LA Metro Approves $9B Budget for FY24Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) on May 25 approved a $9 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24), which includes key capital investments intended to “put Metro’s customers first.”
According to Metro, the agency’s new budget (download below), approved by the Metro Board of Directors, will “fund an equitable service plan that improves transit service frequency and reliability for Metro riders, enhances cleanliness and safety on the transit system, and funds the continued integration of Metro’s growing portfolio of countywide transportation projects.”
The balanced budget, Metro says, represents a 2.6% increase over last year’s $8.7 billion budget and covers the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024.
To get Metro riders where they need to go more reliably in the next fiscal year, Metro has invested $2.9 billion of its budget (a 5% increase over FY23) specifically in transit operations, which will allow Metro to operate 8.9 million revenue service hours of transit services in FY24 compared to the current 7.5 million revenue service hours it operates today. This increased level of service, Metro says, is nearly 10% higher than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic precipitated major ridership declines in Los Angeles County and across the country.
Metro’s FY24 budget also includes total bus investments of nearly $1.9 billion, a 6.6% increase over the previous year’s budget.
To deliver a cleaner transit system, Metro is investing more than $200 million of its new budget specifically in cleaning efforts, a 13% increase from FY23. Metro will create 10 roving cleaning teams on the system and plans to hire 24 full-time and 50 part-time custodians to specifically clean the Metro B and D Lines (Red/Purple). The agency is also increasing the frequency of cleaning, expanding “in-line” and mid-day bus interior cleaning, end-of-line cleanings on rail lines and station hotspots, and expanding cleaning activities at Metro’s most traveled stations and terminals.
According to Metro, the agency’s FY24 budget also includes $290.5 million to improve safety for customers, which constitutes a 3.7% increase over last year’s budget. Metro says it has “reassessed and reimagined” its approach to public safety and is implementing transformational change through its multi-layered public safety approach that includes a combination of Metro Ambassadors, Transit Security Officers, contract security, law enforcement and homeless and mental health outreach teams on its system. Metro is also investing in enhanced security cameras, fare gates, lighting and other security infrastructure to make its system as safe as possible for customers.
For example, Metro is piloting a range of initiatives to improve conditions at its Westlake/MacArthur Park Station. Combined, the agency says, they are having a “measurable improvement” on public safety, with significant drops in reported crimes, calls for emergency service and service calls. This pilot will inform Metro’s safety approaches at other stations, as well.
The agency has also implemented a Drug-Free Metro campaign that enforces Metro’s prohibition against illegal drug use on buses and trains. Transit security officers have issued hundreds of citations and warnings for Code of Conduct violations and law enforcement has made hundreds of drug-related and trespassing arrests as part of this campaign.
The agency says it will also boost funding for additional social services to help address the county’s homelessness, drug addiction and mental health crises that are impacting the county, as well as the Metro system. In the next fiscal year, Metro will partner with People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) and Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) to invest nearly $14 million in outreach to unhoused individuals. Metro will allocate $10 million to a new Department of Mental Health (DMH) partnership to provide training on identifying mental health concerns and proper responses and strategies to address critical crisis response needs, and Community Mental Health Ambassadors. Additionally, Metro will invest in short-term shelters, workforce partnerships, and other strategies to help address these issues on its transit system.
Metro says its FY24 budget continues to invest in the agency’s transit capital program—the largest of its kind in the country. Metro will invest $2.2 billion in its Transit Infrastructure Development Program for numerous projects now in the planning and construction. For example, Metro anticipates full-scale construction will begin on the G (Orange) Line Improvements project in the next fiscal year, with additional projects like the Airport Metro Connector and the Purple Line Extension Project moving closer to completion.
Notably, Metro says it will continue its focus on ensuring equity for customers. Nearly 74% of Metro’s budget, which was developed using key equity assessment budget tools, provides targeted and indirect benefits to Equity Focus Communities, a 6.6% increase over the previous year’s budget. This includes continued support for its Low-Income Fare is Easy (LIFE) and GoPass Pilot Programs, as well as the rollout of its Mobility Wallet and Fare Capping programs, which provide vital fare relief for more Metro riders.
The budget also includes $2.1 billion in Regional Allocations and Pass-Through funding distributed to regional transit partners and municipalities to carry out local transportation needs. This component, Metro says, is directly tied to locally imposed and collected sales taxes. Metro also serves as the Regional Transportation Planning Agency for Los Angeles County to provide oversight and distribute State and Federal pass-through grants.
“Our agency’s new budget includes new and innovative initiatives that build on our efforts to ensure we operate a world-class transportation system for our customers,” said Glendale City Councilmember and Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian. “Throughout the year-long budget process, Metro focused on prudent fiscal planning and kept its sights trained on maintaining financial stability over the long term. The budget we have today will help ensure we invest in the types of improvements that our customers want and need most.”
“We’ve heard from riders that they want a safer, reliable, and clean transit service, and this new budget reflects those priorities,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Kathryn Barger. “Our Metro budget funds key initiatives such as more transportation security officers and cleaning programs, new rail service such as the Regional Connector, and delivers fast and reliable service through the NextGen Bus Plan. I support continuing to put our customers front and center so that we meet their expectations.”
“The investments we are making focus on best serving our customers and putting their needs first,” said Metro CEO Stephanie N. Wiggins. “This budget helps us maintain the momentum from the past year and deliver a world-class transit system for the people of Los Angeles County that will help make it their first choice for transportation.”
A breakdown of all Metro expenditures in the agency’s FY24 budget is available below.