Thursday, May 03, 2012

Metrolink proposes potential fare increase

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Southern California's Metrolink Board of Directors us initiating a public outreach process for a potential system-wide fare increase to help close an existing $13 million funding gap for Fiscal Year 12-13 budget and Metrolink's proposed Title VI Service Delivery Policy. The public will be asked to give feedback regarding an average system-wide fare increase between five and nine percent to go into effect on or after July 1, 2012.

"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. "A fare increase is a last resort to be able to maintain current service levels. 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.

This proposed fare increase is separate from the 2004 board adopted policy to restructure fares from a zone-based fee 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 proposed five-nine percent increase, this could result in 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.

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