A note from Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins on fares, enforcement and service changes

Dear Riders,

On Sunday, Metro Bus and Rail service changes went into effect — with more frequent service on many bus lines, as well as our light rail trains. Metro also resumed front door boarding on our buses to better accommodate the increase resulting from California’s reopening on June 15, 2021. Front door boarding allows for better flow of our patrons. Easy in, easy out to make for faster, more efficient travel – getting you where you need to go faster.

In the last two days, we have received many inquiries from customers about fares, bus and rail schedules and system maps. I apologize for the confusion. It is our goal to always provide you a positive riding experience and it is clear by the inquiries that we did not meet this expectation.

I am providing clarification on the issues raised below:

  • We welcome everyone on board our system and appreciate your comments and feedback.
  • Customers are encouraged to tap their TAP cards when and where they can.
  • Based on your feedback, we have clarified our instructions to bus operators so that they are clear that we are not quoting fares at this time, consistent with Board direction in May; and
  • Now you can find all the new bus schedules online at https://www.metro.net/riding/schedules/. The Transit app for smartphones — Metro’s official app — has also been updated.

We will continue to get better at meeting your expectations every time you ride. Thank you for being patient and providing direct feedback. It helps us with lessons learned and to improve our service.

Your CEO,

Stephanie N. Wiggins

44 replies

  1. Thank you for your concern and explanation. I find what you said helpful in a time of confusion.

    I realize you are the new CEO of Metro. I am glad, I think it was long over due. Now, that you are in charge, it is my hope that you and your department managers will see that changes in service and projects are better coordinated by Metro. For far too long, it seems to me there has been a lack of coordination between your department managers and customers. It is my hope that your leadership will spur more accountability within the departments in Metro so that your employees are all on the same page and can get the correct information out to the customers. Thank you.

  2. You still have many bus stops with old signage. And we are now into day 3 with service changes. Many stops have no formal communication or displayed changes still to this day. Many of the planned changes in the East LA area have signage up and customers have no clue as to what’s going on. Sad.
    Metro as a whole, you have FAILED miserably.

    You’ve known about changes for this whole time, months I’m sure. And the execution of this, was by far the worst.

    The fact that you have some operators disputing with customers about fare?
    You do realize you’ve had customers pay nothing for over a year.
    Yet no formal warnings were given to the public in advance.

    Come on Metro! You all up at gateway have all the money in the world, get paid top dollar, yet not a single one of you thought to be considerate for the public?

    Fix the problem, don’t just issue a statement and watch it go under the rug.

    By the way, was a bus lane party really necessary? Given that all of this was going on.

    • Hi Baxter;

      Thank you for the feedback. If you can provide us info about the location of stops with missing signage or other problems with signs, we would appreciate it.

      As for the bus lane, we do want to publicize improvements we’re making to the transit system. We know that bus speeds have slowed in recent years — due to traffic — and we think the peak hour lanes will help speed up buses for those customers who already rely on us and those who may want a transit option. Not just on Alvarado, but also the new lanes on 5th and 6th in DTLA and others that are being planned. So it’s helpful to do these events and spread the word.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Honestly Steve, I don’t personally know where to even start. Most of the 180 corridor I guess would be a start. As of today, one would actually believe that the 181 and 780 are still in Operation. I’ve been taking care of some personal business in Downtown Glendale these past few days and still see signs for the 183 and 201, no signage for the 182 on Fletcher Dr or Eagle Rock Blvd. The 28 bus stops are still there though the 251 is running the show now. I’m also not sure if the 180/181 signs are still on Central Ave instead of Brand Ave where they should be but as of tonight I saw no signs on Brand Ave in Glendale that the 180 was running there now.

        To Ms. Stephanie Wiggins, Welcome!! Although Metrolink was mostly stagnant during your time there, rest assured when I say I personally had no single complaint with my experience with riding Metrolink other than the toilets occasionally needing a cleaning on those reverse peak trains. Still, with how extremely botched these changes have been, I much rather prefer a stagnant Metro bus system rather than what has been happening these last few days where no one really had an explanation as to why one of the most critical elements of the bus system. . . The signages, have not been changed at all throughout the system. Even as a child, in the mid-90s, when Metro was radically canceling Metro Express Lines and reformatting many of the local lines, the Metro of that time period was quick on letting the public know well in advance and essentially all stop signages where changed just in time.

