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Editorial: Beeline fare hike had to be done

September 12, 2010

When looking at the proposed fare increase for the city’s Beeline bus — 200% — a certain wow factor starts to creep into our reaction, but then we get to the part where it would land at 75 cents. That would still put it at half the current base fare for Metro buses, and far cheaper than taking a taxi.

Granted, you can go anywhere in a taxi, and Metro traverses the entire county, so riders have more options, they get more bang for the buck. Beeline routes are local, and designed to connect residents and workers from one section of town to another. But even that simple purpose, with an artificially low fare, hasn’t produced the kind of ridership numbers to make the service self-sustaining.

With operation costs climbing, ridership down, and the property tax income — a main funding source — flat, the options facing transportation commissioners this week were bleak. Either keep fares low and make major cuts to service, or raise fares slightly, and keep cuts to a minimum. The Traffic and Parking Commission chose the latter, with the proposal now on its way to the City Council for consideration.

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While we understand that any fare hike hits low-income public transit riders particularly hard, let’s not forget that the Beeline — even with a 200% rise in the cost to ride — remains a bargain compared with virtually all other forms of public transit in the area.

Glendale can no longer afford to prop up a money-losing venture for the sake of a few, especially when so many other public transit options exist for commuters and residents.

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