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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Rising operating costs prompt Metrolink to mull fare increases and service cuts

The ever-rising cost to operate commuter-rail service continues to pressure transit agencies to consider hiking fares and cutting service just to keep pace. Count California's Metrolink among the would-be pace-keepers.

Last year, the Metrolink board approved a three-year program of annual systemwide average fare hikes of 3.5 percent, to take effect July 1, 2007, 2008 and 2009. But with rising fuel expenses, scheduled increases in costs for operating services contracts and new start-up costs related to the 2009 delivery of additional passenger cars, the board is considering a fare increase of up to 7.5 percent as well as potential service reductions that would take effect July 1.

The board also is considering changes to its Group Travel Program. Among them:

• increase the discounted fare for a round-trip ticket from $7 to $10 beginning July 1;
• increase the minimum number in a group to qualify for the discounted fare from 10 to 15 beginning July 1; and
• index future increases to systemwide fare change proposals, but only increase the fare when the cumulative total of increases is equal to or greater than $1.

The board will review the comments at an April 25 public hearing.

Metrolink provides commuter-rail service in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/18/2008