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Riders Seek Extension of MTA Upgrade Decree

Times Staff Writer

Arguing that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has not done enough to make its bus system better, a mass transit advocacy group is seeking to extend a 10-year federal consent decree mandating bus upgrades throughout Los Angeles County.

The Bus Riders Union filed a motion with a federally appointed monitor Monday, asking that the decree be extended six years. Instead of ending in 2006, it would end in 2012.

“The MTA has been stalling since this started,” said Erica Teasley, a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing the Bus Riders Union in the case. “An extension is needed because the MTA has to make up for lost time.”

In 1996, the MTA agreed to the consent decree in an effort to head off a class action led by the riders union over allegations that the MTA had neglected bus service in minority communities.

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The two sides have been at loggerheads ever since, particularly because the MTA has never met stringent requirements to alleviate crowding.

The latest requirement stipulated that MTA buses were not to average more than eight people standing and unable to find a seat.

The motion will be considered by Donald Bliss, a Washington attorney appointed by a federal court to oversee the consent decree.

MTA officials contend the motion lacks merit, pointing out that bus service has markedly improved since 1996, an observation most experts agree with. The agency has long contended that the crowding standards are impossible to meet, particularly given the size of Los Angeles County.

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“We are not prepared to go another six years,” said MTA Deputy Chief John Catoe.

The motion comes as the MTA prepares to appeal a recent ruling by Bliss demanding that the agency purchase 145 buses and put thousands of hours of extra service on county roads.


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