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Dodger Trolley Update Presents a Funding Stalemate

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, January 22, 2009, at 11:02AM
Dodger Trolley Los Angeles Dodgers

Funding for a 2009 version of the Dodger Trolley continues to be a contentious issue, with the team refusing to contribute funds even as it suggests service changes that would significantly raise the program's operating costs. In a report filed last week, LADOT updated City Council on negotiations but had little to offer in terms of concrete progress.

The 2008 Dodger Trolley pilot kicked off in late July with 32 games remaining in the regular season schedule. After the team declined to participate in funding the service, the city agreed to pay the $70,000 tab out of reserve charter service funds. The need for extra buses and a Dodgers playoff run pushed the eventual cost to $150,000.

Estimates for continuing service through the 2009 season run from $383,000 to $630,000. Given the reluctance with which councilmembers approved the original $70,000 in funding and the City's financial situation, it seems very unlikely that the city would again consent to funding the service.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl was particularly incensed that the Dodgers refused to help bear the costs of service in 2008. "I just think it's a cheap shot that a firm as successful as [the Dodgers] doesn't come up with the funds," he said during a June Transportation committee meeting.

While charging a fare would raise some revenue, LADOT says that the amount would fall far short of the cost of service. In its projections, LADOT concludes that $50,000 - $120,000 could be raised by charging a fare of $1 to $3. Given 81 home games, the higher of those ridership numbers would give an average of 617 fares per game. The 2008 service averaged roughly 700 riders.

The Dodgers have argued that advertising funds could be found to pay for the Trolley. In its report, LADOT concludes that model may hold the only hope for 2009. "This approach may be the only viable approach to funding the service given the Dodgers' position against paying for the service directly."

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