Diane DuBois becomes new chair of Metro Board of Directors

New Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois

Diane DuBois

As many of you know, the position of Chair of the Metro Board rotates between directors each year to enhance representation of all L.A. County geographic areas. Today Diane DuBois, from Lakewood in the Gateway Cities, becomes chair for fiscal year 2013-14. Here’s the release:

City of Lakewood Councilmember Diane DuBois has taken over as chair of Metro’s Board of Directors, effective July 1. She replaces outgoing Board Chairman Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

“I look forward to a successful year as Chair of the MTA,” DuBois said. “We will concentrate on continuing to design and implement Measure R projects and grow the transportation opportunities in Los Angeles County for accessibility to all corners of the region.”

A Councilmember for the City of Lakewood, DuBois was elected to the Metro Board of Directors in 2009, where she represents the 28 cities of southeast Los Angeles County collectively known as the Gateway Cities Council of Governments.  She also serves on Metro’s Executive Management and Audit Committee, as well as the Planning and Programming Committee.

DuBois became involved in local government through her appointment to the City of Lakewood Planning and Environment Commission, where she served for 28 years before being elected to the Lakewood City Council in 2005. She served as Mayor in 2008 and 2012.

In addition to her city responsibilities, DuBois has a long history of civic service. She has been a board member and volunteer of Lakewood Meals On Wheels, a board member of Lakewood Regional Medical Center, a member and past president of Soroptimist International of Lakewood/Long Beach and Board Chair of Pathways Volunteer Hospice. She was appointed Community Outreach chair by the Board of Trustees for the Long Beach Ronald McDonald House and served on the founding Board of Directors.

Metro is the third largest public transportation agency in the United States. It has a $5 billion annual budget and more than 9,000 employees. It operates approximately 191 bus routes serving 1,433 square miles of service area and six subway and light-rail lines.

23 replies

  1. At the bare minimum, I think now is the time to require tapping out as well as in. Firstly, this will allow more accurate data gathering. Secondly, it cuts down on freeloaders as well as folks who keep using the emergency exits (failing to TAP out = maximum fare is charged at end of day or next time TAP is used). Lastly, in most scenarios regarding a future fare system, a tap out would be required to determine how much the rider owes. Since Metro is bending over backwards to notify folks of station latching, might as well take this outreach opportunity to begin requiring tap outs.

    As for Metro making “absolutely no sense at all … for short-hop trips”, I doubt we’d see Metro lower the minimum fare since it’s comparably low already. We’d probably just see the addition of higher fare tiers. That said, I’d welcome a $1 base fare and I think if correctly marketed, it would sell itself fairly well to discretionary riders.

  2. While distance based fares may be all well and good, what everyone is forgetting is the Title VI issues. Metro lost a lawsuit by the Bus Riders Union because of this issue, and recently got put through the ringer by the Federal government again. Metro would have to collect racial and socioeconomic data on every trip to determine if poor people and minority people make longer trips than rich people. If there is a disproportionate impact, then it’s a no go, not if they want to avoid millions of dollars in legal fees. Time based fares at least are defensible from an American standard practice format No other transit system in the United States has the fine granular distanced based fare system like other countries, and since most Americans don’t travel outside the country they will just get confused. Even the few systems that do distanced based fares, like Golden Gate Transit, charge one fare for most local trips (Marin County Cash Fare) and so is much easier to enforce.

  3. I took the Expo/Blue Line for the first time to Anime Expo today and I found how ridiculous it was how a person can travel all the Blue Line all the way from Long Beach to Pico can get by with $1.50 while a person taking the Expo Line for a short ride from USC to Pico pays the same $1.50. Who came up with this? No wonder no one rides Metro, it makes absolutely no sense at all to use them for short hop trips!

    When I was in Tokyo for Comiket, their fare system made so much sense that even a gaijin who barely understand Japanese could figure it out in the first try. I load up my Suica pass, I tap in at the gate of entry, and I tap out at the gate of exit, and it deducted my fare based on how many stations I traveled through. Short rides cost less, going farther cost more. It made so much more sense in figuring out the Japanese system in Japanese than trying to figure it out how to ride Metro here in English.

