Yesterday was the first MTA Board Meeting for Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis. The very brief agenda was met with lively debate and discussion on the issues and lots of questions from the new members. Here is a brief review of yesterday’s meeting.
Item #4: FY16 Budget Development
The MTA Board is preparing for their 2016 Budget process and at the heart of the discussion was a projected Operations Budget Shortfall in beginning in 2018 of up to $83 Million and climbing to $250 Million by 2023. Revenue enhancements were discussed but the big item on the agenda will be cost cutting proposals. The MTA will spend the next six board meetings discussing strategies to cut cost while limiting the impacts to services. Some items discussed were eliminating unproductive lines, lines far outside the LA Metro Service area such as Malibu and Disneyland and increasing load ratios.
Supervisor Hilda Solis suggested allowing other municipal transit companies such as Big Blue Bus and Foothill Transit to take over some of the burden from MTA as opposed to reducing services.
Item #7: Amendment to MTA Policy Providing Complimentary Transit Passes to Sworn Officers
At the September MTA Board Meeting, A motion lead by Mayor Garcetti asked for a report back on expanding a program that provides complimentary transit passes to sworn officers. The current policy provides “TAP Cards” to on duty officer in uniform. The motion asked to expand the program to include plain clothes sworn officers on duty and on their way to and from duty. Officers taking advantage of the program would be required to offer their police services while using the passes. The idea is that it will increase a police presence on the busses and rails without any additional budget expenditures.
Director Krekorian and Supervisor Solis had issues with the proposed change mainly that officers in uniform serve as a greater deterrent to crime than an officer in plain clothes. In order to give Supervisor Solis more time to review to the policy change, the item was moved to the January board meeting.
Item #8: Transit Policing Models
A more thorough discussion on transit policing models is already scheduled for the February 2015 meeting so the board moved the item. To their credit, the board mentioned their distress at not being able to adequately protect the operators and they are very interested in finding solutions to the problem.