BRU: No Fare Hikes Without Public Process

Earlier this morning, the Bus Rider’s Union rallied at the Wilshire/Western Transit Station to urge the Metro Board to not go forward with planned fare hikes for Metro bus and rail services until a full public hearing schedule is announced and executed. In May of 2007, the Metro Board adopted a motion to increase fares on July 1 of that year and again on July 1, 2009. As part of Measure R, the 2009 fare increase was postponed until this year. As a result, the BRU is pushing for an open hearing process, because by the day of the new fares, it will have been over three years since the last hearing on the hikes. From their press release:

Three years ago, in a heated and contested fare increase public hearing, an MTA board majority voted for a fare increase proposal in an attempt to pass a two-phased fare hike plan, all the while over 1,500 bus riders and supporters and a strong MTA minority Board bloc led by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed their opposition and were one vote shy of defeating the fare increase proposal. But the last two years have created different financial realities for many on the streets and the MTA has been no exception, but in contrast to struggling working class families impacted by government service cuts, layoffs, and foreclosures; since 2007 MTA has secured a third transit sales tax and federal stimulus funding and while impacted by state transportation cuts, their budget has grown substantially.

To give you an anecdotal idea of how long ago May of 2007 is; at that time I was still sitting at a desk in New York City wondering how Hillary Clinton was going to beat Rudy Giuliani to become President. Streetsblog Los Angeles was still ten months from being launched.

So what does the BRU want? Basically, they want a chance to make their case against a fare hike through the public process, believing they can either get some more funds from Measure R for transit operations or at least put more political heat on those backing the hikes. Just like any other hearing process, they want sixty days notice of a public hearing to be held in a room larger than the Metro Board room. In 2007, so many people showed up to protest the increases at Metro HQ, that many were left without an ability to provide comment.

Which is not to say that the concept of increasing fares does not have supporters. Recently, the Times editorialized in favor of fare increases for Metro to help stabilize the "fare box recovery ratio," or in plain English to have riders support a higher percentage of the agencies operating costs. The recovery ratio for Metro is less than thirty percent, which doesn’t compare favorably to agencies for other major cities. For example, BART up in the Bay Area has a recovery ratio of over fifty percent. While most speakers spoke against hikes at the May 2007 hearing, there were notable exceptions including the Transit Coalition’s Bart Reed, members of So.CA.TA., and even Damien Goodmon.

In addition to the hikes, the Bus Riders are also worried about planned cuts to bus service that will be coming later this year.

MTA’s staff is also pushing for additional draconian measures by advocating for the MTA board to cut 145,000 of bus services for next years budget. If these cuts are implemented MTA would have cut close to 500,000 hours of bus service expansion won under the civil rights Consent Decree (representing over half of the court order remedies won under the decree).

The BRU’s full press release, which includes a chart showing what fares will be raised and by how much without action, can be found after the jump.

Bus Riders Union Urges MTA Board To Open

A Public Hearing Process for Looming 2010 Proposed Fare Increase

Fare Hike Proposal Violates the Civil, Economic, and Environmental Rights of Bus Riders

Los Angeles, February 24, 2009 – The Bus Riders Union will hold a press conference urging MTA Chair Ara Najarian, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, LADOT General Manager Rita Robinson and LA City Councilmember Jose Huizar to reject any proposal to close MTA’s self-imposed "operations deficit" by imposing fare increases or bus service cuts and to create a public hearing process. In the last two years, people have lost their jobs, homes, access to countless social services and the city of Los Angeles city has the highest unemployment rate in decades with no concrete economic recovery or stimulus in sight. The Bus Riders Union believes any proposal to cut service and raise fares on low-income working class riders of color during these tough economic times is an affront and a violation of civil and human rights of half a million Latino, Black and Asian bus riders, who make over 90% of MTA bus ridership.

MTA’s 2010 Fare Increase Proposal

Current 7/1/10

Cash

$1.25

$1.50

20% increase

Token

$1.25

$1.50

20% increase

Owl service

$1.25

$1.50

20% increase

Day pass

$5.00

$6.00

20% increase

Weekly

$17.00

$20.00

18% increase

Monthly

$62.00

$75.00

21% increase

EZ Pass

$70.00

$84.00

20% increase

Fare Increase and Bus Service Cuts: Double trouble for civil rights and mobility MTA officials themselves have acknowledged that fare increases reduce ridership. In 2004, ridership decreased by 5% within a year and riderhsip has decreased 8% in the last year. MTA’s staff is also pushing for additional draconian measures by advocating for the MTA board to cut 145,000 of bus services for next years budget. If these cuts are implemented MTA would have cut close to 500,000 hours of bus service expansion won under the civil rights Consent Decree (representing over half of the court order remedies won under the decree).

