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Driving Passengers Off Metrolink

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Sometimes you just can't win, can you? With gas prices at an all-time high, and a seemingly neverending rush hour on LA freeways, this LAist poster decided to ditch the car and take Metrolink -- yes, public transportation -- from the northern suburbs to the day job in downtown LA.

But this morning, train passengers were greeted by a nice little letter from Metrolink about proposed 4.5 to 7.5 percent fare increases, that if approved by the Metrolink Board of Directors, will go into effect on July 1. Here's part of the letter:

The cost of the ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel used by Metrolink trains is expected to increase between 40% and 50% in the upcoming fiscal year resulting in an increase of almost $5 million in our operating costs. Every $.05 increase in the price of diesel fuel translates into an additional expense of $300,000 annually for Metrolink. In 2004, our Board of Directors approved a plan for average annual increases in fares of 3.5 percent along with a restructuring of our fare policy over a 10-year period beginning July 1, 2005...The Board of Directors previously approved an overall annual station pair cap of 9% on fare increases due to the implementation of this system. The proposed increase is below that cap.

What this boils down to is that a monthly pass between Newhall/Valencia could go from its current $177.50 a month to at least $185 a month. Or a Burbank monthly could rise from $99.50 to at least $104. This seems like a good way to get daily commuters back on the freeways, doesn't it?
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For those train riders -- or drivers who don't want to see us back on the 101, 5 or other freeways -- and want to speak out on the issue, Metrolink is accepting public comments via e-mail: metrolinkfares@scrra.net, fax: 213.452.0421 or by snail mail: Metrolink Fares, 700 S. Flower St., 26th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90017.