Metro Board votes to raise most fares in September but postpones further increases in 2017 and 2020

The Metro Board of Directors voted Thursday to raise Metro bus and train fares no earlier than September 1 but declined to impose the agency’s staff recommendation for additional increases in 2017 and 2020. The Board also decided to freeze fares for students.

Under the new fares, the regular fare will rise from $1.50 to $1.75. The cost of a day pass will increase from $5 to $7, the weekly pass from $20 to $25, the 30-day pass from $75 to $100 and the EZ Pass from $84 to $110.

However, the new fares will include free transfers for two hours for those using TAP cards. This is unlike the current base fare which is only good for a single ride on a bus or train, no matter the length of that ride. For example, a rider who currently rides two buses to reach their destination and pays $3 (the cost of two $1.50 fares) would only pay $1.75 under the new fares as long as the second bus ride begins within two hours.

Metro CEO Art Leahy, who began his job in 2009, and many experts outside the agency have said that encouraging transfers is a far wiser and efficient way to run a transit agency, given that about half of Metro’s riders must transfer to complete their trips. The Metro Board voted to drop transfers in 2007 as a way to reduce fraud and raise revenues.

On Sept. 1, the senior/disabled regular peak-hour fare is scheduled to rise from 55 cents to 75 cents, with the non-peak senior/disabled fare rising from 25 cents to 35 cents. (However, the Board will again consider senior/disabled fares at the June meeting.) The day pass will change from $1.80 to $2.50, the 30-day pass from $14 to $20 and the EZ Pass from $35 to $42.

This is the fourth fare increase since 1993, when Metro began operating as a new agency. The last fare increase was in 2010 when the regular single-ride fare was increased from $1.25 to $1.50. Fares for seniors, disabled riders and students have not changed since 2007; the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 froze those fares through mid-2013 and they remain at 2007 levels.

There were two key votes on Thursday.

First, the Board voted 12 to 0 with one abstention (by Board Member Gloria Molina) for a motion by Board Members Mark Ridley-Thomas, Eric Garcetti and Zev Yaroslavsky to postpone the 2017 and 2020 round of fare increases pending further analysis that also asks Metro to identify potential revenues that could offset the need for any more fare hikes.

In the second vote, the Board voted 12 to 1 to accept Metro’s staff proposal for fare increases for 2014. The vote against came from Gloria Molina.

Metro staff have said that fare increases were necessary to keep pace with rising operating costs and to avoid a budget deficit of $36.8 million beginning in 2016 and potentially rising to more than $200 million within a decade because of inflation and the increase cost of operating a transit system with more than 2,000 buses, 87 miles of rail (and many more miles on the way), van pools and other services.

Staff also have repeatedly pointed to two statistics: the average Metro fare — when discounts are factored in — is only 70 cents. And each fare only covers 26 percent of the cost of providing service. Metro officials say that they want that number to reach 33 percent to better cover expenses and to ensure that the agency continues to receive needed federal grants.

Metro currently has three rail lines under construction. Both the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension are scheduled to open in early 2016 while the Crenshaw/LAX Line is forecast to open in 2019. Two other rail lines — the Regional Connector and the Purple Line Extension of the subway — will soon begin construction and are forecast to open in 2019 and 2023, respectively.

Discussion among members of the Metro Board revealed that many were highly uncomfortable with raising fares given the $16,250 median household income of the agency’s bus riders and $20,770 for rail riders. 

Board Member Eric Garcetti expressed disappointment that many low-income riders do not get discounted fares for low-income riders even though they qualify.

Gloria Molina offered the most pointed criticism of Metro, as she has in the past. Molina said that Metro has far more low-income riders than in other metro areas with vast transit systems. She criticized the agency’s efforts to reduce its subsidies for riders, saying it’s inappropriate in a region with so many low-income riders, many of which are making the minimum wage or less.

Instead, Molina offered a motion asking the agency to trim its operating budget by 1.5 percent, which she said would prevent the need for fare increases. That motion failed to secure a second from other Board Members. However, it was folded into the Ridley-Thomas-Garcetti-Yaroslavsky motion a request for Metro staff to determine what cutting 1.5 percent of the budget would entail and if it could be used to defer any fare increase.

And she said that Metro is not running a bus system effective enough to attract a diverse ridership that would raise more revenues. “You can’t ghettoize our buses,” Molina said.

