As the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority struggles with falling bus ridership, a new report from the transit agency examines the faltering on-time performance of its fleet and ways to improve reliability.
Traffic has grown worse in Los Angeles County over recent years as the improving economy and low gas prices have led to more people driving more often. Those conditions have impacted L.A. buses, which have gotten progressively slower every year since 2003.
On-time performance has also suffered. Metro has adjusted schedules to reflect the increased traffic delays, but buses have continued to fall behind in the last year and a half, particularly on Metro’s Rapid bus lines. The lines are intended to provide faster express service on busy routes.
During the same period that bus performance has slipped, so has ridership. It's fallen by more than 10 percent over the last two years, even as ridership on newly built light rail lines has surged.
The slowdown of buses has cost Metro about $65 million over the last five years because it means the agency must add more buses into circulation in order to maintain optimal frequency.
Metro has launched a long-term analysis of the bus system to revamp the service but it's also looking for ways to improve service in the short-term.
Because L.A. Metro oversees transit in 88 distinct jurisdictions throughout the county, it doesn't have much control over traffic signals and engineering, which can help speed buses along if properly managed.
So the agency is looking to hire a contractor to work with each of those cities to better synchronize lights across the system and reroute buses through congestion hotspots.