Metro to Hike Fares, Like it or Not

Metro says it will listen to complaints but it's moving ahead with a 20 percent fare hike.

The increase will go into effect as scheduled July 1, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors decided Thursday.

The board voted to hold a "special meeting" to hear comments from the public but the move will likely not change the boards decision.

The move angered the Bus Riders Union, whose members packed the boardroom, loudly chanting slogans, to demand a public hearing to reconsider the fare hikes.

According to Metro spokesman Marc Littman, the board still has the option to rescind the fare hikes, but it would take a two-thirds vote of the board and require the transportation agency to find a way to offset the $24 million in revenue expected from the increases.

Metro is already faced with a projected $180 million operating deficit -- the largest in its history -- in the fiscal year that begins July 1, Littman said.

The situation is so dire that Metro is planning to eliminate about 20 percent of its non-contract workforce this spring, potentially resulting in about 100 employees losing their jobs, he added.

The plan is to raise the fare for one-way rides by 25 cents to $1.50, and monthly passes by $13 to $75. Daily passes will go from $5 to $6.

Fares will not be raised for people with disabilities, students, Medicare recipients and people who are 62 or older.

Even with the fare hike, Metro would recover only 28 percent of the cost of operating the service, Littman said, adding that most major transit agencies recover 40 percent.

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