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Fare Increase Starts Today

July 1, 2014 Featured, Public Transit 12 Comments
MetroLink at the Stadium Station
MetroLink at the Stadium Station

Metro’s new fares begin today:

The option most favored by the public was Option 2 which will raise the prices of the MetroLink one-ride fare, as well as the weekly, monthly, and university semester passes. The cost of the one-ride MetroLink fare will increase from $2.25 to $2.50. Weekly passes will increase from $25 to $27; monthly passes from $72 to $78; and the semester pass will go from $150 to $175.

The fare increase will not impact the $2 base MetroBus fare and the 2-Hour Pass/Transfer will remain at $3.00. The cost of the $7.50 Day Pass will not change nor will the current $4.00 Metro Call-A-Ride fare. (Metro)

The 2-hour pass is the same as a transfer, used on MetroBus or MetroLink light rail. This $3 pass/transfer allows riders who want to ride any combination of bus or rail, in any direction, within a 2-hour window, to do so for little more than the base fare. Those who don’t need more than a single ride in two hours can pay the one ride fare ($2 bus, $2.50 light rail).  I can imagine some weekly/monthly pass holders going to one ride or 2-hour passes, they’ll need to do the math to determine the most cost effective way for them to use Metro. I don’t use the system enough to justify a monthly pass.

One system similar in size to Metro is Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). Their fares start at $2.25 for “Bus/Rapid/BRT” and are $2.50 for their “Park-N-Ride Bus.”   For transfers I looked at their FAQ:

Transfer Privileges are included in all RTA fare media: the All-Day Pass, 7-Day Flex Pass or Monthly Pass, and 5-trip farecards. RTA riders paying cash no longer receive transfers and should consider purchasing farecards or passes.

Interesting, if you buy 5 tickets in advance they each cost the same as one but include a transfer. I looked at 6-8 other systems and each has a unique way of handling the question of transfers. Some make everyone pay for a transfer but market it as being “free.” I like the option of just paying the base fare for most trips, upgrading to a 2-hour pass/transfer when I need to.

– Steve Patterson

  • http://yastlblog.blogspot.com/ Kevin Barbeau

    I always look at weekly/monthly pass value from the base of five weekly to/from work trips.

    At $2.50 per ride and two rides a day for a five-day work week (in a four-week month, for argument’s sake…), you’re looking at $25/week or $100/month. In that way then, the weekly pass now becomes a net loss for the base user. The monthly still represents a net gain.

    Obviously, the coverage for any additional rides or transfers (or, in this case, additional “work days” in a given month) represents added value that needs to be considered. Plus the convenience of having a card versus always carrying around ones and quarters.

    Monthy’s still the way to go. Never leave home without it.

  • JZ71

    It boils down to whether it’s a “system” or an assemblage of “routes”. The primary goal/purpose of “transportation” (be it a private automobile, public transit, Amtrak or an airline) is to get someone from Point A to Point B. I have no problem with distance-based fare differences, but I don’t think that riders should be penalized (by having to pay extra for a transfer) just because Metro doesn’t offer a direct bus route between their origin and their destination. You may want to characterize it as “some [properties] make everyone pay for a transfer but market it as being ‘free’”; I prefer to view it as some properties don’t penalize riders because of their inadequate route structure! Everyone would prefer a direct trip and no one wants to transfer – it adds both time and uncertainty (and that’s one reason so many people prefer having their own vehicle over using public transit). Charging extra for a transfer, when you don’t even offer a direct option, just adds insult to injury. If your goal is to encourage more ridership, you should be looking for ways to simplify its use and to reduce, not increase, its perceived cost! Yes, passes are a good way to do this, but so would be eliminating the current charge for a transfer – just make it “free”.

    And, on a related item, on this day in history in St. Louis, on July 2, 1953, “Massive traffic tie-ups resulted from a wildcat strike by workers for the Public Service Company, which ran the streetcars and busses. Governor Donnelly was considering seizure of the Public Service Company by the state to get things moving again.” Transit strikes, then and now, are another reason people who can end up choosing their own vehicle over public transit. The best use most riders have for public transit is their daily commute, to their jobs or to school – it’s both predictable and repeatable. Take away that reliability and you kill one of transit’s big advantages

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      You’re confusing the need to “transfer” from one bus to another with a 2-hour pass. If I time it right, I can catch the #11 from downtown to Target at Hampton & Chippewa, shop, and catch the bus back on a single transfer.

      I pay reduced rates — that costs me $1.50. If you want free transfers it would cost me just $1, but I think it makes sense to pay a little more for the extra time beyond a one-way ride.

      • JZ71

        No, I’m not “confused”. If you “time it right”, yes, you can make multiple stops on a two hour pass. My point is that I can’t always take just one, direct bus to get to where I want to go, especially since I don’t live downtown and don’t have multiple bus routes to choose from. If you live in Dogtown or St. Louis Hills, odds are much, much higher that any trip will require transferring, to get to many (most?) potential destinations. It would be great if Metro offered 8 or 20 routes for those riders (like me) to choose from, but it ain’t gonna happen, so why should I/they be expected to pay extra if Metro can’t put out the same level of service that you receive?!

        • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

          So you want to get something free, even though you decided to live in a less dense part of the city that has less transit service than downtown?

