Metro aiming to begin fareless pilot for K-12 students this August

A fareless transit pilot program for K-12 students in Los Angeles County could begin as soon as this August, Metro staff told the Metro Board of Director’s Executive Management Committee on Thursday.

The proposal to begin the fareless pilot for students one year earlier than originally proposed is predicated on three important points:

•Metro will return to pre-pandemic levels of bus service by September so there will be capacity for students to ride.

•It’s best to do something for those in need as soon as possible and fareless could save families money and time. A Metro monthly pass for K-12 students costs $24.

•Metro is working on a plan to fund a pilot program beginning in August although the agency would need to figure out a long-term funding strategy if fareless was to become permanent. As part of this, the agency will also be reaching out to potential funding partners — including school districts and community college districts.

Under the current proposal, a pilot fareless program for low-income riders would begin in Jan. 2022. The pilots for both students and low-income riders would conclude June 30, 2023. Staff are also studying whether Community College students could be included in a fareless program in the future.

Important to know: a vote by the Metro Board on launching a pilot program is scheduled for the Board’s May round of meetings. The discussion today was only an update — no decisions were made. You can read the latest staff report on fareless here. Here is a presentation shown at committee today.

More key details on the Fareless System Initiative — including more on costs, potential funding sources and the possibility of including other L.A. County bus agencies — will come next month. Metro staff will also soon release a comprehensive report on going fareless.

Metro CEO Phil Washington announced the launch of the agency’s Fareless System Initiative last August. Phil has said that he believes Metro has a moral obligation to help L.A. County residents recover from the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic — which impacted low-income residents the most in terms of illness, death and loss of income.

9 replies

  1. Since there’s gotta be some sort of ID for the fareless eligibility verification, i.e. must board at front door, does this also mean fare collection (cash and TAP-ing) will resume on all buses for all other riders at the same time this pilot program is implemented?

  2. That is the major problem with the CEO and the Metro Board of Directors, is none of them use the public transit system. All they do is read over reports and attend Metro Board Meetings. When the public does speak at meetings; it probably does not have any kind of an impact what so ever, since they never use the system.

    I can see a fareless system for students in both schools and colleges and for low income people that meet a certain wage threshold. I had a student card for a reduced fare when I rode the bus during the late 1960’s. However, I do not feel it is necessary to go fareless for everyone. There should be some kind of Metro Tap Card that students and low income people can receive.

    I feel making the system fareless to everyone, is just opening up Metro and the passengers to more problems with people abusing the system like they have already done.

    • Hi Richard;

      The CEO commutes on the system.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Would that be the new CEO or the previous one? That said, it should be required as a condition of employment that ALL metro employees commute to work by bus/metro. If that happened, all the kinks in the system would be iron out pronto!

        • Hi Beto;

          The two CEOs I have worked for — Art Leqhy and Phil — both commuted via Metro. As do many employees. Keep in mind that our system is huge with nearly 100 miles of rail across several lines and well over 100 bus lines. So no single person can be everywhere and actually do their job. I think it’s worth mentioning that many Metro employees also take transit although many Metro employees — especially those based at headquarters — are telecommuting.

          I also think that Metro staff, including the leadership, are well versed on what works and what can be improved. For example, the Understanding How Women Travel is a report by Metro’s Women and Girls Governing Council that certainly did not pull any punches (read it here: I also give a lot of credit to our new Customer Experience department that has taken a look at many of these issues and proposed solutions (including some that are/will be implemented soon). You can read Metro’s Customer Experience Plan here:

          I think the reality is some of the problems — especially homelessness — are tough. That one is a regional issue. Metro, too, faces financial hurdles when it comes to service, as do many other transit agencies. Our system has certainly grown in recent times, but there are some big holes to fill to complete the transit network.

          All in all, I think we have a good grip on the challenges and we’re working toward many of the solutions. I’m sure there is a range of views on how we’re doing with that and I don’t want to pre-empt those opinions. But I do feel that the problems are well-known and not low priority because of any individual person or employee who is or isn’t riding on any given day.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

  3. Finally a step in the right direction, I used the metro for my daily commute for more than 12 years, maybe way more than this, and for entertainment on weekends with my extended family, I stop because going out with the kids like 4 of them became more expensive than the car, also I quit using Metro for my daily commuting when metro and caltrans started a parking fee at Norwalk station, this is not facilitating access to mass transit, all those years I was dreaming of a parking structure, the actual capacity is about 2.500 cars and it was full by 7.30 am, climate change is real, metro for the most part operate with our taxes, last time I research fare amount to less than 26% of the budget, we need a system tailored for our city, every time I commented about lack of parking the reply was take the bus or use a bicycle which is not practical in Los Angeles I live like 5miles from the station can’t go with a bike, lunch bag and papers or bus will ad like 30 to 45 minutes at least each way. still miss using the Metro but……

  4. In July of probably 2014, a bad air day in the Bay Area caused BART to go fareless for the day. Later the SF CHRONICLE reported that teenagers were harassing passengers but it didnt specify the kinds of harassment.

    • Mr. Lowe, I understand what you’re saying. Other riders understand what you’re saying. Drivers understand what you’re saying. The folks at One Gateway have no idea what you’re saying though and no Metro board members take the bus. Even if we explained it to them they probably wouldn’t get it. Sorry.