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LA Metro board approves September bus fare increases

By Fiona Kirby

May 23, 2014 2:04 a.m.

The Los Angeles Metro board of directors voted Thursday to approve increases in Metro bus fares later this year.

The fare increase option approved by Metro raised the base fare price for a bus ride from $1.50 to $1.75. Fares for kindergarten through 12th grade students will remain unchanged while those for students in college and vocational schools will be discussed in the coming weeks, according to the Metro Board blog.

The board also voted to postpone fare increases for 2017 and 2020 so other options for raising revenue could be investigated.

Currently, Metro passengers pay 25.9 percent of operating costs, which is not sustainable in the long term, said Metro spokesman Paul Gonzales.

With the fare increase, the federal government will pay two-thirds of Metro’s operating costs and passengers will pay the remaining third through fares, Gonzales said.

He said Metro’s budget is currently balanced, but they expect it to change in the future. Metro estimates an operating budget deficit of $36.8 million by the 2017 fiscal year, and a deficit of $225.8 million by the 2022 fiscal year, he said.

Gonzales said that, without the fare increases, Metro would have to cut service by 1 million service hours, which translates to a loss of 1,000 employees, 575 buses and 260,000 rail service hours.

Karina Riyadi, a first-year undeclared student, said she would not want to take the bus because of the raised bus fares. She said she is from the San Fernando Valley, and already has to take two different buses if she wants to take public transportation home.

Riyadi added that she thinks it is already difficult to use public transportation in Los Angeles because the city is so wide, but that this will discourage her even more.

“I (won’t) want to go through the hassle. … I might as well spend that money on gas,” she said.

In fall quarter of 2013, 1,214 students bought Go Metro passes, according to the 2013 UCLA Commuter Guide. Go Metro passes are quarterly passes which students can use to travel on all Metro bus and rail lines. UCLA Transportation will continue to subsidize 50 percent of the cost of a Go Metro pass for UCLA students, UCLA spokesman Tod Tamberg said in an email statement.

Jinky Lim, a fifth-year Asian-American studies student, said the Metro fare increase would not effect her because she buys a quarterly $50 pass from the UCLA Central Ticket Office.

Lim said she appreciates the bus service, but does see some problems in the ease with which people can ride them.

“I have to say, though, it’s still cheaper than the Santa Ana (bus lines). There, it’s $2,” she said.

Fare increases will take place no later than September of 2014, Metro officials said.

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