Streetcar named dissent
Bus Riders Union battles MTA officials over proposed fare increases
By Carl Kozlowski 02/27/2014
A battle is brewing on the streets of Los Angeles with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA or Metro) gearing up to impose fare increases that would go into effect as early as Sept. 1.
On Tuesday, the rider-advocacy group Bus Riders Union organized a demonstration near its headquarters at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue, protesting a planned three-tiered increase that would ultimately raise fares for buses and trains from the current $1.50 per ride to $2.25 per ride in 2021.
There are actually two sets of fare increase options, with the first raising the base fare from the current $1.50 to $1.75 for the next four years and eventually to $2.25. The second option would keep the base fare at $1.50 during off-peak hours and raise it to $2.25 during peak hours for the next four years and eventually to $2 in off-peak hours and $3.25 in peak hours.
Yet the day, weekly and monthly pass increases are likely to make a bigger dent in the wallet of the MTA’s ridership, which tends to be lower-income and minority. A $5 day pass would increase to either $9 or $13 in 2021, depending on which plan is implemented.
The current regular base fare for the MTA is lower than those found in other cities. New York City, for instance, charges $2.50 per ride, while San Francisco charges $2 and Chicago charges $2 for buses and $2.25 for trains. All those agencies allow for free transfers within a 90-minute or two-hour period, and the MTA will follow suit under both fare-increase plans by allowing riders to have unlimited transfers within 90 minutes once they pay their fares.
“The fare restructuring proposals are designed to offset a projected operating deficit of $36 million that would be starting in two years,” said Metro spokesman Rick Jager. “That deficit would grow to $225 million over 10 years so we are having to increase the revenues on the bus and train side since those fares only amount to 26 percent of our operating costs.”
A public hearing on the fare increase proposals will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, March 29, at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles. Comments may also be submitted electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org.