CBS Evening News rides the Gold Line and considers the effect of rising gas prices on transit

Click the image to watch the video.

The Gold Line received a bit of national attention as CBS Evening News rode along with Jackie Gilberto, a Pasadena resident who recently made the switch to transit thanks to rising gas prices. Before investing in her $75 monthly pass (the video incorrectly reports the cost of a monthly pass) Jackie was paying $400 a month in gas.

The report notes that despite increasing ridership transit agencies across the nation are slashing service and raising fares. Check out the video at the CBS News site.

Categories: Transportation News

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19 replies

  1. The gold line’s farebox recovery rate will be on par with the other rail lines when Metro switches to distance based fares by 2017 and offers premium express service to Ontario airport.

    Whether it’s a long suburban commute or a short grocery shopping ride, riders will pay their fare share of transportation costs.

    • Hi Kevin and other readers;

      Just to be clear: no decision has been made by Metro to switch to distance-based fares. At this point, there have only been studies and some limited discussion of other types of fare systems used. As for premium express service to Ontario Airport, it needs to be understood that at this time the Gold Line Foothill Extension is only funded as far as Azusa. Other funds will need to be secured to take the line any farther east than that.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. “Don’t bring an urban transit system to the suburbs. Bring the suburbs to the urban transit system.”

    That may be true to some extent in regards to people moving to more urban areas, but suburbs aren’t going away, its still a major part of existing developed areas in America. We might as well optimize mass transit to those areas instead of just leaving them with highways and traffic as the only option which is obviously unsustainable as a sole means of transport access. Its not just about saying that new suburbs shouldn’t be built new, its about connecting existing areas in a less auto dependent way whether they are suburbs or more urbanized areas.

  3. The Gold Line is going to Montclair. That’s just past the county line at a major intermodal transit center bridging LA and San Bernardino Counties. The hypothetical Phase 3 would give it a direct connection to Ontario International Airpot. Its not Timbuktu, its not the middle of nowhere. Go visit it sometime, I highly recommend the Claremont Village (historic, classic TOD).

    People in Azusa and Glendora aren’t necessarily going to hop back and forth to each other, but you’re forgetting the other major draw on the Gold Line: Pasadena. A large number of people in this regioin commute to and from Pasadena on a daily basis, clogging up the 210 and the major east-west roads like Foothill Blvd (Route 66).

    The only alternative to this drive I’ve seen so far is a local bus which takes upwards of 3 hours OR a freeway express bus which runs only a few times a day. It’s faster to take Metrolink downtown then the Gold Line back up to Pasadena than it is to take a bus from Montclair.

    Beyond that, this area is not only suited to light rail, it was originally built around the streetcars. They’re basically reusing the exact same ROW just with newer trains. Several of the stations are historic landmarks, they just require upgrades. That is why this project has been shovel ready for many years, just waiting for funding. This also means it is going through the historic cores of these communities – mixed use districts which already attract businesses and residents. A connection to Pasadena and Downtown will further strengthen these districts.

    Every city along the ROW wants this. A student group representing the many universities and community colleges which will be served by the route is constantly advocating for it. Nurses at City of Hope want it. It will tie all of these beads together with a common thread and bring an often forgotten part of Los Angeles back into the greater metropolitan region.

  4. “Funny how SPokker compares train to car operating cost but fails to mention anything about the cost of roads.”

    I didn’t mention anything about the roads just like I didn’t mention anything about the tracks, catenary wire, platforms and (maybe) rail cars. I wonder if the operating cost includes depreciation.

    But that’s not the point. What I am saying is that the APTA says, “YOU CAN SAVE THOUSANDS” by switching to transit. You can also save thousands by moving closer to work. You can also save thousands by buying a smaller car.

    Reducing VMT isn’t just about getting people on buses and trains. Reducing VMT is also about getting them to rethink about where they choose to live and the consequences of those decisions. If you don’t do that, then you don’t get them on buses and trains in large numbers.

