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Metrolink Wants to Know What You Think About Proposed Fare Increases

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How do you feel about Metrolink jacking up their fares? The transit agency has a proposal on the table to implement a system-wide fare increase of 5 to 9 percent, in order to help close an existing $13 million funding gap for the upcoming fiscal year.

Metrolink says the fare hike would be implemented on or after July 1, 2012.

Before they approve a fare increase, however, Metrolink is soliciting public comment. To facilitate the info-gathering process, Metrolink has scheduled workshops across its five-county service area to provide another option for members of the public to get information and provide feedback regarding a potential 5-9 percent fare increase and other fare-related rider concerns.

Here are the meeting details, via Metrolink:

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- May 21 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Santa Ana Metrolink Station on the fifth floor (1000 E. Santa Ana Blvd in Santa Ana, CA) - May 22 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Larry Chimbole Cultural Center in the Joshua Room (38350 Sierra Highway in Palmdale, CA)

- May 23 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Oxnard Public Library in Meeting Room B (251 South A Street in Oxnard,CA)

- May 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Gateway Center's Union Station Conference Room (One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles, CA)

- May 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the City of San Bernardino Council Chambers (300 North D Street in San Bernardino, CA)

A public hearing is slated for 10 a.m. on May 30.

Metrolink's outgoing CEO John Fenton says that a fare increase is indeed a "last resort" and, at the 5 to 9 percent level, will "only cover a portion of the funding gap." Fenton says it would actually take a whopping 20 percent fare increase to cover the entire funding gap. Yikes.

Why the funding gap? Metrolink says it's because of massive increases in fuel costs, an increased contracted vendor cost stemming from a nationwide labor agreement, and other costs like post-employment benefits, cleaning for their expanded fleet, and connecting transit transfer costs for Metrolink riders.