    Don’t people who work at Metro have the common sense to think rationally, that a trip from USC to Pico should be in the $1.00 range while a trip from Long Beach to Pico should be around $3.00?

  4. Raising fares is a bad mistake. It’s not going to help Metro nor the politicians’ careers if they go ahead with something like this.

    I agree with others that I think people should pay less if they’re only using the bus or the Red Line to go few blocks or stations within Koreatown and someone who travels all the way from Santa Monica to Downtown LA should pay more. It’s the only fairest way to charge people and with technology today with GPS devices and TAP cards and everything, this shouldn’t be hard to do. Seoul does exactly this – shorter trips on the subways cost less and farther trips on the subways like from within the city all the way out to the airport and cost more.

  5. in the valley,

    If the world worked according to you, everyone will pay the same high electricity bill whether you live in a studio apartment or a mega corporation running multiple servers like Google “because it’s only fair that everyone shares the cost of electricity regardless of how much they use it.”

    If the world worked according to you, everyone will pay the same price for any goods in the supermarket whether they want just a stick of gum or a gallon of milk “because it’s only fair that everyone shares the cost of food regardless of what they’re buying.”

    If the world worked according to you, everyone will be paying the same salary whether they are a janitor or a CEO “because it’s only fair that everyone gets paid the same salary, regardless how important their jobs are.”

    Sorry, but that’s called socialism and we’re not a socialist country. People should pay only what they need. That’s why electricity is rated by kilowatt hours, food is rated on what goods we buy, and people are paid by how important their jobs are.

    Distance based fares does the same thing: pay only the travel distance that you need. You travel short, pay less. You travel more, pay more.

    If you really think your ideas work, why don’t start a restaurant business where everyone pays the same price for anything that you sell and see if that works out? Ten bucks for a single taco as well as $10 for a full course steak dinner. You’ll be bankrupt in a matter of days because no one is gonna buy a taco for ten bucks and you end up losing money because everyone wants a full course steak dinner for $10.

    If Metro raises fares without putting the distance into the factor, it’s going to be the same effect. Metro is going to lose more riders because people will think it’s not worth it to pay that much for shorter trips, and everyone will just use them for longer trips. In the end, Metro goes deeper in the red like all the other failing public transit agencies in the US.

  6. in the valley,

    Raising fares will only make more people find cheaper alternatives. Raising fares only hurt the poor who tend to travel shorter distances to get to their jobs. Where do you think people who flip burgers at McDonalds work? Do they live 20 miles away in the suburbs or do they live in apartments nearby?

    As it stands today, riding a scooter is becoming popular in LA over taking the bus. What makes you think raising fares to $2.00 is going to help Metro?

    Oh, I want to go from Little Tokyo to Union Station. It’s going to be $2.00, while another person going from Long Beach to 7th/Metro gets to travel so much more for the same price. Yeah, really makes sense.

    Distance matters big time especially in a city of this size. Not everyone has a need to travel long distance. For the most part, majority of Angelenos have minimum wage paying jobs at big name retailers like McDonalds and Walgreens and they DON’T live that far from where they work. Where do you think people who pack your bags at Ralphs and Vons or the cashiers at CVS Pharmacy live?

  7. I agree with using a distance based fare system. I remember using this on a visit to Washington D.C. and it seemed to work pretty well.

    One thing I don’t agree with is the baby steps being taken regarding locking the turnstiles. We are primarily dealing with working adults who pay to enter other venues. Lock them and leave them locked. All of them!

  8. @Lock the gates already
    Per your statement:
    “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I already see the constant whiners and complainers coming with their usual and coming-from-a-mile-away excuses they keep repeating over and over again”

    The only complainers I see are the few usual talk-backers who will use ANY and every post to vent on why we need distance based fares. Your post both espouses your claim and denigrates anyone who disagrees with you.

    Metro will have to raise fares to make more money. Everyone is going to pay more regardless of which method they choose. The people who prefer distance based believe/have faith that they are going to get off cheaper than everyone else. We’ll see.

  9. Fare restructuring to distance based fares doesn’t have to be so mind boggling confusing.

    1. Latch the gates on entry, require TAP-in to enter the system. At least we’re FINALLY doing this so step one is complete.

