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Los Angeles’ pandemic-shrunken bus lines, rail projects get a stimulus boost

Los Angeles plans to use its share of federal transportation stimulus funds to more rapidly restore full bus service and to fund rail projects that took a hit as sales tax revenues declined amid the pandemic.

“With this pandemic wreaking havoc on our local budgets, these relief funds will go a long way toward helping us reach our ultimate destination: more business on our streets, more trains on the tracks, and to restore service ahead of schedule,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a Thursday press conference.

Ridership on Los Angeles’ buses are down by 50% from pre-pandemic levels, said Philip Washington, L.A. Metro CEO.

Bloomberg News

The American Rescue Plan includes $1.6 billion for transportation agencies across the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metropolitan areas. The money will be apportioned by the Southern California Association of Governments to county transportation agencies like the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which will then subdivide it among the transit operators within each county, like the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

In July 2020, L.A. Metro predicted it would sustain a $1.8 billion revenue reduction and it would take up to two years for ridership to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Los Angeles’ share of the transportation funding will enable the city to restore full bus service in September, two months earlier than planned, Garcetti said.

“With ridership at nearly 50% of pre-pandemic levels, the American Rescue Plan Act puts us on a path to rebuild our ridership and continue to provide a lifeline service to essential workers using Metro buses and trains,” said Phillip Washington, L.A. Metro’s CEO.

L.A. Metro will also receive $275 million from the federal New Starts program that funds existing capital rail projects to keep them on track, he said.

Metro plans to use $59 million of that for the regional connector project and $216 million for three legs of the Purple Line extension that runs from Koreatown to the city’s west side.

The city received a total of $3.8 billion from the CARES Act, the CRRSA Act and the America Rescue Plan, Garcetti said.

The money will help “our region to stabilize budgetary deficits and prevent substantial cutbacks,” he said.

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