Activists protest cuts to Metro bus lines scheduled to start Sunday

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Corey Moore/KPCC

Members of the Bus Riders Union protest in downtown Los Angeles on June 24, 2011 to protest cuts to some Los Angeles County Metro bus routes.

Members of the Bus Riders Union spoke out during a news conference in downtown Los Angeles this morning to protest cuts to some Los Angeles County Metro bus routes scheduled to go into effect this weekend.

“The MTA is cutting our service like every year now," says Cal State student Michelle Lopez, who lives in Echo Park and rides the 620 bus to Northridge with her mother every day. That’s a two-hour trip back and forth. Lopez hates to think about any cuts to her usual route.

“We’re screwed. How am I going to go to school? Am I going to have to go to another school because I can’t get all the way over there? Or am I going to have to quit school overall, you know?”

Lopez might not see any actual changes, but riders who travel between Mid-City to downtown L.A. will. Other affected routes include bus lines that serve Mission College, Sylmar, Pacoima, North Hollywood, and San Pedro. The cuts represent about 4 percent of Metro’s bus operations.

The activist Bus Riders Union contends that these changes inconvenience and even target the system’s low-income riders, mostly Latinos and blacks. The group’s spokeswoman, Sunyoung Yang, says the Federal Transit Administration plans to investigate Metro in a couple of weeks “...for potential alleged, civil rights violations because of the cutting of bus services that they’ve been doing for the last four years."

Metro spokesman Rick Jager says it's a routine evaluation.

“We welcome the review. We have nothing to hide and once the review is completed, I think it’ll show that we really took great pains in terms of addressing the issues surrounding our service," he said.

Metro officials maintain that the system needed some service cuts to keep the agency from piling up deficits of more than a $100 million every year. They add that many of the routes that will change are redundant, or operate near alternate transit service. Officials say they're expanding other routes, including the Silver Line that travels the 110 Freeway between Artesia and El Monte.

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