Metro to Host `State of the Agency' Address; Hahn Set to Take Board Chair

Los Angeles Metro Gold L Line train

Photo: Laser1987 / iStock / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Metro officials will gather Wednesday to present the annual "State of the Agency" address -- reflecting on a year of infrastructure advances and continued ridership growth, but also of highly publicized violent crimes that spurred plans to form an independent police department to patrol the transit system.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, completing her one-year term as chair of the board of directors, and Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins will lead the event, which will be held at Union Station.

Bass will also pass the chair's gavel to county Supervisor Janice Hahn.

According to a Metro statement, Wednesday's presentations will cover milestones including:

-- the future public-safety model for Metro, including the board's unanimous approval of Metro's Transit Community Public Safety Department, which will eventually bring law-enforcement services in-house;

-- 18 straight months of ridership growth, including "significant" growth on the weekend and with leisure riders;

-- the addition of bus lanes and "significant" progress on projects under construction, including the Airport Metro Connector, the Purple (D) Line extension and "major" planning milestones on the East San Fernando Valley Line, North San Fernando Valley Line and the Southeast Gateway Line;

-- making the Metro Ambassador program permanent, and

-- making the GoPass pilot program permanent to ensure that students can continue to ride for free.

The new Metro police force will be rolled out over five years. Meanwhile, the agency's current contracts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Los Angeles Police Department and Long Beach Police Department will remain in place.

Law enforcement contracts are expected to be slowly phased out, with the goal of having the agency's in-house department ready to take over by 2029.

The plan is estimated to cost $192.6 million per year, compared to the $194 million multi-agency contract.

"So having greater control and accountability over law enforcement, centering on community safety and care-based strategies, and addressing the unique quality of life challenges on trains and buses -- this is why I'm supporting us moving forward with a new model," Bass said previously.

Despite concerns over safety on the transit system, Metro had reported an increase in ridership during May compared to the same period last year, with more than 27.1 million boards on buses and rail lines. June data has not yet been released.

In the past year, Metro has also enacted plans to improve safety for employees and riders, and to partner with cities, the county and regional agencies to address issues such as homelessness, untreated mental illness and substance abuse.

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