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RTD Proposes to Eliminate 3 Valley Bus Lines

Times Staff Writer

The latest proposed RTD cutbacks in bus service call for elimination of two express lines from the San Fernando Valley to downtown Los Angeles and bus Route 150, which runs the length of Ventura Boulevard and into Hollywood.

The cutbacks are part of the second phase of a five-part “service reduction program” created by the Rapid Transit District in March in response to steep cuts in federal and state funding for mass transit, General Manager John A. Dyer said Thursday.

The proposal also calls for cuts in service in the Echo Park area, but 80% of this round of cutbacks would be in the Valley, RTD officials said.

About 60 people, some delivering petitions and others saying they represented riders, attended a hearing on the proposed cuts at the downtown offices of the Southern California Rapid Transit District. The hearing was called by the RTD Board of Directors to get public reaction before the changes are put to a vote July 17.

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Would Take Effect Sept. 28

Any changes approved by the board will take effect Sept. 28.

The net effect on Valley service would be a reduction of 8,000 “revenue hours,"--hours of bus time in service--RTD officials said. But the effect on riders will be small, and in some cases beneficial, they argued.

Many of those who testified, however, were skeptical of such assertions. The proposal that sparked the most public criticism was the cancellation of Line 150, which runs from Hollywood through Cahuenga Pass and makes stops along Ventura Boulevard west to Woodland Hills.

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“The 150 is the cornerstone of that corridor,” said John Walsh, a rider who said he takes the line frequently.

“Have you ridden the 150 at rush hour?” asked Bill Hunter, who said he often rides from Hollywood to Woodland Hills. “It’s packed to the doors.”

Steven Parry, the RTD’s bus planning manager, said that the loss of 150 would be offset by rerouting of lines 424 and 425, which now run between downtown and Northridge. They would run instead from downtown to Warner Center and Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Woodland Hills.

Warner Center would be the “biggest winner” with the new plan, Parry said, because “there will now be access to the Ventura Boulevard corridor and express service to downtown.”

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Other changes proposed by RTD officials include:

Adding a line, S-167, between Van Nuys and Chatsworth.

Extending Line 183, which now runs between Glendale and North Hollywood, to the Sherman Oaks Galleria.

Cutting back on Line 420, which is plagued by delays because of its 33-mile length, so that it operates only between downtown and the Panorama City Shopping Center. It now goes to Northridge.

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Adding a line along Reseda Boulevard between Ventura Boulevard and Devonshire Street.

Canceling the 421 and 422 express lines, which run from Northridge through Universal City and Sherman Oaks to downtown Los Angeles.

Express lines are especially costly to maintain, Parry said.

Donna Simms, who is blind, said she has taken the 421 or 422 lines to and from work in downtown Los Angeles for five years. She said alternatives would involve transfers and crowded conditions. “I take buses practically everywhere I go,” she said.

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Dolores Hutton, a frequent bus rider from Hollywood, asked: “Why should there be bus-line cuts in Los Angeles when there is an increase in population?”

Dyer said the RTD recognizes that bus use is growing. But expected federal and state cuts in funding for mass transit add up to a "$24-million problem” for Los Angeles riders, he said.

Some loss in service is inevitable, Dyer said. “You can’t get five gallons out of a two-gallon can.”


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