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Move to Save Commuter Line Could Double DASH Fares This Summer

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, May 26, 2010, at 10:31AM
Prep Ed Fuentes

A DASH bus is prepped outside Disney Hall to kick off 2008's Late Night DASH holiday pilot, which was privately funded.

Fares on Downtown DASH buses could double this summer instead of next if the City Council approves a motion passed by the Transportation committee on Monday during a joint session with the Budget and Finance committee.

The city's Department of Transportation had proposed raising fares from a quarter to $0.35 this year as part of an effort to eliminate a $23 million shortfall in transit funding. That fare would then raise to $0.50 in 2011.

The motion to move immediately to the higher fare came after a long discussion over the fate of a Commuter Express line from Pacific Palisades to Downtown that the department had proposed to cut. Councilman Bill Rosendahl and a number of community speakers argued in favor of the line, which carries few riders and has a city subsidy of $13 per passenger. LADOT transportation planner Phil Aker said that most days, the line's afternoon runs carry only one or two passengers.

Despite that, the Councilman said that the line was a vital piece of transit for a community that lacks other options. He suggested that perhaps DASH fares could even rise to one dollar to cover the cost of other services.

Councilman Bernard Parks, chair of the city's Budget and Finance committee, spoke out in support of the 28 million yearly DASH riders. "Most of our DASH riders are the poorest of the poor," Parks said. "If we increase their fees, or their fare, to subsidize Commuter Express, we're doing Robin Hood in reverse."

Commuter Express and other non-DASH city transit services carry approximately three million riders yearly.

Downtown will likely see the loss of three DASH lines as part of the proposed cost reductions. The Central City East DASH, launched to much fanfare in September of 2008, the South Park DASH C and the weekend DASH DD services would be eliminated.

The department's recommendations and the proposal to accelerate the fare hike will next go to the full Council for further debate. The report can be downloaded from the city's website as a PDF.

The fare hike and service cuts were originally targeted for July 1, but are now expected to go into place later in the summer. The department shared on Monday that each month of delay puts it $2 million further in the hole.

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