The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted Thursday to end the agency’s contract with the Los Angeles Police Department and instead have the county Sheriff’s Department take over all transit police services.
The 9-3 vote, which came after the board rejected last-minute pleas from Mayor James K. Hahn and Police Chief William J. Bratton, will mean a loss of nearly $30 million a year for the city. It also means that starting May 1, sheriff’s deputies will be patrolling the Red Line subway and all buses in the city.
“This is shortsighted and unfortunate for the citizens of Los Angeles,” said Bratton, formerly the chief of New York City’s transit police.
The LAPD now provides about 200 officers and the sheriff about 150 officers to the transit agency, according to the MTA. Hahn said the LAPD officers now assigned to the MTA will be redeployed to city streets.
Since last summer, MTA officials have sought wholesale changes in the way their system is policed because the agency spends much more on security than other transit agencies -- $49.3 million for this fiscal year.
When the MTA solicited new bids, the LAPD raised its price, so that the total cost to the MTA would be $54.5 million. But the Sheriff’s Department offered to take over all operations, with about the same number of officers, for $47.2 million.
The MTA board was poised to award the entire contract to the Sheriff’s Department last month, but a vote was delayed so two absent directors could take part.
On Wednesday, LAPD officials made a last-minute bid to cut administrative staff and shrink the management ranks of its transit police division, reducing the difference between the police offer and the sheriff’s to about $2 million.
On Thursday, Hahn, a member of the MTA board, surprised fellow board members by offering to have the city pick up the tab for the difference.
But other directors were not interested, saying the last-minute proposals were not backed by a detailed analysis of costs and that they did not want to further delay a vote.
Also Thursday, MTA directors decided to delay voting on some proposed cuts to bus service in the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley and south Los Angeles after hearing protests from more than two dozen bus riders.
Riders said the cuts would force them to walk farther to bus stops, make more transfers and require more time to travel.
“Overall, it results in a decrease in county mobility,” said Ted Robertson, an organizer for the Bus Riders Union, which estimated that 15,000 people countywide would be harmed by the cuts.