The pandemic has exacerbated the socio-economic hardship of low-income Los Angeles residents while increasing financial burdens. In recognition of these obstacles, County Metropolitan Transportation has made its service free due to the pandemic, saving passengers money – many of whom are on low incomes.
To take Metro buses or trains, users must top up their public transport access cards daily, weekly or monthly. The monthly pass costs $ 100, but special discounts are available for seniors, students, and people with disabilities. In addition, Metro offers a program called “Low Income Fare is Easy,” which reduces the cost of the monthly pass to $ 76 for those who meet certain household and income level thresholds. While this rebate offers assistance to low-income riders, that $ 76 would do more good in their wallet than on a TAP card.
In August 2020, Metro launched a program that would allow community college students, K-12 students, and low-income riders to ride for free and recently extended it until June 30, 2022. It is a good step in the right direction, but Metro should extend the program to everyone. Public transport should be a free service as it would help ease the financial burden on low-income communities and reduce traffic. However, for the public transport system to be a truly good service, it must also develop.
A subway ride from USC to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, located just eight miles away, takes about an hour and involves taking several subway lines. The further south you live from LACMA, the more lines you have to travel. It’s almost ironic that a museum called “Los Angeles County” is relatively inaccessible to South Central residents. A trip to LACMA shouldn’t be a problem – it should be free and convenient.
Despite these problems, Metro also has its advantages. Peter Burns is a special education teacher at Dorsey High School. Burns uses Metro to take his students on trips to museums, libraries, and even architectural tours of our own campus.
“We wouldn’t be able to do all of this without the trains,” Burns said. “It makes the entire city of Los Angeles accessible to people with disabilities. ”
Burns said Metro can improve its service by increasing cleanliness and safety. Burns and his class are an example of Metro’s potential to make the city more accessible for millions of LA residents, especially those in South Central. For Burns, Metro is convenient as the Metro E line stops right in front of Dorsey High School. Other areas do not have the same accessibility.
For Metro to be a full service, it can’t just be free. It also needs to be expanded. Although Metro has expanded its service, it has done so in the wrong way.
Ridership has dropped dramatically due to the pandemic, but it was already down in 2017, even after Metro extended the Metro E line to include Santa Monica in 2016. Metro doesn’t know why ridership declined; however, as ridership has declined, fares have increased.
When the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers covered the decline in metro ridership, they asked their readers why they did not use public transportation. Readers cited safety, cleanliness, punctuality and inconvenience as being detractors of the use of public transport. Running multiple subway lines to get to a destination and the speed of turnaround were recurring complaints.
Metro plans to build its new Crenshaw / LAX train line over the next year, which will make the city more accessible. However, Metro shouldn’t stop there. It needs to add more lines that allow runners reliable access to museums, work and green spaces. At no cost to its users, Metro could have an incredible impact.
Fewer cars on the road means less pollution. Fewer cars on the road means more people are walking in their community and talking to each other. A better subway system means more teachers like Burns can take their students on trips where they can see the real world instead of reading it in a book. It’s time for Metro to put LA residents first.