MTA/SCRTD Performance from 1980:
Between 1985 and 1997, SCRTD and it successor agency, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) opened three new rail lines, with capital costs of at least $3.5 billion.
By 1997, MTA bus and rail ridership had fallen 24 percent from the bus-only ridership of 1985 (passenger miles). Buses accounted for 87 percent of ridership and rail 13 percent.
This reduction alone is more that the total ridership on all US light rail systems built since 1980 outside Los Angeles (Baltimore, Buffalo, Dallas, Denver, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego San Jose and St. Louis).
Total operating costs were $725 million in 1997, $618 million for buses and $107 million for rail.
Rail operating costs were $3.12 per boarding in 1997, 1.8 times the bus cost of $1.78. Rail costs per passenger mile were $0.56, 1.2 times the bus cost of $0.48.
Continuing a cost escalation tendency that dates to the early 1970s, unit operating costs have continued to rise well ahead of inflation. If MTA/SCRTD had maintained its cost per passenger mile at the inflation adjusted 1980 level, $3.1 billion less would have been spent on transit operations from 1980 to 1997.
Because of its very high capital costs, total rail costs per passenger mile are much higher than that of buses. In 1997, it is estimated that total costs per boarding on rail were $10.69, five times the $2.13 bus cost. Rail cost per passenger mile were estimated at $1.91, 3.2 times the $0.58 bus cost.
Rail costs are likely to escalate substantially higher. Another $3 billion in rail projects has opened since 1997 or will soon open. By 2004, the annual interest on bonded indebtedness will approach $400 million.