"The next person is going to have to be hardheaded about the market for some of these capital investments," said Genevieve Giuliano, a USC professor who teaches transportation policy and urban planning. If not, she said, the cost of running and building rail could drain agency coffers.
Officials with the Bus Riders Union, perhaps the MTA's steadiest critic, said they too worried that investment in rail would lead to more overcrowding on buses. They also want an agency chief willing to fight for more bus-only lanes.
"The reality is that there hasn't been that much improvement" of buses under Snoble, said Manuel Criollo, a lead organizer for the group.
Snoble said that he's tired of the rail versus bus controversy. "I've always thought it such a ridiculous argument," Snoble said. "They're all transit tools, and we just have to use the right tool in the right place. I come out of a bus environment and I believe until you have the bus just as competitive or even better than the automobile, it's not going to work" in terms of attracting riders.
Snoble said that one of the things he's most pleased about is that he's become a regular rider of the MTA's Gold Line from Pasadena.
"I really wanted to live the life that I've been preaching for a long time and have more of an urban life," Snoble said. "It's been really nice -- I liked it and my carbon footprint is greatly reduced."