MTA staff is attempting to circumvent the publics right to a fare increase hearing

MTA staff is raising the specter of fare increase and service cuts for July 2010. MTA staff has been operating under the assumption that fare increases are a given and are moving to implement the second phase of the fare increase motion adopted in May, 2007 and will circumvent the right of the public to shape, debate and hopefully defeat a fare increase proposal. We urge the MTA Board of Directors to protect the rights of bus riders and the public to have a pubic hearing on any proposed fare hikes and service cuts. We ask for the following: a.) MTA should at minimum give a 60-day notice of a proposed fare increase vote, b.) Hold a public hearing on a weekend to allow full public participation, c.) Hold the public hearing in a larger space like the LA County Board of Supervisors boardroom d.) Hold a public hearing that requires the attendance of the full MTA Board and a formal vote.

MTA’s deficit is a construction deficit, not a bus operation deficit…Transit Racism Wants to Roll Over Civil Rights

The MTA’s annual budget has grown about $1 billion since the fare increases were approved in 2007. MTA’s "deficit" is a self-imposed one; MTA’s aggressive plans to expand rail projects come with large construction price tags and virtually no operation funding to run these projects. MTA’s upcoming budget has the new burden to operate the Eastside Gold Line and impending operation of the Expo I Light Rail. The real solution to the "deficit" crisis will require the MTA to slow down and evaluate its aggressive and unsustainable rail and highway spending outlined in Measure R and the 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan and instead aggressively lobby the State and Congress to get more operations funds. Raising fares and cutting service is not the solution to LA’s "deficit" it will only exacerbate the situation and "drive" people off mass transit.

Three years ago, in a heated and contested fare increase public hearing, an MTA board majority voted for a fare increase proposal in an attempt to pass a two-phased fare hike plan, all the while over 1,500 bus riders and supporters and a strong MTA minority Board bloc led by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed their opposition and were one vote shy of defeating the fare increase proposal. But the last two years have created different financial realities for many on the streets and the MTA has been no exception, but in contrast to struggling working class families impacted by government service cuts, layoffs, and foreclosures; since 2007 MTA has secured a third transit sales tax and federal stimulus funding and while impacted by state transportation cuts, their budget has grown substantially.

Hard Times Require Real Leadership: We urge MTA Board of Directors to Reject MTA Staff’s Circumvention of a Public Process and Support the Civil Rights and Environmental Rights of Bus Riders of Color by Rejecting Any Fare Increase and Service Cuts Proposal.

In May 2007, after an aggressive political campaign by the BRU to pressure Mayor Villaraigosa, he took a stand against a draconian set of fare increases. This year, we call on Mayor Villaraigosa and the newest members of the Board Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, General Manager Rita Robinson and Councilmember Jose Huizar reject any proposal to close the deficit that includes fare increases and service cuts and to protect the civil, economic and environmental rights of ½ million Black, Latino, Asian and white working class bus riders, who cannot afford to pay a penny more.

  • Joseph E

    As unpopular as fare hikes may be, they will raise money to run the buses and trains. With the drop in funding for Metro caused by the State’s budget crises and raids on transit funds, and the drop in sales tax and property tax funding, service cuts would be the only alternative.
    I don’t believe Metro can cancel the Measure R projects promised to voters and spend capital funds on current operations to maintain current cheap, subsidized ticket prices. Even if it could do so legally, it is a bad idea to spend money on the present that is meant to be invested in the future, especially since construction costs are rising faster than inflation every year.
    I’ve paid $2.25 to ride a bus in SF, Oakland and San Diego. We have some room to raise fares.
    Some low-income people may choose to walk for short trips or ride a bike instead. I don’t see that as a bad thing. Service cuts effect eveyone, including the majority of riders who would be willing to pay more for better service.

  • “Some low-income people may choose to walk for short trips or ride a bike instead.”

    Wow, really, poor people need to just walk if they can’t take it, well ok then.

    Of course you can have your opinion and your reasons for the fare hike, but “they can just walk” it sounds very let them eat cake of you.

    How about raise the price of gas to 10 dollars per gallon and let those who can’t afford it take the bus.

