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Who Watched Roger Rabbit? The Los Angeles Metro and the Bus Riders Union CE 5212 / PA 5232 Jason Borah Greg Gauer Joseph Me ssier September 19, 2008 2 | Page Summary Los Angeles, California is known to many as the land of cars and highways. The city, however, has a long and rich history of public transportation, yet controversial and contentious as well. Pacific Electric “Red Cars” covered Los Angeles in the first half of the 20th century, providing efficient transit to the city. The service, however, slowly declined and faded into the Hollywood sunset; and despite the claims of Roger Rabbit, neither Cloverleaf Industries nor General Motors plotted its demise. In Hollywood fashion, however, the transit rail sequel would prove to be even more exciting. Much to the chagrin of Los Angeles’s minority bus riders, expensive light rail and subway systems began dominating the limited resources of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in the 1990s. The Bus Riders Union (BRU) argued that rail transit was disproportionately serving white and wealthy commuters, while their inner‐city bus routes were ignored. Adding fuel to the fire, poor minority bus riders were paying for the rail through increasing sales tax and bus fares. The MTA argued, however, that rail was the key to easing congestion, reducing pollution, and a necessity of any world class metropolis. The two sides met in court after BRU filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of 350,000 bus riders, with the primary victory belonging to BRU but MTA also claiming partial victory. List of Actors Automobile Club of Southern California Put forth a proposal (1937) to build a regional network of elevated freeways that both connected to the historic downtowns but also made regional connections outside of the historic core. Brian Taylor Professor from UCLA Served as expert witness for the BRU Bus Riders Union (BRU) Formed by the LCSC in 1994 Composed of 1500 members organized against the MTA's approved policies from June 1994: • Stop the bus fare increase ($1.10 to $1.35) • Reinstate the monthly bus pass • Increase bus service to reduce overcrowding • Imposing a moratorium on the rail project California Railroad Commission (CRC) Responsible for oversight and approval of system changes proposed by Pacific Electric Rail Eric Mann Founder of Labor/Community Strategy Center (LCSC) Organized bus rider protests and the Bus Riders Union Labor/Community Strategy Center (LCSC) Founded in 1989 3 | Page 'a multiracial think‐tank/a ct‐tank…to help build democratic, internationalist Left Social movements at the intersection of ecology, civil rights, workers' and immigrants' rights, and a direct challenge... to transnational corporations' (quoted from LCSC, 1997) Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Wanted PE to maintain control of its rail rights‐of‐way to preserve them for the benefit of the county citizens that would come in any future rapid rail deployment (1949) Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (LACTC) Sponsored Proposition A Controlled the bus system in LA prior to the merging with Southern California Rapid Transit District Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Created in 1992 by merging LACTC and the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD) ‐ “the agency that operated the bus system with another agency that controlled the transit funding from Proposition A" (Grengs p.167) Martin Wachs Professor from UC Berkley (and formerly UCLA) Critic of the MTA and its rail project Served as an expert witness for the BRU NAACP Legal Defense Fund Completed legal tasks on behalf of the LCSC and the BRU filing a law suit in 1994 to stop the MTA's proposal to raise bus fares, cut monthly buss pass, and reduce service on the basis of • MTA's policies had the effect of discriminating against minorities in violation of the Title VI Civil Rights Act (prohibits discrimination in federally funded projects) • MTA was intentionally discriminating against minority bus riders in violation of the 14th Amendment and Tile VI of the Civil Rights Act Pacific Electric Rail (PE) Wanted to convert costly rail lines to motor coach bus services Southern California Regional Rail Authority Operates the Metrolink regional rail system Shares board members with the MTA Receives 60% of Metrolink operational funding from MTA 4 | Page Los Angeles Railway Transit Timeline 1901 • Railroad magnate Henry Huntington established Pacific Electric Railway 1949 • California Railroad Commission approves numerous Pacific Electric rail abandonments 1961 • Last Pacific Electric line, serving Long Beach, halted operations Early 1960s • Peak highway construction period Late 60s‐mid 70s • Rail transit referendums denied by LA County voters three times 1980 • Proposition A approved for 0.5 percent sales tax for subway and rail construction 1988‐1992 • Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) cutback bus service via vehicle‐re venue miles by 8 percent 1989 • Labor/Community Strategy Center founded by activist Eric Mann 1990 • 0.5 percent sales tax increase • Blue Line from CBD to Long Beach 1992 • LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) created by merger of bus system and Proposition A transit funding agency 1993 • Red Line (heavy rail) route • MTA CEO Neil Peterson fired 1994 • MTA proposed bus fare increase from $1.10 to $1.35 • Board approved in June; voted to spend $123 million on next phase of rail seven days later • Bus Riders Union (BRU) fo rmed out of the Labor/Community Strategy Center • Federal Court hearing in September 1995 • Green Line light rail east‐west from Norwalk to Redondo Beach, connection to LAX 5 | Page • Federal Transit Administration withheld federal funds and halted construction of Red Line • MTA CEO Franklin White fired 1996 • Consent Decree signed between MTA and Bus Riders Union Maps of Locations 6 | Page 7 | Page Policy Issues Los Angeles County Metropolitan Tra nsportation Authority (MTA) disproportionately funds rail over other modes of public transit. MTA, from an economic standpoint, does not need to put money

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