Restoring Bus, Train Rides Throughout Los Angeles County

Pre-pandemic transportation service can resume by this fall throughout Los Angeles County thanks to a new round of federal funding. The American Rescue Plan, President Biden’s stimulus package, is investing more than $1.6 billion in Southern California transit agencies. While the exact amount L.A. Metro will receive wasn’t available at the time of announcement in March, a significant portion goes to L.A. Metro.

Back on board

Before COVID-19 hit, Metro was averaging about 1.2 million boardings a day throughout its transit system. Then, as people began to stay at home, ridership dropped dramatically, forcing the transit service to reduce by 20%. Today, officials say there are 550,000 boardings and Metro’s transit system runs on a modified schedule. This new funding will help bring back more buses and trains. Phil Washington, chief executive of Metro, said full service would return by September.

“With this pandemic wreaking havoc on our local budgets, these relief funds will go a long way in helping us reach our ultimate destination: more buses on our streets, more trains on the tracks, and restored service, ahead of schedule,” said Metro Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The road to recovery is paved with investments in our infrastructure, and these dollars will make a real difference in enabling us to create jobs, boost ridership, meet our sustainability targets, and continue the transportation renaissance underway across our region.”

Additional funds

Certainly, L.A. Metro wasn’t the only agency to be hit hard during the pandemic.

When the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reported in July 2020 that nearly half of all public transit agencies had already implemented or were planning service reductions and layoffs, and had deferred or canceled capital projects, Metro assessed the situation locally. It was predicted that there would be a $1.8 billion revenue reduction and that ridership would take up to two years to return to normal.

To address this shortfall, Los Angeles advocated for and received three major measures of relief: 

  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
  • The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act
  • The American Rescue Plan (ARP) 

In total, this will bring $3.8 billion that can be used to stabilize budgetary deficits as well as helping to prevent substantial cutbacks.  

Additionally, Metro received a $1.3-billion federal grant to fund construction of the Purple Line. The funding agreement was announced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who said in a statement that connecting downtown with the Westside is “crucial to modernizing the city’s transit system.”

Washington told The Los Angeles Times that this funding will help “keep those projects on track, and even accelerate them a bit as well.” He noted that because there was less traffic on the streets, Metro was able to accelerate construction of the Purple Line last year.

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