Possible Metrolink fee hike postponed

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES Thousands of people turn to Metrolink to commute to work every day, but some are now reconsidering their ride as the agency considers a 6 percent fare hike. In August, Metrolink increased fares by 3 percent.

"I'm coming from Lancaster, and my train ticket, monthly pass, is going to be over $300," said Rosaline Adams, a Metrolink rider.

The problem is the economy. Fewer people are working, which means fewer people are riding to work.

Metrolink has also implemented safety improvements that have increased the operating budget.

Riders are not only angry about the proposed increase, but they also argue how effective it will be.

"When you're stuck in a traffic jam in a month or two, the reason is that they raised the fare, and Metrolink riders are now back in their cars," said Metrolink rider John Walsh at the board meeting.

There are some alternatives to raising fares. Some board members would rather consider cutting back service.

"I think we really got to squeeze the budget to do everything possible. Our riders have stood by us during some difficult times, and I think we owe it to them in order to try to minimize adverse impacts upon their budgets," said Keith Millhouse, chairman of the Metrolink board.

Most riders admit that while they don't like either proposal, they'll probably put up with whatever the board decides. Riding on the rail is still better for most than sitting in traffic, even if the price goes up.

The Metrolink board postponed a decision on the proposed fare hikes.

In the face of public scorn, the board decided to table the issue for nearly a month in hopes to finding a better way to deal with the budget crisis.

"Public transportation is a green way to go, and I think to raise the prices is the wrong way," said Stephanie Ward, a Metrolink passenger.

"We dodged a bullet. We came in there, as the riders, we told them that it'd be unfair to raise the fare, and they punted," said Walsh.

By mid December, the Southern California Regional Rail Authority is hoping to have several proposed options to deal with the budget short fall as opposed to looking at yet another fee hike.

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