The Board heard nearly two hours of public testimony before casting their votes. The prevailing sentiment from speakers — many from the Bus Riders Union — ran against raising fares.

One key factor in the fare discussions is a potential ballot measure that Metro is considering taking to Los Angeles County voters in 2016. Such a ballot measure — if approved, which is no easy task — could potentially raise more money for operating buses and trains, which the Ridley-Thomas-Garcetti-Yaroslavsky motion cites as funds that could possibly be used stave off the need for more fare increases.

On the other hand, the same ballot measure could also fund the acceleration and/or construction of more Metro transit projects, which in turn would raise operation costs. And a fare increase in close proximity to a potential ballot measure requiring two-thirds voter approval (under current law) could also be politically tricky.

94 replies

  1. How are transfers going to be tracked? Will TAP cards have that functionality built in?

    • Hi Rich;

      Correct — with TAP cards.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Of course, as was written in the LA Times, METRO should pay riders (or at least not charge them) because nearly every rider accounts for one less car on the road. But, this kind of “asymmetric” thinking is anathema in America, so even if METRO wanted to stop charging, it wouldn’t be politically able. Public Transit in the US is destined to limp along and raising what we used to call “carfare” won’t help.

  3. Cutting 1.5% of the operating budget would be, per Metro’s most recent budget, over 100,000 bus and 15,000 rail service hours. It’s lopping off or severely cutting service for those people who ride the lowest 10 bus lines. Metro needs to be adding service, particularly on bus lines after 8 pm (where the 15 minute map routes like the 76, 81, and 233 start to run hourly), and suburban service needs to be preserved, not cut like was done during service changes from 2003 onward.

    The increase in pass fares only means that we need to look more closely at fare capping, where you spend no more than $7 a day, $25 every seven days, and $100 every 30 days. It doesn’t seem too complicated to write computer logic to program this into the fare system. There are oddballs like express fares where you would only want to credit $1.75 as part of the fare capping calculation, but this needs to be implemented as soon as possible, starting with the day pass and then moving on to the other passes.

    Also, one thing not mentioned is the Silver Line fare freeze. This should improve ridership on the Silver Line, which has turned off many people with the differing fare structure. The premium for riding the Silver Line and other express services is now reduced, which should move people away from local buses and onto faster service.

  4. The new train fares will Save Money for the Rider,, I Used to have to Get a Day Pass for $5.00 as my normal trips were ( 1-trip Expo 1-trip Red then the return 1-trip red and 1-trip Expo ) with out day Pass $6.00 with day Pass $5.00 Now it will be $3.50 for both Trips with the free Transfer this is a Much Better System THANK YOU METRO

  5. This is awesome! Now my trip from Chinatwon to the South Park area will only be $1.75 instead of the riciulous $4.50 it is now. I don’t understand all the whining and complaining over this supposed “increase”. For most riders, it’s a drastic DECREASE and will allow us to make transfers without penalty, as it should be.

  6. “One key factor in the fare discussions is a potential ballot measure that Metro is considering taking to Los Angeles County voters in 2016.”

    Oh no you don’t. Don’t come begging to taxpayers for another sales tax hike. It’s not my problem that Metro can only come up with fare hikes, tax increases, or cuts to services as solutions to their financial problems. You guys had years to fix this mess, through lost revenues from fare evasion, to promoting better TAP use, and generating more revenues from alternative sources.

    They need to do what everyone else is doing in this tough economy: cut costs and find ways to generate new revenue.

    Venture out to real estate. Start dedicating retail space at stations. More sales equates to increase in sales tax revenue. Start collecting rent in exchange retail space.

    Scrap the art projects. Replace them with ads which are exactly like art, but the difference being they actually create more revenues. Metro has tons of prime ad space in their subway stations that companies will pay millions for which will help Metro’s revenue stream.

    Convert free parking lots to paid parking lots. A 180 car space that costs $1 a day could generate $180 a day, or almost $65,000 a year on just one parking lot alone.

    Cut Metro office employees paychecks. Art Leahy makes $325,000 a year, he can manage to live with a $25,000 reduction to his paycheck. Deputy CEO Linda Lee makes $230,000 a year. She can do just fine at $200,000 a year. Add them all up and Metro can save millions each year just by reducing Metro executive’s paychecks.

