Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Despite declining Metro ridership, plans to build more rail is necessary to accommodate a projected population growth in the Los Angeles region, Metro CEO Phillip Washington said Thursday.

Agencies nationwide are seeing lower ridership, not just the Los Angeles County, Washington said in his State of the Agency report to the Metro Board.

Meanwhile, Metro must plan for a projected 750,000 more people in the Los Angeles County area over the next decade, Washington said.

“Our ridership declines are in line with the nation as a whole. Transformation through transportation takes time and patience,” Washington said. “As the county grows over the next 10 years, now is the time to plan for future growth and now is the time to position ourselves to invest in transportation needs for decades to come.

“We are building not just for tomorrow but rather for the next 100 years,” with “significant” transit ridership growing in areas that have been converted to rail.

Washington said Metro began studying the declining ridership last year. The Metro board ordered a report on ridership last March after observing a 5 percent decline in ridership compared with the previous eight months.

More recent figures have Metro boardings declining 10 percent from 2006 to 2015, even as about $9 billion have been invested into in new light rail and subway lines.

Washington said Metro is working to making its bus service more attractive by speeding it up and making technological enhancements.

Washington also reported that the agency is preparing for the opening of two rail line extensions. The Gold Line Extension, which runs from Pasadena to Azusa, is scheduled for March opening, while the Expo Extension from Culver City to Santa Monica is set to open in May.

Washington also said Metro’s Operation Shovel Ready effort will expedite more projects still in the planning stages so that they are ready for construction.

— Wire reports 

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