Los Angeles County transportation officials voted Thursday to initiate the NextGen Bus Plan, which is designed to create a faster and more reliable bus network with more routes.

The county’s Metropolitan Transportation Agency board of directors said they expect some of the changes to bus routes to be implemented in December in areas that have the most need for service improvements.

“…NextGen is the most important piece of work, in my mind, at Metro right now,” Metro Board Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, adding that the NextGen plan has been years in the making and involved hundreds of public input meetings.

The plan is to have most of the new bus routes implemented by June, and all route changes are planned to be in service by December 2021. The plan prioritizes bus travel on the county’s busiest streets.

“This is the first major overhaul of Metro’s bus system in more than 25 years, and these changes will vastly improve bus service for current and future riders,” Metro CEO Phillip Washington said. “Metro’s bus ridership has fallen less during the pandemic than in many other metro areas, which demonstrates how much people completely depend on our bus system, which will now better serve everyone’s needs.”

NextGen will schedule buses to arrive every five to 10 minutes at stops for 83% of current riders compared to 48% who are currently serviced, according to Metro officials.

Garcetti said there have been concerns of implementing NextGen as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect transit systems, but the mayor said funding will be available and the services will be implemented in a timely manner.

“I want to be clear … unequivocally, that this board is committed to … growing ridership and also making adjustments and empowering our CEO to do that without a long process,” Garcetti said.

In September, Metro’s board approved a $400 billion, 30-year transportation plan that seeks to address needs across the county, which includes the NextGen plan.

Conan Cheung, a Metro senior officer, said NextGen aims to give people shorter walks to stations, and Metro was able to make sure any service changes that affect riders can be mitigated within the new system.

Metro Board member and county Supervisor Kathryn Barger said the agency will be able to tweak some of the bus lines as NextGen is implemented, and the board will assess each route’s effectiveness.

“My hope is that the pilot will prove to be an effective complement to our bus system and, more importantly, significantly improve mobility for areas that historically had low ridership, which I think really is the intent,” Barger said.

The plan is intended to provide frequent, all-day service for a majority of riders, double the number of frequent Metro bus lines and to improve and expand midday, evening and weekend service.

It will also aim to create a more comfortable, cleaner and safer on-board and waiting environment for communities with the greatest mobility need, according to Metro documents.

A list of the NextGen bus lines and service alterations can be found at metro.legistar1.com/metro/attachments/5e25ef6e-abcb-41b1-b285-36ee803a0d71.pdf.

More information on NextGen can be found at www.metro.net/projects/nextgen/events.

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