    And Metro needs to start a serious discussion on new fare structures. Metro now knows clearly that a flat rate fare hike is not popular as they thought they had hoped, even with free transfers included. As Supervisor Molina said, they need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better fare structure.

  7. The first paragraph says “The Board also decided to freeze fares for students.” Is this for the “Student K-8 and 9-12” 30-day passes only or also applicable for the “College/Vocational” 30-day passes?

    • Hi Charles;

      The freeze is for K-12. College/Vocational to be discussed in coming weeks but for now only K-12 has freeze.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  8. Have any studies been done either at Metro or in academia to compare the operational costs of rail lines that use manually operated trains versus grade-separated driverless automated systems? Honolulu is building a driverless automated system and Vancouver’s Skytrain is fully driverless and automated.

    Although capital costs are obviously higher than building a light-rail line, what is the added ridership that a faster and more frequent line provides and what are the cost-savings from having an automated driverless system over the long-run?

    What are the long-term costs (capital costs and operational costs) of both types of systems? Do we know the long-term costs? We may be building a cheaper light rail network initially, but over the next 40-50 years are we spending more or less on operational costs than we would had the system been grade-separated and fully driverless and automated? And how are ridership number affected based on the two systems?

  9. This is beyond an OUTRAGE! ANY fare increase revenue, should be MATCHED by an EQUAL AMOUNT of revenue in WAGE CUTS for MTA EXECUTIVES (especially the $310,000 a year CEO!). There needs to be an AUDIT of this pathetic excuse of a “transportation agency” NOW, and EXTREME ACCOUNTABILITY needs to be had, in finding out WHY more money is spent on NON-TRANSIT OPERATIONS, then transit operations! Today’s vote was obscene, profane, and as typical of the MTA Board, ANTI-BUS RIDER!

  10. I agree with calwatch.

    Now with this fare increase with transfers included and the price increases in passes, there’s no excuse for not to have a price cap system. We all know Metro has a penchant to makes excuses time and time again like “it’s too complicated” or whatever, but programming this into the TAP card system isn’t rocket science.

    When a TAP cardholder reaches $7 a day, $25 every seven days, or $100 every 30 days, it automatically caps off.

    Besides, what good is a smart card system if the millions we spent on these stupid cards aren’t really smart at all?

  11. Hmm. 2 hour transfer, instead of just 90 minutes. That would get me to Disney Hall, including plenty of time to get dinner someplace close to 7th/Metro, on a single one-way fare (less than the current day-pass price), in most cases. Nice.

    And to Mr. Savio: you already ARE making out like a bandit, taking Metro instead of driving, if you’re going any distance, or going anywhere that you have to pay to park. Taking a familiar-enough example, namely myself, I save a gallon and a half of gas, round trip, every time I take Metro from the Wardlow Blue Line Station instead of driving to Disney Hall or Exposition Park, and 2 gallons every time I take Metro to Hollywood Bowl, or to the Page and LACMA. Plus parking (Disney Hall parking currently starts at $9, while Bowl parking now starts at $17!), and Not to mention being able to relax and read while I’m on Metro instead of behind the wheel.

  12. The BRU Socialists were in full force today as they were back in the March meeting, disruptive, rude, and boisterous behaviors.

    Don’t these people understand that a “fare increase” to $1.75 INCLUDES FREE TRANSFERS? All they do is read $1.50 to $1.75 and oh no it’s an extra quarter, feel sorry for me with all these sob stories, yet they don’t look at the fine print that it comes with free transfers.

    And they kept on saying that even after one comment asked those in the room to hold up their hands on whether or not people took transfers to get to this meeting (and majority of them did). Despite this person’s calm and rational response that most will end up SAVING MONEY because of the free transfer benefit in exchange for the measely 25 cent fare hike, they kept on saying no to everything.

    These are the same people who keep on praising Obama and label the GOP as the party of no. They’re the ones who are the party of no, and a socialist party at that!

    And they all complain how poor they are with depressing sob stories. News fact: communism failed. Everyone was poor. And these people are poor and socialist. Get a hint, BRU – you’re the problem, not the solution!

  13. Is it unlimited transfers within 2 hours or only 1 transfer that you get?

    • Hi Tony;

      It’s unlimited in one direction. In other words, it doesn’t mean you can go round-trip on a single line with one fare. Things could change, but as of now that’s how they plan to implement.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  14. What about the Metrolink monthly passes, will does also increase due to the Metro fare increase?

