The chief executive of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Tuesday that he would step down in April after six years of overseeing both high-profile failures and major milestones during the most ambitious rail expansion agenda in the agency’s history.

Leahy’s performance as chief executive has been under confidential review by the Metro board of directors for more than six months, and a majority of board members were ready to let his contract expire in April, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. But in an interview with The Times, Leahy, 65, said leaving Metro was his choice.

Read the complete story at the Los Angeles Times.

On the night of Nov. 17, a member of the SMART Transportation Division employed by Los Angeles Metro was brutally assaulted while operating a bus in the West San Fernando Valley.

On Nov. 24, Los Angeles Metro and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department held a joint press conference at 1 Gateway Plaza in Los Angeles to ask for the public’s assistance in finding the individuals involved in this senseless attack.

SMART Transportation Division General Committee of Adjustment 875 (GCA 875) is also asking for the public’s assistance and the assistance of SMART’s membership.

“It is suspected that these individuals are frequent riders of the public transportation system and will reboard a Metro vehicle in the near future,” said GCA 875 General Chairperson James Williams. “If you see the individual pictured here, please don’t hesitate to report it to the authorities. These criminals must be found, they must be arrested and they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Also at the conference, Los Angeles Metro will be unveiling new programs to assist in the prevention of operator assaults. One initiative will be a pilot program to install a two-part barrier system to provide separation between operators and the public. This method of protection has been sought by this union for more than 15 years.

The SMART Transportation Division fully supports any initiative that promotes and furthers the safety and security of its members.

Earlier this month, the Federal Transit Agency (FTA) sent a letter to Los Angeles Metro informing them of new oversight rules and regulations for local transit agencies in regards to public and operator safety. SMART Transportation Division will be seeking inclusion in these pilot programs with the FTA to increase operator safety.

“These programs will bring the best practices, as well as federal dollars, to tackle the issue of operator safety,” Williams said. “In the past, operator safety has not been granted the appropriate level of attention that it deserves. It is the hope of SMART Transportation Division GCA 875 that new leadership at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, along with cooperation from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Transit Authority board of directors, will bring about new ideas and a sense of urgency to these very serious problems.”

SMART Transportation Division GCA 875 of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers represents more than 5,000 motor coach and light rail operators at LACMTA, also known as L.A. Metro.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced last week that it was considering a number of fare-restructuring options that would increase fares, change its current transfer policy and help the bus and rail operator address its mounting operating deficits.

Currently, all Metro rides are $1.50 per one-way ticket, a fee that officials say only covers 26% of the cost of operating the buses and trains. In a report released Friday, Metro asked for the public’s input on two options, the first of which calls for a gradual increase in base fare to $1.75 for the next four years with an eventual rise to $2.25 after eight years. A second option incorporates dual pricing for off-peak and peak hour riding with a final base fare of $3.25.

Read the complete story at the Long Beach Post.

With the Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line groundbreaking last week, Los Angeles now has three rail transit projects under construction — an example of how the city is leading the country in a rail renaissance.

The “city that destroyed cities,” as GQ recently described L.A. for pioneering auto-oriented development, has been planning and building a multibillion-dollar rail network, thanks in part to up to $13 billion in local sales tax funds from a successful 2008 measure.

Raed the complete story at the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles County bus drivers say they are regularly becoming ill — sometimes while behind the wheel — from pesticides sprayed inside their vehicles by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

At least 14 Metro drivers are pursuing workers’ compensation claims, and more than 110 have signed a petition that demands a halt to the spraying, according to their attorney. Some operators are on medical leave, and a few say they have left Metro because of repeated exposure.

Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times.

Olivia Gamboa

A Los Angeles Metro bus operator and SMART TD member was killed early Wednesday, June 12, in a head-on crash with a speeding flatbed tow truck.

Olivia Gamboa, 47, a member of SMART TD Local 1563 at El Monte, Calif., was transported to a hospital in critical condition and later died, Local Treasurer Pedro Lara reports.

According to television station KTLA in Los Angeles, Gamboa was a 13-year Metro veteran and a wife, mother and grandmother. The Los Angeles Times reports Gamboa came from a family of bus operators and that her husband and her daughter were also Metro employees.

The accident happened at S. Broadway and 5th St. at approximately 5:15 a.m. the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

The tow truck was headed southbound on Broadway when its driver ran a red light and collided with the bus, witnesses told police officers.

“A citizen estimated the tow truck was driving about 60 miles per hour,” Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Steve Dailey said. “The speed limit for here is about 30 miles per hour.”

The bus was in the intersection when it was hit and knocked down a fire hydrant, sending water high up into the air. The tow truck plowed into a nearby 7-Eleven store.

The driver of the tow truck, 43-year-old Yousef Adhami, remains hospitalized. He has had multiple suspensions and had surrendered his license after his last infraction, KTLA reported.

Gamboa is the first SMART TD member killed while on duty in 2013.

Her tragic death is not the first to be mourned by her fellow members. On May 20 last year, Los Angeles Metro bus operator Alan Thomas was murdered aboard his bus in West Hollywood, Calif., by a lone gunman. Thomas was also a member of Local 1563.

The SMART Transportation Division News will update this story as more details become available.