Thu, Sep

LA Metro is Still Greedy and Evil Under Mayor Karen Bass


LA TRANSPO - Why do I say, “under Mayor Karen Bass”? Yes, LA County Metro (aka Metro), which runs our rail and buses (and does some big rail & road/freeway projects), does have a horrible CEO, Stephanie Wiggins, who cut Bus Service not that long ago because she supposedly didn't have enough bus drivers. Rail passengers are scared to ride because homeless people are inexplicably allowed to live on rail cars and in rail stations (some of them are also OD-ing or having violent episodes on Metro Rail or in Metro Stations, both of which have terribly expensive but horrible security). No, I'm not making this up. The 2 previous CEOs were horrible too. 

The Metro CEO is just a political buffer for the Metro Board, that has the Real Power. So, who sits on the Metro Board? The 5 LA County Supervisors, including newbie Lindsey Horvath (loathed by public safety activists in WeHo), who helped us get the green polo shirt people that already want to unionize to get higher pay/benefits, and Janice Hahn, who recently voted to extend the contract for (moonlighting) LAPD officers (getting overtime pay) to do LA Metro security, even though they were doing a horrible job, because, you know, hopefully they'll do better in the future. Also, the Mayor AND THREE Mayoral Appointees, including the topic of my last column, Katy Yaroslavsky. Also 4 members from the small cities (or Long Beach, the other Big City in LA County). 

In contrast to Metro, Mayor Bass has COMPLETE control over LADOT, the City's Dept of Transportation, which runs DASH and Commuter Express. Recently, I took a DASH bus and it was FREE, driver telling me it was because of Covid. Well, Metro buses and Santa Monica's BBB are charging full fare. I rode with others who could also afford to pay and a homeless guy and his belongings (which made me wonder if DASH seats are gonna be full this whole Summer with people continuously riding simply for the Free A/C). Why is DASH losing much-needed fare revenue, Ms. Mayor? Maybe that's what the MSM should be focused on instead of the Sombrita Scandal. But the transit journos don't ride public transit much, especially buses, so they wouldn't know. I even saw a Sombrita story run with a picture of an orange Metro bus...Metro is NOT LADOT. One could argue that it would make more sense if Metro ran DASH too, particularly to coordinate fares, but then Metro would starve DASH and completely dismantle it, because Metro is Anti-Bus and has been for decades. The City of LA has starved DASH too and eliminated routes, reduced service on routes, mismanaged funds, engaged in bad contracting, but that's not as bad as what Metro would do... 

At Metro, the LA City Mayor has tremendous power by virtue of controlling FOUR Board seats. When Villaraigosa was Mayor, we had the Measure R Sales Tax Increase primarily for Rail. He even got the City Council to reallocate Measure R money that was meant for LADOT's DASH (as described in colorful Metro brochures distributed to voters on Metro buses) to Metro Rail instead...but not before the Bike Lobby got their cut. When Garcetti was Mayor, we had the Measure M Sales Tax Increase, primarily for Rail, and the NextGen Bus Plan (supported by the LA Times), which almost completely dismantled the popular Red Rapid Bus System, moved bus stops farther apart, reduced or eliminated bus service on some routes to increase bus service on a select few. Metro is the master of manipulating ridership numbers. Eliminate East/West Rapid routes like Beverly Blvd and put more service on Wilshire to justify the subway being built along Wilshire. Let people ride Rail for many years for Free while charging for Buses, to show that Rail is more popular than bus service that is being cut.

Intentionally make Traffic worse by continuously cutting Bus Service Hours over the years, in order to get Westside and Valley Voters to vote for Tax Increases and soon Congestion Pricing, which (the LA Times-backed) Garcetti wanted. You know, to build Rail Projects ALL OVER TOWN AT THE SAME TIME for the Next Few Years for the Olympics, the one that was not supposed to cost us anything or was it supposed to generate a Billion? I forget. Just don't count the $$$ Metro will gouge you to drive the streets/freeways you used to drive for Free. Or, if you can't afford to drive anymore, don't count the suffering you will endure on free crappy public transit...Metro will make it free to get congestion pricing. Metro is a Massive Money Machine. It does not care about the riders. It does not care about Traffic. It only cares about getting more money. Ten Billion (with a B) per year is not enough. They recently proposed Big Electronic Billboards at Stations to make even more. They turned Carpool Lanes into Toll Lanes...how very Green of them...green, as in money, not environmentally sound policy. But Bass kept a lot of Garcetti's staff, so is it really any surprise that Metro keeps chugging along making us miserable while trying to get even more of our dollars? 

How Evil is Metro? Metro cut bus service to Sunday Service 7 days a week FOR MONTHS DURING COVID. But it's worse than just that. You could not sit in the front seats in order to protect the driver from Covid...those seats were cordoned off. You could not enter at the front door...to protect the driver...so the argument was that you could not pay. So the bus was FREE during Covid and you entered through the back door. (Don't cry for Metro...they got a Billion Dollar Bailout during Covid from the Feds, so they're good) So, the buses were on Sunday service, jam packed, with far less seats available, and masks were not enforced. I know, because every time I would try a bus, somebody would not have a mask on...one time I spoke to the driver about it...nothing he could do...so I got off after only one stop each time. Apparently Metro Rail also had unmasked riders without enforcement...G-d forbid moonlighting LAPD on overtime pay could lift a finger to enforce those rules on rail cars. I avoided Metro like the plague during Covid, but most riders didn't have a choice for their long commutes, in a jam-packed moving can without mask enforcement. I truly believe that a lot of the Covid spread in the black and brown (Latino) communities was due to Metro's Evil Greed. Not that “Doctor” (NOT an MD) Barbara Ferrer or Eric Garcetti would know or care...they're the ones that allowed the LA Marathon to go forward near the beginning of Covid, with runners from all over the Country and all over the World, when we had little ability to test afterwards, and all the other marathons were being canceled. Ferrer wanted LAUSD schools to stay open for free lunches...didn't occur to her that families could pick them up at otherwise closed schools instead. Hilda Solis had to essentially order Ferrer to give Covid shots to (relatively) more independent Seniors who were not in assisted living or nursing homes. But I digress. 

How Evil is Metro? Metro even cut popular Expo Line Light Rail service years ago, supposedly because not enough people were standing up. A new East/West light rail line that goes from USC all the way to Santa Monica, and Metro cuts service to make riders miserable and make Traffic worse. Why? Because they want Congestion Pricing. That's why! 

Anyhoo, a few days ago, the LA Times, via its transit reporter's exclusive scoop, helped Metro begin to peddle its narrative about congestion pricing. (Metro is a HUGE advertiser by the way, one of the ways it gets reporters and editorial boards on its side...another way is by providing exclusive scoops) But it was a Subscriber Only article. Why? Because subscribers are more likely to be the people who will be able to pay the congestion pricing tolls. We don't want the people who won't be able to afford to drive anymore to catch wind of this scheme. You know, the people who will be forced to take the cr-ppy horribly inconvenient utterly painful and soul sucking bus service...and the unsafe rail cars at unsafe rail stations. Metro still needs to make things safe and free, but the Money Monster needs more money to consume, so get ready to be turned over in the air and have your pockets emptied. And, as you're upside down, with the blood rushing to your head, and your pockets empty, if Mayor Karen Bass passes by you while driven in a Limo, be sure to thank her for Metro's Congestion Pricing Scheming. 

(“An Angry Angeleno” is the nom de plume of Yuval Kremer, a former ballot candidate for both LA County Supervisor and LA Mayor)