Beginning September 2020, the Fareless System Initiative (FSI) Task Force embarked on an intensive process of studying and identifying facts, challenges and opportunities related to eliminating fares on Metro buses and trains.
The FSI Task Force has collected internal and external feedback through fact-finding and coordination to:
- Evaluate internal processes related to ridership projections, data collection, fare collection, financial considerations, funding opportunities, cost savings and potential labor impacts
- Assess the overall impact to the customer experience, including security, operational capacity and readiness
- Evaluate connections with other agency-wide initiatives
- Assess how a fareless system could support equity in LA County
- Convene internal working groups with members of Metro’s senior leadership team and designated staff to evaluate findings
Review fareless systems around the world
The FSI Task Force also engaged in extensive external stakeholder coordination, including:
- Conducting a countywide survey where over 46,000 responses were received – 86% of Metro riders surveyed support free transit
- Convening an ad hoc committee to collect direct feedback and insight from the county’s 26 municipal operators that share Metro’s fare collection system, as well as Access (paratransit) Services and Metrolink, that also serve LA County
- Providing updates to regional partners, stakeholders, Metro’s Faith Leaders Roundtable, and advisory sub-committees
While the Fareless System Initiative study is underway, a leading concept has emerged – an 18 month fareless pilot program that would provide free rides on Metro buses and rail service for low-income riders starting in January 2022 and K-12 students starting in August 2022. The pilot would be set to end on June 30, 2023.
Metro is accepting public comment from March to April 2021 on the overall Fareless System Initiative and the 18-month pilot recommendation through a series of public outreach meetings to external stakeholder groups. Staff will conclude and publish the final Fareless System Initiative Study report by May 2021. The Board of Directors will consider the initiative in May 2021.