More depressing news on the transit front. Metro will again be making cuts to service as of February 20. Service on bus lines will be reduced by about 12%. The B Line (Red) and D Line (Purple) will see a reduction of 5%, and the rest of the rail lines will be cut by around 14%.
The reason for this? Like employers all across the nation, Metro is losing drivers faster than it can hire them. This is not too surprising. The starting pay for bus drivers is $17.75 an hour for a 30-hour work week. Would you be willing to spend your day fighting LA traffic for $17.75 an hour? And as more drivers leave, those who remain must do mandatory overtime to fill in the gaps. Apparently morale is pretty low. Metro is currently offering a $3,000 signing bonus, and they also plan to raise the hourly rate for operators to $19.12, but that’s just part of a temporary pilot program.
And bus riders aren’t too happy about the situation, either. According to LAist, in the month of January about one in five scheduled bus trips were cancelled. If morale among drivers is low, you can imagine how it must be among riders.
On the one hand, you can’t really blame Metro for having staff shortages, since employers all over the country are facing the same situation. On the other hand, this is just the latest round of bad news from an agency that seems incapable of doing the job it’s supposed to do.
Remember, ridership had been dropping for years before the pandemic kicked in. From 2014 to 2019, Metro lines saw about a 20% drop in ridership. During this same period Metro kept hyping their efforts to build more rail, even though weekly rail ridership was in steady decline. Apparently this does not bother the Metro Board at all. If you look at their blog, The Source, it’s full of news about rail, rail and more rail, including the proposed Sepulveda Transit Corridor, the D Line (Purple Line) Extension and the West Santa Ana Branch Line. And from Metro’s perspective, there’s nothing but good news. Scrolling through the posts on The Source, it’s just one upbeat story after another about all the great things they’re doing. The news about the service cuts was buried under the heading “Recap of Metro Board of Directors January Meeting”.
This is the thing that bothers me most about Metro. It seems the Board is completely out of touch with reality. They go merrily along, throwing billions of dollars of taxpayer money at projects that seem to always run behind schedule and over budget, while claiming that they’re delivering state-of-the-art transit to the masses. If you listen to them, it’s all blue skies and sunshine. Meanwhile, the rain just keeps falling on those of us who actually have to rely on busses and trains to get around.
In this article LAist delivers the latest bad news.