        Lastly, if the Pandemic is to blame for such a botched launch, then I’m sorry but Metro is still at fault as the agency knew that this could happen but instead of postponing the start of these changes until December 2021, it persisted on going ahead with the changes anyways.

  3. Any plans on making paper copies of the new schedules? Not everyone has internet access.

  4. This statement is also vague and unclear, which is the problem you are trying to solve for! Are fares waived or not? This statement references “quoting fares” but the general public doesn’t know what that means? Are you still asking for a fare? What happens if a rider doesn’t want/can’t pay? Metro needs to make an unambiguous statement rather than vague statements that add more confusion.

    • I do agree with you Andrew. I am a bus operator that is just as confused. We are told we are still accepting the fare. But don’t quote the fate. So contradicting. Because if a customer asks how much? Metro want me to say nothing.

      • I do agree. Change in Service in June 27. In Bus 169, July 1, 2021. Accepting fare. Unlike ,162. So, when front door open, Collect fare, Accept fare. Are you still asking for fare .

  5. Please use plain language in your statements. What does “we are not quoting fares at this time” mean?

  6. What an awkward press release. People are still very confused on the TAP policy.

    Here’s what you could say instead:

    In recognition of the ongoing financial effects of the pandemic, and its disparate effects on our riders, many of whom are from low-income households, we suspended fare enforcement. As of June 27th, we are transitioning to a suggested fare policy.

    For the duration of this policy, we will not ask you to tap. If you are in financial distress and not tapping will make a significant improvement to your household budget, please do not tap for the remainder of the suggested fare period. The duration of this policy will be considered during subsequent Board meetings.

    For all other riders, please TAP upon entry. Your participation makes our system possible.

    Vaccines are available in Union Station without an appointment.
    Let’s end this pandemic together.

    We thank all of our riders for using Metro.

  7. Wow, now, I understand the issue regarding fares because on Sunday when the new schedules went into effect, on one of the buses, the driver was saying that the bus is collecting fares, but on the other two buses, the drivers were not collecting fares, even though I boarded the bus using the front door. I was so confused on that day as well as yesterday and today ever since the new schedules took into effect.

  8. Please bring back the 201. You cut off a huge area and the alternatives are awful.

    • I have to add Please bring back the 268. Metro cut off a huge area and now there is now way to connect to the east-west buses. The alternatives are awful here as well. It is so terrible and upsetting and frustrating. I want my bus back!

  9. Cute message but Metro effed up deeply by removing lines and cutting stops. My commute has increased by 20-30 minutes because of changes and will probably increase.

    • People making these changes have never taken a bus and I have no idea what’s going on out there. Even the operators agree with that

  10. No signs have been changed in Glendale Montrose. I told one lady the 91 has been discounted. She waiting since 10 and it was now 12:30.

  11. Metro has made major changes to certain lines. On Garvey, the Rapid is cancelled, the local is rerouted, a new line is added, and stops have been eliminated. Yet the signage informing of those changes have not been provided in the major language of the area, Chinese. When there are service disruptions on rail lines, signage is provided in a number of languages specific to the area. Why not for bus service changes?

  12. Riding the Red Line and Gold Line after 10pm always makes me feel like I’m risking my life, as there is no police presence and the aggressive after dark crowd takes over. Please, I beg of you, increase your police presence after 10pm. It’s absolutely useless having a police presence during the day while things are calm. Thank You.

  13. Hire Jarrett Walker the next time you do a redesign of your bus network.

    • I’m thinking that may happen sooner than later. So far it seems like the majority aren’t happy with these changes and by December 2022 we will definitely begin seeing some sort of resurrection of the a few Rapid Lines again.

  14. MTA says they’re hoping to improve the services with new routes and buses. We’ll, I highly doubt that. What used to take me about 40 minutes, by taking two buses to work, now I have to take three buses and 1.5 hours to get to my job in City Terrace. The only thing you guys caused with these new changes is to motivate me to buying my car now. Been riding MTA for almost 40 years and now I think it’s time to say good bye to MTA and the damn crazies that are allowed to ride the bus and cause panic amongst riders.

