With gas prices high and likely going higher by summer, Metro CEO Art Leahy is proposing to lower the cost of a Metro day pass from $6 to $5 effective July 1.
The discount would be a test program lasting six months. The lower fare would not require public hearings but does need the approval of two-thirds of the Metro Board of Directors. The Board will likely consider the issue at their May meeting.
A day pass allows Metro customers to take an unlimited number of rides during a calendar day. At $5, anyone making four or more rides on Metro buses or rail is effectively getting a discount over the normal $1.50 per ride fare.
The discount could cost Metro as much as $6 million annually. But agency officials believe that the cost should be made up by ridership gains as a result of the discount.
In 2008, when gas prices stayed over $4 for much of the late spring and summer, Metro’s bus ridership saw a 10 percent increase and rail ridership rose 18 percent over the previous year. Even with a sluggish economy and high unemployment, Leahy has told Metro staffers that he wants to be pro-active since it seems likely that ridership is already on the rise.
Among other measures that Metro intends to take:
•Shorten the scheduled time between Silver Line express buses from the South Bay into downtown Los Angeles and also lower the base fare.
•Deploy longer trains on the Gold Line during rush hour and other peak periods to handle additional crowds.
•Decrease the time between trains on the Gold Line to East Los Angeles from 7.5 minutes during rush hours to five minutes or less.
•Add more trains cars on the Metro Red Line subway during peak and off-peaks to increase capacity. In addition, by June Metro will try to run trains every five minutes on the Red Line during rush hours — about twice as many trains as currently scheduled.
•Defer the sale of about 100 buses that are slated for retirement. These buses will remain available to Metro should additional demand require bus service to be beefed up.
•Work with Metrolink to determine exactly which services their riders are transferring to at Union Station. This will allow Metro to better target service demand increases on buses, light rail and the subway.
•Increase the number of times Metro monitors passenger loads on buses and trains. More of these ‘ride checks’ will better allow Metro to determine where service is needed.