Coming To America: LA Metro’s Model Of Extreme Capital Consumption

LA Metro’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget was $7.2 billion. Of this, only $284.5 million was covered by passenger fares. Another $96.8 million was covered by advertising and other revenues. The remaining $6.8 billion was covered by five different sales taxes, diesel and gas taxes, highway tolls, and various grants and bonds.

In other words, 94 percent of LA Metro’s budget was funded via forced philanthropy. On top of that, the coronavirus turned out to be a great boon…

The recent $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act included $1.6 billion for LA Metro. This is on top of the $861.9 million grant LA Metro received under the CARES Act. So what are LA Metro’s current plans to get a handle on its finances?

In February, LA Metro staff provided an update on the agency’s Fareless System Initiative (FSI). The leading FSI concept involves the rollout of a fareless pilot program in 2022 that would provide free rides for low-income riders and K-12 students.

According to LA Metro staff, approximately 70 percent of existing riders could potentially qualify for the pilot program. One of the stated benefits is an increase to transit ridership.

Clearly, LA Metro doesn’t intend to make up the fare loss on volume. But it does have other ideas to fund it…

Staff, for instance, are closely ogling a federal bill before Congress known as the Freedom to Move Act that would establish a $5 billion competitive grant program for local agencies that want to go fareless.

Free transportation under the guise of Freedom to Move – like free money, free drugs, free food, and free education – realizes the spirit of the moment.  Somehow, free – as in fareless – is now one and the same as freedom.

In truth, free metro rides has nothing to do with freedom. Moreover, politicians can call these bills whatever they want. But they cannot conquer the fact that there’s no such thing as a free lunch…

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