The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (Metro) board of directors adopted a $3.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2010-11.
The spending plan is $47 million less than the current Metro budget but still advances a variety of transportation improvements for the region, including new highway and transit building projects, which are funded largely with federal stimulus funds and the new Measure R transit sales tax.
Metro has seen a sharp drop in local transportation sales taxes and farebox revenue compounded by cuts in state transit funding. As a consequence, Metro originally faced an historic $250 million operating deficit but CEO Art Leahy has managed to balance the budget by severely cutting administrative costs, including the elimination of 20 percent of the agency's non-contract staff -- 240 full-time equivalent positions.
For the second year in a row, the budget assumes no wage increase, however, Metro is negotiating new contracts this spring with its major labor unions representing operators, maintenance employees and clerks.
In addition the budget reflects improved capital budgeting and centralizing bus operations to improve efficiency. A five percent reduction in bus service is assumed along with a previously approved fare change that will be implemented July 1.
Metro will program $625 million in local Measure R sales tax monies in FY 11. These include monies to advance planning and construction for more than two dozen transit and highway projects plus monies to subsidize bus operations and $87 million in local return monies that will be given the various cities in Los Angeles County to use for major street resurfacing, pothole repair, improving traffic congestion, bikeways, pedestrian improvements, signal synchronization and transit improvements.
Among major transportation advances in the coming fiscal year, Metro will purchase 125 new compressed natural gas buses, order new rail cars, continue construction funding for the Expo light rail line from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City and a four-mile extension of the popular Metro Orange Line busway from Canoga Park to Chatsworth.