L.A. Mayor Karen Bass takes gavel as Metro Board Chair at the annual State of the Agency event
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board Chair and L.A. City Mayor Karen Bass, former Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian and CEO Stephanie Wiggins today provided their report to the community about the progress Metro has made toward the agency’s strategic goals in the last fiscal year (FY 2023) and its plans for the current fiscal year (FY 2024) at the annual State of the Agency event. The ceremonial passing of the gavel from Glendale City Councilman Najarian to L.A. Mayor Bass, who assumed the role of Metro Board Chair effective July 1, culminated the event.
The last fiscal year at Metro has been marked by increased ridership, expanded rail and bus service, and new programs related to safety, cleanliness, equity, and the customer experience on the transit system.
Under Najarian’s term as Chair in FY 2023, Metro improved and expanded rail and bus services that provide new transit options for Angelenos, including the opening of the K Line in South Los Angeles and Inglewood and the Regional Connector in L.A.’s downtown core. The agency also brought bus schedules back to pre-pandemic levels, hired 1,000 new bus operators to help ease the bus operator shortage, and reduced cancellation rates on the bus system to between 1-2%. In FY 2023, Metro also grew special fare programs designed to provide equity and support the next generation of Metro riders; 89,036 more people were enrolled in the LIFE program that provides steeply discounted fares to low-income customers, and K-14 students took more than 16.7 million free rides using the GoPass, which provides free rides to all students at participating schools.
At the same time, Metro began implementing its human-focused, multilayered public safety plan while also addressing significant societal challenges affecting customers and employees on the transit system. Metro piloted interventions across its rail system that have reduced crime by 53% in recent months. Metro also launched the pilot Metro Ambassador program which adds visible unarmed staff to assist transit customers and keep a watchful eye out for issues that need to be addressed on the system, working collaboratively with Metro transit security, law enforcement, and maintenance to help make the system feel safer for riders. In June, Najarian coauthored a motion directing Metro to prepare a comprehensive implementation plan, for Board consideration, to create an in-house public safety department. That plan should reflect Metro’s commitment to building a new culture of public safety centered on a robust multi-layered approach that results in more visibility and transparency.
In his remarks, Najarian cited living up to his commitments to making safety Metro’s #1 priority and to deliver more regionally integrated transportation projects.
“I was honored to serve as the board chair for Metro and I am extremely proud of what our Board was able to accomplish during my tenure,” Najarian said. “While this last year clearly presented us with major challenges and opportunities to improve, I think we met that challenge and are turning the corner on needed improvements. We put plans into motion that will certainly leave a legacy for how Metro better meets its customers’ needs in the coming years. I’m very proud of that.”
In introducing Mayor Bass, Janice Hahn, First Vice Chair of the Metro Board and Chair of the LA County Board of Supervisors, lauded the mayor’s collaborative leadership and her ability to find solutions even when everyone else might not think it can be done. “I believe she is the right person for this moment, for this city, for our region and for this agency, as so much of the work that needs to be done requires bringing a variety of stakeholders to the table, to agree to work together and to tackle challenges with innovative approaches that cross sectors, silos, and fiefdoms,” Hahn said.
Looking ahead, L.A. City Mayor Karen Bass, who took over the role as Chair on July 1, said she was committed to using the collective power of Los Angeles’ 88 cities and unincorporated areas to continue building the best public transit system in the nation. She aims to make Metro more accessible to all Angelenos while making it a competitive, desirable mode of transportation, as Los Angeles prepares to host the world for the World Cup in 2026 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2028.
Bass seeks to continue Metro’s expansion to reach more parts of Los Angeles while working to get ridership to pre-pandemic levels. Also, a priority: to provide better service for riders who rely on public transit, and to continue improving safety on the system for the Metro community, including riders and operators on Metro buses, trains, and stations.
“Today, hundreds of thousands of Southern Californians depend on Metro to get to work, to school, and to their doctor’s appointments,” said Bass. “Metro is truly an essential service. But for Los Angeles to thrive – and for Los Angeles to survive in the future – Metro cannot be mostly a system of last resort. It must be a system of choice, and as we prepare to host the World Cup as well as the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we will work towards that reality by building ridership and making our system safer and more accessible for all.”
Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins shared a message of hope and confidence in the Metro system as a connector and as a strong contributor to a rebirth for Los Angeles.
“Metro aims to revolutionize the way Los Angeles moves and establish Metro as the preferred choice for transportation among Angelenos,” said Wiggins. “We have a long way to go to reach that goal, but because of all the progress we made in the last fiscal year and because of the hard work of the 11,000 members of the Metro family, I have faith that we can get there. In the next year, we’ll continue putting people first by making our system faster, cleaner, friendlier, and safer.”
Citing the focus and collaboration of Metro staff that led to significant improvements in safety and security, and a sharp focus on putting people first to improve the employee and customer experience, Wiggins reported that ridership on Metro is coming back from pandemic-related lows, especially on the weekends. Metro consistently gained ridership year-over-year in FY23. In June 2023, Metro’s average weekday ridership was 76 percent of what it was in June 2019, and 91 percent of its pre-pandemic ridership level on the weekends.
“I believe we can not only reach our pre-pandemic level of ridership, but we can go beyond. We can deliver a world-class transit experience for our region that will make Metro Angelenos’ preferred choice for transportation.” Wiggins said.
For additional information, please visit metro.net.
About Metro The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is building the most ambitious transportation infrastructure program in the United States and is working to greatly improve mobility through its Vision 2028 Plan. Metro is the lead transportation planning and funding agency for L.A. County and carries nearly 900,000 boardings daily on a fleet of 2,200 low-emission buses and six rail lines. Stay informed by following Metro on The Source and El Pasajero at metro.net, facebook.com/losangelesmetro, twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.