L.A. Clergy Speak and Pray Against Proposed Metro Fare Increase

Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez, of Churches for Action, prays for Metro board officials to  have hearts of compassion in opposition to Metro's proposed fare increase. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA
Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez (center, with microphone), of Churches for Action, prays for Metro board officials to have hearts of compassion in opposition to Metro’s proposed fare increase. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

At its regular monthly meeting this Thursday, May 22nd, 2014, the Metro board of directors will vote on its proposed fare increase. If approved, bus and rail base fare will increase 25 cents in September, and will continue to rise automatically in years ahead.

Today, a handful of pastors, surrounded by supporters from Fight for the Soul of the Cities, assembled at the steps of Los Angeles City Hall. Latino and African-American, speaking in English and Spanish, the clergy drew attention to the injustice of balancing Metro budgets on the backs of poor. They called on elected leaders, especially Mayor Eric Garcetti and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, to “be more conscious of the needs of the community” by rejecting Metro’s fare hike. They also called for ending Metro’s “stop and frisk” practices that “criminalize young people.”

At the conclusion of the press event, Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez led a prayer urging God to give L.A.’s elected leaders “heart of compassion, and hearts of flesh.” 

In an interview with SBLA, non-denomenational pastor Stephen “Cue” Jean-Marie of The Row, “the Church without Walls,” in downtown Los Angeles’ skid row, further explained his concerns. He sees politicians as “far removed” from the lives of ordinary people. Electeds “all have cars” so the fare increase “is not really real for them.” Cue analogized that God humbled himself by becoming a human being in Jesus Christ, so humans couldn’t say to God, “You don’t get it.” Cue urged elected leaders to show similar divine compassion.

Heaven and the Los Angeles City Hall look down on the clergy assembled. photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA
Heaven and the Los Angeles City Hall look down on the clergy assembled. photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

Streetsblog Los Angeles will have additional Metro fare increase coverage this week. Follow @StreetsblogLA on Twitter for updates live from the Thursday Metro board meeting.

  • This Board item for Thursday likely provides the political cover for nine votes to be found for the fare change: http://boardsecretary.metro.net/2014/05_May/20140522rbmitem55.pdf

  • calwatch

    I agree with Dana and with the people on this motion (MRT and Zev, and Mayor Garcetti who controls the four votes on the board as a block) a 2014 fare increase, at the bare minimum, will go through. The suburban board members have been arguing for fare increases for some time and this seems tailor made for Garcetti to go along with them.

    Sure there will be a lot of screaming but for many working class, one car households that only use transit for work, their costs go down by 10-30% since they no longer have to buy day passes or monthly passes. If some of that money can be invested to improve LA’s atrocious evening service (where routes on the 15 minute map can run hourly after 8 pm), it could even provide more mobility since now shift workers can go home from their jobs without waiting around for a half hour or longer at 10 pm.

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