their jobs.
Over the past three months, Metro held six public hearings about the service cuts with more than 300 people testifying. The proposed changes were also approved by the five community-based Service Councils that advise Metro staff on bus service in different parts of L.A. County.