As Metro's Gold Line makes its way to Glendora, the only rail system route to Downtown Los Angeles for Glendora residents is the Metrolink via the Covina station. But fares for the Metrolink could rise soon.
The Metrolink Board of Directors recently directed staff to start a public outreach campaign for a possible system-wide fare hike to assist in closing a $13 million budget gap for the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to a news release.
If approved, the changes to the fare would increase costs by 5 to 9 percent, officials said. The change would go into effect on or after July 1.
"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 mostly because of the rising cost of fuel and an increase in our operations contracts due to a sweeping nationwide labor negotiation settlement," said Metrolink CEO John Fenton in a statement.
In an unrelated story, Fenton announced Monday that will resign from his post as CEO, according to an article on KPCC’s website. Fenton told the Los Angeles Times that nothing happening at Metrolink that is causing him to step down. He plans to stay on indefinitely as an interim CEO until the board finds a replacement.
Supervisor Michael Antonovich, a Metrolink board member, issued a statement regarding Fenton’s resignation. Antonovich praised Fenton’s leadership after the Chatsworth crash in 2008 and his innovation.
“John Fenton’s resignation is a major loss for Metrolink’s riders, our taxpayers and the Board,” Antonovich said. “His hands-on leadership style, vast railroad industry knowledge, private-sector approach and laser focus on safety was a breath of fresh air.”
Fenton recently said that the proposed fare hike wouldn’t totally wipe out the deficit.
"A fare increase is a last resort to be able to maintain current service levels,” he said “The proposed fare increase will only cover a portion of the funding gap. It would take a 20 percent fare increase to cover the entire funding gap. Metrolink member agencies are also being asked to increase their subsidy to reduce the amount of the fare increase to passengers."
The major increases include:
- $4.7 million increase in fuel costs (in the past two years, Metrolink's fuel costs have increased by 78 percent)
- $3.2 million in increases to contracted vendor costs due to a nationwide labor agreement
- $1.3 million in connecting transit transfer costs for Metrolink riders
- $1.0 million in the Bombardier contract to support the rail reliability program and increased car cleaning costs associated with the additional rolling stock additions to the fleet.
- $2.5 million for post employment benefits, which weren't previously budgeted for
"The current economic climate, including soaring fuel prices, requires tough decisions by transportation leaders to fund operations at a level that will continue to meet the region's transportation needs. Many transportation providers across the country and in the Southern California region are faced with the same challenges, and have responded by raising fares up to 35 percent," Fenton said.
Officials said that the proposed fare hike is separate from the 2004 policy the board adopted to restructure fares from a zone-based fee to a mileage-based fare during a 10-year period. The purpose of the restructuring was to make fares equitable, not to raise revenue, according to Metrolink.
If the proposed hike is approved, it could mean increases of up to 13.58 percent for less than one percent of monthly pass holders and up to 20 percent for less than one percent of one-way or roundtrip tickets with the restructuring included.
However, the average increase system-wide is expected to range from 5 to 9 percent, officials said. Fare tables are posted online and will be available at upcoming community workshops and at a May 30 public hearing. Comments and suggestions related to the proposed fare hike may be submitted orally or in writing at the hearing.
They can also be mailed in advance of the hearing to the attention of “Metrolink Fares” at the SCRRA headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, Floor 12, Los Angeles, Calif., or faxed to 213-452-0429. They must be received by May 29 at noon. Comments can also be submitted online by clicking on the “eComment” option at www.metrolinktrains.com/ecomments. No public comments will be considered after the public hearing on May 30 begins.
A shuttle service to the Covina station is available for Glendora residents at 50 cents each way. Shuttle services are available Monday through Friday between the Transportation Center, 410 E. Dalton Ave. in Glendora, and the Covina Metrolink station at 5:18 a.m. to 7:14 a.m. For return trains from Los Angeles, service begins at 4:56 p.m. until 6:40 p.m.
Contact the Transportation Division at (626) 914-8233 for a complete shuttle schedule.