Conan Nolan/Tom Bravo
In the face of protests, the MTA Board voted to increase fares in a 12-1 vote on Thursday but dropped plans for two future fare hikes and threw in free bus transfers. Conan Nolan reports from downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, 2014.
After hours of debate, the LA Metro Board approved a 25-cent fare hike and two hours of free transfers.
The decision Thursday also called for freezing fares for students.
The vote came after a large turnout of unhappy riders protested outside the downtown Los Angeles offices of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Metro officials raised fares for both its buses and trains in order to close a funding gap.
One-time fares will increase this September from $1.50 to $1.75 as the public transportation agency looks to close a $36.8 million operating deficit in two years. Prices would jump to $2 in September 2017, and again to $2.25 in September 2020.
However, there are options. Board members, made up of 5 Los Angeles County of Supervisors’ and Mayor Eric Garcetti, could also choose to table any further increases for future meetings.
Public transportation advocates were gathered before the 9:30 a.m. meeting to protest the change that will affect thousands of commuters.
“It’s just more money. Times are hard enough as it is,” said rider Tamara Legge, who uses the bus every day to get to work. “25 cents might not seem like a lot, but in the long run it really is.”
Without the changes, the agency said the deficit could balloon to $225 million over the next decade.
The board meeting was held at the Metro Board Room at One Gateway Plaza.