Joseph Peralta, 23, travels from Inglewood to North Hollywood five days a week to attend Concorde Career College, where he’s studying to become a surgical technician.
The trip takes him more than an hour and includes transferring from the Blue Line to the Red Line. He currently buys a $5 day pass for the round trip but will have to pay more for the rides.
Starting Monday, Sept. 15, fare increases go into effect for those who ride the Metro bus, light rail or subway. One-way fares go from $1.50 to $1.75, daily passes from $5 to $7, weekly passes from $20 to $25, and monthly passes jump from $75 to $100.
The fare hike does not apply to K-12 students, who will still pay $1 for one-way fares and $24 for a 30-day pass. College and vocational students are not exempt, however.
In total, approximately 1.4 million people board Metro every weekday and, like Peralta, they’re about to feel the pinch.
“I don’t like it,” he said while waiting to board the Metro that will take him to downtown Los Angeles from the North Hollywood Red Line Station, still dressed in his blue Concorde-labeled medical uniform.
“I don’t think they should raise it up. It’s already pretty high. It’s going to cost me $40 a month,” said Peralta, whose already done the math. “There’s a lot of people who can’t afford to buy a car and this is the only way we have to move.”
Metro is making the pinch a little lighter by allowing passengers paying the $1.75 fare using a TAP card to transfer to other Metro lines for up to two hours to complete a one-way trip. If the $1.75 fare is paid using cash, transfers are not included.
Metro officials say the fare increase 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.”
They also defended the hike by saying this is the third time they’ve raised prices in the last nine years, and that the cost of public transportation in Los Angeles is still below that of Las Vegas, New York, San Diego and San Francisco.
But opponents say the fare increases disproportionately affect low-income, minority passengers. According to Metro’s own data, more than 80 percent of bus and rail riders are minorities and their average household income is less than $20,000.
People like Peralta, who works part-time at a coffee shop.
“It’s a struggle,” he said of having to pay for school and other needs with his meager income. “I guess I’m going to have to take an extra shift to make up that money.”
At least he was already making plans.
Julia Rosas, a 20-year-old college student waiting to be picked up at the North Hollywood Red Line Station, didn’t know about the increase.
“I think it sucks,” she said, upon hearing about it.
Rosas doesn’t work and depends on her parents for added financial support.
“I don’t get that much financial aid. I’m going to have to ask my parents for more money,” she said.
Both Peralta and Rosas said they had not seen any signs announcing the fare increases at stations, buses or metro trains, nor had they heard any announcements made over speakers in the transportation system.
“A lot of people are going to be in for a surprise,” Peralta said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of upset people on [Sept. 15].”
One-Way Ticket $1.75
Day Pass $7
Seven-Day Pass $25
Monthly Pass $100