With a 43 percent increase in public transit fares for the elderly and disabled set to take effect in September, West Hollywood’s Transportation Committee voted Wednesday to ask the City Council to increase its subsidy of those fares.
The Metro board approved the increase in May. The cost of a monthly senior/disabled pass will increase from $14 to $20, the largest percentage increase. One-way bus and rail passes will go from $1.50 to $1.75. Day passes will increase from $5 to $7. Monthly passes will increase from $75 to $100.
At present, West Hollywood subsidizes 42 percent of the senior/disabled monthly pass cost, reducing it to $8.
The city’s Disabilities Advisory Board voted in June to recommend that the City Council increase its subsidy to keep the cost of a pass for seniors and disabled people at its current rate. The Transportation Committee made a similar recommendation Wednesday.
In a report to the Committee, Perri Goodman, the city’s transportation program administrator, said that on average 350 seniors and disabled people in West Hollywood buy a total of 4,260 subsidized bus and rail passes a year, at a cost to the city of $25,560. Increasing the subsidy provided by the City to $10 per pass would mean an increase of $17,040 to West Hollywood. An increase of $12 in the subsidy would keep the price at $8 and increase the cost to the City by $25,560, or 100 percent.
The Metro board approved the cost increase at a contentious meeting at which some bus and rail users said they might lose their homes or be forced to choose between food and transportation with the price increase.
Metro staffers said the system faced a $36-million gap in its 2016 operating budget. Without the fare hike, they said, Metro might have to lay off nearly 1,000 of the agency’s 9,000 employees or cutting up to 1 million hours of bus and rail service next year.