News | LA Metro FY2023 Budget Signals Commitments to Public Safety, Equity

Stop the Video



by Jacob Wong, USC Master of Public Policy, 2023

On May 26, 2022, the Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors voted to approve the agency’s $8.8 billion budget proposal for FY23. In addition to providing funding for transit service and two new rail lines - the K Line (Crenshaw/LAX) Phase I Extension and Regional Connector project - this year’s budget proposal reflects an agency-wide commitment to improving public safety.


The proposal includes an overall 12.5% budget increase in public safety expenditures since the previous fiscal year with an emphasis on community-based outreach and mental health services. Metro doubled funding for its Transit Ambassadors program and increased funding for homeless and mental health outreach by 43.2% from FY22.


(Source: Crosstown)


These actions by Metro are in response to a public comment-based approach to assessing the needs of its ridership, especially in light of increased crime rates on the agency’s buses and rail lines over the past year.


“Collecting everything we heard, our CEO is taking a people-first approach by valuing our partners, employees and riders, and we are doing this by making investments to improve customer experience,” said Michelle Navarro, Metro’s Senior Executive Finance Officer, while presenting the budget proposal at the Metro board meeting in May.


To improve public safety in Metro facilities in an effective and equitable way, the agency plans to expand its “Respect the Ride” program, which aims to improve rider experience through means such as offering discounts on fares and increasing security and custodial staff.


Related to improving customer experience, the budget proposal also includes a 9.1% increase in funding for cleaning of Metro facilities, accelerating the agency’s current timeline for replacing fabric seats on its train cars by the end of the upcoming fiscal year.


Another recurring theme throughout the budget proposal is a commitment to equity in the agency’s decision-making process to ensure that the different histories and challenges faced by communities across Los Angeles County are accounted for. To accomplish this, Metro applied the Metro Budget Equity Assessment Tool (MBEAT) when developing the proposal.


Established during last year’s Metro budget cycle, the MBEAT helps identify and assess potential benefits and harmful impacts of projects, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and other economically or socially marginalized groups. Metro employs this tool to prioritize funding for projects that reduce harms and maximize benefits to these communities. 


Metro’s commitment to equity was also evident in the agency’s extensive community engagement efforts throughout the drafting of the budget proposal. Metro held three separate town halls during the drafting process, two to give community members a chance to voice public concerns and a third to address how the budget proposal could address these issues. According to Metro, the three town halls drew over 11,000 participants.


In addition to the town hall meetings, Metro collected public feedback with a survey developed through Metro’s Office of Equity and Race, which held 24 public meetings. The survey received over 8,000 respondents and over 4,100 written comments.


Metro cites these public engagement efforts as playing a key role in ensuring that funding decisions led to equitable outcomes for the system’s riders. “It is because of the collaboration with the equity office, marketing, and communications teams where we did more targeted marketing efforts specifically targeting equity-focused communities,” stated Navarro.


A full recording of the Metro Board presentation is available here. A copy of the budget proposal is available here.


About the Author:

Jacob Wong is a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree at the Price School of Public Policy. He is curious about issues in urban policy and transportation planning. He is a recent LA transplant, and in his free time he enjoys exploring the area and the local food scene.