Mayor Eric Garcetti was appointed as the chair of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Board of Directors Wednesday, an act made official during a state of the agency address.
This is the third time Garcetti has served as the board’s chair, and he acknowledged the struggles Metro workers have had to endure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The men and women who in some of the toughest days of our lives are still showing up for work, making sure that our equipment runs, making sure the payroll is put out, making sure that the trains and the buses move,” Garcetti said. “We are in the midst of so many different crises at the same time.”
The mayor said this is an opportunity to rethink public transportation, as Metro continues to explore reduced rates for school children on buses and to make its services more affordable.
“This is a time not just to think but to act big,” he said.
Garcetti also said Metro is continuing to make progress on its infrastructure projects and to ensure others are ready to go once Metro can start them. The mayor said building a sustainable public transportation authority, providing equitable services and planning for the future will be the tenets of Metro in the next year.
Garcetti was the board’s vice chair over the last year, and he replaces outgoing board chair James Butts, who is also the mayor of Inglewood.
“My predecessors made it look extremely easy, however, I soon came to realize that it’s not, but I’ve enjoyed each and every moment and learned so much from it,” Butts said. “I’m also proud to have been chair as Metro has been able to achieve a variety of accomplishments and milestones.”
Butts spoke about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected Metro, with ridership on buses and trains down to about a third of what it was before the pandemic began.
Metro has lost about $1.8 billion that it expected to receive since the start of the pandemic, Butts said.
“Our goal is still to deliver as many projects as possible by 2028 for the Olympics and the Paralympic Games,” said Phillip Washington, LA Metro’s chief executive officer. “We got hit hard by COVID-19 … and it had a devastating impact on our revenues.”
Washington said he hopes Metro will be able to recover some of the money it lost through federal reimbursement.
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