Opinion: Metro is once again expanding rail at the expense of bus service. It’s time for another consent decree.

Passengers crowd a Metro bus in downtown Los Angeles. Trips taken on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's sprawling bus and rail system dropped in 2016 by nearly 6%.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The only surprise in Metro’s continued ridership drop is that anyone is surprised. Metro is not surprised: It engineered the drop. (“The Metro can take you farther than ever. Here’s why ridership dropped — again,” Feb. 13)

The only recent interval in which L.A. transit ridership consistently increased was when federal Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr.’s consent decree mandated that Metro improve bus service. Between 1996 and 2007, Metro could build as much new rail as it wanted, but it could no longer cannibalize bus services to do so. Special Master Donald Bliss oversaw Metro’s bus operations.

The consent decree expired in 2007, Bliss departed, and Metro went back to expanding rail operations at the expense of bus service, reconfiguring bus lines to feed trains and maximize transfers (L.A. transit trips have more than twice the national average number of transfers), reducing bus service and raising fares.

It is time to go back to court.


James E. Moore II, Los Angeles

The writer is a USC transportation engineering professor.


To the editor: Why aren’t people riding the bus? Surely ride sharing is one reason, but as a frequent Metro rider of both bus and rail, I know that when I get on a bus there’s a good chance that someone will be causing a scene.

You will encounter such discomfort on the rail network as well, but the trains are quick, the sheriff’s deputies occasionally pop in to see if you’ve paid the fare, and for the most part there’s less tolerance for bad behavior.

People know they may be in for a wild ride on the bus, and I’m all right with that sometimes. But most people just want to get from Point A to Point B without feeling unsafe and annoyed.

Anthony Bevilacqua, Eagle Rock



To the editor: There are some opportunities presented by the lower ridership on Metro bus lines. More empty bus seats creates opportunities for others to fill them.

For those concerned about the environment, riding buses is promoted by environmental groups and government agencies as a solution for reducing air pollution in the Los Angeles basin and fighting global warming.

For the harried driver, riding buses beats sitting in Los Angeles’ notriously bad traffic, now confirmed as the world’s worst. Riding the bus involves walking, a healthful habit promoted by medical professionals.

On buses, many passengers with their mobile devices send and receive text messages, read e-mails or watch programs without the dangers that doing so while driving would cause.


Matthew Hetz, Los Angeles

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