    Browne

  • Chris

    I don’t think it’s the job of Metro to provide social assistance to low income people. As long as the fares are the lowest of any major city we will have this funding problem constantly. Why not raise fares to a normal New York City amount and have social service agencies provide bus passes to those who cannot afford it? Long Beach Transit has a rider relief program offering subsidized passes to the lowest income people. Long Beach Transit also doesn’t provide discounts for K – 12 students – they pay the regular fare. LBT doesn’t have the same problems with students tagging the buses and getting into fights the way Metro does. I say to Metro keep the fares the same but eliminate the K – 12 discount. Then they will save a lot of money by not having to operate very expensive school trippers and not having to clean the buses up at the end of the day of graffiti. Students can get some exercise by walking or riding their bike.

  • $75 a month? Seriously? WTF??

  • Eric B

    To keep it in perspective, $75 is one and a half tanks of gas and Metro easily saves me at least that much. Charging a higher price at the farebox, increasing service, and providing subsidized passes for social-service needs makes sense. I would take Metro even more if it were more reliable and decreased time between busses.

  • JRider

    Higher fares & maintained service > same fares & service cuts

    You can’t have BOTH ridiculously low fares and good service.

    Somehow people survive with higher fares in every other city in the country. Why are we special? (Hint: we’re not.)

  • It’s not Metro’s job to provide assistance, but you don’t have to be a cruel, unfeeling jerk about it. These are people that are going to be impacted. The reason why we have issues with sustainability is because of cold calculated people who think only of the bottom line. There are some cold people here.

    Browne

  • Eric B

    “The reason why we have issues with sustainability is because of cold calculated people who think only of the bottom line.”

    That’s ok, as long as that bottom line includes environmental and social costs. In this case, even with that taken into account higher fares are in order.

    The BRU’s claim that this needs a public hearing b/c it’s been three years is a little specious. The only reason there’s been such a delay is that Measure R postponed the hike for a year–a county-wide ballot initiative is more than a fair public hearing. They lost last time, and they’re not happy about it.

    If Metro is ever going to grow its mode share, fares will have to be raised to cover better service, which is what the survey said most customers want anyway. I very much respect the attention Browne brings to glaring problems with Metro’s treatment of certain communities and I feel for the people hurt by the fare hikes, but let’s address that with targeted subsidies instead of reducing the revenue needed to improve the system.

  • Yes to fare hikes! No more free rides on the freeways! No more free parking! No more free towing! No more free-of-liability hit-and-runs!

  • Charge the cars! Charge the cars!

  • The bus fare in LA is seriously low compare to other cities. Saying that poor people will not be able to afford to ride the bus due to fare hike is as disingenuous as saying they should just walk… The difference between $70 and $84 a month is what… 2 meals at McDonald’s? And what is this hypothetical poor person getting in return for this outrageous fare hike? Expanded hours and new services… wow, talk about unfair!

    BRU doesn’t speak for all the transit user… I’m sure if a bus rider is presented with the choice of

    (a) Increase fare by 20% with additional service
    or
    (b) Same fare by drastic reduction in service and hours

    most will choose (a).

  • I think the BRU is misguided for attacking the concept of a rail system. At the end of the day, without attracting more people who have cars and making transit more mainstream, it’s hard to imagine any long-term improvement in LA’s transit service. If transit is just social charity for the poor and the disabled, people won’t care much about it. If transit is something that lots of people use, lots of people will care about it. Rail is an important part of that, and it helps the people who ride buses.

    Can you even imagine going from downtown LA to downtown LB on transit without the Blue Line? For all its faults, I’m sure it’s a vast speed improvement over what was there before.

    Also we should distinguish between a nominal and a real fare increase. With inflation a constant nominal fare shrinks in real dollars and has to be raised periodically just to have the same buying power.

  • Joseph E

    Browne wrote: “Wow, really, poor people need to just walk if they can’t take it, well ok then.”

    Browne, I ride my bike to work (4 miles each way). I used to ride LB Transit and Metro until a few months ago, when I realized my bike would be cheaper, faster and healthier.

    I understand that long trips over 5 miles are not a good option for bikes for many people, and some can’t ride a bike. But I don’t think we should cut bus frequency in half, cancel routes, or scrap the rail and BRT expansion projects so that fares can stay subsidized by 80% on the buses.

    Browne wrote: “Of course you can have your opinion and your reasons for the fare hike, but “they can just walk” it sounds very let them eat cake of you.”

