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MTA bus ridership declines in recession

April 15, 2011 |  8:25 am
Bus
Amid outcry over recent cuts to its bus system, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week released new data showing bus ridership has declined in recent years.

The data, which track average weekday boardings each year in March, showed a decline of almost 3% from 2009 to 2011.

Marc Littman, spokesman for Metro, said one of the reasonsn bus ridership has declined in recent years is because of high unemployment.

“Probably the biggest impact on our ridership right now is the economy,” Littman said, adding that riding Metro is still a bargain for many Angelenos. “Until that improves, you probably won’t see an uptick in ridership.”

Metro’s bus ridership has fluctuated over the last decade and overall has stayed relatively flat.

In 2000 there were 1,163,473 average weekday bus boardings in March, and 10 years later there were 1,184,224 boardings, an increase of about 1.8%.

Meanwhile, rail ridership has risen and dipped since 2009, increasing 3.7% in 2010 and then decreasing 3.2% from 2010 to 2011. But rail ridership has increased dramatically over the last decade, with 145,575 average weekday boardings in 2000 that roughly doubled to 304,459 boardings in 2010.

Metro’s cuts to the bus system, which were approved late last month, will result in a total reduction of 305,000 service hours in 2012 -– about 4% of all bus hours. The plans call for nine lines to be eliminated in late June and for 11 to be scaled back.

Metro Chief Executive Art Leahy has consistently said the cuts were made to reduce inefficiency and redundancy in the system. He earlier said that the system was operating at only 42% capacity and that ridership on buses headed into downtown each morning was “astonishingly low.”

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Metropolitan Transit Authority Bus Operator Cathy Jones inspects her bus before starting a route Oct. 18, 2000. Credit: Kim D. Johnson / Associated Press

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