It's Not Over Until the Fat Lady Lawyers Sing

I've often tried to be the voice of reason when people accuse Metro of being out of touch with reality. What, then, am I supposed to do when I believe Metro has lost touch with reality?

At the root of my frustration is the final implementation of Metro Rapid service, to complete the New Service Plan from the Consent Decree. One of the Rapid corridors that has been delayed to the end is San Fernando Rd., and the Governance Council planned for it when, back in 2006, they (including yours truly) took weekday rush-hour limited stop Line 394 --- which had been in service since the 1995 restructuring -- into an all-day, seven-days-a-week service. The intent, then and now, was to simply convert that into Rapid service when the time came.

Fast forward to the spring of 2008 when the Council was informed that, because the New Service Plan given to the federal judge with oversight authority was based on the original Metro Rapid plan, created in 2001 and not updated before being handed to the judge, Metro Rapid service on San Fernando Rd. would not be a simple replacement of existing Line 394; it would instead operate as two segments ... one from downtown Los Angeles to Burbank, and the second from North Hollywood Station to Sylmar, leaving a gap between Burbank and Sun Valley with neither limited-stop nor Rapid service. (And nothing but local stop service in the corridor on weekends.)

Never one to let a bad idea go unchallenged, I lobbied behind the scenes to get this fixed before it was brought forward. County Counsel, as well as Metro's outside legal firm, is so focused on "showing total compliance" with the New Service Plan that they have recommended not requesting any changes in that program. And that recommendation is being followed, despite Metro's corporate management, including the CEO, the chief bus operations officer, and the person in charge of the Metro Rapid program, all agreeing with me (and even saying so to the Board of Directors) that the proposed alignment will be less productive.

Never mind "less productive". San Fernando Rd. is the most transit-dependent corridor in the sector and this is going to disrupt a lot of passengers' lives! That's why the Governance Council voted unanimously to oppose the proposal, and I managed to wrangle five minutes of the Board's time to explain why ... before they approved it anyway.

Oh, and did I mention that the approved routes include a deviation up Brand Blvd. that Ara Najarian -- who is a city councilman from Glendale and a member of the Metro Board -- objects to? Or did I mention that the Bus Riders Union, at the Board meeting where this was approved, said they wanted the route redrawn by sector staff before implementation? (Yes, the same Bus Riders Union that was the plaintiff in the Consent Decree in the first place.)

Here's the reality. Metro is not run by its Governance Councils. It's not run by the BRU. And apparently it's not run by its Board of Directors, either. It's run by the lawyers.

I am supposed to be consoled by the fact that Metro is allowed to re-evaluate the service performance of the Rapid service after one year and then readjust the alignment and frequency. I doubt, however, that will be much of a consolation to all the passengers who will have greater difficulty getting to work, school, and the market during that year.

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