  15. How will this work with TAP cards? I take the Goldline to the Red/Purple line. Will there be a two-hour grace period before the TAP card deducts payment?

    • Hi Confused Rider;

      Yes, that’s how it should work. We’ll have more over the summer about how to use your TAP cards with the new system.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  16. So I use to purchase a day pass for $5 to get from Pasadena to Mid City via the Gold line to the Subway to the Expo line. Now it will cost me $3.50 for both Trips with the free Transfer? And, if I paid for my fare on the TAP card, the transfer will be known by the LASD, if they check to see if I paid and used my TAP card?

    • Hi Warren;

      Yes, that’s how it should work. The key is the last leg of your trip has to begin within two hours of the first segment. In your case, if you tap to board the Gold Line at (for example) 8 a.m., the last segment (the Expo Line) has to start by 10 a.m.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  17. So I tried to calculate what these increases mean in actual rider scenarios with what a rider should optimally buy today and in the fall. Hope this adds some perspective.

    1 line roundtrip in 1 day
    Current optimal: Stored Value $3
    Sep 2014 optimal: Stored Value $3.50
    Change: 16.7% increase

    2 lines roundtrip in 1 day
    Current optimal: 1-Day Pass $5
    Sep 2014 optimal: Stored Value $3.50
    Change: 30% decrease

    1 line roundtrip in 7 consecutive days
    Current optimal: 7-Day Pass $20
    Sep 2014 optimal: Stored Value $24.50
    Change: 22.5% increase

    2 lines roundtrip in 7 consecutive days
    Current optimal: 7-Day Pass $20
    Sep 2014 optimal: Stored Value $24.50
    Change: 22.5% increase

    1 line roundtrip in 30 consecutive days
    Current optimal: 30-Day Pass $75
    Sep 2014 optimal: 30-Day Pass $100
    Change: 33% increase

    2 lines roundtrip in 30 consecutive days
    Current optimal: 30-Day Pass $75
    Sep 2014 optimal: 30-Day Pass $100
    Change: 33% increase

    1 line roundtrip on M-F only for 1 month (22 days)
    Current optimal: Stored Value $66
    Sep 2014 optimal: Stored Value $77
    Change: 16.7% increase

    2 lines roundtrip on M-F only for 1 month (22 days)
    Current optimal: 30-Day Pass $75
    Sep 2014 optimal: Stored Value $77
    Change: 2.7% increase

  18. James Lampert,

    Most people go to those places you mentioned usually with a group of friends and family.

    $9 parking at Disney Hall for a family/friends of four comes out to $2.25 per person. $17 parking at Hollywood Bowl for a family/friends of four comes out to $4.25 per person.

    Compare that with a $7 day pass per person, or a total of $28 in total for a family/friend of four if they all decided to take Metro instead. Metro comes out to be more per person than carpooling to Disney Hall or the Hollywood Bowl.

    Now if you go alone, which I find it surprising that you do, then yes, Metro might be cheaper. But a vast majority of Angelenos do not go to Disney Hall or the Hollywood Bowl alone.

  19. I was wondering whether the new senior / disabled fare includes free transfers, or whether the free transfers are only for the standard fare.

    • Hi TomW;

      Yes, the senior/disabled fares will include the free transfers — as long as the rider is using a TAP card.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  20. Steve,

    “It’s unlimited in one direction. In other words, it doesn’t mean you can go round-trip on a single line with one fare. Things could change, but as of now that’s how they plan to implement.”

    Are you sure about that?

    http://thesource.metro.net/2014/01/23/public-hearing-on-proposed-metro-fare-restructuring-plan-on-march-29/

    “If adopted a no-transfer feature would make it possible for riders to board an unlimited number of buses and trains for 90 minutes in ANY DIRECTION for a single fare. This would allow not just for one-fare travel to a single location but also for multiple stops to, for example, the supermarket or drug store and home again on a single ticket, if all travel occurs within 90 minutes. It’s this kind of flexibility that riders have also cited in requests for transfer elimination”

    That was the original context that was explained to us back in January 2014. Did the ANY DIRECTION part got sneakingly got changed out!?

