Metro Motion Proposes Cutting Fares in Half, Introducing Fare Capping

Metro TAP fare card - photo by Fred Camino via The Source
Metro TAP fare card - photo by Fred Camino via The Source

Under the COVID-19 crisis, Metro transit is effectively operating fare-free. Metro has been reluctant to declare the system free, but, especially on buses, Metro has mandated back-door boarding and not enforcing fare collection.

Last week, the Metro Executive Management Committee passed a motion that could reduce transit fares during the COVID-19 recovery.  The motion, by directors Eric Garcetti, Hilda Solis, Janice Hahn, Sheila Kuehl, and James Butts, calls for the agency to ” provide emergency relief for transit-dependent Angelenos.” The motion draws attention to the “economic distress” that the COVID-19 recession will subject riders to, and directs Metro to:

Provide relief for current frequent riders by initiating the sale of promotional passes at 50% the cost of full-price passes [with] Day Pass: $3.50, 7-Day Pass: $12.50, 30-Day Pass: $50.00 [and similar] cost reductions of the Regional EZ Pass.

Provide these promotional passes for not less than six months from the date regular boarding practices resume.

Futher, the committee directs Metro to report back on a plan to implement fare capping, so riders who do not have enough money up front for a pass do not pay a penalty. With fare capping, a rider who takes a lot of trips during a certain time period would not need to pay any more once they have reached the cost of a pass. For more information on fare capping, see explanations at Transit Center and Mass Transit.

The motion mandates that Metro report back to the board “within 120 days after the initiation of the sale of promotional passes with a report on the status of pass sales and recommendations for permanent reductions to the cost of full-price passes that promote affordability by making break-even points more in line with industry standards.”

During last week’s Executive Management Committee, Director Hilda Solis proposed an amendment that the half-price relief would also apply to all Metro fares – not just multi-trip passes. The Solis amendment was worded fairly broadly (“all Metro-provided mobility services”); it is not entirely clear what all mobility pricing it would apply to; it may include paratransit, bike-share, parking, ExpressLanes, and other payments.

The amended motion passed in committee, and is scheduled to be voted on by the full Metro board at this Thursday’s meeting.

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