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Cuts Proposed for Central City East, South Park DASH Service

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, January 11, 2010, at 02:12PM
Prep Ed Fuentes

A DASH bus is prepped outside Disney Hall to kick off 2008's Late Night DASH holiday pilot, which was privately funded.

Three DASH routes Downtown are proposed for elimination as part of LADOT's attempts to balance its transit budget for 2010. If the recommendations are approved by the department, the Central City East DASH, DASH C (South Park) and DASH DD (weekend) would be discontinued and fares would double by 2011.

The moves are necessitated by a massive deficit in funding for the department's transit services, which include Commuter Express and City Ride. Most of that funding comes from Proposition A, a 1980 ballot measure whereby voters approved a half-cent sales tax for transit improvements (much like 2008's Measure R). A portion of that revenue went to local agencies to fund transit operations.

In recent years, though, Prop A revenue has failed to keep pace with the growing cost to provide service. LADOT is projecting a $23 million shortfall in 2010, and a $260 million gap over the next 10 years.

According to LADOT, the moves proposed will generate $28 million in savings and new revenue for 2010 and $30.5 million starting in 2011. That's enough to balance the budget for the next two fiscal years, but starting in 2012 the department still expects a $10 million shortfall.

The three DASH lines targeted have long struggled for ridership. Central City East DASH was launched in September of 2008, and as of December of that year the service was only averaging six riders per hour.

Fares on DASH lines are proposed to rise from the current $0.25 to $0.35 in year one and $0.50 in year two.

While the proposal is far from finalized and community input is still requested on the consultant's website, comments are unlikely to change the budget situation. The proposed cuts would balance the 2010 transit budget, according to the department.

There is a chance of new money. The budget assumes no revenue from the Measure R local return fund, a pool that the city has not yet decided how to allocate. It also assumes no rise in "formula" funds from Metro. While Downtown DASH and three Community DASH lines receive the state-distributed funds, most Community DASH lines do not thanks to agreements made long ago.

Findings will go to City Council before implementation.

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