(or, how Metro got out from under the huge operating deficit created by the ten years of the Consent Decree)
In 2009, Metro was faced with a significant operating deficit as a result of a reduction in state operating subsidies, fare revenue,
and overextending the amount of service provided when the Consent Decree was in force. In order to resolve the deficit, Metro undertook a plan to more efficiently allocate service and focus on providing higher quality service. They established a Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) of key stakeholders to establish policy guidance for transit service development.
The BRC was charged with developing the basis for amending the specific service design guidelines, performance metrics and standards within the Transit Service Policy, developing future service adjustments, and establishing formal processes for the coordination of service between Metro and other transit operators. To do this, they were asked to identify and prioritize service quality attributes, and recommend guidance on service coordination, bus-rail integration, and the reduction or elimination of duplicative services.
The policy recommendations were approved by the Metro Board of Directors July 22, 2010, after six months of meetings by the BRC. The recommendations were then translated into a set of service design guidelines, performance metrics and standards which were used both to evaluate the system and to identify opportunities for service improvement. The thus-revised Transit Service Policy was used to restructure Metro's bus service, starting with the December 2010 service changes.
The BRC consisted of five Metro Governance Councilmembers (one from each of the five Councils), a member of the Metro Citizens' Advisory Council, representatives of five non-Metro transit agencies (LADOT, Norwalk Transit, Pasadena ARTS, Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus, and West Hollywood CityLine), four area business organizations (the San Fernando Valley was represented by the Valley Industry and Commerce Association) and representatives from the Los Angeles Community College District and the University of Southern California. Attachment A of the staff report contains the policy recommendations and guidelines approved by the Board. In the area of service design, the BRC recommended that the rail system, Metro Rapid, and the Orange and Silver Lines serve as a "backbone" fed and complemented by the regional bus network. Less-frequent local bus services were seen as an augmention to the regional network for better geographic coverage but closely-spaced services were proposed for consolidation into fewer, more frequent services at a half-mile to mile route spacing.
For this series of service change programs, Metro staff used a "clustering" approach to proposals involving several lines and grouped all the lines together for each proposal. We have used the same groupings for the pages here. Where a line was cancelled (either wholly or in part, with no restructuring) or extended without a public hearing, we have made a reference to that in the list rather than create a separate page for that line; the staff reports include the maps and data for these lines, if the reader is interested in those details. The staff reports also include summaries of the public hearing comments.
It also must be noted that with the dissolution of the "service sector" operating model, the former sector Governance Councils were renamed Service Councils at the beginning of the 2011-12 fiscal year. Therefore, the line pages refer to the SFV Council by its original name for actions through June 30, 2011 and by its new name thereafter.
The December 2011 service change program was suspended after an audit by the Federal Transit Administration raised questions about the implementation of several changes systemwide. Those changes were implemented June 17, 2012; staff subsequently decided to defer the December 2012 service change program while they completed a FTA request for a Title VI review of the previous service change programs from 2009 and 2010. In October 2012, after the Department of Justice changed the FTA's involvement in the review process, Metro determined that the review would not be completed by year's end and in 2013 made only minor service changes which were not subject to the public hearing process.
On March 28, 2013, the Metro Board of Directors gave the Service Councils responsibility for conducting the triennial review of the Transit Service Policy. We have opted to continue calling this the "Blue Ribbon Committee" era because the policy changes implemented in 2010 remained the guiding force even after the responsibility for ongoing policy changes was transferred to the Councils.
Lines 90 & 290 (Foothill Blvd.) - Line 290 replaced by extension of Line 90 (While the staff presentation shows that both Lines 90 and 91 would be extended, it was subsequently determined that only Line 90 trips would be used for the extension in order to simplify bus stop signage.)
Lines 169 & 222 (Sunland Blvd.-Hollywood Way) - overlapping weekend service interlined; deferred to June 2014
The December, 2013 service change program consisted entirely of minor reroutes and other changes which did not require a public hearing. Therefore, there are no individual line pages as they would contain no information beyond the staff handouts.
Lines 94-794 (San Fernando Rd.) - realigned in Burbank via Empire Ave.; Line 94 north terminal relocated
Line 154 (Oxnard St.-Burbank Blvd.) - realigned to serve LADOT park-ride lot in Encino¹
Line 161 (Thousand Oaks Transit Center) - Saturday service extended to TOTC¹
Line 167 (Coldwater Canyon Ave.) - night service extended to Orange Line and Studio City¹
Line 239 (White Oak Ave.) - peak-hour service extended to Tarzana; implementation delayed to June, 2014
Line 588 (Valley-Westwood Express) - implementation delayed to December, 2014
¹ - "Motion 79" changes (to implement a motion passed by the Metro Board of Directors on July 26, 2012 to improve connectivity between Metro and bus/rail service provided by other agencies in Los Angeles County, later expanded in scope to include connectivity to and from Metro's "backbone" Rapid, busway, subway and light rail service).
DISCLAIMER: Kymberleigh Richards, who operates the Transit Insider website, served on the BRC in her capacity as a Metro San Fernando Valley Governance Councilmember. She was also considered the "transit user" stakeholder representative due to her position at the time as the Public and Legislative Affairs Director of Southern California Transit Advocates.
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