    They are building the Foothill Extension to Timbuktu. What’s the Gold Line operating cost going to be then? What will be the length of those trips? People from Azusa aren’t just going to Glendora. They want to go to Downtown LA, and extending Metrolink out there would have probably resulted in lower operating costs.

    Don’t bring an urban transit system to the suburbs. Bring the suburbs to the urban transit system.

  5. LA Metro Monthly Pass base fare is $75 a month and has been $75 a month since July 1, 2010. Prior to that is was $62 for the base monthly fare.

  6. Measure R, the half cent sales tax, will cost an individual about $25 per year, barring any significant large unusual expense (i.e. a car). Would you rather pay $50 year for increased taxes for Metro operations (i.e. Measure R only allocated 15% for operations) or pay $9,700 a year for car ownership with parking, gas, maintenance, registration fees, etc…?

  7. But you are still going to pay the money whether it’s through automobile costs or fares/taxes.
    Even if Spokker were right (which he’s not), here’s another way to look at it. Gilberto is going to spend her money one way or another. Which would you rather have her do, give that $400/month to transnational oil companies and foreign countries, or spend it locally (which is what tends to happen when people reduce their transportation expenses)?

  8. Funny how SPokker compares train to car operating cost but fails to mention anything about the cost of roads. Freeways are not free and the gas tax does not cover the maintenance.

    So you should really revise your math if you want to make a true comparison.

  9. Exactly, Jared. I have no idea where Spokker gets the idea that an increase in ridership of Metro’s rail lines would lead to any significant increase in… taxes?

    First of all, Metro “taxes” are voter approved… remember measure R? Additionally, the extra costs associated with higher ridership (i.e. more maintanance and cleaning) are absolutely marginal compared to the savings AS A WHOLE COMMUNITY in terms of reduced passenger vehicle miles. It’s not as though the trains use significantly more energy to transport more people..

  10. If everybody decided to switch to transit, farebox recovery rates would go up.

    It sucks that the Gold Line is so expensive, but as more people ride, the cost per passenger will decrease.

    In short, I disagree. Advocating transit is never a bad thing, for any reason. The line is there, it better they promote it and it gets used more and costs decrease, than it just sit with low ridership and high costs.

  11. In any case, the point is that I get a little annoyed when the APTA releases these figures that you can save thousands of dollars rising transit. Sure, the individual does. But the operating costs do not go away entirely as the rider only pays a portion of those transit operating costs.

    I mean, imagine if everybody decided to save thousands of dollars per year by switching to transit and we only achieve a 20-40% farebox recovery. Sure, the individual would save money on direct costs, but taxes would have to be raised to cover the rest of what it costs to move you from point A to point B, something I don’t oppose. But you are still going to pay the money whether it’s through automobile costs or fares/taxes.

    There are many good reasons to advocate for transit, but this is not one of them.

  12. It costs 73 cents per passenger mile in order to provide service on the Gold Line per the FY2010 budget.

    She pays 16 and a half cents per mile to take a ride from Del Mar to Union Station assuming she pays $1.50 per ride.

    Now that’s a deal for Gilberto.

    It costs about 52 cents per mile to own and operate a vehicle. Metro would actually save money by purchasing a vehicle for her and covering her maintenance. Imagine the cost per passenger mile if they could get her to carpool. Imagine if they could get her to carpool with three others!

    The Red and Blue Lines cost 38 and 36 cents per passenger mile, respectively, according to the FY2010 budget.

  13. The Dude is right. They don’t say anything about daily passes, monthly passes or any specific.

    All things considered, it’s a decent and neutral attempt at reporting one way that gas prices are affecting the daily commute.

  14. The article says “the train costs Gilberto $62 per month”

    This can mean:

    1) She pays for a monthly pass but it is discounted by her employer, so she does not pay the full cost.

    2) She only takes 1 train without any connections which would cost $3.00 per day. Assuming she works 20 days a month, that would be $60.00 in which the monthly pass would no be an option.