Metrolink has been trying to close a $6.5-million budget shortfall heading into 2010-11, with member agencies scheduled to consider the final plan on May 1.
The original proposal called for reducing 44 trains across the system, but that was whittled down to 12. Still, employers in the area remained concerned that the cuts would disproportionally affect local riders, said Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, who serves on the Metrolink board.
Ventura County, one of five counties that fund Metrolink, is in a bind when it comes to its share because it is the only contributor in the region that does not dedicate a portion of its sales tax for transportation, representatives said.
The roughly $318,000 needed to keep the six Ventura County Line trains running amounts to a fraction of Los Angeles County’s $42-million contribution to Metrolink, Najarian said.
“We don’t think they have the money,” he said of Ventura.
“And rather than get caught up in the details, it’s my proposal that we just pay the whole thing.”
No Antelope Valley trains would be affected by the latest proposal.
Ventura County Line trains 105 and 114 and San Bernardino Line midday trains 306 and 323 planned for elimination due to low ridership.
In a recent letter to the Metrolink board, Burbank Mayor Gary Bric argued that proposed cuts to Metrolink’s Ventura County Line would damage the Union Station-Downtown Burbank-Bob Hope Airport rail connection. The Burbank station connects the Metrolink system with 43,000 employees in the downtown and media districts.
“I know they are facing difficult budget decisions, and the proposed 6% rate increase is probably necessity to continue the excellent service that the ridership here is afforded,” Bric said.
Among the most vocal opponents to the original Ventura County and Antelope Valley line reductions came from Bob Hope Airport officials, who cited a planned $120-million regional transportation center as a key link between the airport terminal, public transit and rental cars — at no cost to Metrolink.
Airport officials hope that additional rail service to the airport would be provided as the economy improves and the number of passengers returns to previous levels, said Dan Feger, executive director of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority.
“We will be working with Metrolink to outreach to the communities that are served by the Ventura and Antelope Valley line, to let them know about convenient alternatives to the freeway to get to Bob Hope Airport, and to let people know that we are the convenient alternative to LAX,” he said.