Foothill Transit Zone Trial Starts Monday in L.A.

Opening arguments are scheduled Mondayon a court challenge to the San Gabriel Valley's Foothill Transit Zone, which began bus service late last year.

Drivers and mechanics of the Southern California Rapid Transit District sued the zone last year, claiming that the agency threatened union jobs and constituted an illegal breakup of the RTD. The trial was scheduled to begin this week in Los Angeles Superior Court, but Judge Eli Chernow continued the case because one of the attorneys involved had a personal emergency.

The transit zone, which was established and funded by the county Transportation Commission, is operating former RTD commuter routes from Glendora and Diamond Bar to downtown Los Angeles. It plans to expand its service by August. Its basic cash fare is 85 cents, compared to the RTD fare of $1.10.

The United Transportation Union and the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represent the RTD drivers and mechanics, had sought to bar the commission from implementing or funding the zone on the basis that the commission has no power to establish a regional transit agency. The issue of whether the Foothill zone is a "regional" or "local" zone will be decided at the trial.

Last summer, Chernow barred the transfer of the RTD lines to the zone without the RTD's consent. The RTD board subsequently gave its consent in exchange for the commission's release of $50 million in funds the Transportation Commission had withheld.

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