  15. Gotta echo Andrew above: “Quoting fares” is a phrase that no ordinary person understands. Are people required to pay to board the bus or not? That’s waht people want to know.

  16. “Not quoting fares” makes no sense in English and is just another blatant lie of Metro’s dishonest leaders. One day after this “announcement”, June 30th, I am on the bus 94, bus number 1712 at 8am and the operator is screaming at the top of his lungs “tap card or 75 cents! No free rides!” The bus barely left it’s first few stops and it is overcrowded to the point that there is only standing room left, because metro just discontinued the line 794, pushing all its ridership to 94, without making 94 more frequent despite of claiming so. Third world conditions and treatment.

  17. Can you somehow find it possible to have police officers on board the buses and rail lines. There are way to many hostile people on board the buses. Too many people do what they want they dont even respect the bus drivers.

  18. I am not someone who likes to be critical of Metro, because I realize the challenges involved here and really want Metro to succeed, but this is what could have happened instead, with official “relaunch” of Metro bus service using the NextGen plan:

    – New systemwide and line maps should have been designed and publicly released prior to enacting the service changes. People don’t just need individual line maps. They need to see how the system works together as a whole. Lines with 15-minute or less frequency should be colored differently than less frequent lines. An owl service map should also be enacted as people work around the clock nowadays. San Francisco MUNI posts a current systemwide map on every bus shelter. Why can’t Los Angeles Metro do that?

    – All of the new bus stop signage and maps should have put into an effect before the service changes were enacted, especially before fares were requested.

    – Also, a clear statement about fares should have been issued. “TAP if you can” is not a clear statement. Either we have fares or we don’t. If Metro chooses not to enforce fare collection at this time, that is one thing. But I still cannot tell from Metro’s statements if we actually have fares returned.

    After this rollout debacle, it is clear that Metro needs people on the Authority and within its top leadership who’s primary mode of transportation is public transit who have the needs of the end user in mind.

    I want Metro to succeed and for Los Angeles County to have a world class transit system. Please learn from this and put the end user in mind next time.

  19. Foothill Transit and Montebello Bus Lines handled the same task of resuming front-door boarding and fare collection by simply putting a clear printed notice at the bus door, so that riders know about it before boarding. This method is easy, simple, old-school, yet super effective.

    Metro, you cannot just announce everything online only, and only on your own website, and nowhere else, and by no other means. You must consider the actual majority clientele of the bus riders.

  20. Steve and Metro: please, for the love of God, tell us what “we are not quoting fares” means in plain english!! This just sounds like some kind of clever doublespeak by the CEO, which is only further confusing us riders. Just say it plainly and with as few words as possible. Are fares required or not????!!!

    • Hi Transit Rider;

      We are not resuming fare collection on buses at this time. I hope this clarifies everything!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Well…could this have been said from the beginning? Will this be posted on buses and at stops? Maybe some radio/tv/online/billboard ads? or even a revised blog post?
        https://www.metro.net/riding/fares/ –> the main website doesn’t indicate any of this information at all.

        Right now this message of “no fare collection on buses” is just a reply to a comment on an online blog post that 95%+ of Metro riders do not read or get notifications of.

      • Thanks Steve, this appears to be the answer people need.

        It still doesn’t explain the sentence, “Customers are encouraged to tap their TAP cards when and where they can.” Does this mean that customers can pay if they want? Many would probably choose not to.

        • Hi Pat,

          Steve’s out on vacation the rest of this week, but the answer to that question is: we must encourage riders to TAP at this time because Metro is not currently fareless system.

          Thanks!

          Anna Chen
          Writer, The Source

          • Y’all need to make the decision clear because if someone can’t pay the fare, it causes problems between the riders and the drivers so.

        • TL:DL at the bottom

          He just answered it though, he just said “fare collection has not been resumed at this time.” Even when no one was paying the Fare, I was still paying the Fare because it was the right thing to do. You don’t have to if you don’t want to at this point as drivers are still pushing people into using the back door to enter.

