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Metrolink wants to hike fares to help plug $13-million shortfall

May 10, 2012 | 11:16 am

Incoming Metrolink passengers walk from a train at Union Station last year. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

The Metrolink commuter rail service plans to increase fares as early as July to help reduce a $13-million budget deficit largely caused by rising fuel and labor costs, railroad officials said Thursday.

If approved, the proposed increase of 5% to 9% will only cover part of the shortfall, making it necessary for Metrolink to seek additional subsidies from the five county transportation agencies that support the railroad.

“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 John Fenton, Metrolink’s chief executive.

The typical round-trip fare between downtown Los Angeles and Fullerton is now $15; between Los Angeles and Riverside $23; and between Los Angeles and east Ventura is $25.50, the same cost for a round trip between Los Angeles and Lancaster.

Metrolink, which has 512 miles of track, serves customers in six Southern California counties, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura.

Officials estimate that $7.9 million of the budget shortfall has resulted from a dramatic increase in fuel costs and a labor agreement that increased the labor cost of contractors.

Metrolink will explain the fare increase at series of public workshops to be held throughout its service area later this month. They will end with a public hearing at the Metrolink board meeting on May 30.

Information about the workshops is available here.

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— Dan Weikel

Photo: Incoming Metrolink passengers walk from a train at Union Station last year. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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