By Laura J. Nelson, September 13, 2014
Commuters will start paying more this week to board buses and trains
operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, which is raising fares Monday morning for the first time in
At 12:01 a.m. Monday, one-way Metro bus and rail fares
will increase from $1.50 to $1.75, and monthly passes will increase
from $75 to $100. Fares for senior and disabled passengers will go up
from $0.55 to $0.75. One-way fares for students in grades K-12 will
remain at $1.
other major change starting Monday — two hours of free transfers — may
ease the pain of higher fares for some riders, Metro says. For the last
decade, passengers have been required to pay a new fare each time they
board a bus or train. Metro says that has discouraged efficient use of
the system because riders tend to avoid transfers, placing added strain
on some lines and limiting use of others.
fare increase comes in the midst of the biggest rail boom in the
history of Los Angeles. By the end of this year, five new lines will be
under construction, spanning downtown Los Angeles, mid-Wilshire, Azusa,
South L.A. and Santa Monica. Once operational, the routes will add
significantly to the agency's operating budget.
Monday's fare hike
is expected to increase the portion of the agency's operating budget
funded by ticket income to about 27% or 28%, up slightly from the
current rate. That means about 72% of operating costs would be funded
through taxes and grants — making Los Angeles one of the most subsidized
transit networks in the world. A ratio less than 33% could jeopardize
Metro's future chances of receiving federal grants.
staff members estimate that ridership will drop by 3% to 4% during the
first six months of the increase, but that fare revenue will grow by $21
million this fiscal year and $28 million in subsequent years.
will not be enough to correct the agency's long-term financial
problems. Metro analysts have pushed for a series of three fare
increases over eight years, saying more income is needed to offset an
expected cumulative deficit of $225 million over the next decade. Agency
directors approved the fare hike that begins Monday but postponed two
subsequent increases proposed for 2017 and 2020, saying they needed more
information about the agency's financial outlook.
Monday, passengers who pay with digital fare cards will be eligible for a
two-hour free transfer period, subject to several conditions. Free
transfers won't be permitted on return trips on the same line.
riders must have the required fare loaded on their digital passes
before boarding buses to receive a free transfer. That may pose some
difficulties for the 12% of Metro riders who pay with cash and want free
transfers. Vending machines used to load money on fare cards are
available at rail stations but not most bus stops.
That could mean
more riders, seeking transfers, would attempt to add money to their
cards via onboard machines as they board buses. That will no longer be
allowed, officials said.
"People trying to board and pay and load
cards ... would significantly slow down our bus operating time," said
Kelly Hines, Metro's director of TAP technical systems.
are available at about 400 retail locations, including Ralphs, Vons and
several check-cashing chains. Cards can also be purchased and reloaded
by visiting taptogo.net or calling (866) 827-8646.
is Metro's fourth fare increase since 1995. In 2010, one-way fares rose
from $1.25 to $1.50 and monthly passes rose from $62 to $75.