The governing board of the fledgling Foothill Transit Zone, which lacks the $5 million needed to buy 30 more buses, has asked the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission to pick up the tab.
But the commission's staff has recommended against the request, citing the uncertainty surrounding the zone's future.
On April 10, a trial is set to begin in Los Angeles Superior Court on a lawsuit brought by Southern California Rapid Transit District drivers and mechanics challenging Foothill Transit's existence. The drivers and mechanics contend that Foothill Transit, which is slated to take over 20 former RTD lines over a three-year period, threatens their jobs and represents an illegal breakup of the massive transit operator.
Since late last year, 26 Foothill Transit buses have been doing standing-room-only service on two former RTD express routes from the eastern San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles. The zone contracts with Embree Bus Lines to operate the service, and will soon select a bus operator to assume service on six local lines beginning in July, for which they need the new buses.
Foothill and commission officials say they are confident that the zone will prevail in court. But the commission staff said the agency should not commit to providing the $5 million and then be placed in the position of owning an unneeded fleet if the RTD unions win and the transit zone is ruled illegal.