Wednesday, February 6, 2008

San Fernando Valley Service Cuts Hearing Report

Francisca Sanchez didn't testify but made her opinion known.

More than 60 people showed up to ask Metro to cancel or modify some of their proposed service cuts in San Fernando Valley earlier this evening (Wednesday). What wasn't surprising was that so many members of the public came out on a Christian religious holiday, but that the members of the Service Sector Board (more on that tomorrow) seemed as aghast at the proposed cuts as the general public was.

Service cuts hearings are a rare time when the transit activist groups can all agree. A representative from the BRU wondered what happened to the promise that last year's fare increase while the Transit Coalition raged that proposed cuts are "destroying the bus network." A representative for SO.CA.TA also spoke against some of the cuts, but I he was speaking so fast (to try and get his comments within the limit) and was speaking on so many different lines that I had trouble following him.

It wasn't just the usual suspects blasting Metro's plans. Advocates for the disabled, the elderly, college students at L.A. Mission College (who would lose the only transit line to their campus) and a representative for Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes all testified against parts or all of the planned cuts. There was even a cameo appearance from a representative for LADOT who called the proposal "premature" and noted the plan would "inconvenience a lot of people."

There were plenty of members of the riding public who weren't there to move an agenda, but to plead for the lines that connect them from where they live to where they work, shop, worship, eat and play.

Sean Ewell Murphy, speaking on behalf of his wife, noted that cutting Line 224 would lead to his wife having to walk over a mile just to reach the bus stop and warned the board that "you would disenfranchise her from riding the bus." Bus rider Chuck Erickson noted that he rode line 154 to the hearing and "It didn't seem empty to me." The 154 is one of the routes that may be eliminated.

Some of the commentors noted that previous cuts had left service so poor on lines that it isn't a surprise that people are abandoning the lines. Others noted that some of the routes due to be cut are heading toward major trip generators in the future. For example, NBC Studios is moving many of its operations to Universal Studios who's line from San Fernando is being cut.

The most popular lines that are facing the ax are the 154 and 155 out of Burbank Station, 168 (connecting San Fernando to Chatsworth) and the 634 (which is the aforementioned connection to L.A. Mission College.) While each line will be fought for individually by those that ride it, more than one person testifying that they could think of a way for Metro to trim a lot of the $100 million needed to close its operating deficit.

1 comment:

Kymberleigh Richards said...

Of course, what most people who believe service could be preserved if construction projects were halted don't know (because the BRU has done such a great job at blurring reality) is that money used for capital projects, such as rail construction, are a separate "pot" of money than that used to operate service.

And capital funds cannot be used to operate service. There are legal restrictions on both the state and federal level which prevents the Metro Board of Directors from doing so.

While I agree that the rail gating proposal is a bad idea, the money that would be used to install those gates would be capital funds. (The fact that there would be an annual operating cost, which would come from funds that could run bus service, is a different matter that doesn't enter into the present discussion on bus service reductions.)

So calling for a halt to capital projects as a "solution" to the service cuts is not going to find an audience at the Metro Board, because they already know it isn't legally an option. In fact, every time the BRU insists that, they lose a little more credibility before the Board.