Los Angeles County transportation officials this week will solicit public input on proposals to modify bus service in the Glendale-Burbank corridor by cutting some routes and changing others.
Dozens more potential changes are being proposed across the region as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority attempts to improve efficiency and cut costs amid mounting budget woes.
"Essentially, we are facing pretty significant structural deficits at the MTA with our budget," said Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, who serves on the agency's Board of Directors. "There are two ways we could solve that. One is by increasing fares…the other is to start to cut back on the less productive lines."
Metro is the second largest bus operation nationwide, according to the agency, which serves 387.5 million passengers each year. But in serving such a large constituency, some routes are used less than others.
"Some of it's not being used or not performing very well, so we want to take a look at what's performing well, and make sure we have service on those lines," MTA spokesman Rick Jager said.
Proposed service changes to local routes include:
• Eliminating segments of Line 183 — which goes from Sherman Oaks to Glendale, with stops in North Hollywood and Burbank — that run in the Burbank hillsides and between downtown Glendale and the Glendale Amtrak/Metrolink station. In turn, officials say riders will benefit from a more direct bus route from Burbank to Glendale.
• Cancelling weekend service of Line 794 Rapid, an express bus which runs from downtown Los Angeles through Glendale and Burbank and into Sylmar, in combination with increased service on the non-express bus on the route.
Transportation officials in Glendale and Burbank said that the proposed changes would not have major impacts on local bus riders.
"Obviously, we don't like to see service reductions, but we understand the climate that we are operating in and that Metro is operating in," said David Kriske, Burbank's principal transportation planner. "We think that the changes generally are smart."
To assist in deciding which changes to make, officials will gather input on the proposals at a series of public hearings starting this week. And while the changes are based on extensive analysis of ridership figures, Jager said they are far from set in stone.
"The public may have other alternatives that maybe staff hadn't taken a look at," he said. "In the course of reviewing public comment, then staff will go back and see if indeed the proposed changes need to be changed or tweaked."
MTA board members are expected to vote on the route changes this spring, but they wouldn't go into effect until June 26 at the earliest.
Burbank Councilman Gary Bric, who serves on Metro's San Fernando Valley Local Service Council, said he understands that low ridership is driving the proposed cut of the hillside portion of Line 183.
Still, he said he was worried about the elderly residents who could be left without transportation.
"I'd certainly like to try to save it," Bric said.
Brooke Geer Person, executive director of the nonprofit Glendale Transportation Management Associates, said she plans to attend one of the public hearings to voice the concerns of the roughly 10,000 commuters her organization represents.
She said her biggest concern stemmed from the proposed elimination of service from downtown Glendale to the Amtrak/Metrolink station.
"A lot of people use that as backup for the (Glendale) Beeline to get down to the train station," she said.
Najarian urged residents to attend a meeting to share their opinions on the proposals.