Metro headquarters and Los Angeles Union Station. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Metro Board of Directors Thursday approved an $8.8 billion budget for the next fiscal year.

Ahead of proposing the budget, Metro staff held a series of telephone town halls and public meetings to get feedback.

“We heard the public wanted a clean system, a safe system, more rail, more bus and reliable and frequent service,” said Metro Budget Management Analyst Michelle Navarro.

The budget includes nearly $263 million in funding for bus capital improvements and the NextGen Bus Plan, which is aimed at doubling the number of frequent Metro bus lines, provide more than 80% of its riders with 10 minute or better frequency, improve and expand service, ensure a quarter-mile walk to a bus stop for 99% of current riders and create safer and more comfortable environment for people use as they wait for buses.

About $296 million is allocated for public safety, including $170 million for law enforcement, $24.5 million for private security and $30.9 million for Metro transit security.

The budget also doubles funding for the Transit Ambassador program, from $20 million in the current fiscal year to $40 million in the next fiscal year.

The transit ambassador program was created last year to have people trained in de-escalation and customer service available to support transit workers and riders.

Funding for homeless and mental health outreach initiatives also increased by 43.2%, from $10.7 million in the current fiscal year to $15.3 million in the next fiscal year.

“We listened and learned to invest more in customer experience and this budget does reflect that,” Navarro said.

The budget also includes $634.1 million for the Highway Program, which includes capacity improvement projects, like street widening, as well as pedestrian safety and sidewalk improvements, express lane and HOV improvements and more.

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