LOS ANGELES – After skipping a fare increase last year, the Metrolink Board of Directors approved a seven percent average system wide fare increase to go into effect on or after July 1, 2012. Funds generated from the increase will be used exclusively to help close a $13 million funding gap for the fiscal year 2012-13 budget.
“This is a last resort to be able to continue to offer the safe transportation options the region needs without cutting service. We’ve streamlined our operations and continue to keep the majority of our costs and headcount flat, despite a nine percent increase in ridership,” said Metrolink Board Chairman Richard Katz. ” Last year, we were able to delay an increase to passenger fares and member agency subsidies while increasing train service by 14 percent. This year, despite continued efficient management practices, our costs have increased in large part because of an increase in our operations contracts due to a sweeping nationwide labor negotiation settlement and a 56 percent increase in fuel costs over the past two years.”
Of the $13 million funding gap, the fare increase will only generate $4.5 million dollars. Increased subsidy from Metrolink’s five member agencies will cover the remainder of the funding gap.
Specific cost increases include:
- $4.2 million increase in major contractor costs including but not limited to the rise in Amtrak’s contract to reflect their nationwide labor settlement
- $4 million increase in fuel costs (in the past two years, Metrolink’s fuel costs have increased by 56 percent)
- $1.3 million in connecting transit transfer costs for Metrolink riders
- $2.5 million for post-employment benefits, which weren’t previously budgeted for. (This is not a new cost or an increase in benefits. It’s being included in the budget for the first time this year.)
This proposed fare increase is independent from the 2004 Board adopted policy to restructure fares from zone-based to mileage-based fares over a 10-year period. The phased restructuring is not meant to generate additional revenue for Metrolink, but was implemented to ensure a fair and equitable fare policy.
When combined with the 7 percent increase, the Metrolink Monthly Pass will cost approximately $20.00 more beginning on or after July 1, 2012. However, the impact of the fare increase varies depending on the type of ticket, distance traveled and where the trip begins and ends.
As a recipient of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding, Metrolink is required to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and to carry out the United States Department of Transportation’s Title VI regulations, in addition to federal and state law that requires a public hearing before fares can be modified. Public comments and suggestions on the proposed fare increase and Title VI Service Delivery Policy were collected beginning April 27, 2012.
Metrolink conducted additional public meetings across its five-county service area to allow the public to weigh-in on the board’s pending action. Approximately 159 individuals – about .7 percent of Metrolink’s daily riders – submitted comments regarding the fare increase. Seventeen individuals provided comments on the service delivery policy.
(Information via press release from Metrolink.)