Cities Pursue Scaled-Down Transit Plans

Times Staff Writer

Nearly nine months after officials from the South Bay's 15 cities couldn't agree on how to collectively tackle the area's transportation needs, two cooperative transportation projects are being pursued on a smaller scale.

The South Bay's three cities with fixed-route bus lines--Torrance, Gardena and Carson--have tentatively agreed to hook up with the Southern California Rapid Transit District's computerized customer information system so that South Bay riders can get route and schedule information for the four lines with a single telephone call.

In the other project, Hermosa Beach is seeking funding from seven other cities, including Los Angeles, to conduct a study to determine the needs of commuters to the El Segundo area from the coastal cities, central Torrance and the Los Angeles Harbor area. The goal is to get more people to use public transportation to commute to El Segundo's aerospace companies.

As of early this week, four cities--Hermosa Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, Lawndale and El Segundo--had each agreed to kick in $5,000 for the study. The request was being reviewed by three other cities--Torrance, Redondo Beach and Los Angeles--and one, Manhattan Beach, had decided not to contribute.

Would Go It Alone

Lisa Breisacher, a planning aide in Hermosa Beach, said the study will go forward even if no other cities contribute to it.

"Rancho Palos Verdes and Hermosa Beach have both approved the study, and we will proceed even if the other cities don't approve it," Breisacher said. The study was initially to involve only the two cities, before it was decided that others might want to participate, she said.

Both projects are expected to receive matching funds from the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, which will review them at its June 24 meeting.

The projects were two of many proposed at a meeting last fall of the South Bay Corridor Steering Committee, a panel of elected officials formed to address transportation issues.

Consultant Rejected

But the discussion at that time centered on a proposal by Rancho Palos Verdes Councilwoman Jacki Bacharach that each of the cities contribute $3,000 to hire a full-time coordinator for the committee. That proposal was withdrawn, however, when many of the cities balked at paying the money, saying there was no need to create another bureaucracy.

The elected officials finally decided that their staff members should meet and try to address some of the issues brought up before the steering committee.

The joint telephone information line and the commuter study are a result of those meetings.

"We met and said that we would try to do one idea at a time, and focus on specific cities that would be directly involved," said Robert Hildebrande, administrative analyst with the Torrance Department of Transportation. Hildebrande is leading the effort for the joint telephone line.

The city councils of the three cities participating in the telephone information project have not yet voted on it, but the staffs in each of the cities are recommending approval. Torrance is scheduled to review the proposal at its June 16 meeting, while Gardena and Carson are expected to vote on it in early July.

Hildebrande said a central telephone number for bus riders would eliminate the need to call each bus system to get from one city to another, as is currently required.

The project will cost an estimated $177,000, with the county Transportation Commission paying half and the three cities providing the balance. The individual assessments, based on estimated use, would have Torrance paying $42,000, Gardena $36,000 and Carson $10,500.

The telephone service could begin in December, Hildebrande said, and would be handled at first by RTD operators. But the plan is to administer the service from the Torrance transit offices in the 1988-89 fiscal year, he said.

The commuter transit study proposed by Hermosa Beach is expected to cost between $50,000 and $80,000 and be completed by January.

In particular, the study will explore whether the Hermosa Commuter Bus, which takes riders to the El Segundo area during peak morning and evening hours on weekdays, can be expanded to include other coastal and Peninsula cities.

The study also would determine the feasibility of expanding the Torrance Transit System's Line 8--which now runs along Hawthorne Boulevard between Pacific Coast Highway and the Galleria at South Bay at Artesia Boulevard--into the El Segundo area and Los Angeles International Airport.

The study will also look at ways of bringing commuters from San Pedro and Wilmington into the El Segundo area.

Success Expected

Rancho Palos Verdes' Bacharach predicted that transportation planning in the South Bay will be successful with fewer than all 15 cities participating.

"We regrouped to look at other options, and we decided this time not to involve everyone," said Bacharach, who is also a member of the county Transportation Commission. "I'm hoping all eight cities will get involved, but we're prepared to do it as a two-city effort."

El Segundo City Manager Art Jones, whose city is the destination for many of the South Bay's commuters, said the City Council did not hesitate to contribute to the study. "I think it certainly is appropriate," he said.

Lawndale Mayor Sarann Kruse, whose tiny city is intersected by Hawthorne Boulevard and the San Diego Freeway, said transportation alternatives are necessary.

"That's one of the greatest needs in the South Bay, if not all of Los Angeles," she said. "We can't just sit here and do nothing any more."

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