    2. Latch the gates on exit, require TAP-out to exit the system. This will be a secondary barrier for freeloaders who try to sneak into the system without paying from stations without gates. The only caveat is that they get a surprise that they can’t get out at their destination and they see an officer there for exactly that purpose when ohhh they were so close to making their getaway! LOL.

    3. Collect TAP-in and TAP-out data from the gates to figure what times are the heaviest to coordinate better train frequencies and gather data where people are going to coordinate better transfer times. The machines can do data gathering so much more efficiently than humans could ever do, and we spent the money on installing the gates, why not make good use of them?

    4. Once you have latched gates and data collection going on, we can implement distance based fares for rail. A transit rider going from USC to 7th/Metro will pay less because its shorter travel. A transit rider going from Culver City to 7th/Metro will pay more because its longer travel. It’s common sense.

    5. Once everyone gets used to the idea of distance based fares for rail, we can phase that into buses as well. That’s how Singapore did it. They implemented distance based fares on their rail first, then they phase it later onto buses.

    We already did step one and that was the most difficult and costly of all the four steps. The rest of the three are cheap and can be done in a matter of months.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, I already see the constant whiners and complainers coming with their usual and coming-from-a-mile-away excuses they keep repeating over and over again like how this will be paid or how like Frankfurt or Berlin doesn’t do it. while never giving answers on why so many cities around the world run perfectly fine and even profitably with these ideas.

  10. I agree. If Diane Dubois is going to head Metro and she’s serious about fare reform, I think we should have another poll on what fare model to use, this time the three choices being: distance based fares, time based fares, and across the board fare hike. Let the voters decide what to use.

  11. I honestly don’t know why there are people who are afraid of distance based fares. It’s not like it’s something new.

    Heck, cars that we drive everyday are like distance based fares. We put money into the gas tank and as we drive, it consumes gas little by little, which is in exactly like money being deducted by the distance. You drive 1 mile, it consumes X gas which is equivalent to few cents. You drive 10 miles, it comes 10X gas which is equivalent to few dollars. Let’s forget the insurance stuff. Just stick to the basic concept: fill up gas is like filling up money. Travel then consumes gas/money. Short trips consume less gas/money, longer trips consume more gas/money. Simple.

    It’s just replicating the exact same effect. You add money into your TAP card, say $50 or so. As you ride through the system, it deducts money based on distance traveled. Take bus or train shorter trips, it deducts few cents. Take bus or train longer trips, it deducts few dollars. Same as filling up gas, driving, and empty, filling it up again.

    There’s no need for these confusing passes or transfers or whatnot. It hardly works today as it is anyway since most bus drivers has the slightest clue on how to do Muni-to-Metro or Metro-to-Muni or even Muni-to-Muni. There’s no use training and memorizing all of these confusing mess that’s difficult for both the driver and the passenger to figure all this out.

    Just automate the whole thing to make things smoother and speedier. Just plain and simple, load up money, travel the system, deduct few cents for short trips, deduct few dollars for long trips, once empty, fill it up again.

    And it works beautifully in many cities all over the world. I seriously don’t know why just can’t have that. Simple, cost efficient, saves time and money. Besides, several American cities like Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, and Chicago are already implementing this distance based concept that’s prevalent abroad so it’s not like it’s some “foreign” and “strange concept” either. In fact, it’s yet another example of how American standards are really just “run around like a headless chicken and follow the pack” rather than based on solid, factual data, which has been proven to work abroad.

  12. Steve Harris,

    How big (small) is San Francisco compared to Los Angeles? Going from one end of San Francisco’s Peninsula to the other end is barely 8 miles. Santa Monica to DTLA is double that. $2.00 anywhere in the city for up to 2 hours in a compact and dense size of San Francisco is a whole different than trying to replicate the same thing for the whole of Los Angeles County.

    Again, you need to factor in the size of area. There’s a big difference in covering just a little under 250 square miles of the County-City of San Francisco in $2.00 for 2 hours versus trying to cover 4000 square miles in Los Angeles County.