          And if a bus driver actually hassles you to pay, just pay the fare, get their 5 digit driver ID on their shirt, and just send Metro feedback regarding the issue you had.

          I don’t get it, why are people cheaping out on $1.75 when other agencies are charging 50-100% of LA charges and are fully enforcing such fare? I really hope the new CEO forces the agency to begin enforcing fare collection again and end this confusion once and for all. The previous CEO really messed up and coincidentally decided to bounce after these pathetic changes were finally solidified. Hopefully now that Garcetti is on his way out fare collection can finally resume.

          TL:DL, if the driver asks to pay the fare, just pay it. If they don’t ask for fare, then don’t pay it, it’s that simple. Do I think drivers should have more respect and be more understanding though? definitely!

  21. Anna, you just directly contradicted Steve! Who is contradicting Metro’s Website and other “official” guidance regarding the issue. Thank you both for leaving us, the riders, completely confused! You two apparently work for the same agency, and even the same department within the agency, and yet cannot even come up with a simple consistent answer!
    ARE BUS RIDES FREE OR NOT?! It’s a simple YES OR NO. Save your editorial thoughts on what we “should be encouraging” for your own personal blog. We want to know the official policy and whether or not bus rides are free, regardless of your own personal thoughts!

    • Hi,

      Metro is not currently fareless, but we are not collecting fare on buses at this time.

      Thank you,

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

      • Would it be better to say that “there is no fare enforcement at this time”? The TAP readers are enabled, so fare is still “being collected.”

        I do wish that Metro would resume fare enforcement to cut down on the use of transit vehicles as roving shelters.

        • Thank you for the feedback. Metro is not currently fareless, which is why fareboxes and validators are on.

          Anna Chen
          Writer, The Source

  22. I have never been in favor of Metro going fareless once the proper protocols were made for driver safety, as was implemented at the major transit agencies surrounding LA County like Foothill, OCTA, RTA, Omnitrans, Big Blue Bus, etx. But the fare situation is definitely whiplash. Fareboxes are on, except on Silver Line where the rear door validators are off. Turnstiles on rail are still locked, but the previously minimal chance of encountering a fare inspector apparently has dropped to zero.

    I have no problem with going to an honor system, and for those who can’t afford the rides to get a free one. But many riders can afford rides and should still pay.

  23. I live in one of the test zones for the new Metro Micro and it is simply ridiculous. Metro took away CNG powered buses that we really need and replaced them with gas powered smaller vehicles called Metro Micro that only drive within the zone. The zone does not include the connections needed at a major bus stop. Therefore, there is no way for the people who were riding Bus 268 to connect with the east-west buses on Huntington Drive. Now, how are we, who are in the zone, supposed to connect to our Foothill Transit buses to get to work? And, using a Metro Micro costs more money–no monthly passes allowed. You have to pay for each trip you make within the zone. Metro really doesn’t get it. They didn’t think things through. I hate what they have done. I want my 268 bus back. I need it to get to work. And, the signage has not changed in the new zone either. Why did Metro have to make these changes in the first place!? If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!!!

  24. The discrepancy between Steve’s clear information and Anna’s mealy mouthed corporate speak is exactly what’s wrong with everything in Los Angeles. According to “Metro is not currently fareless, but we are not collecting fare on buses at this time, absolutely no bus drivers should be collecting fares right now regardless of their personal feelings on the matter. Good on those of you who for whatever reason continued to pay fare over the last 15 months. What is easy to you may be onerous to scores of L.A. residents. Our public transportation should absolutely be free and this is something that our “representatives” should advocate for seeing in the infrastructure bill currently being discussed in D.C.

    • “ What is easy to you may be onerous to scores of L.A. residents. Our public transportation should absolutely be free and this is something that our “representatives” should advocate for seeing in the infrastructure bill currently being discussed in D.C.”

      – I’m sorry, are other utilities free as well? Public transportation should not be free by any means and the goal one day should be for it to be profitable so that it’s no longer an additional burden to taxpayers, rich or poor. If you think that $3.50 is actually the root problem to poverty, you are highly mistaking there. How about focusing on 50% rent discounts for those truly in need instead. That is the true cause of the issue there.

