Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) June 5, 2007
LA Metro will hold a public hearing on a draft $3.121 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2007-08 on Wednesday, June 20, at 2:30 p.m. in the third floor Board room at Los Angeles Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza next to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.
The public can view copies of the budget proposal at Metro.net or request a copy by calling Charlene Aguayo in Metro Records Management at (213) 922-2342 after June 5.
Metro directors will consider adopting the budget at their Thursday, June 28, meeting that starts at 9:30 a.m. at Los Angeles Metro headquarters. The fiscal year begins July 1, 2007.
CEO Roger Snoble has proposed a spending plan that is only $85 million or approximately 2.7 percent more than the current LA Metro budget. The increase is largely due to increased transportation subsidies for the County and cities, higher operating costs for Metro bus and rail service, funding for municipal bus operators, paratransit service for the disabled and ongoing construction for the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension to East Los Angeles and the first phase of the Expo light rail line to Culver City.
There will be a slight increase in bus service hours spread throughout Los Angeles County, including the popular Metro Orange Line, but the quality of service will improve as Metro launches eight new Metro Rapid lines in FY08 and purchases up to 100 new 60-foot articulated buses that have more seating capacity than standard 40-foot coaches. In the next fiscal year Metro will experiment with a 65-foot prototype bus on the Metro Orange Line, which connects the North Hollywood Metro Rail stop with Warner Center in the San Fernando Valley.
For only the second time in 12 years, Metro fares will be raised starting July 1, however, the current $1.25 cash fare will stay the same for the next two years. This is considerably less than the $2 or higher one-way cash fares charged by New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego and other large transit properties.
The Metro Day Pass
will go up from $3 to $5 July 1; the cost of a Metro monthly pass will be $62 July 1, up $10 from the current charge, a weekly pass will be $17 starting July 1, up $3 from the current fare, and semi-monthly passes will be eliminated.
Modest increases in discount fares for seniors, disabled and students will go into effect July 1, and Metro will offer a new 25 cent fare for disabled and seniors 65 years and older starting July 1. (For a complete Metro Fare Table, go to Metro.net)
"This is a no frills budget," said Metro CEO Roger Snoble. "Despite the fare increase, we will still need to use approximately $40 million of one-time revenues next year to subsidize bus and rail operations. That means we have to aggressively pursue other revenue sources including state spillover gas taxes that Sacramento is banking on in the wake of high gas prices. Los Angeles Metro must continue to work to operate more efficiently. The expansion of Metro Rapid, phasing in Metro Connections to serve major transit hubs, and the purchase of new high-capacity buses are a step in that direction."
Bus Service Remains Top Budget Priority
The draft FY08 budget calls for spending $1.392 billion or 44.6 percent of the total budget on bus operating and capital for Metro and the municipal bus operators in Los Angeles County and for paratransit programs for the disabled who cannot use regular service.
Metro will increase bus service by 21,213 operating hours next year for a total of 7.8 million revenue service hours. In FY08, Metro will continue implementing the popular Metro Rapid program that harnesses technology to extend green lights for buses equipped with special transponders or turn red lights green 10 seconds faster. The combination of signal priority and making fewer stops allows Metro Rapid to operate about 25 percent faster than local buses.
By June 2008, 500 Metro Rapid buses will serve 28 transit corridors covering 420 route miles and 35 cities throughout Los Angeles County. Besides Metro, three municipal operators will provide this special service. They include Santa Monica, Torrance and Culver City.
The following eight Metro Rapid lines will debut in FY08
West Olympic Boulevard
Garvey Ave. /Cesar E Chavez Ave.
San Fernando Road South
Sepulveda South (operated by Culver City Municipal Bus Lines)
Torrance/Long Beach (operated by Torrance Municipal Bus Lines)
In the next fiscal year Metro will also receive and put into service up to 100 high-capacity articulated buses that are 60-feet long compared to standard 40-foot buses and have more seats. It also will test a 65-foot prototype bus on the Metro Orange Line that seats 50 percent more passengers than a standard 40-foot bus.
Bolstering security, Metro will install additional security cameras at Metro bus yards and the Gateway Center.
Metro Rail Expands As Ridership Grows
The draft spending plan earmarks $742 million or 23.8 percent for countywide rail including Metro Rail operating and capital costs and the $58.5 million subsidy for Metrolink.
Nearly 300,000 riders board Metro Rail trains weekdays and that will grow as the system, now spanning 73 miles, expands in 2009 with the scheduled opening of the six-mile extension of the Metro Gold Line from Union Station downtown to East Los Angeles via Little Tokyo/Arts District and Boyle Heights and the 8.5-mile Expo Line from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City, expected to open in 2010. Moreover, new joint development projects under construction or planned around many of the Metro Rail stations will help promote ridership.
No significant changes to Metro rail service hours (651,000) are budgeted in FY08 but Metro expects to receive 24 new rail cars next year and begin the procurement process for an additional 50 light rail cars.
Monies For Streets And Highway Projects
The budget proposes $592 million or 19 percent for highway and other regional transportation programs such as construction of freeway carpool lanes, freeway sound walls, street widening, better traffic signal coordination, grade separations at railroad crossings, bikeways, ride-sharing incentives, shuttles, and other transportation programs. Funding also is included for the Metro Freeway Service Patrol to help stranded motorists.
Some of the major Los Angeles highway projects that will be under construction in FY 08 include:
- Interstate 405/US 101 interchange northbound connector gap closure.
- Interstate 405 northbound carpool lane Ventura Boulevard to Burbank Boulevard.
- Interstate 5 carpool lanes in both directions from Route 14 to Route 118.
- Interstate 405 carpool lanes from Route 90 to Interstate 10.
- Interstate 405 southbound carpool auxiliary lane from Waterford Street to Interstate 10.
- US 101 realign freeway and ramps at Center Street
- Route 60 carpool lanes both directions from Interstate 605 to Brea Canyon Road.
Little Change In Debt Service
Metro's debt service next year will be $308.5 million - 9.9 percent of the budget. It is up $3 million from this year's debt service on bonds issued for various transportation projects.
Rounding out the FY08 draft Metro budget are expenditures for other governmental programs such as transportation planning, legal and other expenses. These total $86 million or 2.8 percent of the budget.
Highlighting these governmental programs is the array of planning studies for critical new highway and public transportation projects that will be underway in the next fiscal year. Some examples include:
Environmental document work and preliminary engineering for the Canoga North/South Metro Orange Line extension and the Crenshaw-Prairie Transit Corridor projects and awarding a contract to prepare the EIR/EIS environmental documents for the I-710 corridor.
In FY08, LA Metro will also be completing a Multi-County Goods Movement Action Plan that addresses the burgeoning truck and rail traffic moving goods from the ports.
LA Metro funding comes from the farebox, local, state and federal governments and other sources such as lease rentals, investment income and advertising revenue.