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Metrolink considering fare hikes up to 5.5%

April 2, 2009 | 12:46 pm

Faced with rising labor and maintenance costs, the Metrolink commuter rail service is considering fare increases of up to 5.5% this year and a policy change that would require riders to share some of the cost of transferring to other transit services.

If approved by Metrolink’s board of directors in late April, fares would go up anywhere from 3.5% to 5.5% on July 1 with increases for some lines that will be higher than the system-wide average.

For example, a round-trip commute between Anaheim and Union Station in downtown Los Angeles -- now $14 -- could rise as much as 77 cents if the maximum boost is applied to that route.

Metrolink has seven lines and 56 stations, serving about 45,000 passengers a day from six Southern California counties, including Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura.

“The annual increase is due to the higher costs of operating Metrolink,” said Francisco Oaxaca, a railroad spokesman. “We are facing an escalation of costs in our labor and maintenance contracts.”

In addition, Metrolink is proposing changes in its transfer policy for passengers who connect to other transit services in Los Angeles County. Those changes could go into effect in the fall.

Currently, Metrolink subsidizes the entire cost of transfers its riders make to other transit in the six counties it serves. The proposed changes would require Metrolink passengers to share some of the costs of transferring to bus, subway and light rail systems.

Oaxaca said Metrolink must reduce its subsidy because of significant increases in the rates charged to the railroad by transit operators participating in the EZ Transit Pass program in Los Angeles County; the ongoing implementation of the TAP smart card fare payment system in Los Angeles County; and the installation of fare gates at MTA rail stations scheduled for fall 2009.

Members of the public interested in commenting on the proposed fare increases and changes in Metrolink’s transfer policy can send their views to the railroad. The e-mail address is metrolinkfares@scrra.net. Comments can also be faxed to (213) 452-0421 (addressed to Metrolink Fares) or mailed to Metrolink Fares, 700 S. Flower St., 26th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90017.

-- Dan Weikel