      “What is easy to you may be onerous to scores of L.A. residents”

      – I’m not sorry here. I’ve had my share of days where I’ve hit a financial rock bottom, and even so it was not the responsibility of anyone, much less the responsibility of a transit agency that has no business in being a welfare provider. Hong Kong, which is now the 2nd most expensive city in the world has a government operated public transit that actually makes a profit, so that excuse that LA is different can no longer be justified. People in LA, which albeit is still overpriced, just seem to think that everything should be cheap or free. What’s even more annoying is people in LA think that public transit is somehow only a utility for the poor when its far from.

      I’m not sorry that LA county residents are just as fault for the failures of Metro as much as Metro is to blame here.

      • Public transit riders deserve free fares. We have paid our taxes for the U.S. military to protect cheap oil for drivers of private cars. We have sacrificed our environment for the drivers of private cars to destroy. We have already paid for other people’s transportation with our money and with our health. Now let someone else pay for our ride on Metro.

  25. Why is it, the bus driver can ask a patron to put on a shirt to ride the bus, but CAN NOT say anything to all the people riding the buses without face mask. AND THAT IS FEDERALLY MANDATED!!!!!!

  26. Apparently, I just seen the type of problem situations for LA Metro service change phase 1 then phase 2 so far is getting worst approved by Metro Board. Why the transit planners does not think about which is better improve service without leaving one seat? As for example, why the buses are late on Line 460 which 7th St and Flower Street before 7:32 PM how come not prepare to change drivers or buses at all times. That’s why these people aren’t happy with NextGen service change plan even during the Covid pandemic and usually the buses arriving 60 minutes late.

    – I approve the LA Metro bus line service on Santa Anita Avenue area and Sierra Madre Boulevard area in Arcadia shouldn’t be canceled then not turned into rerouted in first place because the people wants riding on the bus and able get to reach their destinations. Metro Board Of Director, why you don’t cancel of NextGen Plan by transit planners in first place. According to Jennie, she doesn’t like the Metro Micro Transit that’s the problem with changes. Come on transit planners, like seriously you decide to make bad NextGen Plan service changes.

    – Also the portion of Monterey Pass Road (Monterey Park), Fremont Ave (City Border Of Alhambra) before Interstate 10 Freeway and Oak Knoll Av (San Marino) was discontinued with underutilized low ridership by December 2020 what a shame. Like come on transit planners why don’t extend to last stop service of Corson St before Mentor Ave nearby Lake Ave Station (I-210 Fwy) that’s make sense because the people need to direct of transfer Pasadena Transit Route 10, 20, Line 177, 180, 267, 662, 686, Foothill Transit Line 187, LADOT Commuter Express Line 549, Metro Rail Line but you decided to extend last stop service to Highland Park why don’t ask MBL (Montebello Bus Lines) to extend Highland Park in first place before discontinued the LACMTA Line 176 segment. Monterey Pass Rd (Monterey Park), Fremont Ave (City Border Of Alhambra) before I-10 Fwy and Oak Knoll Ave (San Marino) bus service should leave it as is without discontinuation underutilized low ridership by December 2020. Metro doesn’t get it!

    – Why eliminated the Rapid service lines 705, 710, 728, 757, 760, 762, 770, 780 and 788 including Limited Bus Lines and turn into local bus lines in first place? How come what going in mind of transit planner seriously.

    – Why don’t resuming the fare collection and more hiring drivers without fareless to let those unruly criminals and homeless incidents? You decided to continue with fareless transit to let those unruly criminals and homeless incidents. That’s ridculous!

    Metro Board Of Director and Transit Planner caused everything as worst including in case of traffic congestion and leaving one seat transfer. The Metro Board Of Director and Transit Planner should be reject called NextGen Bad Plan. Let’s end the pandemic!

    I hopefully the new Metro CEO will fix the issues and resuming fare collection until further notice and I don’t know about in next 5 year service changes or before able to restore back where it belongs in Monterey Pass Rd (Monterey Park), Fremont Ave (City Border Of Alhambra) before 10 Fwy and Oak Knoll Ave (San Marino) or not.