Last week, UCLA Today and the UCLA Daily Bruin ran stories on our department’s plans to increase BruinGo! fares in the fall.

The cash fare per ride for BruinGo (BBB and CCB) will increase from 35 cents to 50 cents while the cost for a quarterly Flash Pass will be $33 for unlimited rides, a $3 increase from the current $30.

I’m thankful for both publications for articulating why we’re raising fares, as it wasn’t an easy decision. One reason UCLA Transportation raised fares was to achieve parity.  UCLA Transportation has been subsidizing 60-70% of the costs associated with BruinGo! and just 50% of the fares for the other transit operators serving our campus. Our director, Renee Fortier, noted, “This action will provide for the same percent subsidy for staff, faculty and student bus riders regardless of whether they live in West LA, East LA, South LA, or the Valley. Especially in today’s economic environment, each program needs to carry an equivalent portion of its own weight rather than enjoy a higher rate of subsidy than other programs.”

In other words, it wasn’t financially sustainable (or affordable) for the department to continue subsidizing BruinGo at the higher 60-70% rate.

I’m sorry it became necessary for our department to raise fares. Speaking for myself, I realize that this may be a huge burden on some of our commuters.

To better understand the department’s situation, I encourage you to read the following press release:

BruinGo Fares to Rise in Fall Quarter 2011

March 8, 2011

UCLA Transportation currently subsidizes public transit fares for Metro, Big Blue Bus (BBB), Culver CityBus (CCB), City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s (LADOT’s) Commuter Express, City of Santa Clarita Transit, and Antelope Valley Transit Authority. Effective fall 2011, UCLA Transportation will be revising the fare structure for its BruinGo transit subsidy program, in order to maintain parity with the 50% subsidy level for all of the other subsidized bus pass programs.

Currently UCLA Transportation pays half of the fare and riders pay the other half to ride on Metro Bus and Metro Rail lines, LADOT’s Commuter Express, City of Santa Clarita Transit, and Antelope Valley Transit Authority, while the BruinGo subsidy level is currently over 60%. Consequently, next fall the cash fare per ride for BruinGo (BBB and CCB) will increase from 35 cents to 50 cents while the cost for a quarterly Flash Pass will be $33 for unlimited rides, a $3 increase from the current $30. There is no fare increase planned for the other public transit fares UCLA Transportation subsidizes, which range from $54/quarter for a UCLA student TAP pass to ride Metro Buses and Metro Rail, to $465/quarter for a UCLA employee or student riding Antelope Valley Transit Authority’s commute bus Route 786.

Goal is to Achieve Parity

“Since Go Metro passes were introduced in 2005 and with each new bus pass program added thereafter, a 50% subsidy level has been in place,” said UCLA Transportation Director Renee Fortier. “This action will provide for the same percent subsidy for staff, faculty and student bus riders regardless of whether they live in West LA, East LA, South LA, or the Valley. Especially in today’s economic environment, each program needs to carry an equivalent portion of its own weight rather than enjoy a higher rate of subsidy than other programs,” said Fortier.

Because BruinGo (BBB and CCB) is the only one of UCLA Transportation’s transit programs where UCLA students, staff and faculty can ride with a subsidized fare on a per-ride basis—an option not available from the other transit service providers—it has made it more challenging to achieve that 50% subsidy level. It was anticipated that last fall’s increase in per-ride and Flash Pass fares would achieve the goal of bringing the BruinGo subsidy level in line with the 50% subsidy level target by the end of this winter quarter, but based on the costs to be charged to the campus by BBB and CCB this year that will not be the case. While a UCLA Transportation analysis in fall 2010 showed they weren’t going to meet their target, the department has deferred the increase to fall 2011.