Major L.A. County bus and rail service cuts begin today

A Metro bus driver wears a mask while driving along Soto Street in Los Angeles.
A Metro bus driver wears a mask while driving along Soto Street in Los Angeles.

(Irfan Khan/Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Angelenos will have less frequent bus and rail service starting Sunday, a decision that transit officials have said is temporary to stem a shortage of drivers.

Buses on the most heavily used lines will arrive weekdays every five to 15 minutes, on average, up from every five to 10 minutes, according to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Subway passengers will wait an average of 15 minutes for a train, up from 10; light rail riders will see waits go from eight minutes to 10.

The service cuts come as the transit agency has seen rampant COVID-19 infections among employees and difficulties in hiring and retaining drivers. The plan was a bid to avoid unexpected cancellations of routes that have plagued the region in recent months.


Bus service cancellations have risen to about 10% to 15%, an increase from the pre-pandemic averages of about 1% to 2%, Metro officials said.

The agency has about 3,400 bus and rail operators but says it needs at least an additional 586 drivers to cover all routes. Since July, 378 drivers have left the agency. Some retired; others got new jobs or were dismissed for misconduct or poor performance.

Agency leaders attribute the operator shortage to low pay, a slow hiring process and competitive labor market. Metro is considering a six-month pilot program to make new drivers full-time employees and pay $19.12 an hour, rather than having drivers start as part-time workers earning $17.75 an hour.

The agency hopes to restore the bus and rail service cuts by June, but Chief Executive Stephanie Wiggins told Metro’s board that timeline isn’t assured.

“I’m here to tell you that today, the goal is not a guarantee,” Wiggins said at the board’s Jan. 27 meeting.

Bus riders can check Metro’s online tool to see if their route’s schedule is changing.