  13. I think it’s time Metro take a vote to the public since fare restructuring is bound to happen soon anyway.

    Which one would the public like?

    1. Fares varies fairly by travel distance, using cash value loaded onto TAP cards. TAP-in and TAP-out will be required but fares will range fairly between 50 cents for shorter trips and up to $5.00 for longer trips depending on distance traveled. Fare deduction will automatic monthly cap at $75.00, which is the current monthly rate.

    2. Fares varies by travel time, $2.50 per unlimited rides over 60 minutes, including wasted wait time on the platforms for the trains and uncertain traffic conditions for buses. No refunds given if train malfunctions or bus gets stuck in traffic which uses up your 60 minutes.

    3. Everyone pays $3.00 per ride regardless of how far or short they travel, where the most vulnerable and poor gets screwed even more because they now have to pay $3.00 just to go to their neighborhood supermarket and another $3.00 for each transfer pay another, with the other choice being jacked up monthly pass rates.

    C’mon, Metro. Let’s do this poll. It’ll be an interesting watch to see what people want in fare restructuring.

  14. Fare structure for London public transit on the bus, London Underground (subway) & Overground (trams): http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14416.aspx
    $3.10 one way fare minimum
    $11-13 USD cap on the day pass equivalent

    Fare structure for Tokyo (largest mass transit operation in the world) is cheaper than the BART with a similar distance based fare system, probably cheaper at the economy of scale: http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/types/regular/index.html#anc01
    $1.59 USD minimum base fare for up to 3.7 miles
    $3 max base fare for up to 17 miles

    Compare these to San Francisco Muni which has a $2.00 base fare that will carry you anywhere in the city on a bus or Muni Metro train for up to 2 hours. You can get to any corner of the city on the slowest bus or delayed train in under 2 hours

    Compare all of the above to Los Angeles Metro and muni bus systems in the county that cost from $1 to 1.50 flat rate, you could ride a bus or train end to end (many Angelenos do so, DTLA to Culver City for example) to make a connection.

    I think a time based fare system could fit Los Angeles positively given a 2 or 3 hour time limit in the same direction.

  15. calwatch,

    (standard in most other American cities)

    One thing you keep forgetting completely is that there are no other city or county in America that is like us.

    LA County has 10 million people living in an area covering over 4000 square miles. No other city or county in America comes close to this figure. We are a league on our own. Trying to apply “the American standard” will not work when our population and land size doesn’t fit the usual “American standards.”

    Another factor to look at is what’s at stake for our future. LA is only going to get a lot more dense. Our population continues to grow and there is very little land left to develop. We have outgrown our suburbs and the only way moving forward is a denser, more compact living covering a wide area. Again, there are no other city or county in the US that is like us.

    We are not a dense and compact city like San Francisco or New York. We’re not a big (but compared to LA, sparsely populated) city over a wide area like Denver or Phoenix either. Los Angeles, and its future, is a immensely large city-county with a huge population covering a wide area. When looking at that, we have a lot more in common with places like London and Tokyo when it comes to a densely populated population covering a wide area.

    The answers to our mass transit problems do not lie in the US because no other city or county in the US has the features like us. Rather, the answers to our mass transit problems lies outside of the US. We must look to world cities like London (15 million @ 3200 square miles) and Tokyo (35 million @ 5200 square miles) which resembles what Los Angeles (10 million @ 4000 square miles) is like.

    You can deny that LA is nothing like London or Tokyo. I’m sure a lot of you do and scoff at the idea. But the reality is that we have a growing population and we have no more land left to develop. There’s no point in denying this fact by sticking your head in the sand.

    The reality is that LA is going to get a lot more denser whether you like it or not. Care to imagine what LA County will be like at 20 million people @ 4000 square miles without a proper mass transit system like London or Tokyo?

    So, I ask again after knowing all of these facts to consider: Do you think it’s feasible to apply an American standard in our city/county?

    LA is LA. We are a totally different beast compared to any other city in the US. No point in applying “American standards” to this city when no other city in the US comes anywhere near what we have. “American standards” do not apply here in LA.

    Let’s stop ideas thrown out like but Denver does it this way or how Philadelphia does it that way or how some small city in Slovenia or whatever does it another way. All of those cities are pointless to be compared with the likes of LA.