    No, if I had said “they can just drive their cars” that would be like saying “let them eat cake.” Many of the other bike commuters I meet here in Long Beach say they don’t want to pay the $70 for a monthly bus pass. I understand that $70 is a lot to some people.

    Personally, I would like to see subsidized fares for riders below the poverty line and higher fares for people who make the median income (myself) or above. It would also be fare to have distance-based fares so that suburban riders or long-distance trips pay more, but that would require a smart card that actually works.

    The current fare increases are reasonable, considering Metro’s options. Transit will still be the cheapest option for trips over 1 mile (and trips less than a mile are faster by walking or in an electric wheelchair, unless the bus come by more often than every 12 minutes), and very cheap for long trips, like LB to LA on the Blue Line.

    People in south Oakland have to pay 4 or 5 dollars to get 15 miles to SF (on the transbay bus or BART), I believe; 3 times our price for a longer trip. Also, I believe the inflation-adjusted yellow and red line fares from the 1930’s ($0.25, if I recall?) would be something like $5 today for most of the routes. Are fares are not too high for most people.

    Again, subsidizing just low-income people, like we do for students and seniors, would be the best option. How about $1.00 half-price fares, and $2.00 for the rest of us?

  • Joseph E

    “Yes to fare hikes! No more free rides on the freeways! No more free parking! No more free towing! No more free-of-liability hit-and-runs!”

    Now that’s something we can all agree on! If the freeways had $0.50 a mile tolls, that would be some serious money. And no more need to expand them.

  • Yuri

    @JosephE raises good points when comparing fares in Alameda County and LA County. The AC transit base fare is $2 and plenty of low-income people ride it. So, a 20% increase here to $1.50 is actually pretty reasonable. I’d rather they raise the fare instead of cutting service. Already some of the bus headways are too long. Ideally they should all be less than 15 minutes.

    I never understood why the BRU is so anti-rail. Low income people ride the rail lines too. And a stronger rail system will reinforce the bus system because the rail can’t go everywhere a bus can while for longer trips rail is more efficient. They complement each other. The rail system here is actually pretty cheap, compared to BART. BART’s base fare is $1.75 and if you take a longer trip like crossing the bay it goes to $3.10 and up. To take a trip like the scale of LA to Long Beach (about 25 mi) it would cost $3.85 (Richmond to Hayward) or $5.05 (Richmond to San Bruno). That’s why their farebox recovery ratio is 56%. You would think that these higher fares would mean that low income people don’t take BART but in my experience that’s not the case. The BART fares seem on the high side to me (like the Metrolink here which also has a high recovery ratio). I don’t know what an ideal recovery ratio should be, but it shouldn’t be too high so that significant amounts of people stop taking transit or too low so that service gets cut significantly.

  • “Browne, I ride my bike to work (4 miles each way). I used to ride LB Transit and Metro until a few months ago, when I realized my bike would be cheaper, faster and healthier,” Joseph

    Where does your child go to school? How do you take your child to school or daycare and then go to work?

    Over half of women between the ages of 15 and 44 have children. So what’s a mom with a kid supposed to do just strap her kid on a bike, I don’t even see diehard cyclists with kids doing that on the regular, oh but you’re not thinking of most women, you’re thinking about people just like you.

    Browne

  • Fares have to be raised eventually. 20% sounds like a large jump, but that’s a product of increasing the fare in 25 cent increments for the sake of simplicity.

  • For those stating that the bus in LA is too cheap….

    Boston was one of the only transit systems in the country to last year hold fares steady AND increase service. They did this because funding was increased via a higher sales tax (now at 6.25%)

    Bus: $1.25 (2 free transfers)
    Subway: $1.70 (unlimited in system + 1 free bus transfer)
    Weekly: $15 (unlimited local bus with discount on express bus, all subway, inner harbor ferry and inner city commuter rail)
    Monthly: $59 (same as weekly)
    Monthly bus only: $40

    So instead of looking at NYC, which is talking about huge cutbacks in service as the model, why not look at other successful systems?

    Looking at NYC for fare guidance is like looking at Washington DC for safety guidance and Miami for headway guidance. Why not try to replicate more stable systems like Boston, Baltimore or Chicago?

    LA is already expensive because
    1) The transfer system sucks (double payment)
    2) It takes a very long time to get across the city via transit….which is time away from work or the family.

