Wouldn't it be great if we could move public transportation across the city of Los Angeles as easily as the avenging thieves of the film "The Italian Job" moved their fleet of get-away Mini Coopers by hacking into the transit authority's computers and making all the lights turn green at the right moment? Unfortunately, there is no magical solution to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's need to cut costs without raising fares and still get bus and train passengers everywhere on time as often as possible.
For years, the MTA has crunched the numbers of miles and buses and passenger boardings and load capacity to figure out where to cut back or increase service. Along the way, it has occasionally stumbled. It ran afoul of civil rights laws and agreed to abide by a federal consent decree that was in effect for 10 years, until 2006. So it's disconcerting to see the agency being scolded by the Federal Transit Administration for once again courting a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act — this time by not completely analyzing whether cutbacks on dozens of bus service routes since December 2009 would unfairly affect minority passengers.
MTA officials say they have already done some of the required analyses. They also say that while service cuts may deprive some riders of the convenience of a one-seat ride all the way to their destination, they don't strand riders — there are always alternative buses and trains.