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MTA tries to reach Latino riders with Spanish-language blog

April 8, 2011 | 10:32 am

Public transit ridership nationwide is expected to rise as gas prices go up. Yet the MTA is cutting bus service. Above, a bus in L.A. in January. (Mel Melcon, Los Angeles Times)

Responding to an increasing Latino population and ridership, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Friday launched “el pasajero”, the nation’s first blog in Spanish from a major transit agency.

“We have to recognize that the majority of our customers are Latino,” said Marc Littman of Metro. “We want to put a Latino face on Metro, so people can identify that it’s not just white bureaucrats running this agency.”

At least 61% of Metro’s bus and rail passengers are Latino, as well as 37% of the agency’s employees, Littman said.

Jazmín Ortega, a former journalist for La Opinión and head editor of the blog, said the aim was to create an interactive experience for Metro’s Latino passengers by providing news and features from the agency as well as photos and video.

 “Metro can be an agency that’s misunderstood,” Ortega said. The blog aims to answer questions such as “What does Metro do? How do they spend their money?”

The blog’s first post was a welcome message - “¡Bienvenido!” the headline read. “Todos somos pasajeros en busca de nuestro destino,” the lede read – “We are all passengers in search of our destination.”

“The growing influence of Latinos is everywhere,” said Jose Ubaldo of Metro, who oversees the blog. “And it’s growing.”

Actor Edward James Olmos was at the launch of the blog and said the blog was necessary and that increasing public transportation “is the most important thing we can be doing in this city.”
He spoke passionately about the removal of the Red Car trolleys that once crisscrossed the city, and said he hopes Metro can re-create and increase the public transit access that was once provided.

The launch came as part of the second annual Hispánicize 2011 public relations and social media conference. A piece of artwork in the hotel’s hallway where the event was held was a hologram with the words “The English Language is about one half redundant.”

ALSO:

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LAX, Alaska Airlines agree to $271-million terminal revamp

--Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Riding a Metro rail line. Mel Melcon / L.A. Times

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