On April 27, the Metrolink Board of Directors directed staff to initiate a public outreach process for a potential systemwide fare increase to help close an existing $13 million funding gap for the Fiscal Year 2012-13 budget and Metrolink’s proposed Title VI Service Delivery Policy. The public is being asked to give feedback regarding an average systemwide fare increase between 5 and 9 percent, to go into effect on or after July 1.
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 new Title VI Service Delivery Standards.
The following workshops will be held in advance of the public hearing set for May 30 at 10 a.m.:
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);
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);
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);
May 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Gateway Center’s Union Station Conference Room (One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles);
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).
All public workshops will begin with a 20-minute informational presentation. Afterwards, members of the public can visit stations with information about the fare increase’s impact to them, the service delivery standards and submit electronic comments.
Additionally, comments on the proposed fare increase and the Title VI Service Delivery Standards may be submitted orally or in writing at a public hearing to be held on May 30 at a special meeting of the Metrolink Board of Directors, or submitted in advance (by May 29 at noon) of the public hearing by clicking on the “eComment” option at www.metrolinktrains.com/ecomments.
Comments can also be submitted by mail in advance of the public hearing by sending feedback to the attention of “Metrolink Fares” at the SCRRA headquarters located at One Gateway Plaza, Floor 12, Los Angeles, CA, or faxed to the attention of “Metrolink Fares” at (213) 452-0429. No public comments will be considered after the public hearing begins.
“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,” Metrolink CEO John Fenton said. “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 to the FY 12-13 budget driving the need for additional funding 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,” Fenton said. “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.”
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 5-9 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 1 percent of one-way or roundtrip tickets.
The average increase across the system would be between 5 and 9 percent, however. Fare tables are posted online and will be available at public workshops and at the public hearing to help members of the public determine the potential fare increase’s impact to them.
For more information visit http://www.metrolinktrains.com/news/.