  • Joseph E

    Browne,
    I don’t think most moms should bike to school, walking is usually a better option. Actually, I don’t see many kids being taken to elementary school or kindergarten on the bus here. Almost all the kids on the LB transit buses are junior high and up. Most yonger kids in here are walked to school or dropped off in cars.

    I think safe routes for walking or biking to school are essential. Many women would be happy to bike or walk to work or school, but don’t feel safe on the streets due to the impression of danger due to crime, high-speed car traffic and little space for walking or biking.

  • Joseph E

    Jass,
    Many of the Metro Rapid bus routes are as fast as the local subway lines in New York, and our rail and BRT lines are as fast as the best express subways in Manhattan. The reason transit seems so slow here is due to the low-density, spread out development of much of the city. That makes transit here less effective and more expensive than in a dense, multi-use area like Manhattan or central Boston. $3.00 from Long Beach to North Hollywood is a pretty awesome deal. It would cost you $7.00 in gas to drive there, or $20.00 with including depreciation and other costs (per the IRS).

    One thing I would change about the planned prices would be to increase single fares more, and raise monthly passes less. Passes are more often used by transit-dependent people who will be hit hardest by the small increase, and individual fares slow buses down. The last time I took the 46 at Anaheim/Long Beach it took 3 minutes to load 14 people onto the bus! If we all had passes we would have saved 2.5 minutes x 30 people = 60 minutes, worth $7 even at minimum wage, or $0.50 per person bording. Individual tickets should probably be $2.00 and monthly passes only $60, so even one ride per day would be cheaper with a pass. Or they could get TAP to work…

  • Joseph E

    If you wanna know, My 2 y/o kid goes to daycare 1/3 mile from our current apartment (10 minute slow walk with a stroller), at an in-home state-licensed daycare. The bus stop is next to the daycare. Most of the other kids there have free or subsidized daycare (on of the many awesome state programs that may get cut due to the budget crisis), we pay about $5 an hour. My wife drops him off in the stroller and then take the bus to CSULB, or I take him on my bike (with child seat) and then bike to work. Next year he may go to preschool on the north side of CSU Long Beach; she will take the bus there from home (actually, the most direct bus is 1/4 mile away), then walk to class

    I know many people don’t think bikes are a good solution (though I did see a dozen other guys on bikes during my commute this evening, along MLK, despite the drizzling rain). Many people feel cars will run them over, which leads to sidewalk riding. I am slowly convicing my wife that riding a bike is actually pretty safe. There would be safety in numbers: take a look at Copenhagenize.com; there are tons of young moms biking their kids to school in that city

    I’m not saying that I think transit should be unsubsidized. In an ideal future city I would be happy to pay enough taxes for cheap transit service everywhere, with a bus or train every 4 minutes on every route, paid for by tolls and taxes on cars, parking and land value. However, I also think stops and stations should be about 1/2 mile apart, or at least 1/4 mile, never every block. We need to get some exercise! Transit should not be subsidized so much that it stops people from walking or riding a bike, which are much cheaper and better for public health.

  • “My wife drops him off in the stroller and then take the bus to CSULB, or I take him on my bike (with child seat) and then bike to work. Next year he may go to preschool on the north side of CSU Long Beach; she will take the bus there from home (actually, the most direct bus is 1/4 mile away), then walk to class”

    That’s right your wife (not you) takes your kid and then gets on the bus and when your kid goes older your wife will continue to get on the bus to take your kid to child care and then walk to class. Lets hope the state keeps subsidizing your wife’s education as well as the bus.

    Let’s also hope that your childcare by your house is able to stay open, lets also hope you can continue to keep your apartment that’s by your wife’s school and childcare, many people aren’t so lucky. And you don’t really know if you’re getting into that preschool do you? You just hope you do, like a whole lot of other families. Why don’t you come back here and give us an update on the “they need to ride their bike” attitude if your child has the misfortune of not getting into a preschool nearby, because I’ve kind of seen that happen alot. I’ll hope for your wife’s sake, since she’ll be the one that’ll have to figure out a way to navigate an abysmal pt system to make that happen. It’s obvious you think all mother’s should just have to figure it out be healthy and get some exercise.

    Browne

  • What happened to walking to school? I walked to school when I was 8 and 9 years old and up. I never was dropped off. In high school, I took regular public transportation to school, after walking half a mile to the bus stop. I was bounced around to different child care arrangements growing up all of the time. As a kid sometimes my mom would ride a men’s bike and I would straddle the handlebars when we went to the store or whatever.

