As detailed on the Investing in Place blog earlier this week, when Metro’s Board of Directors gathered on Thursday for its monthly meeting to allocate an unexpected windfall of sales tax revenue, the most likely outcome was that none of the new funding would go toward increasing bus service. Despite direction from the Board in September that staff prioritize a rapid restoration of service that was cut due to covid, internal recommendations called for that money to go towards maintenance and infrastructure projects instead.
But thanks to a coalition of Angelenos throughout the county and the leadership of a key group of Metro directors who showed their willingness to listen, learn and take action, this disastrous outcome has been avoided. Directors Garcetti, Bonin, Hahn, Solis, and Garcia have our appreciation for authoring a motion to correct the recommendations from staff that failed to prioritize Black and brown workers that continue to rely on Metro service. The motion they produced forcefully reiterated the prior stance of the Board that it is unacceptable for Metro’s service cuts to be maintained any longer than is absolutely necessary. The motion also directed staff:
- To immediately restore a minimum of $24 million to transit operations;
- To fund maintenance using capital funds instead of money eligible for bus operations;
- To plan for restored operations at the pre-Covid baseline beginning in July;
- To prioritize bus drivers for the Covid vaccine; and,
- To identify opportunities to help all Angelenos get to vaccination sites.
This motion, overturning the recommendation of Metro staff, passed with a unanimous vote from the Board of Directors.
We say again, thank you to the Board of Directors for listening and for using their power to uplift transit riders. As Director Bonin said, this is only a first step, but it is a step in the right direction for transit riders in Los Angeles.
Most importantly, thank you to all the incredible transit riders and advocates that came together to pressure Metro to do the right thing. A diverse coalition that includes ACT-LA, the Bus Riders Union, Streets For All, the Democratic Socialists of America Los Angeles, SAJE, the Sunrise Movement, the Sierra Club, Cal State LA, and many many more came together and share in today’s victory.
Without your support – your emails, calls and messages on social media – riders would likely have gotten no service back. Essential workers, Black and brown Angelenos from communities being slammed by the second wave of the Covid pandemic, would have continued to have to deal with unacceptably crowded and infrequent service.
This no small victory. For working class families, like those whose stories were shared with the Board today, restoring bus service is a matter of urgent importance. Each hour of service cut results in riders missing pay because they are late, or squeezed in close quarters that might result in themselves or a loved one contracting a deadly illness. As caller after caller testified, the workers that have kept Los Angeles moving during the pandemic rely on Metro. It is critical that we do whatever we can to protect them.
Today is not the end of this fight, but the beginning. Metro’s budget negotiations for 2022 are an even bigger battle that has already begun. In 2022, we will need to come together to push for continued service restorations and expansions of service above and beyond the pre-Covid baseline, while also halting the extension of huge policing contracts and freeway expansion projects that destroy communities.
But because of the watchfulness and responsiveness of Angelenos, we go into these conversations with momentum and, at least on this issue, with a majority of the Metro Board on our side. Thank you all so much, and let’s keep moving forward together.
Join advocates on Tuesday February 2nd at 11am, to debrief on Metro’s decision and discuss what comes next. RSVP here.
We did this! Thank you to everyone who help submit over 150! written comments led by organizations and leaders at:
- Action Center on Race and the Economy
- Active SGV
- Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles
- Bus Riders Union
- Cal State LA
- Central City Association
- Communities Actively Living Independent & Free
- Community Power Collective
- CSUN students
- Culver City Council member, Yasmine-Imani McMorrin
- Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles
- Esperanza Community Housing Corporation
- Ground Game LA
- Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
- Investing in Place
- Jobs to Move America
- Kenny Uong
- LA Podcast
- Los Angeles Forward
- Los Angeles River Communities for Environmental Equity
- Los Angeles Walks
- Move LA
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Neighborhood Councils in the City of Los Angeles
- People for Mobility Justice
- Streets for All
- Streetsblog LA
- Sunrise Movement Los Angeles
- Transportation Committee, Angeles Sierra Club
- Transportation Committee, League of Women Voters of Los Angeles
- UCLA students
- UNITE HERE Local 11