A month after it was reported to be on a Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro or MTA) list of cutbacks in bus service, Line 108 to Marina del Rey has been saved.
Earlier this year, officials at the transit agency named the 108, which is the only bus line that serves Marina del Rey, as one of several routes that would face cutbacks in service this summer. Line 108 runs from Paramount to Marina del Rey.
“Service to Marina del Rey will continue,” Dana Coffey, Metro’s sector general manager for the South Bay confirmed. “After listening to our customers, whether they came in the form of e-mails, phone calls or letters, we will continue to provide bus service to our customers in Marina del Rey.”
Eighteen service cuts were originally proposed, and Line 108 was one of only five that were withdrawn. Metro’s board of directors rescinded the service cut March 21st.
The route services several of the Marina’s principal arteries, including Pacific Avenue, Washington Boulevard and Admiralty Way.
“If this is true, it’s very good news for the community,” said Tim Riley of the news. Riley is executive director of the Marina Lessees Association, an organization that represents businesses in Marina del Rey.
The recommended cutbacks faced vehement opposition from some residents of Marina del Rey, several of the lessees and two county supervisors, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke of the Second District and Don Knabe, who represents Marina del Rey, of the Fourth.
Burke noted in an interview that the news of the proposed cuts in service had prompted numerous calls to her and the other supervisors.
“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,” Burke told The Argonaut. “These constituents were 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.”
In a February 14th letter to Metro, Knabe requested officials to reconsider its proposal to eliminate the western end of the line, which would leave residents, employees and tourists to the coastal enclave without public transportation.
“Cancellation of this portion of Line 108 would leave all of Marina del Rey’s businesses and residents, including tourists, seniors, low income tenants and local employees without access to convenient bus service,” the supervisor wrote. “Moreover, cancellation of Line 108 fails to consider the redevelopment plans currently under way in the Marina and the surrounding area, which will result in even more residents, employees and visitors needing convenient transportation to and from Marina del Rey.”
Trudy Goldman, a Marina del Rey resident who uses the 108 frequently for shopping and various other errands, was pleased to hear that bus service to the Marina will continue.
“I had been thinking about what I was going to do for transportation when they first said that they were going to cancel [the 108],” said Goldman. “Now I feel so relieved.”
Many Marina organizations and businesses were worried that eliminating the 108 line could have jeopardized tourism, long an integral component of the Marina.
“A lot of the hotels are operating at 80 to 90 percent [occupancy] in the summer, and we get tourists who come to our restaurant,” said Anthony Palermo, the proprietor of Tony P’s Dockside Grill on Admiralty Way.
“Many of the Marina’s visitors are international travelers from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and Italy, and these visitors are often dependent upon public transportation to get around,” added Beverly Moore, executive director of the Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We must provide our visitors, as well as our residents and customers with the most basic public transportation service that they need.
“In addition, many workers in our hotels and restaurants need access to public transportation. This decision to keep the 108 route intact will mean that these vital workers can get to their jobs and that the Marina can continue to attract workers to good jobs here in the community.”
Palermo, who has employees who use Line 108 to get to and from work, said that proposals to eliminate the bus line could have created transportation difficulties for many employees in the Marina.
“We’d like to get more mass transit instead of less,” he said.
Coffey said that the proposal to cancel the western portion of the line to Marina del Rey was initially considered because ridership numbers on the western leg of the bus line are far fewer than the portion of the route that goes to Paramount.
“That particular segment is serving a lighter ridership, and we felt that it did not require a large bus,” she explained. “There are approximately 700 riders during weekdays and between 350 and 375 on weekends.”
There are plans to consider providing a smaller shuttle to Marina del Rey, which would begin at Fox Hills Mall, the transition point for many employees and visitors who work and come to visit the Marina.
“We are still looking at that possibility,” Coffey said.
“We are pleased that this bus line will remain active and continue to be a benefit to the residents, employees and businesses in the Marina,” said David Sommers, Knabe’s press deputy.
Coffey said that MTA will continue to look for ways to improve transit services for its clients and that they are always willing to listen.
“We encourage feedback from our customers,” she reiterated. “Our intent is to provide the best bus service possible.”
A recommendation to reduce service on Line 115, which runs through Westchester and Playa del Rey on Manchester Avenue, was approved by transit authority.