We urge you to attend Metro’s Telephone Town Hall meeting tonight—Wed., March 30, 6:30-7:30 p.m.—to share your thoughts about how a fare-free system would change the way we use transit and help rebuild transit ridership. You must register to join the call, however, and registration closes at 3:30 p.m. Register here: https://tthm.wufoo.com/forms/metro-telephone-town-hall-signup/
Metro has begun a “Fareless System Initiative” study and is likely to recommend an 18-month-long pilot program to provide free bus and rail service for all low-income riders beginning in January 2022 and expanding to include all K-12 students in August 2022.
Move LA has long championed the idea of free and/or reduced fares for college students, and believe Metro will miss an important opportunity by only including low-income college students. We believe the pilot should include all community college students because:
- Ridership pre-COVID was 1.2 million boardings/day and has now fallen to 500,000 boardings/day, causing many to question whether transit will be relevant going forward—we need to find new riders now.
- Community college students are an ideal population for this pilot because about 2/3 are low-income and independent enough and environmentally conscious enough to understand why riding transit is important—but they aren’t affluent enough to own cars.
- Including all community college students would build more ridership—without stigmatizing those who are low-income.
- The administrative procedure required to ID which students qualify as low-income would be a costly procedure for Metro and create administrative barriers to students who would have to prove they qualify.
There are several community college campuses in LA County now where robust student transit pass programs are funded in part by student fees of $10-$20 paid during registration each semester. Several more colleges have approved these fees but despite student support the programs have not been implemented.
Making transit an option in this way would be a tremendous incentive for students to ride and for Metro to grow its ridership. Metro plans to ask for federal funding for the fareless pilot, and if Metro shows the kind of innovation we've described the federal government may be even more receptive!
Please consider joining the call as increasing transit ridership is important for all of us!