Monday, September 15, 2014, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Los Angeles (METRO) raised its prices from $1.50 to $1.75 and day passes went from $5 to $7. Effectively, all METRO fares from its bus lines to its lite rail and subway lines, student passes, senior and disabled fares have all been raised. In addition you must still pay $1.00 for the TAP card unlike other METRO and even BART systems where you simply pay for your fare.
Though Metro says its fares are among some of the lowest fares in the country, the system itself is very pricey and not at all friendly to everyday working folk who use METRO because they have no other options. Moreover, Los Angeles’ subway and bus systems are infamous for being dangerous and unsafe for riders. In January 2013 a man was hospitalized and eventually died after being attacked and stabbed on the Metro Red Line subway. Furthermore METRO rail and subway stations do not have station agents which encourage people to skip paying fares and fosters an environment for crime which drives an unsafe environment for the general public. The entire system is basically unattended except in times when the Los Angeles Sheriff is present to issue tickets to passengers who do not have valid proof of payment.
Beyond safety concerns, the Metro is also agonizingly slow; Rapid buses basically have no schedules and most times are overcrowded. Buses are often stacked up one right behind the other with too many riders causes them to bypass stops altogether. Trains have to stop at traffic lights just like cars and buses, causing delays and long travel time for riders and most times show up early or past listed times.
Additionally trains on the Blue Line are old and outdated and many times break down during peak hours causing long waits and delays. Not to mention the many accidents with cars, pedestrians and sometimes their own buses which cause the general public not have much faith in the system as whole.
So many will argue the new issue with METRO, although those with no other option other than METRO, it isn’t new at all, is its higher price. Leaving those who ride METRO daily with the understanding that the many safety and reliability concerns will not be address with fare increases.
According to their website “Under the new fare structure, passengers paying the $1.75 fare using a TAP card will receive transfers to other Metro lines for up to two hours to complete a one-way trip. .” Unlike in New York, where one swipe of $2.50 gets you into the subway and onto all lines, the old structure in Los Angeles Metro required a fare of $1.50 every time you transfer stations, even on trains. Metro LA says “the new structure a savings for our riders” However the savings and transfers only help those using METRO’s TAP card. If you pay cash like many daily rides and visitors the savings do not apply.
Without a reliable public transportation system, people with cars will always make the decision to drive their cars everywhere they go, thus our traffic nightmares will go unchanged, However a faster, cheaper and safer public transportation system geared towards the people who truly ride and depend on it will create a more friendly system that encourages more people to consider it as an option over driving. for work and entertainment.
Los Angeles is a 24 hours a day 7 days a week city and our transportation system must also operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While Metro encourages people to take public transportation for events and entertainment, it’s train schedules do not allow for this to be an actual reality because most times they stop running around 1;30. Furthermore they begin maintenance around 8:30pm causing long delays with encourages people to drive their cars instead of taking public transportation. There is no reason why Los Angeles can not operate train service 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
If Los Angeles ever wants to see its public transportation systems compare to those of other major cities, there are many things that need to change. Starting with unfair pricing that create greater hardships for their core riders which live far below the poverty line. The unfriendly pricing of the TAP card makes public transportation seem like an elitist system and must be done away with. The system needs to have station agents to answer questions and make riders feel safe. On time performance like that of the Big Blue Bus operated by the City of Santa Monica and courteous drivers will also go a long way to make METRO LA a better my rider friendly public transportation system.