City Council Wants Data on Red Line Subway Costs

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Worried that lax accounting and lavish spending by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission might be inflating the city's share of costs on the Metro Red Line subway, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to demand an update on the project's costs and overruns.

A Transportation Commission spokeswoman said the commission will provide the information requested, but added that the agency already had planned to provide a detailed accounting.

The city of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $34 million toward the cost of the first 4.4 miles of subway--between Union Station and MacArthur Park--as well as half of all cost overruns up to 10% of the "estimated cost" of the project.

City and Transportation Commission staff differ over whether the 10% cap applies to the initial $1.25-billion cost estimate or a more recent estimate of $1.45 billion, including overruns.

For the 6.7-mile second leg between MacArthur Park and Hollywood, the city has agreed to pay $96 million upfront, plus half of all overruns up to 5% of the total project cost.

"The council hasn't gotten any recent reports on those two segments and just wanted to see what's going on," said Niki Tennant, an aide to Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, who sponsored the council motion. "With all the controversy about spending and overruns at the LACTC, she just felt it was time for an update, which we should be getting regularly anyway."

The Times reported last week that the Transportation Commission has spent money freely in recent years for travel, meals, entertainment, automobiles and staff perks. During a recent 18-month period, bills for such items totaled at least $2.9 million.

The council asked the commission for a written report itemizing all cost overruns on the first Red Line segment and estimating those for the second segment, which is scheduled to open for service in stages starting in 1996. The report is due April 3.

At the same time, the council ordered the city's Department of Transportation and the city administrative officer to prepare a second report on how Red Line overruns are affecting the city's overall transportation budget. That report is due April 10.

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