By Marcus Camacho
As if dealing with finances wasn’t stressful enough, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) raised their bus fare prices last week, making it more difficult for college students to stay within their budget.
This will not affect or bother students that own a car or hitch rides from friends and family members, but for students who take the bus, the changes in the Metro fare are a bad thing.
The Metro raised the bus fare by 25 cents, bringing the total fare to $1.75 per person, with a two-hour transfer. The price of a college student’s 30-day bus pass now jumps from $35 to $43.
The problem with prices being raised is that instead of spending $3 on a bus fare to school and back, students now have to spend $3.50 to make the round trip.
Some students might say to stop being cheap and pay the fare. What they don’t understand though is that the 25 cent increase is going to add up.
For example, last semester I was enrolled in five classes, so I would spend about $60 a month on bus fares alone.
If I had five classes now, I would be spending $70 a month. That may not sound like a lot, but I take only one bus. On the other hand a student saves on a monthly basis if they take more than one bus.
Some students might think it’s a hassle to get change so then why not get a bus pass. But getting a bus pass is harder because only full-time students can apply for them. If you don’t have 12 units, then you can’t qualify for the pass.
Metro should make it easier for college students to obtain a 30-day college student bus pass.
They should take into consideration how many buses a student might have to take on a daily basis to get to school and back home.
Also, taking the bus wouldn’t be a problem if the bus gave change, but the bus requires people to have exact change.
If a student wakes up late and needs to take the bus and has no change for a five dollar bill, the student’s options are: get change and be late for class and receive a tardy, or spend the whole five dollars to pay for the ride home because a day pass costs seven dollars.
If cash is tight for students, as it is for me, there are other ways to pay for a bus fare, such as with TAP or bus tokens.
A bag of 10 tokens costs $17.50. TAP is a prepaid card that you can put money into and swipe on a machine inside the bus next to the driver.
The only positive thing that came out of the price increase is that if a student owns a TAP card, they get two hours of transfers to other Metro lines to complete a one-way trip.
For the two-hour transfers, single fare riders will need a TAP card. When the card is tapped at the first boarding, the two hour transfer period will begin and transfers will be allowed from one Metro line to another.
Students will still tap their cards at each boarding and the TAP card system will recognize if the student is within the two hour transfer window. Students are allowed to transfer unlimited number of times from one Metro bus or rail line to another within the two-hour time period.
For example, someone could transfer from the Metro Gold Line to the Metro Red Line and then to the Metro Expo Line all on a $1.75 fare. Round trips don’t qualify during the two-hour free transfer period.
When students have to pay for books and for school supplies that each class requires, the raise in bus fare prices forces low income families to find other sources of income to help pay for these finances.
Some are forced to rely heavily on their financial aid or are forced to get jobs, which can sometimes make it harder to focus in school.
The price increase may not hurt everyone or seem like a big deal, but for those who take the bus it can be stressful, and it’s a terrible move on the Metro’s part.