    We need to look at solely what London does and what Tokyo does, because whether you like it or not, that’s what LA is going to look like in the future – a densely populated city covering a wide area. And we already are past the tipping point at 10 million / 4000 square miles.

  16. i like r caminos idea. have fares range btwn 50 cents for the shortest trip to $5.00 for the longest trip and cap it at $75 a month. reasonable and fair enougj for me. let’s do it.

    i’m with others. time sounds like a ridiculous proposal. idea should be scrapped.

  17. Frustrated with TAP has a valid point.

    Time is just too vague and is dependent on too many uncontrollable factors and conditions.

    Distance based sounds like a more plausible idea.

  18. calwatch,

    Time based fares are a dumb and stupid idea. One thing many people fail to consider is that once you TAP in at the turnstiles (which we now have to do whether you like it or not), there’s the problem of missing the train and wasting your time by waiting for the train to show up.

    If you miss the train and are forced to wait on the platform for the next train to show up, the time in which you aren’t moving is wasted. Chances are likely that your time is already up by the time you get to your transfer point. Pointless to even think about it.

    The only static factor is distance because distance doesn’t change. You TAP-in, you catch the train and you can take 20 minutes to reach 10 miles if you’re lucky. You TAP-in, you miss the train and you’re forced to waste 20 minutes on the platform not moving just waiting for the next train to show up and it ends up being 60 minutes to reach 10 miles.

    You can take 20 minutes to reach 10 miles on the bus if there’s no road traffic, or 60 minutes to reach 10 miles on the bus if it gets stuck in traffic. Travel time on buses are more dynamic because it’s also dependent on road and traffic conditions.

    See how time-based is a failure from the start? But the 10 miles distance remain static. Doing it by time however, is just too dynamic, especially in a city of this large area size.

    Just because the “rest of America does transit with time-based” doesn’t mean we have to copy their failures. All of American transit are complete massive failures, why should we have to go down with them? There are completely successful transit cities outside of the US we can model after. Why not model ourselves after London? Or Tokyo? Seoul? Taipei? Hong Kong? Singapore? All of these are valid successful and financially independent mass transit oriented cities that put every single US city, including San Francisco and New York to shame.

  19. It is a paradox that Metro’s fares are among the lowest of major transit agencies in the developed world, but for certain trips (i.e. South Pasadena to USC) they can be more expensive than equivalent trips in other cities that have transfers. What may work is a “short trip” fare of $1 – I doubt you will ever get it down to 50 cents or less like some people want – a time based $2.50 fare (standard in most other American cities), day pass of $6 or $7, and EZ Pass in the $100 range, although once you get to that level people are going to scream.

  20. Frustrated with TAP,

    Yes, she was.

    “Board Member Vice Chair Diane DuBois offered a motion — approved by the Board — that Metro staff produce a report for the April meetings that looks at fare restructuring. She asked that the report include a variety of possible scenarios, including time-based fares, low cash fares, premium fares for premium services and other ideas that would fully utilitze the capabilities of TAP cards.

    DuBois wants the report as part of the item to be heard next month on issuing a public notice to change the Measure R expenditure plan to accommodate a future project acceleration plan. “As we move forward with acceleration plans we have to make sure we are financial stable,” she said. “I know this is a very sensitive subject, but I also know we have to pay for what we do.””

    Sadly, majority of the Metro Board wasn’t really enthusiastic about discussing this because of their potential impact to their political careers. Bah, politicians, what did you expect? They only do stuff to kiss babies, not raise fares which will cost their re-election.

    I think Ms. DuBois as the new chair should make fare restructuring her top priorities. If anything, we should just go straight to distance based with a monthly cap. That would be the best of both worlds of a fair system and a monthly pass system. TAP-in, TAP-out, charge by distance traveled, and if it hits $75 for that month, it’s capped there.

  21. If I recall correctly, Diane DuBois was also the member of the board who recently called for the motion to look into moving toward new fare models like time and distance based fares.

    I hope she makes this a top priority. We can’t continue to run on a money losing flat rate policy forever as the system expands.