Metro will implement new fare changes beginning Sept. 15 that will include for the first time a two-hour period of free transfers on Metro’s bus and rail system when using a stored value TAP (Transit Access Pass) card to pay for the base fare.
The fare changes, following extensive public hearings and Board approval last May, will raise the price of the base cash fare from $1.50 to $1.75, the Day Pass from $5 to $7, the weekly pass from $20 to $25 and the monthly pass from $75 to $100.
Students K-12 monthly passes sold for $24 and student cash fare of $1 remain unchanged. Students wanting to take advantage of the new two-hour window of free one way transfers will need to use a stored value TAP card. College/Vocational monthly passes increase from $36 to $43 and Senior/Disabled monthly passes increase from $14 to $20 with the cash fare changing from $0.55 cents to$0 .75 cents. The cost of a Day Pass for Senior/Disabled will be $2.50.
New to Metro’s fare structure is the implementation of a special two-hour window of free transfers when using a stored value TAP card. Called the 1-Way Trip, customers using their Tap card when boarding a Metro bus or train pay the new base fare of only $1.75. This new 1-Way Trip fare includes free transfers for up to two hours to complete a one-way trip. This feature is not valid for round trips on Metro buses or trains. The 1-Ride feature is for those still using cash or tokens to pay their base fare on Metro buses. Those using cash or tokens on the bus cannot participate in the two hours of free transfers as there is no way to track when and where they boarded the system.
To use the free two hour transfers, single fare riders will need to use a pre-loaded TAP card. When the card is tapped at the first boarding, the two hour transfer period begins and transfers will be allowed from one Metro line to another Metro line. Riders must still tap their cards at each subsequent boarding and the TAP card system will recognize if the user is within the two hour transfer window. Riders will be able to transfer an unlimited number of times from one Metro bus or rail line to another within the two hour time frame. For example, a passenger could transfer from the Metro Gold Line to the Metro Red Line and then to the Metro Expo Line all on one $1.75 fare. Round trips are not eligible during the two hour free transfer period. TAP cards can be loaded at ticket vending machines, at Metro Customer Centers and at all vendors selling TAP cards. TAP cards cannot be loaded on buses.
TAP cards can be purchased for $1 at any TAP Vending Machine at Metro Rail and Orange Line Stations. Riders can also purchase them for $2 from regional vendor locations including Metro Customer Centers. A TAP card is always sold with a pass or stored value. TAP cards last for up to 10 years.
Under the current transfer policy, Metro customers must pay full fare every time they switch from one Metro train or bus to another. More than half of Metro customers transfer to reach their destinations and the current transfer policy impacts a large number of riders who must transfer at least once to reach their destination. Through the public comment period prior to Board action to increase fares, riders favored a free transfer policy of up to two hours.
In addition, Metro has several programs to work with employers, cities, colleges and social service agencies to provide fare assistance for workers, seniors, students and low-income customers. These include the Immediate Needs Program (INTP), Rider Relief Transportation Program (RRTP) and the Support for Homeless Re-Entry (SHORE) Program. Metro also works with Los Angeles County to provide pass discounts to residents of unincorporated LA County areas through the LA County Transit Subsidy Program. Riders can visit www.metro.net/reducedfares to see if they qualify for a specific program. Additionally, more than 30 cities across the County provide fare subsidies to residents. Metro also works with more than 800 employers who provide passes for 24,000 workers, many at a group rate.
The change in fares is needed to avoid a budget deficit that would have occurred as soon as 2016 if fares were not revised. Current Metro fares cover just 26 percent of the cost of operating the buses and trains and Metro faces an unsustainable operating deficit of $36.8 million in two years growing to $225 million in ten years unless changes are made. Metro has raised fares only three times during the last 19 years and has among the lowest fares of major transit agencies in the United States. Currently, the Agency’s Long Range Transportation Plan assumes a 33 percent farebox recovery rate to meet funding commitments. Since 1995, the local consumer price index has increased 46 percent while Metro’s average fares have increased only 17 percent. In addition, over the years Metro has maintained the lowest fare per boarding ($0.70 cents), when compared with other similar transit agencies.