    They have bike trailers for kids. Doesn’t Brayj take his kid in them? If women feel the need to continue to drive to work, or drive to do their errands, they can. It’s a free country. I don’t see how you can ever have scheduled public transportation that can meet the needs of active moms, since they would have to spend so much time waiting for transit, walking to transit, or in travel time while they pick up other people – at least without pissing off all of the, as you call them, childFREE individuals who would have to pay taxes to subsidize this excessive frequency and/or door to door service for mothers.

  • Back on topic, the Foothill Transit Board recently decided that they didn’t want to raise fares. Therefore, their management has come up with the outright elimination of 13 of their lines. That’s the choice they decided to make, but I think people would rather pay $1.50 and still have the ability to go to school and make connections between Orange and Los Angeles County, rather than the wholesale elimination of connections from Brea to Diamond Bar, or Whittier to La Habra.

  • In the US how long is the average mom given off after birth? Obviously none of you know since all you keep talking about is walking to school. After kid hits the planet average mom if she’s lucky gets six weeks off from work. After that she stops getting paid, if she continues to not go to work she ceases to be employed. FMLA gives you 12 protected weeks (not paid, just they can’t fire you until week 13) most bigger employees if you’re full time give you six paid weeks, but many smaller places don’t even give you that. So usually at about the 1 1/2-3 month mark and 2 1/2 year mark (if your kid is potty trained, doesn’t have any behaviors) you have to put the kid somewhere. And many times that somewhere is not down the street. If you’re lucky it is, but most people aren’t so lucky. You can’t just send your kid down the street if there is nowhere down the street that is available. Childcare is not like public school you don’t just get in because you’re close by, it doesn’t work that way.

    Browne

  • Clearly women should be entitled to paid leave until the kid is 18.

  • OK Browne, and how is transit supposed to solve this problem? (Incidentally in many transit dependent families they use extended family so child care is a non-issue.) It’s tough being a mom of young children. If you don’t have someone to drop your kid off within walking distance and you don’t have a car it’s even harder. But like Spokker said (I’m actually agreeing with him), unless you want mommy taxis or long term paid leave – which, as someone who does not have children, I will not pay taxes for.

  • Our democratic society has decided to make concessions for mothers and that’s great. But when is enough enough?

    You’ve got the pregnancy leave mandated by law. You’ve got the subsidized transit service. You’ve got Medi-Cal. You’ve got the earned income tax credit for working mothers. You’ve got rent control in some cases.

    Should the government just go ahead and raise the kid or what?

    When I was a kid I was left with my grandmother while both my parents worked. When I got older I became a latchkey kid. They made it work for better or worse. Evidence is that I’m not dead or incarcerated.

    What should the government do differently?

    I mean, God, I’m pretty damn liberal but at some point you’ve got to reign it in sometimes. For example, in regards to transit, most of us understand that you either raise fares/keep service or keep fares the same/cut service. But some people want bus service with 5-minute headways and low fares for anyone with an outstretched hand. And they’ll play the victim to get it.

    Now there’s an unsustainable concept.

  • I will note that neither the capitalist nor the socialist has figured out a way to take care of everyone.

  • Transit isn’t supposed to solve this problem alone, but we have people who get subsidies on this board on this thread who talk about people on the bus sucking from the system. If you’re really for this “lets not subsidize anything,” then how about you demonstrate that in your own life by not going attending state universities or sending your kid to public schools.

    Back in 2008 MetroRider aka Fred Camino did a great comparison.

    We subsidize 1200 yearly for people to drive.
    We subsidize 250 yearly for people to take public transit.

    http://metroriderla.com/2008/03/06/traffic-and-congestion-costs-every-los-angeles-citizen-1561-annually/

    So why are we even entertaining the idea of taking away even more in regards to pt when we’re giving five times more individually for people to drive? I’m subsidizing car ownership and I don’t have a car and I’m sick of it. I want car owners to pay their fair share.

    Why aren’t we talking about Metro spending 27 million to tow cars off the freeway? Until Metro stops subsidizing car owners by towing them off the freeway for free I’m not going to even entertain the idea of higher bus fares, because I think Metro doesn’t have their priorities straight. They don’t even use the bus or take the train, what are they going to do with the extra money, make some more glossy brochures?

