Sometimes Supervisor Pete Schabarum gets more flak than he deserves. A Times editorial ("Villain of the Buses," Dec. 2) accused him of single-handedly taking on the Southern California Rapid Transit District. For several years the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission has worked as a group to try to control rising costs at the RTD. RTD has the highest bus fares in the county. It proposes to either raise fares again or cut service to meet budget deficits, but meanwhile continues to be one of the few operators in the nation that provides both automatic yearly wage increases and cost-of-living increases. But despite generous wage benefits, RTD drivers were found to be absent 50% more than drivers of Chicago, New York or New Jersey buses.
A plan to resolve our differences has been approved by the LACTC. Schabarum helped to develop this plan, which is based on the original agreement drafted by Mayor Tom Bradley and Supervisor Deane Dana. We see that RTD would rather file lawsuits, threaten riders, and blame Schabarum than support more effective public transit at less cost--which suggests that the black hat is on the wrong villain.