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Metro Changes: Free Two Hour Transfers Soften The Blow Of Fare Hike

(Photo by Non Paratus via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The results of this morning's meeting are in, and the Metro's fares will indeed increase—but free two-hour transfers may actually lower costs for some riders. After hours of deliberation that involved hearing from over 100 community members mostly opposed to fare hikes, the MTA voted to increase fares for one-way bus and train rides from $1.50 to $1.75. The good news for riders is that they've also voted to implement free two-hour transfers, which may actually decrease costs for some riders.

Day ($5 to $7), weekly ($20 to $25) and monthly ($75 to $100) passes will also increase, and the changes will take place no earlier than September 1. The EZ Pass will increase from $84 to $110.

The MTA decided to postpone fare increases planned for 2017 and 2021 for the time being.

MTA said in their initial proposal for fare increases that they are looking at a $36 million deficit in two years' time. That deficit would grow to $225 million in a decade.

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Metro's Long Range Transportation Plan and full funding grant agreements assume that Metro is financially solvent to operate the bus and rail system as it expands.To do this, Metro must achieve a 33% fare box recovery ratio. Metro's current fare box recovery is only 25.8%.

Metro had two different proposals for fare restructuring, both adding the two-hour transfer.

One proposal called for upping the fare for a one-way bus or train ride from $1.50 to $1.75 by September, then $2 in 2017, then $2.25 in 2021. Monthly passes would jump from $75 to $100, while day passes would go up to $7 from $5.

The second option was to keep off-hour fares at $1.50, but increase peak fares first to $2.25 in September, with the hike ending at $3.25 in 2021. Under this proposal, monthly passes would increase from $75 to $125 and a day pass would be $9.

Opponents of the increase argued that it would only hurt Los Angeles' low income residents and minorities. MTA surveys indicate that 80 percent of their passengers are minorities, and riders' average annual income is barely $16,000. Passionate statements from community members at the meeting today talked about how increased fare would negatively impact their communities and that access to affordable transit is a civil rights issue.