    • Hi Alex;

      Yes, that’s my understanding of how they currently want to do it. Keep in mind, too, that the original proposal for the transfer period was 90 minutes and staff then changed to two hours after consideration of public comment.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  21. As a matter of fact, I DO attend concerts alone. Mainly from having nobody to attend them WITH.

    And yes, even counting both parking and gas, there’s definitely a break-even point where driving to Disney Hall becomes cheaper. For Disney Hall, that would be more than three people in a vehicle, assuming one is coming from Orange County, and that one gets decent, but not spectacular, gas mileage. For the Bowl, it would be five people in a vehicle. For something that DOES get spectacular gas mileage, maybe one fewer person in the vehicle.

    For that matter, I happen to know that the Long Beach Chapter of the American Guild of Organists occasionally charters a bus from Long Beach to Disney Hall. As I recall, they were either barely breaking even vs. taking Metro individually, or they weren’t.

  22. When they program the transfer feature it needs to be done as simply as possible. Because of the route structure and when service runs there are many out of direction transfers required. For example for someone trying to go to Pasadena City College that can’t walk the distance to the Gold Line, the most logical route is to transfer out of direction at Sierra Madre Villa Station to the 181. The same goes for someone who starts on the Huntington branch of the 78/79 and has to go to the Main Street/Las Tunas branch, on a weekend where there is not much north-south bus service in the San Gabriel Valley. They are going out of direction, on what is nominally the same “line” (since 78/79 are on the same schedule), but may have to pay twice because they “backtracked”.

  23. Or one could be coming from the city of LA alone in a motorcycle or scooter to Disney Hall or Hollywood Bowl. Many of the venues allow motorcycles to be parked for free because they take up much less space than a single car and they can be parked to the side. Most parking valets just tell motorcyclists to go around the pole and park their two wheelers off to the side rather than taking up an entire car space. LAX the same thing: free parking for motorcycles.

    And a motorcycle or a scooter gets way better MPG than cars. So you’re going to a concert alone, you might as well get there on a motorcycle instead.

  24. How about getting off a particular bus route in one direction and getting back on same bus route number going in the same direction? Is that considered a transfer or two separate payments?

    If I take bus A eastbound, get off to buy groceries that’s on the way home, and retake that same bus A eastbound again home, is that considered a “transfer in one direction” so long as it’s done within 2 hours?

    And if so, how will the TAP programming work? Does TAP record the direction of the bus and the bus number? Because otherwise, it won’t work because one would need a data point for which way the bus is heading and the bus route number so that if they match, ok, but if the direction is wrong, then the transfer won’t be applied in a roundtrip fashion.

    • Hi SQL Programmer;

      Good question. I don’t know the answer. I’ll try to find out. We’ll do our best in the coming weeks to explain how everything will work.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  25. Free transfer in one-direction should mean you cannot take the 720 bus going west and then getting on a 720 bus going east within 2 hours – this is fine.

    But you should be free to transfer to other bus and rail doesn’t matter which direction they run – I’m not sure how Metro intends to define “direction of travel” for someone that, for example, has to transfer from 705 bus to Expo line since 705 has 2 directions of travel (first west on Rodeo/Vernon, then north on La Cienega). If that person gets on 705 at Rodeo/La Brea to La Cienega/Jefferson and transfers to Expo, which direction of Expo is consider in the “same direction of travel” as the 705 bus?

    This unlimited transfer “in the same direction” policy doesn’t work… it has to be just unlimited transfers except the opposite direction of the bus/rail line you just boarded.

  26. Josh Young and atheisticallyyours, Metro has been trimming its administrative spending over the past few years — see the chart on page two of the handout for the budget passed today

    http://media.metro.net/board/Items/2014/05_may/20140522rbmitem53ahandout.pdf

    A engineer who belongs to SO.CA.TA has said cutting executive salaries is foolhardy because the agency needs to recruit talent effectively in competition with the private sector, otherwise it isn’t able to get the level of talent needed which in the end leads to mis-management etc. Plus in the big picture of the Metro budget that is not a substantial amount of money, nowhere near enough to plug the deficit that Metro faces. And in essence the Transit Ridership Best Practices Task Force will be a defacto audit of Metro and its finances.

  27. What if I start with a metro rail and then take the silver line or start with the silver line and my second leg is a metro rail? How would that work?

