LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Southland coalition of multi-ethnic religious leaders Monday called on city officials to reject proposed fare increases over claims the move would harm the region's poorest residents.
Metro board members were scheduled to vote later this week on a package of three fare increases over the next six years.
The coalition - comprised of religious leaders led by Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez of Churches for Action, Rosa Posadas of UGE Ministries, Dr. Moohay of Presbyterian Korean Church and others - urged Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina, and other officials to reject any fare increase and to take action to reduce bus and train fares.
If passed, the rate hike could adversely impact over 500,000 bus and rail riders - with the vast majority having family incomes under $15,000 a year – according to a coalition statement.
""This is a clear-cut issue of civil and human rights. We need real leadership on this Board, especially from Mayor Eric Garcetti and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, starting today to reject these fare hikes," the statement read.
Only five MTA Board votes are needed to defeat the proposed fare increase.
"We know this hits people who the least money, the hardest," Mayor Garcetti said. "But we also have to make sure that we don't cut bus services. It's between a rock and a hard place."
Under the fare hike proposal, The current $1.50 bus fare would increase to $1.75 by September of this year, and to $2.00 by July 2017, with a proposed fare of $2.25 by July 2021.
The Seven Day Pass would increase from it's current fare of $20 to $25 in September, then to $30 and $32 over the same respective proposed dates.
The majority of people who use the Los Angeles Metro system, according to the city, earn less than $20,000 per year.
"There hasn't been a fare increase in a long time," Mayor Garcetti said. "That said, to put it all in one fell swoop, in a way that's very difficult for a family, concerns me as mayor and as an MTA board member."
Mayor Garcetti has said he has not made up his decision yet as to how he will vote.
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