Metro held its annual State of the Agency event last Monday at Union Station.
As we do each year, the event was a chance to look back at our work over the past fiscal year — and put forth goals for this coming fiscal year. (Our fiscal year began July 1 and runs through next June 30).
This fiscal year has brought immense change to Metro, as the agency works to restore ridership and improve the customer experience while delivering the largest transit capital program in the country.
Last year’s Metro Board Chair Ara Najarian also handed over the ceremonial gavel to Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, whose term as Board Chair began July 1 and runs through next June 30.
Video of the entire program is above and separate videos of speeches by Board Chair Bass, Board Member Najarian and Janice Hahn, and CEO Stephanie Wiggins are posted below.
Not surprisingly, each speaker discussed our work on the public safety front — an issue that has been at the forefront of our work the past year. We believe we’re making progress. Overall crime fell in May by 53% on the rail system and 13% on our buses. Customer complaints have also decreased and loitering and trespassing are both down. More people are paying fares.
Here are some of our accomplishments this past fiscal year, as well as goals for the year ahead:
We opened two new rail projects last fiscal year, the first time in the agency’s history that’s happened.
The initial operating segment of the K Line in Inglewood and South LA opened last October. The K Line now operates between Expo/Crenshaw and Westchester/Veterans, and we’re aiming to open the rest of the K Line and connect it to the C Line in 2024. Directly related to that, construction of the LAX/Metro Transit Center Station — which is along the new K Line and will serve both C and K Line trains — is 64% complete. Once the K Line fully opens, you’ll be able to take a one-seat ride on it from Expo/Crenshaw, through the LAX/Metro Transit Center, to Redondo Beach. The C Line will run from Norwalk to LAX.
We also opened our Regional Connector project with its three new underground stations serving our new A and E Lines. As readers of the Source know, there was no connection between the old Gold Line and the Blue and Expo Lines for many years.
With the Regional Connector, we consolidated those three lines into two, enabling one-seat trips from Azuza to Long Beach and from East LA to Santa Monica. The three new stations — at Little Tokyo/Arts District, Historic Broadway and Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill — feature some incredible public art, and have attracted new riders to those lines.
Ridership on the A and E Lines is now about 13% higher than it was on the old Blue, Gold, and Expo Lines before the Regional Connector opened.
We also worked hard last fiscal year to improve our bus service.
We fully restored our bus service to pre-pandemic levels — to give people more frequent and convenient service. We greatly reduced the bus operator shortage by hiring 1,000 new bus operators, which has helped us add service and has also greatly reduced canceled bus trips. In June 2022, 3.4% of our bus trips were canceled — a number that dropped to 1.1% this past June. (Our bus cancelation report is online here).
And we added to our network of bus priority lanes in the city of LA, most recently opening them up on Venice Boulevard. In the last two years we’ve added 36 miles of bus priority lanes to speed up trips — and more are on the way. Work on new lanes on La Brea is underway and they’re forecast to open next month to help speed up trips and help buses stay on schedule.
We’ll also be adding more Metro Transit Security Officers to our buses, to help keep our bus patrons and hardworking operators safe.
To give people a better customer experience on Metro, we added more than 300 Metro Ambassadors to the system.
The Metro Ambassadors have had 365,000 contacts with customers — helping them find their way around and simply feel more comfortable while riding Metro. We’ve also increased the visibility of staff on our system — law enforcement, our Transit Security Officers, custodians and other staff, especially on our rail lines.
We did a lot of work in the last fiscal year to improve access to Metro for our riders.
The GoPass program, which provides free fares for K-12 and community college students at participating schools/districts in L.A. County helped push student ridership to all-time highs. There were 16.7 million rides using our GoPass that more than tripled the number of GoPass rides the previous year. Based on data from this program and our other student discount programs, more students are riding Metro today than prior to the pandemic.
We also signed up 89,036 people for our LIFE low-income fare program in the past fiscal year, almost doubling the number of people in the program. People can also sign up for the LIFE program when applying for assistance from the LA County Department of Public Social Services, which has helped us greatly increase the number of participants in the program.
All these efforts are helping us move the needle on Metro’s ridership. In June we posted our seventh consecutive month of year-over-year ridership increases and we had 269 million boardings in calendar year 2022 — an increase from 255 million in 2021. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but Our CEO Stephanie Wiggins summed it up best by saying:
“We’ve shown that we can make big improvements to our system. And now we’re in growth mode. This year, our primary goal is to earn back our riders and regain their trust.
“We are determined to make public transportation the preferred choice for all. If recent challenges and changing circumstances caused you to step away from public transportation, I want you to know that we are fully committed to providing an exceptional transit experience for everyone.”
We encourage you to watch the speeches — which are below. Lot of interestingness in all of them about our wide variety of services, projects and programs. Photos of the event are here.