Metro’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year — which runs from July 1 to June 30, 2020 — has been posted on metro.net and is posted above. A public hearing for the budget will be held at Metro headquarters at noon on Wednesday, May 15, and the Metro Board is scheduled to consider adopting the budget at their meeting on Thursday, May 23.
The balanced budget is for $7.2 billion, which is an increase over the current year’s $6.6 billion. The increase is due mostly to Metro expecting more revenues from its sales taxes, grants and bonds while increased expenses are due in part to costs involving labor and benefits, debt and the planning and construction of road, transit and active transportation projects. No changes to Metro fares are proposed in the budget.
As part of the budget, Metro staff proposed some changes in service to make schedules and train lengths more consistent, improve on-time performance, allow more time for light rail vehicles maintenance and match service levels with actual demand based on Board-adopted policies.
The service changes proposed in the budget are:
• Weekday peak hour frequencies for the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines would have trains running every eight minutes instead of the current every six minutes (Blue and Expo) or seven minutes (Gold). During peak hours, all Blue, Expo and Gold Line trains will be three cars instead of the current mix of two-car and three-car trains. We think this will improve on-time performance and reduce delays.
• On the Blue Line, every train would run every eight minutes between 7th/Metro and Downtown Long Beach instead of what we’ve done in the past — with trains running every six minutes between 7th/Metro and Willow and every 12 minutes between Willow and Downtown Long Beach. Long Beach customers will experience significant improvements from Downtown L.A. to Long Beach.
• On the Blue and Expo Lines, the above changes would result in average wait times increasing by one minute during peak hour service. On the Gold Line, the average wait time at peak hours would increase by 30 seconds.
• Weekday mid-day frequencies on the Blue, Expo, Gold would remain every 12 minutes with two-car trains — which better meets the current demand. We will monitor ridership and provide three-car trains if needed.
• Weekend service on the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines would have trains running every 12 minutes between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. and every 20 minutes outside those hours. Trains on these lines currently begin moving toward 12-minute service between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on weekends.
• On the bus side, some frequent lines with unused capacity would go from running five trips an hour to four when demand is less.
• Green Line service remains the same but extra hours have been added to accommodate the Crenshaw/LAX Line opening toward the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year.
• Overall, in the coming fiscal year bus service hours are about the same as this year while rail has 5.7 percent fewer hours.
As for the rest of the budget, planning and construction remain a priority as Metro continues to implement its Measure R and M programs.
The major rail projects under construction — the Crenshaw/LAX Line (scheduled to open in 2020), the Regional Connector (2022), the Purple Line Extension’s Section 1 (2023) and Section 2 (2025) and the Gold Line extension’s first section to La Verne or Pomona (2025) — the terminus will be determined by available funding.
Among other projects funded by the coming year’s budget are:
• Planning and/or design work continues on many projects including new rail and bus rapid transit lines in many parts of the county. These include a new rail station adjacent to LAX, light rail between Van Nuys and the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station, Orange Line improvements, the L.A. River Path Project, the Sepulveda Transit Corridor, light rail between Artesia and DTLA, three bus rapid transit projects (Vermont Avenue, NoHo to Pasadena and North San Fernando Valley), the third section of the Purple Line between Century City and Westwood, a Green Line extension to Torrance, an extension of the Eastside Gold Line and the Crenshaw Northern Extension.
• Continued support for several Caltrans projects, including State Route 138 Capacity Enhancements, I-5 Capacity Enhancements between the 134 and 170 and the 605 and Orange County border, High Desert Corridor, South Bay Improvements, I-710 Early Action projects, I-605 Corridor “Hot Spots,” highway operational improvements in the Arroyo Verdugo and in Las Virgenes/Malibu subregions.
• Continued support for the Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Construction Authority and grade separations Phase II projects.
• Completing the order of forty 60-foot electric buses for the Orange Line along with charging stations.
• Delivery of 207 40-foot buses and sixty-five 60-foot buses with Near Zero Emission engines.
• Continued construction of new subway cars for the Red/Purple Line with delivery expected of two prototype cars for testing.
• Midlife modernization projects for both light rail and heavy rail vehicles to preempt vehicle service issues and increase operational performance.
• Continue rail improvements focusing on the effort to modernize the Blue Line and the rebuilding of the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station.