    • Hi Will;

      Good question. I’ll add to list of questions I’m compiling for Metro staff about the fare changes.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  28. Hi Steve,
    Did the fare increase proposal include any studies on making sure people know where to add value to their TAP cards? Did Metro consider getting rid of the $1 monthly charge on TAP card balances? Will Metro consider printing the expiration date of the TAP cards on the cards themselves and also make it easier for users to move the cash balance from an expiring TAP card to a new TAP card? Also, are tokens still going to be used? Thanks for your help!

    • Hey John;

      All good questions. I don’t think your questions about TAP were considered directly as part of the fare change proposal, but have been given consideration as part of other issues — in particular, gate latching (which began in summer 2013) and prevention fare evasion (an ongoing issue, as you know).

      As for the issue of expiration date, we ran this from TAP staff on the blog last year:

      Expiring Cards: For two plus years there have been signs on buses and trains, web ads on metro.net, as well as 174,000 brochures distributed on the system to alert passengers to check their expiration of their TAP cards. Originally, TAP cards were designed to be good for three years, and there are still three-year cards out there for sale. With improved security we have now opened up the expiration period to ten years so the 3-year cards will eventually be sold and phased out. TAP card expiration can be checked at a TAP Vending Machine, at one of our 500+ vendor locations or a bus fare box. The expiration also displays on the screen when a TAP card is tapped on a gate, station validator or on your web account.

      On the issue of adding value, we also published this from TAP staff:

      There is improved signage on TAP Vending Machines and nearby which provide step by step instructions with pictures on how to purchase a TAP card and fare. Metro has many fare options: stored value, 1-day pass, 1-ride, 7-day pass, 30-day pass, senior/disabled 1-ride off peak and peak. All are available at the TVM. Unfortunately, with many options does come some complexity. We will be introducing new TVM screens in late summer or early fall that are more intuitive and helpful to the first time user.

      It’s also possible to add stored value on taptogo.net, although it’s tricky the first couple of times as the current interface is not exactly user friendly (it’s being redesigned). I personally add value and/or passes to my TAP card at ticket machines — usually when waiting for train. I find it easier.

      As for your questions about making it easier to move cash balance, I don’t know — although you aren’t the first to ask and hopefully the 10-year expiration date for cards helps reduce that as an issue. Not sure about tokens — I need to ask staff. I do believe that the free transfers will be limited to those who pay fares with TAP cards, so I also need to check how that impacts those who use tokens.

      Hope all that helps and I’ll try to bird-dog answers to your questions. We’ll do our best in coming weeks to explain exactly how the new system will work.

      Best,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  29. As a monthly pass holder how do these transfers benefit me? You get $75 from me already and now you will want $100. What am I missing? What merits a $25 increase to a monthly pass holder? Clarification is greatly appreciated.

    • Hi MEO;

      Certainly a fair question, no pun intended. I asked agency staff a similar question when the fare changes were first proposed. The answer, in a nutshell: the raises to the monthly passes are supposed to reflect that passholders are among the heaviest users of the system and the price of the pass should reflect that.

      Of course, that’s a point that I’m sure you and others would likely debate. The public policy question is essentially this: should Metro or any agency give a price break or not to those who use the system the most? Some agencies have kept their monthly passes on the low side (SF Muni, I believe) to reward frequent customers and/or encourage transit use while others are similarly priced to what Metro is going to charge.

      The best advice I can give monthly pass holders is to take a look at your commute and transit needs and decide what you really need: if you’re just riding to work and back five days a week, stored value may be your best. If you use Metro to commute to work and back and frequently for other trips, then a monthly pass is likely the way to go. If somewhere in between, then maybe stored value depending on how often you ride the buses or trains.

      The other big issue hovering all of this is that Metro is trying to preserve existing service while preparing for a greatly expanded transit system in the coming years, including more rail and possibly more bus rapid transit (something that Mayor Eric Garcetti wants the agency to study vigorously). The free transfers part of today’s change is intended to help make the system more efficient and easier to use. The increase part, make no mistake, is intended to raise the revenue that Metro feels it needs in coming years.

