Barely two months after raising bus fares 70% and reducing service, the regional transit system is considering further cutbacks that could affect thousands of South Bay riders.
Several residents and city officials in the South Bay are expected to protest the cuts at a public hearing Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Southern California Rapid Transit Administration Building, 425 S. Main St., Los Angeles.
The cuts are being proposed because of a possible 20% reduction in federal operating aid to transit systems nationwide, which would mean a $10-million loss to the Southern California Rapid Transit District, spokesman Rick Jager said.
Jager said the RTD's options include cutting service where ridership is low, raising fares or a combination of both.
51 Lines Affected
RTD planners have recommended reducing or eliminating service on 51 lines, including 12 that serve the South Bay. The 51 lines have 5.1 million boardings a year, less than 1% of the district's annual boarding, Jager said. Figures for just the South Bay were not available.
"These lines cost us more to operate than what we are getting in the fare box," Jager said. "They were selected because they are the least patronized and are heavily subsidized."
Jager said the affected lines cost the district $17.2 million in total annual operating costs, of which more than $14.5 million is subsidized. "That represents an 84% subsidy ratio, which makes them the least cost-effective compared to other lines in the system," he said.
In the South Bay, opposition to the proposed cuts is especially strong on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The Peninsula and the beach communities would lose lines 225 and 226, which serve Palos Verdes Drive, the main thoroughfare around the Peninsula, and run north along the coast. The lines are widely used by schoolchildren and by commuters who work in El Segundo, said Marta Espantman, the Rancho Palos Verdes administrator for PV Transit, a local bus system.
"We're not opposed to cost efficiency," she said. "We just want an opportunity to discuss it and see if other alternatives exist," such as eliminating midday service when ridership is not as high. Espantman said PV Transit could fill the gap during those hours.
Two riders who use lines 225 and 226 to commute to work said they would rather see the fares increase than lose the lines.
Redondo Beach resident Stanley Jensen, a supervisor at Hughes Aircraft Co., said eliminating the lines would force him to buy a second car for his family. "I really am quite perturbed," said Jensen, who has been riding the bus extensively for the last four years. "It's supposed to be public transportation but they're always threatening to take it away from us."
Jensen said the bus drops him off across the street from his office in the morning, picks him up in the evening near the front door of the building and takes him to within two blocks of his house.
Fare Increase OK
"I can't ask for better. I'm going to be hopping mad if they take that line," he said, adding that there is no other means of transportation nearby. "I would go along with raising the fare rather than have to go out and buy a new car."
William R. Dudman, a Hughes administrator who lives in Palos Verdes Estates, said riding the bus provides "relaxful time or useful time, instead of driving time."
Dudman said he has been riding the bus for seven years because it's cheaper than buying gasoline. "I wouldn't mind if the base rate goes up to $1. It would still be cost-effective for me over the price of gasoline," he said.
In the last two weeks, the city councils of Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes and Redondo Beach have objected to the proposed service reductions.
Palos Verdes Estates Councilwoman Barbara Culver said lines 225 and 226 are "very vital lines to a lot of transit-dependent people. These lines are heavily used by the school-aged children, domestic help and aerospace industries."
The only other South Bay line proposed for elimination is line 438, an express bus that runs along Culver and Manhattan Beach boulevards and the Santa Monica Freeway.
PROPOSED CUTS IN SERVICE
LINE ROUTE PROPOSED CUT 42 Los Angeles-Weschester-Redondo Beach Sunday 119 108th St.-Ferwood Ave. Saturday 126 Yukon Ave.-Manhattan Beach Blvd. Saturday 130 Artesia Blvd. Saturday,Sunday 147 San Pedro-Park Western Plaza-Barton Hill Saturday,Sunday 205 East Torrance-Harbor City-San Pedro Saturday,Sunday 211 Prairie Ave. Saturday 215 Inglewood Ave. Saturday 220 Robertson Blvd.-Culver Blvd.-LAX Saturday,Sunday 225 Aviation Blvd.-Palos Verdes Pen. Elimination 226 Aviation Blvd.-Palos Verdes Dr. W. Elimination 438 Culver Blvd.-Manhattan Beach Blvd. Elimination
Source: Rapid Transit District