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Feds investigate cuts to MTA bus service

March 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Cuts in MTA bus service and routes lead to a federal investigation. The complaint involves civil rights.

The rough ride in the economy has taken its toll on the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In the last two years the MTA has cut service and routes by 12 percent.

The Bus Riders Union and other community groups helped prompt an investigation by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

"What they see as simply efficiency cuts are being rightly viewed by the outside as very significant bus-service cuts with potential significant civil rights violations," said Esperanza Martinez, a Bus Riders Union organizer.

In a letter to Martinez, the FTA says the decision to perform this review was based, in part, on a complaint submitted to the FTA office of civil rights.

"When bus lines are cut and fares do go up workers have a much harder time keeping their jobs or just finding jobs," said Danny Park, director of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance.

"They are going to cost me money, and those things, especially when you are trying to get to work, make a huge difference," said bus rider Crystal McMillan.

The MTA plans to cut as many as 305,000 hours from its total bus service in June. MTA officials say that the total 8-percent service cuts so far comply with federal requirements. Those include attempts to avoid any disproportionate effect on minority groups.

"We can't afford, especially in this economic recession, to waste taxpayers' money by duplicating service that's operating by other carriers or by Metro. It doesn't make sense," said Mark Littman, a spokesman for the MTA.

As part of their compliance review, the feds will be taking a look at how the MTA complies with civil rights regulations. Next week the MTA board will consider at a 4-percent cut in services.