Federal officials to investigate fairness of LA Metro's planned bus service cuts

Members of the Bus Riders Union rallied out side L.A. Metro headquarters to call attention to the planned cuts to bus lines. They claim the reductions in service will disproportionally hurt poor and minority communities.
Members of the Bus Riders Union rallied out side L.A. Metro headquarters to call attention to the planned cuts to bus lines. They claim the reductions in service will disproportionally hurt poor and minority communities. Sanden Totten/KPCC

A public transit advocacy group is praising the news that a federal agency will take a look at bus line cuts in Los Angeles. The Federal Transit Administration plans to see if poor and minority communities will be hurt too much by L.A. Metro bus service cutbacks.

The Bus Riders Union filed a civil rights complaint last fall to spark the investigation. At a rally Thursday outside Metro headquarters, bus rider and activist Crystal McMillan said the proposed 8 percent cut to Metro bus lines sends a clear message.

"I think they are treating us like we don’t matter," says McMillan. "They are treating the whole bus system as if it doesn’t matter, that anyone who takes a bus isn’t as important and their needs don’t have to be met. It would be different if they were cutting service everywhere, but they are only cutting the bus lines."

McMillan says 70 percent of bus riders are low income.

The Bus Riders Union hopes the upcoming investigation will have similar results to one that happened last year in Oakland. In that case, federal officials found that Bay Area Rapid Transit neglected certain populations. They ordered BART to provide better service to those riders or lose federal money.

LA Metro spokeswoman Helen Ortiz-Gilstrap says the agency plans only to cut lines that don’t have enough passengers.

“And it’s also important for the public to understand that any line that is eliminated will also have service within a quarter mile,” says Ortiz-Gilstrap.

Metro officials say the Federal Transit Administration hasn’t told them when the investigation will occur. For now, they still plan to reduce bus service in June.

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