An alliance of bus riders, community and conservation groups are taking the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transporation Authority (MTA) to court to challenge major fare hikes.
According to the lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council , the Bus Riders Union and the Labor/Community Strategy Center , MTA violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by approving bus fare increases without considering the environmental impacts of its decision.
The lawsuit accuses MTA for turning bus riders into drivers that will further pollute L.A.’s air supply and demand for an assessment of the likely influence that this fare hike may have on the environment. NRDC identifies vehicles as one of the two main components of air pollution besides power plants.
“The MTA is forcing thousands of riders off the system and back into cars,” says David Pettit, director of NRDC’s Southern California Air Program. “We want them to asses the potential physical effects this is going to have on our environment.”
The proposed assessment can cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, says Petit. He estimates the MTA has roughly $70 million in excess profits before the fare increase and suspects the money is going to fund new projects.
“You can never predict what’s going to happen in court, but I think we should win.” Said Petit.
Officials from the MTA say that the increase is only the second time in 12 years and deny that moneys from the increase will be spent on any new capital projects.
Metro fares were raised beginning July 1, however, the current $1.25 cash fare will stay the same for the next two years. Metros’ News Bureau say this is considerably less than the $2 or higher one-way cash fares charged by New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego and other large transit properties.
?The Metro Day Pass will increase from $3 to $5 July 1. The cost of a Metro monthly pass will be $62, up $10 from the current charge. A weekly pass will be $17, up $3 from the current fare, and semi-monthly passes will be eliminated.
Spokespeople from Metro say that people have to understand they are not just a public transit agency and that Metro is in charge of street maintenance and many highway projects. According to Metro’s website, only five percent of all trips are made by public transit. Vast majorities travel by streets and freeways.
Marc Littman, a Metro spokesperson , says that one of their main focuses is traffic management and are currently trying to relieve traffic on the 710 freeway by adding more lanes. He says a lot of people are just focusing on the negative aspects of the fare hike and that only 28 percent of box fare goes towards Metros’ operation costs.
Littman said it is highly unlikely for a person to go out and buy a car simply because their monthly passes have gone up in price and that the time has come to pass Metro’s operating costs to the customer.
“We haven’t passed on our costs (to) riders for 12 years. Just like CSUN enrollment fees go up, our fees have gone up. Operators, fuel, mechanics and so on.” Littman said.