      Hope that answers your question — or at least, sort of answers your question. Thanks for riding and writing,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Hi Steve,
        Thanks for the reply. I just find it unfair that those who use the system the most (monthly pass holders) are being punished for using the system. WE use it the most. WE are going to pay the most. I don’t think that raising fares is going to encourage any more use. I understand the need for expansion, as I do think we need it, but I think it could’ve been addressed differently. I think we should’ve stayed in the same category as students. They use is as much as we do, but their fares didn’t change.

  30. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the quick response! I’m sure it is a busy day today for everyone at Metro. The reason I brought up the issue of where to load up TAP cards is because with the free transfer being available only via TAP, there may be an increase in the number of people who will be using the TAP card, so being able to easily add value will be important. I am aware that Metro has done a good job with informing us that TAP cards do expire, but it would be nice if the cards had a date on there to tell me when exactly my card expires so that I can make arrangements accordingly. (I know San Diego’s card has the date printed on it) Also, I happen to live right in the middle of the two spurs of the Gold Line so I normally take the bus only; would there be more convenient places for the people who don’t live near a rail station and also find the taptogo website difficult to use to add value to their TAP cards? And really, the monthly pass price increase is rather drastic, but too late to complain about it now. San Francisco is increasing theirs by $2, from $66 to $68.

  31. Almost a year ago, Metro said, “The website is one of our top-ten high-priority projects. There is definitely need for improvement. Something easy to use like Amazon, is our goal. In the interim we will also be making minor improvements where we can”. Yet the website still isn’t fixed. It’s the same awful website. This is pure incompetence. Any other business would have gone out of business. But you raise fares and will look to have a tax increase in two years. This is a joke.

  32. Hi Steve Hymon,

    Is it unlimited transfer or only 1 transfer within the 2 hour period? thanks.

    • Hi Tony;

      My understanding is unlimited in one direction. In other words, no roundtrip on the same line. More details as we get closer to the new fares.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  33. Hi Steve,

    are the transfers unlimited or do you only get 1 transfer? a supervisor at Metro office when i called said you only get 1 within the two hour time frame.

  34. Josh Young, do you not realize that the ballot measure will be for major capital projects, like rail lines, throughout the county? How is Metro going to magically come up with money to construct multi-billion projects. All you’re proposing would at most result in a few hundred million, enough for maybe 1 mile of rail.

  35. I dont understand how the free transfer will work with the tap cards? Are you going to have more details on this?

    • Hi Gameraim;

      We’ll have plenty of details on how this works as we get closer to the fare increase — which won’t happen earlier than September.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  36. How will interagency TAP transfers work?

    Currently: after I purchase an interagency transfer on Foothill Transit (using my TAP card), and transfer to a Metro Bus or Rail line, I am charged $0 (because of my transfer), how will that work with the “two hour window”?

    • Hi Ross;

      That’s a good question. The cost of a muni transfer is going up from 35 cents to 50 cents. The obvious thing I need to check is whether the transfer is good for unlimited rides for two hours once you board one of Metro’s buses or trains. I’ll put this on a list of things we need to clarify for our riders in the coming months before the fare increase begins — Sept. 1 or later.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  37. So Steve, your not even a MTA employee, that is if you have to purchase a TAP CARD. How interesting!

  38. Steve,

    Will the fare increase include the student monthly passes(k-12 and College Vocational)?

    • Hi Angela;

      Student fares for K-12 are frozen; I need to check on the college/vocational part. I’ll let everyone know as soon as I know.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  39. Steve,

    What makes increase to $100.00 for monthly is you save zero from weekly pass at $25.00. I use one bus and one train to get work four days a week. I will save money under the new plan not buying the passes. ($100 vs. $56)
    If the goal is to add middle class riders who have cars. they are failing. They need to improve 704 to run later,

  40. I seem to recall Metro having research at some point which showed how many riders will save money under the new fare proposal. Anyone have that info handy? And now that it’s been extended to two hours of free transfers – what’s the amount? A *LOT* of people transfer to reach their final destination. I think a lot of people aren’t considering how much money they’re going to save with two hours of free transfers. It is now possible for me to go from CSUN, in the middle of the valley, all the way down to Long Beach for just $1.75, and $3.50 for the round trip. I’ll be saving $1.50 each trip on this “fare increase”. The only people who won’t stand to gain from this are people who have a single seat trip, and people who bought a day/month pass before and will continue to buy a day/month pass. They’ll have a fare increase and presumably still have the same route every day, so they won’t be saving.