    And in the Netherlands mothers get 4 months of 100% salaried maternity leave. That’s a country that supports alt transit. That’s a country where you don’t have to have a car. That’s a country where cycling isn’t overwhelmingly male, unlike in the US. What’s the gender split with cycling in LA, who cares lets just continue to talk to not reach out to women over 35 or moms or less economically empowered, lets just keep everything the same and not think outside the box.

    There is also a part of the Netherlands that has free public transit in the summer months.

    Possibly the reason for the Netherlands being the cycling country of the world has to do with the fact that they smoke pot and have bikelanes, but I think it’s social policies in regards to it’s actual people and being concerned with their people’s quality of life has something to do with their very strong alt transit culture.

    I don’t think pull yourself up by your bootstraps attitudes is a very good attitude to build a bike culture, alt transit culture or any kind of culture really, maybe a very oppressive culture where guys and people with money get to do everything while the rest of us are forced into driving or horrible pt, because we have no choice while our partners get to cycle around while we’re on the bus picking up our kid from preschool….yeah that seems like a great world.

    Browne

  • Terri

    I support a fare hike, but I also support finding out where the money is going. If Metro actually got the rail turnstiles working right, instead of using security guards to occasionally check tickets, they’d have more recovery.

    Another interesting story – I asked who I thought was a Metro employee about who designed the stupid gates around the NoHo elevator, and he replied he was just someone who was sent from an agency from New York. He was in a Metro vest and taking pictures. So…Metro is so strapped for cash they have to cut service in areas where it’s needed most, but they can afford to fly people in from New York rather than hiring locally.

    Again, I’d love to see where the money is going.

  • Yuri

    I’d also like to see a clear accounting of the spending and costs in an easily digestible format. Is there a transit blog that analyzes and compares transit agencies and how they allocate their resources? All I know is that LA has cheaper fares than SF but I really don’t know if that’s because LA charges too little or SF charges too much. And as @jass brought up, how can Boston avoid raising their fares? Is it because their resources are large relative to their system size? Or do they pay their operators and administrators less?

    It would be great if a transit blog would also compare in depth the public subsidies of transit and automobiles. I hadn’t even thought about the public cost of automobile accidents as covered in the post @browne cited. The Metrolink crash got alot of publicity but the costs associated with the thousands of automobile accidents must dwarf the costs of public transit accidents.

  • “As unpopular as fare hikes may be, they will raise money to run the buses and trains.”

    No, they will not. Just as the City of L.A. is aggressively pursuing higher fines and harsher punitive measures for that which was initially mandated to “keep L.A. moving”—i.e., parking citations and towed/booted motor vehicles—for no other reason than to fill the money pit, er budget deficit caused by the people clamoring for higher fines and all that, so too is Metro wishing to raise fares to fill their many money pits: $30 million + to pursue a $10 million, 10+ year old case against Tutor-Saliba (who also built the new LAPD station in record time albeit far over budget), $27 million for the free Metro Freeway towing service (which only recoups $0.5 million from freeway citation collections; see the 201 Metro annual budget), and things such as $25,000 for scaffolding (JUST the scaffolding, I might add, and for each set-up/break-down of them, which takes about a week for each station) to change a few light bulbs in the Red Line stations every two years. (If you have been to Sunset-Vermont station this week, surely the immense scaffolding has caught your eye.)

    And don’t get me started about the expensive criminal cases Metro has against a few operators, a series of cases that has been dragging through the courts for several months and is sure to be lost owing to the fact that Metro has absolutely no evidence against them. (Are you listening, Metro General Counsel Chuck Safer?) Moreover, Metro has found itself persuading the DA to pursue a case owing to the possible insincerity of MTA Revenue Collections Unit Director Marcelo Melicor and SIU Investigator Cliff Ladage, and the civil suits that are certain to result will cost Metro quite a bit.

    So, no, I doubt that much of the fares being raised will be “to run the buses and trains,” Joseph E.

  • Joseph E

    Metro’s fares are currently the same as those for the RIT rapid bus in Curitiba: “A single fare of R$2.20 Brazilian Reals (US$1.22) enables a rider to take a single bus as far as it travels”. (http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=5001)

    The average personal income in Brazil is $8723, adjusted for purchasing power (GDP per person is only $7400).

    Per capita GDP of the USA is $45,800, over 6 times higher; personal income is $25,000, over 4 times higher than the Brazil wage even after adjustment for lower living costs. Yet our bus and rail fares are the same.

    Even $2.50 fares here would be a good deal compared to Tokyo, London… or Curitiba.

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