A Wild Ride at LA Metro

Mike Bonin
4 min readJan 27, 2023

After nearly a decade of service, this week marked the end of my term as a member of the Board of Directors of LA Metro, our regional transit agency. It was a fun, challenging, rewarding and wild ride. I’ve been proud to advocate for #PeoplesTransit — and I intend to stay engaged on these issues until we truly have a robust system that provides #MobilityforAll.

I am full of gratitude for this experience.Some of the most lasting and impactful things I did in public life were at LA Metro. Not just in transit, but in fighting climate change, reimagining public safety, creating jobs and economic opportunity, building housing, addressing homelessness and advancing social, economic and racial justice.

I’m so grateful to Mayor Eric Garcetti for giving me this opportunity to serve, and to so many organizations and advocates that pushed me and partnered with me to get things done. Nothing at LA Metro is done by one person. It is done through teams and partnerships.

Working together, we approved a rail connection to LAX (finally!). We opened the Expo and Crenshaw lines. We won voter approval of Measure M, which is building a 21st Century transit network, including the eventual Sepulveda Transit Corridor from the Valley to the airport.

Working together, we offered free transit to students, approved a NextGen bus system, and pulled LADOT and Metro together to approve and open what will be a record number of bus-only lanes.

Working together, we pushed Metro to commit to a 100% electric bus fleet and to building affordable housing on Metro properties, launched Metro bike share and micro-transit service, and funded first mile/last mile projects to make it easier for people to use transit.

Working together, we successfully pushed Metro to invest in smart, innovative public safety strategies — such as unarmed transit ambassadors and station activation. We invested more money into mental health services, and programs to help our unhoused passengers.

Working together, we got LA Metro to do more to reimagine public safety than most cities.

Working together, we started to get the agency to focus more on bus service. Buses are the backbone of the Metro system and bus passengers are the majority of its customers. Until Metro prioritizes fast, safe, reliable bus service, it isn’t doing its job. We still have a long way to go.

I’m excited we won free transit for students, but the mission is incomplete until we have a completely fareless transit system.

Free transit is imperative. It would boost ridership, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and alleviate poverty.70% of Metro customers are very or extremely low-income; the median annual household income of riders is about $19K. Over 90% of riders are people of color.

Free transit would be one the biggest racial and economic justice programs in LA history. We need to get it done.

I want to thank the amazing staff at Metro — from the bus operators and mechanics to planners and project managers — for their incredible work. I want to thank my colleagues on the board, and their incredible staffs.

And I especially want to thank Eric Bruins, who staffed me at Metro for 7 years. He is one of the smartest, savviest, most committed, most accomplished transit experts I know.

Advocacy partners that deserve a special shout out are @All4Transit @MoveLATransit @SAJE_ShiftPower @BusRidersUnion @InvestinPlace @heybikela @streetsforall @ClimateResolve @LAElectricBus @CPColectivo @EsperanzaCHC @BlackWkrCenter and so many more. They have been the voices for passengers who cannot attend meetings. They have pushed, and demanded, and made Metro better.

To all of the above, I’ll end with this: I yield my time and . . . thank you!