Federal guidelines and MTA policy require that a public hearing be held when major service changes to the bus system are considered.
Major service changes are defined as:
- A change of 25% or more in the transit route miles.
- A change of 25% or more in the revenue vehicle miles.
- A new transit route is proposed.
- Standard seasonal variations in transit service are exempt from public hearing requirements unless the number, timing and type of service changes meet specific criteria.
- Emergency service changes may be instituted for 180 days or less without prior notification. A public hearing must be held during that time if the emergency service is to remain in effect for more than 180 days.
- A change is not considered to be major if the service is replaced without interruption at a level that would not otherwise constitute a major change.
Public hearing Process
Metro’s Service Councils by-laws require that they convene public hearings to gather public comment on major service changesand that they make recommendations to approve, modify, or deny the proposed changes. Their recommendations are then forwarded to the Metro Board of Directors for approval.
The process begins when Metro Service Planning staff present the proposed service change program to the Service Councils. The Service Councils then set dates, times and locations for public hearings to be held in each region where changes are proposed. If the proposed changes affect more three or more regions, an additional hearing is held at a central location on a Saturday (usually at Metro’s downtown headquarters).
After the hearing details are established, a Notice of Public Hearing is published in regional newspapers a minimum of 30 days in advance of the hearings. Brochures are also developed that include the times, dates, and locations of the hearings, the line numbers, names and route changes proposed, and information on how the public can submit their comments s via email, mail, or fax. The brochures are then distributed at key transportation centers, bus and rail stations, and on Metro buses and trains up to one month before the public hearing is held.
At each public hearing, a detailed presentation of the proposed changes is provided, then public comments are accepted on the proposals. The public hearing is adjourned when all comments have been received.
Subsequent to each hearing, Service Planning staff reviews all comments, and summarizes them in a report with their final service change recommendations. The report is then presented to each Service Council for consideration. The Service Councils then vote to approve, modify, or deny the proposed service changes; their actions are then be summarized and presented to the Metro Board of Directors who then approves the Service Council recommendations or an alternate service change plan.