A proposal to discontinue bus service to Marina del Rey by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro or MTA) has generated a great deal of anxiety among businesses, residents and the lessees association in the Marina.

Metro officials are recommending the elimination of the Marina del Rey portion of bus Line 108 that travels through the Marina and the Marina Peninsula. The 108 currently runs east to west, going as far east as Paramount, with its last stop westbound in the Marina on Washington Boulevard, in front of the newly remodeled Marina Beach Shopping Center.

The plan has caused anxiety to many who use the bus line as their primary mode of transportation, and removing the route west of Fox Hills Mall would be a hardship to those that depend on it.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke noted in an interview that the news of the proposed cuts in service had prompted numerous calls to her and her Board of Supervisors colleagues.

“We have all been getting telephone calls, e-mails and letters from very concerned public transit riding constituents over a series of proposed bus service cuts being recommended as part of a program of anticipated budget cuts,” the supervisor told The Argonaut. “These constituents are expressing their worry and anger over the potential bus service cuts at a time when public transit service needs to be expanding, rather than shrinking.”

County Supervisor Don Knabe, whose Fourth District includes the unincorporated area of Marina del Rey, and who, like Burke, is a member of the Metro board, is not in favor of the changes to bus service in the Marina. He sent a letter to Metro officials detailing his opposition to the plan to eliminate what many in the beach community see as a vital transportation resource.

Marina del Rey resident Trudy Goldman, 83, is one of those worried bus riders that Burke referred to.

“[The 108] is the only bus line that reaches my building,” said Goldman, who lives off Bora Bora Way in the Marina. “If they take the bus service away, I will have to use taxis, and that can be expensive.”

The Marina del Rey Lessees Association is firmly against the proposal, and has been in touch with both supervisors to make its position very clear on the recommended elimination of the bus line.

“I’ve heard from a number of lessees, including some of our hotels, that could very well be affected if this line is eliminated,” said Tim Riley, the executive director of the association. “Because there are service industry workers who use the 108 to get to and from work, there is a great concern that eliminating service to the Marina could be very detrimental.”

Marina lessees — businesses that lease their property from the county — have largely opposed the plan as well.

“A number of our associates use public transportation, and this could seriously inhibit their ability to get to work on time,” said Murray Lowe, the general manager of the Marina del Rey Marriott hotel on Admiralty Way.

Metro has not given specific reasons for the proposed reduction in service to the Marina, but ridership has been cited as one possibility.

“We’re implementing six new Rapid lines this year,” said Rick Jager, a Metro spokesman. “Each year, we take a look at the services that we provide and try to do away with lines or portions of lines that have low ridership or are unproductive lines for us.”

Line 108 falls into that category, Jager said.

In addition to those who work in the Marina, canceling service to Marina del Rey could also impact the tourist trade, an important component of the revenue generated for hotels and restaurants of the beachside community.

“Tourists, especially those from outside the United States, are a strong segment of our business, and that demographic is very comfortable with public transportation and enjoy using it,” Lowe explained. “Also, a proposal to cancel bus service in the Marina goes in contrast to [transportation officials] encouraging the public to use public transportation.”

The lessees association feels that public pressure could be crucial to keeping the Marina del Rey route of the 108 in place.

“We encourage people to write letters to the Board of Supervisors and MTA to voice their opinions,” said Riley.

The transportation agency is also planning to extend Line 110, which travels through Playa Vista, into what it calls southern Marina del Rey. Service east of Garfield Avenue, where the line ends now, would be terminated.

Another bus line that serves the beach area is also under the gun. Line 115, which runs westbound down Manchester Avenue through Westchester and Playa del Rey is considered to be on the chopping block for the second consecutive year.

Metro officials say they are strongly considering reducing “service frequency” on the 115, a line that is used by many students at Westchester High School and others who commute to work in Playa del Rey or Westchester on the bus.

Steven Fritchie says that he is frustrated by MTA’s lack of consideration for those who depend on the bus for work.

“There is already reduced service on the 115,” said Fritchie, who works in Playa del Rey and last year started a petition to protest the transportation authority’s decision to cut back service to the beach. “How much more can they reduce bus service, when the bus that goes to Playa del Rey only runs once every couple of hours?” he asked.

Burke said that she is worried about the possible service cuts for a number of reasons.

“I am very concerned over several issues,” she said. “First, what is the full extent of what is being proposed? We are hearing that the revenue service-hour (RSH) cuts will be made in a serial fashion in terms of the timing, on top of the already 90,000 hours of [board-approved] cuts made this past year.

“I am further concerned that, if true, the extent of the proposed cuts in service due to take effect this year and in 2009 could adversely impact upwards of 25,000 to 35,000 individuals of our existing ridership.”

If the recommended cuts are approved by the MTA board of directors, Line 108 to the Marina could be eliminated by this summer.

Dana Coffey, Metro’s South Bay service sector general manager, had not returned calls for comment as The Argonaut went to press.

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