Chron: METRO cuts bus service six days, claims net weekly increase

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In an article about rider complaints over METRO’s latest “service adjustments,” the Chronicle‘s Rad Sallee takes a closer look at the recent changes:

Ever since the massive 2004 revamping to coordinate bus service with the new MetroRail — which replaced all the buses on Main Street — critics have accused the agency of cutting bus service and forcing riders onto the light rail to boost its ridership.

At first glance, the current changes do look like a cut in bus service. As Metro describes them in capsule summaries, 18 say “discontinue trip” and another 10 say “remove service.”

On the plus side, seven of the changes “add a trip,” two “extend trips” and one will “increase frequency.”

Another 10 are described with the neutral term “adjust.” The reasons given include “to match ridership demand,” “for more effective service,” “to eliminate passenger overloads,” “to operate directly to downtown,” and — yes — “to allow connection with MetroRail.”

Overall, there will be fewer bus hours on weekdays and Sundays and more on Saturdays, for a modest net increase of 20 hours a week, [METRO spokeswoman and former Chron staffer Raequel] Roberts said. The sum includes the new Cypress Park & Ride.

Those numbers seem a bit unusual, since Roberts is effectively saying METRO has cut bus hours systemwide six days of the week, but has increased bus hours systemwide enough on one day (Saturdays) for an overall weekly increase.

In any case, it seems far short of METRO’s promise in the 2003 referendum to boost bus service by 50%. Of course, METRO doesn’t always see the need to stand by its promises to voters, instead letting real-estate developers and other special interests drive the area’s transit policymaking.

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