  41. One more point about same-direction transfers: The Blue/Expo connection at Pico involves an apparent change of direction. Of course, validators at rail stations can’t tell which direction you’re going anyway, which means they’d need to rely on the fare inspectors to prevent the use of a free transfer for a round-trip on Metro rail (and the fare inspectors’ validators would require some non-trivial logic built in).

  42. To R. Taubman
    1 month is typically 30-31 days. That is more than 28 days (4 x 7 day passes.) There is a bit of savings and convience when you get one and us it for more than 28 days. I have found 7 day passes and 24 hour passes useful when visiting places like NYC and Oslo before. In San Francisco and NYC I have also gladly paid per ride for short juants.

  43. Sorry if this was mentioned in the article, but does the free-transfer include bus to rail and vice-versa?

    • Hi Jake;

      Yes, free transfers are for transfers from any bus or train to any bus or train! The idea is to make the entire system easier to use.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  44. Transit Rider,

    If you read the article, it says a tax hike proposal will be needed to cover the cost of fares instead of allocating them to mass transit projects.

    It’s either a choice of using taxes to keep fares low or using taxes to fund construction of more transit projects.

    Taxes can’t cover both.

    Of course, Asia has proven that you don’t need taxes or constant fare increases or service cuts over and over again to run and develop an excellent mass transit system.

    So why is not Metro taking the more conservative approach to adopt the Asian model of transit – partial privatization.

  45. With all the hubbub over fare increases, what’s being lost is the biggest victory for Metro passengers: free transfers.

    We can’t have our cake and eat it too. Operating costs will continue to rise and if we want a more efficient and farther-reaching Metro system, building it won’t be cheap and the money has to come from somewhere. Considering that fare on a Chicago bus or El is $2.25 and two transfers within two hours are another quarter, and a New York bus or subway is $2.50 with free transfers, we’re still getting a really good deal.

    Even with the fare hike taking effect 9/1, the free transfer policy still means a fare decrease, and a pretty dramatic one at that: Passengers of all incomes will no longer have to pay for each transfer, so a round trip with a transfer each way that currently costs $6 or more will on 9/1 only cost $3.50.

  46. “The cost of a muni transfer is going up from 35 cents to 50 cents.”

    But will that automatically be done on TAP? That’s the question as TAP charges full fare today when transferring from Metro-to-Muni/Muni-to-Metro rather than deducting the proper transfer fare.

    • Hi K-Town Commuter;

      I’ll add this to list of questions so we can push out the best info in the next few weeks.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  47. I am so tired of hearing/reading apparently inaccurate claims that the Board’s new fare increase plan provides for free transfers (without specifying any exceptions) on Metro’s bus/rail system for two hours from initial boarding. In fact, that policy change seems to be effective ONLY for REGULAR single-trip cash-fares (and only when paid with a TAP card).

    Instead, it appears that the new intra-Metro system transfer option does NOT apply to those allowed to pay discounted cash fares–e.g., senior/disabled, or students, despite the Board’s adoption of hefty percentage increases in the fares for these other classes of Metro passengers, who tend to be low-income. How about trying at least to provide accurate information, rather than just cheer-leading?

    Burbox

    • Hi Burbox;

      Not sure where you are getting your info. A decision by the Board is pending on whether to freeze senior/disabled fares is pending. More info here with updates following the Board’s decision: http://www.metro.net/riding/new-fares/

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  48. I think a lot of people neglected the fact that this new fare structure is the smartest thing Metro has done in a long time. The cost of running the system is most pronounced at its operational inefficiencies. Under the old structure, riders elected to take routes that cost the least instead of saving the most time. This caused people to, for example, take the 78 all the way from mid-SGV to DTLA, spending 1+ hour, clogging up local streets, instead of riding 485/487/489/Silver that went on the ExpressLanes and took half the time. You had more people on slower buses, wasting riders’ time and adding to operational inefficiency of the entire system (more people riding at any given time = more buses running at any given time = more costs).

    The new fare structure disincentivizes slow riding and therefore better use of the system. It leaves riders in charge of their options to figure out the fastest way to get there, which is now aligned with the cheapest way. The fares might appear to save money to many (especially Source readers whom I suspect are more time-motivated than cost-motivated, and have already optimized their routes), but it will save the agency money by improving efficiency and not necessarily increasing farebox receipts.