I owe an apology to any Streetsblog readers that ride Metrolink. While I was obsessing about bicycle and pedestrian access to the Gold Line, the Metrolink Board of Directors voted to delay a decision on a 6% fare hike. After receiving thousands of complaints on the proposed hike, which would have been the agency's second in six months, to try and figure out how to make the cuts needed to maintain the current fare structure. Congratulations, Metrolink riders. You spoke out and the agency heard you.
Metrolink, which is the most expensive transit ride in the county, has bucked the trend of growing ridership in large part due to its high fares. In its article about the Board's decision , the Times notes:
Ridership and ticket revenue on the five-county rail system have tumbled about 15% from last year because of job losses across the region and lower gas prices that enticed commuters back into their cars. Ridership is now below levels of four years ago, officials said. Ticket revenue is forecast to be $7.7 million below what had been expected in the current year's budget.
The agency also has increased expenses for safety improvements after last year's head-on wreck between Metrolink and Union Pacific trains that killed 25 and injured dozens more in Chatsworth.
Some early ideas that were floated at the meeting were renegotiating deals with contractors and trimming parts of the agency's budget. The Daily News, showing its supply side , argued that the agency should consider cutting fares and it would increase revenues by bringing back former riders priced out of the service.
Streetsblog may be a couple of days late to the story, but that doesn't mean we can't help. Leave your suggestions for the Metrolink Board to hold off a fare hike, and I'll make sure they get in the right hands.