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Stop the MTA's Toxic Fare Increase," connecting the latest fare hike proposals with global pollution. Here's how the BRU views it:
Los Angeles generates massive quantities of greenhouse gases & air toxins from the automobile, with 8 million cars on the road in a county of 10 million people. The only way to reduce these toxins, and save ourselves and the planet from run-away global warming is to massively restrict private automobiles and massively expand public transportation. The MTA's proposed fare increase would generate more greenhouse gases by driving people off of public transit and into their cars.
The BRU is correct on the point that our highways and land use policies need to better support mobility other than driving alone in a car. Look no further than Southwest Riverside County and the 91 Freeway between Riverside and Orange counties. Traffic congestion is a disgrace during rush hours and many weekends. However, the thesis of the BRU's argument that fare hikes causes greenhouse gases is flat out false.
The spun notion is this: If LA Metro raises its fares, LA will become more polluted because fewer riders will be able to afford the bus and will thus will switch to driving alone, which in turn causes more pollution. That argument is easily refutable and here are the simple facts.
- Local transit fares have generally gone up throughout recent history since the government began subsidizing trains and buses. There are exceptions, but inflation, artificially bloated infrastructure costs, and decreased spending power of the dollar must be factored into the situation. Remember the days when it only cost a few dimes and a nickel to ride the bus?
- LA's smog and pollution have gone down since the 1940's. LA's air quality was at very dangerous levels back then, likely as bad as many urban centers in China are today. LA still has ways to go in terms of improving air quality, but the city is much cleaner than it was back then even though fares to ride government-subsidized public transportation are higher today than a few decades ago.
- Historical stats confirm ridership is sustainable even when fares go up. Generally speaking, transit ridership for any transit agency takes a short-term hit following any fare increase. However, the BRU cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that a significant number of riders will switch to driving alone in gas-guzzling cars and remain. The Riverside Transit Agency for example had fare hikes in 2005 and 2008. RTA took a short-term dip during the recession, but ridership today is now at record high levels. Metro expects to see these ups and downs following each phase of the proposed fare changes.
- High gas prices provides an incentive to take transit and carpool. It was unthinkable at one point a few decades ago, but $4+ per gallon gas prices have led more car-loving Californians into taking public transportation and carpooling. Both forms are high occupancy vehicles which reduce greenhouse gases and traffic congestion.
Do we all see where the BRU's argument falls apart?
Lesser of the Evils: Fare Hikes or Service Cuts?
As we've mentioned during our analysis of the Omnitran's fare hikes, fiscal solutions that go beyond LA Metro's power need to be debated and considered--answers like gang crime reduction and job growth in South LA and stopping ongoing special interest pandering at the state level that drives up capital infrastructure costs beyond the market rates. By the way, rail transportation infrastructure, in of itself, is not government waste as the BRU falsely claims.
Also what the BRU did not tell its supporters is that Metro has proposed reinstating free transfers as part of the restructuring process, which would actually reduce the bus price for cash-paying riders needing to transfer. To be fair, the price of the monthly pass is one of the sharpest proposed hikes we've seen ($135 or $180 by 2020) and therefore questionable. However, Metro does have plans to work with the private sector, other public agencies, cities, and colleges to provide fare assistance and expand transit pass programs. RTA has similar programs in place. To name one, students enrolled Mount San Jacinto College can ride RTA for free with their current student ID card.
Stopping the "Toxic" Greenhouse Gas Situation
Every U.S. citizen should support a cleaner environment. Civic-minded people should want the Earth to be cleaner. That can be accomplished by supporting policies that would lead to the innovation, research and development of cleaner alternative fuels, renewable energy, and more fuel-efficient cars. In addition, both land use zoning policies and transportation infrastructure should support multiple ways to get around other than driving solo in a car.
One project that needs to move forward is the GRID hub in Long Beach, which promises to provide a clean and fast solution to haul freight that is imported and exported at the ports, thus driving out a prime source of LA's present-day pollution which is caused by diesel-running trucks.
These solutions will certainly make the Earth cleaner at minimal taxpayer risk, expand the job market, and will provide for the much-needed, long-overdue marketplace competition against the monopoly powers of Southern California Edison for electricity outside of Los Angeles and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its swing-producer grip for vehicle fuels.
The need to broadcast Real Solutions to LA's Problems
That type of ill-advised thinking is self-serving drawn up from the far-reaches of ideological La La Land. And the sad truth is thousands of good LA citizens are fooled into buying this spun way of thinking.
That's another reason why fact-based transit advocacy groups like The Transit Coalition exist.