Metrolink News

Wednesday May 2, 2012

Increase in fuel costs and contracts due to labor agreements drive $13 million funding gap for FY 12-13 budget

Los Angeles - On April 27, the Metrolink Board of Directors directed staff to initiate a public outreach process for a potential system-wide fare increase to help close an existing $13 million funding gap for Fiscal Year 12-13 budget and Metrolink's proposed Title VI Service Delivery Policy. The public will be asked to give feedback regarding an average system-wide fare increase between 5 and 9 percent to go into effect on or after July 1, 2012.

"Last year, we were able to delay an increase to passenger fares and member agency subsidies while increasing train service by 14 percent. This year, 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 Metrolink CEO John Fenton. "A fare increase is a last resort to be able to maintain current service levels. The proposed fare increase will only cover a portion of the funding gap. It would take a 20 percent fare increase to cover the entire funding gap. Metrolink member agencies are also being asked to increase their subsidy to reduce the amount of the fare increase to passengers."

The major increases include:

  • $4.7 million increase in fuel costs (in the past two years, Metrolink's fuel costs have increased by 78 percent)
  • $3.2 million in increases to contracted vendor costs due to a nationwide labor agreement
  • $1.3 million in connecting transit transfer costs for Metrolink riders
  •  $1.0 million in the Bombardier contract to support the rail reliability program and increased car cleaning costs associated with the additional rolling stock additions to the fleet.
  • $2.5 million for post employment benefits, which weren't previously budgeted for

"The current economic climate, including soaring fuel prices, requires tough decisions by transportation leaders to fund operations at a level that will continue to meet the region's transportation needs. Many transportation providers across the country and in the Southern California region are faced with the same challenges, and have responded by raising fares up to 35 percent," Fenton said.

This proposed fare increase is separate from the 2004 Board adopted policy to restructure fares from a zone-based fee to mileage-based fares over a 10-year period. The phased restructuring is not meant to generate additional revenue for Metrolink, but was implemented to ensure a fair and equitable fare policy. When combined with the proposed 5-9 percent increase, this could result in increases of up to 13.58 percent for less than one percent of Monthly Pass holders and up to 20 percent for less than one percent of one-way or roundtrip tickets. The average increase across the system would be between 5 and 9 percent, however. Fare tables are posted online and will be available at public workshops and at the public hearing to help members of the public determine the potential fare increase's impact to them.

As a recipient of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding, Metrolink is required to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and to carry out the United States Department of Transportation's Title VI regulations. Comments and suggestions on the proposed fare increase and the Title VI Service Delivery Standards may be submitted orally or in writing at a public hearing to be held on May 30, 2012 at a special-called meeting of the Metrolink Board of Directors or submitted in advance (by May 29, 2012 at noon) of the public hearing by clicking on the "eComment" option at www.metrolinktrains.com/ecomments. Comments can also be submitted by mail in advance of the public hearing by sending feedback to the attention of "Metrolink Fares" at the SCRRA headquarters located at One Gateway Plaza, Floor 12, Los Angeles, CA or faxed to the attention of "Metrolink Fares" at (213) 452-0429. No public comments will be considered after the public hearing scheduled for May 30, 2012 begins.

Metrolink will also hold public meeting workshops across its five-county service area to provide additional information to the public and solicit additional input from the public. The locations of these meetings will be announced by May 6 online at www.metrolinktrains.com and in handouts on the trains. 

ABOUT METROLINK (www.metrolinktrains.com)

Metrolink is Southern California's regional commuter rail service in its 19th year of operation. The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), a joint powers authority made up of an 11-member board representing the transportation commissions of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, governs the service. Metrolink operates over seven routes through a six-county, 512 route-mile network. Metrolink is the third largest commuter rail agency in the United States based on directional route miles and the seventh largest based on annual ridership.

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