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Beeline rate hike causes buzz

Officials say the fare increase is necessary to keep the transit service in operation.

August 31, 2011|By Brittany Levine brittany.levine@latimes.com

Glendale Beeline bus riders will see fares increase over the next two years, along with possible service adjustments, as city officials work to stem significant operating losses.

The first bump for Beeline fares to 75 cents from a quarter will kick in Oct. 1, and a final increase to $1.25 will take place July 1, 2013. Dial-A-Ride customers who currently pay $1 will be charged $1.25 and then $1.50 on the same timeline, according to the new rate structure approved by the City Council Tuesday on a 3 to 2 vote.

Senior rates and their qualifying ages will also be increased. But multi-day bus passes will be sold at discounted prices.

Council members said the price hike was necessary to keep the service from running out of operating cash.

“Unless we institute these fare increases, the Beeline system as we know it and all the benefits it gives to the community will vanish,” said Councilman Ara Najarian.

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The fare increases follow drops in funding used to run the system, which mostly comes from a portion of sales taxes dedicated to transportation. Sales tax revenues have dwindled with the recession, throwing transportation costs out of line with available cash coming in, according to a city report.

About 10 people spoke out against the changes Tuesday night, saying the fare hikes were an unfair burden on bus riders at a time when they rely more heavily on inexpensive public transit.

“During this current crisis, we’ve seen a significant number of people that rely on family vehicles decrease and the number of students relying on the Beeline increase significantly,” said Cuauhtemoc Avila, director of educational services at Glendale Unified School District.

The higher fares, he added, could encourage students to skip school.

Resident Bob Getz said he believed the Beeline rate should be more than a quarter, but thought the planned increases were too high.

“I realize the Beeline needs additional revenues to continue operating effectively, but I seriously question the wisdom of increasing the fare by 400% over the next two years,” Getz said. “The Beeline should be trying to attract new riders, not chase them away.”

The council also approved reducing service on Route 3 between Glendale Community College and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but held off on eliminating Route 13 along Glenoaks Canyon until officials could bring back other options.

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