Faced with state funding constraints and extra expenses for next year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to save money by lengthening the time between its Los Angeles County subway and light-rail trains and operating shorter trains on some routes.
For now, the reductions will involve lengthening the time between trains by "a couple of minutes," said MTA operations chief John Catoe. In addition, he said, the agency may run shorter trains during slow periods on some routes. But he insisted that most passengers would not sharply feel the impact.
The MTA will also lay off 80 to 100 employees out of its 8,900-person workforce. However, the agency will also add 98 new employees to operate and maintain the new Orange Line busway system in the San Fernando Valley, which is to open in the fall.
The plans were detailed Thursday in the agency's proposed $2.8-billion budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year, which reflects a tightening of state and federal money for transportation. Sales taxes account for more than half of MTA's revenue; federal, state and local grants, about 22%; fares and advertising, about 10%.
"We're walking a financial tightrope here," said MTA Chief Executive Roger Snoble, who blamed a court order requiring a high level of bus service for a $51.3-million shortfall in bus operations.
Without new state funding, riders could face worse cuts in service by 2007, Snoble said at a news conference. "We can't sustain this level of operations for more than a year," he said.
Besides a $75.7-million reduction in state funds and losses on bus operations, the MTA also expects to spend $5.9 million more than expected on fuel and $9.3 million to maintain the Orange Line busway.
Still, the proposed budget does not include a fare hike, and it continues several major projects, including the planned Exposition Line light rail and an extension of the Gold Line to East Los Angeles. The agency plans to add three Metro Rapid bus lines, on Fairfax Avenue and Beverly and Lincoln boulevards.
The new budget also funds several carpool lane projects, including sections of the Golden State, Antelope Valley and San Diego freeways.
The MTA board will hear budget presentations Monday.