          • JZ71

            No, I expect to get the same level of service, period, for the taxes I pay to support Metro. And since Metro can’t provide multiple bus routes radiating out from where I CHOOSE to live, the least they can do is to provide the opportunity to transfer, for no additional fare, off of the one bus route that is being provided within walking distance!

            Yes, choosing where to live is a choice, but so is where and how often Metro runs its buses. If you want to go down that road, let’s talk about putting bus routes where the taxes (that cover 80%+ of the costs of putting service out) are generated, places like Chesterfield, Ladue and Earth City, instead of where they’ve always been, mostly following obsolete streetcar lines! Suburban riders “don’t ride” because they have far fewer options / bus routes. Yeah, in a perfect world, everyone would “see the light” and move to where the buses are. But I, like many, many other people have other priorities than public transit, so we’re going to make other choices!

          • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

            You want the same level if service as downtown, access to many bus lines? Who’s living in a fantasyland? Bus lines wind all through the city! If I want to get to south Grand I take the #10, #11, or #30 because those are direct routes that cross Grand. I don’t say I should be able to take the #94 or #97 bad transfer to the #70 for free.

            Riders who use transit daily buy monthly passes, allowing them unlintee access. Those of us who ride less frequently can plan accordingly.

            If I go to Target and catch a bus at 8:45am my transfer will be valid until 11am. But if I catch the bus at 9:05am my transfer will be good until noon. This will change with the smart cards.

          • JZ71

            And to go down another road – “getting something for free” – don’t get me started on discounts based on age or disability. Any discounts for government services (which public transit is) should be based on economic status / ability to pay, not on just some arbitrary age or condition. We already heavily subsidize our older and disabled citizens through various Social Security programs – why should additional discounts be an assumption, especially ones that aren’t means tested? I’ve been paying Social Security taxes for 43 years, now, and it’ll be at least another 4 years before I start seeing ANY benefits coming my way – “free” is truly relative and based on one’s own perspective!

  • Sgt Stadanko

    hope they can keep the undesirables off, you know… the ones that don’t pay. thanks, sarge

  • JZ71

    Let’s see, within four blocks of where you live, you have routes 4, 5, 10, 11, 32, 41, 74, 94, 97 and 99, along with four express bus routes (14 options), while there are five Metrolink stations within a dozen blocks. In Lindenwood Park, I have routes 11, 16, 30 and 90 available, along with the Shrewsbury Metrolink station. Routes 16 and 90 run north-south and go nowhere near downtown or Clayton, but both will get me to Forest Park or north city. Routes 11 and 30 both go downtown, eventually; there is no direct bus service to Clayton, the CWE or SLU/Grand Center.

    Carrot versus stick. Incentivize versus penalize. I got mine versus the larger picture. Public transit is critical for dense, urban living – we both agree on that basic fact. Where we disagree is how to make that reality. Public transit is funded through taxes – more than 80% comes from taxes, less than 20% comes from fares. Public transit accounts for less than 5% of the trips taken in the region – more than 95% are accomplished by people driving. You seem to favor making driving hard – limit parking through zoning and pricing – and that will force more people to consider public transit. I favor making transit more attractive – price it aggressively, put in service that people want and will use. In the long run, I believe my option will be more successful, while your option will result in a system that becomes less and less relevant to suburbanites, meaning less and less interest in funding it.

    • http://yastlblog.blogspot.com/ Kevin Barbeau

      But you do have direct train service to Clayton, the CWE and and Grand Center via the Shrewsbury Metrolink station.

      You’re kind of right though — you can’t force transit success in this region by making driving more difficult (but I do support enforced parking restrictions, increased local gas taxes, and far less public monies toward highway projects). You can only create a consistent system that gets you to where you need to go somewhat close (like 15-20 minutes) to the time it would take in a car, and with limited transfer periods when needed (10-15 minutes or less).

      • JZ71

        But not without paying a premium fare (more than a basic bus fare) or paying for a transfer – see my previous comments.

        Coming from Denver, where transfers on their system are free, it creates a different perception of how the SYSTEM functions. The rider wants to get from Point A to Point B. There will never, ever be a system where every rider can get to every destination without transferring. If you price single segments less than a trip with transfers (and if you charge more for light rail than you charge for a local bus), then people look at the system as a bunch of independent routes, NOT a web of interconnected connections.

        Steve likes that he lives in the center of Metro’s route structure – it gives him many more options than most other riders. I don’t know if it was a conscious decision he made when he purchased his condo, but it is something that he appreciates today – cudo’s to him for making a better choice for urban living. Unfortunately, downtown St. Louis is no longer the center of the St. Louis region, so a much smaller percentage of its citizens have any need or desire to go downtown than did 50 or 100 years ago. Metro can continue to focus most of its efforts on the CBD, and it will continue to capture an increasingly smaller percentage of the trips taken in the region. OR, they can start to look at a more dispersed, grid-type route structure, embracing transfers as a core part of their service, and not an additional profit center, and do a much better job of providing suburb to suburb travel options.

        I get it, suburb to suburb does little to enhance urban living. But unless and until public transit becomes more than just something for poor people to use, its funding will always be a struggle. And without a viable transit system, urban living becomes untenable – look at the big picture, look at the funding!

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