The Metropolitan Transit Authority in Los Angeles County purchases one out of every seven buses sold in this country, but some people think that's still not enough. MTA's decision to purchase 75 new buses, however, may satisfy a legal requirement that it add more seats to its fleet.

For the past eight years, MTA has been operating under a consent decree, which was the result of a legal challenge questioning its service to inner-city minorities. In January, the special master who oversees the decree ordered MTA to buy 145 new buses by next June, but he decided to give the system credit for some buses already on order. "We're purchasing 75 and, coupled with some of them that are coming in now, that will satisfy the requirement," says MTA spokesman Ed Scannell.

The additional buses will be paid for with $30 million earmarked for future bus purchases. That leaves some of the parties to the case angry. Manuel Criollo of the Bus Riders Union claims that the whole thrust of the lawsuit was to force MTA to use other funds to buy buses in order to make up for past inequities. The union has filed charges of civil contempt against MTA.

"We do not want halfway compliance," Criollo says. "At the end of the day, bus riders are still playing for what MTA caused."