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RTD Focus Obscures Big Picture, Dyer Says

January 24, 1987|TED VOLLMER | Times Staff Writer

Embattled RTD General Manager John Dyer said Friday that many of Los Angeles' leaders are failing to address the area's worsening transportation congestion, and he said part of the reason is the storm over his handling of the bus system's operations.

"They are not paying any attention" to the area's broader transportation problems, Dyer told 300 Rotary club members at a luncheon.

"Everyone keeps saying, 'John Dyer ought to resign,' but that's immaterial right now," he said, then adding, "If I have to leave to get this system straightened out, I'll be the first one to do that."

After the luncheon, Dyer appeared startled when he was pressed by reporters to identify just which leaders he thought were not listening to him and whether he might actually be considering resignation. At first, the RTD chief balked at the questions, but then asked for time to collect his thoughts.

No Names

Several moments later, Dyer declined to identify any specific individuals who may be ignoring forecasts that traffic congestion will worsen in the coming years, but he said there nevertheless were many officials who had not fully grasped the seriousness of the situation. He also repeated past statements that he has no intention of resigning.

Dyer's resignation comment was the first time he has publicly stated that he would even consider leaving the high-profile post he has held since August, 1981. Although denying he actually would resign, Dyer's statement reflects the growing pressure on him to turn around the beleaguered Southern California Rapid Transit District.

Earlier this week, Dyer sidestepped three direct demands from Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich that he promise to quit if an "action plan" now under consideration by the RTD board fails to significantly improve operations within six months.

Among other things, Dyer proposes major reductions in district employee absenteeism and drug and alcohol use as well as an improved management structure.

Much Criticism

Although he has endured much criticism in recent months, Antonovich and former Rep. Bobbi Fiedler--a longtime Dyer critic--are the only public figures who have called for Dyer's resignation.

But at the same time, due in large part to a steady stream of news articles exposing RTD's shortcomings, Dyer has been increasingly on the defensive, even with RTD board members who have traditionally allowed him a free hand in running the district.

During Friday's address at the Los Angeles Hilton, Dyer spoke for about 20 minutes on what he called the overextended bus, freeway and street systems in Southern California. Within the next decade, he said, the RTD's daily boardings will increase by 1 million a day from the current 1.5 million passenger boardings.

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