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News

Metrolink Disaster Fallout

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Last week's tragic loss of life on the Metrolink system has, perhaps inevitably, led to a discussion of whether the cost/benefit ratio of LA's commuter train service justifies the huge taxpayer subsidies needed to keep the trains rolling.

Approximately 40,000 riders board Metrolink trains on any given day, but the rail line, like almost all transit systems, comes nowhere close to paying for itself.

As the Los Angeles Daily News reports:

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"The average fare for a Metrolink train trip costs passengers about $5, with the public paying an average subsidy per rider of $5.07, money that comes from sales-tax add-ons that support transportation in the region."

Whether this is a reasonable price to pay for taking 40,000 cars off of LA roads, or whether that money would be better spent elsewhere, the politically popular service, now well-entrenched in budgets across the region, will probably not be going away anytime soon.

In Other Transit News:

- Responding to the Metrolink accident, Mayor Hahn and other city leaders urged the MTA to review safety measures on the transit system's rail lines. Potential changes already identified include increasing safety funding and installing at grade rail crossing barriers.

- The MTA has adopted the Draft Final Report on the I-710 Major Corridor Study. The proposed multi-billion dollar congestion relief program has been a bone of contention between transportation officials and residents of the 710 corridor. This report does not address the explosive issue of extending the 710 through Pasadena.

- The Orange Line battle is officially over: the MTA will pay the legal bills of Citizens Organized for Smart Transit in return for a cessation of the frivolous lawsuits the "grassroots" group has thrown at the busway, a delaying tactic that resulted in the loss of millions of taxpayer dollars. We wonder if LA taxpayers can sue COST to recover our losses.