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MTA Assailed Over Plans for Bus Cutbacks

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Public transit officials should either maintain current bus service in the San Fernando Valley or provide more shuttles, Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson said Wednesday.

Bernson, an outspoken critic of proposed cutbacks by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said that thousands of bus riders in the Valley would suffer if off-peak-hour bus service on various routes is reduced as planned by the MTA.

“I am very unhappy with some of the proposed cutbacks,” Bernson said in a statement. “It looks like the Valley is taking a particularly hard hit, and this is unacceptable.”

Bernson, who is a member of the MTA board, plans to submit proposals to the City Council and the MTA board to maintain bus service or increase so-called smart shuttles.

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Last month, the MTA announced plans to reduce off-peak bus service on some routes, including about a dozen in the Valley, and raise rail fares 50 cents to improve the agency’s bottom line. The agency has a $50.6-million deficit in its operating budget.

MTA officials have said the cutback proposal concentrates mainly on lightly used routes. It involves fewer than half of the MTA’s estimated 180 bus lines and only about 10% of all riders, they said. The MTA says there are more than 1 million bus boardings on an average weekday, about 119,000 of them in the Valley.

Transit officials said many of the changes would probably go unnoticed by riders. In addition, alternatives would include shuttles with flexible routes. Riders would not be expected to walk more than a quarter-mile from their normal stops to find a parallel route or some other solution that would meet their needs, officials said.

However, many bus riders and their supporters say that the changes would be too harsh.

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