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Fare Hike Proposed for Metrolink

If approved, the cost to ride would increase by 5 to 9 percent.

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.

Terry May 08, 2012 at 08:23 PM
The Metrolink is a joke. Thank goodness the Gold Ljne is coming. A Metrolink ride costs about $8 one way from Covina to Union Station. The pricing is already ridiculous... and now they want to hike it up even more. On top of that, the headway is like 40 mins to an hour during non-rush hour time. Metro Light Rail like the Gold Line and Blue Line only costs $1.50 per ticket and $5 for a full day pass. The headway on Metro Light Rail is 5 mins to 15 mins all day long.
Fredric L. Rice May 08, 2012 at 08:27 PM
It would be informative to know what the daily and annual passenger numbers are, plotted against same for the past 10 years. If services have increased by 14%, what has happened to the number of people using the train? Has it declined? Knowing what the revenues as well as the expenses are would help to sell the local populace on fare increases.
Kathlene May 10, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I ride the Metrolink daily to commute to L.A. and I do agree that prices for Metrolink are high. But I feel like you might be comparing appes to oranges here. You're comparing a high speed train (making 3 stops before L.A.) to a light rail (making frequent stops). They're a completely different service. The commute time to L.A. is 35 minutes on Metrolink and the Gold Line will probably take 1 1/2 hours to get to L.A. by the time the Gold Line gets to Glendora. As it is now, it takes an hour from Sierra Madre station. Would I spend 3 hours commuting on the Gold Line instead of 1 hour 10 minutes? No way. The extra cost is worth more to me than the time away from my family. For the occasional rider, I'm sure the Gold Line is the more economical choice. The schedule for the San Bernardino line is the best in the system. I feel very lucky to have the schedule we do with trains hourly during the day and 20 minutes at peak time. Some lines don't have mid-day trains. But in the end it's matter of preference. I will continue to use Metrolink for work and when the Gold Line reaches us, I'll happily use it for fun going to Pasadena on the weekends when the mood strikes me. Ultimately, giving people choices so they can get off the roads and onto public transportation is really what it's all about, isn't it?

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