Metrolink free transfer policy unchanged (whew)

The question came up in the comments section the other day about whether it’s still possible to transfer for free from a Metrolink train to the subway or bus. The policy had been under review but its resolution was unclear.

“Nothing changes for now,” Metrolink spokesman Francisco Oaxaca said when I asked.

Metrolink reimburses 23 different transit agencies in six counties for lost revenue due to the free transfers, which obviously are a selling point for train riders. Some 56 percent of those transfers involve LA’s MTA, which raised its reimbursement rate.

Metrolink could raise ticket prices or eliminate transfers in response but, other than a 3 percent fare increase, is holding the line for now. “Ultimately we’re going to have to face that music,” Oaxaca said. But that probably won’t happen until July 2010, the start of the next fiscal year.

So that answers that. We Metrolink fans have at least another year of free transfers, which make the service both simpler and cheaper. Metrolink directors, we salute you.

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  • John Clifford

    AND, Metrorail (the subways) are going to be putting in actual turnstiles. So Metrolink (the trains) will have to change their tickets so that they will work with the new turnstiles in some manner if the transfers are to continue. Right now we’re still OK, but the times they are a’changin’.

    I have noticed that during morning rush hour they are checking Metrorail tickets at the Red Line station coming out of Union Station almost all the time (seeming from this infrequent rider).

    [We're edging into "enjoy it while it lasts" territory. -- DA]

  • shirley wofford

    Good news! Thank you for that research, David.

    [You're welcome. I'd been curious about it myself and your comment prompted me to ask. -- DA]

  • shirley wofford

    Since Metrolink is the entity that must pay the MTA to cover the free transfers — wouldn’t it be nice if, since the MTA is going to make a lot more money when the turnstiles go in, they let Metrolink off the hook a little, and nothing would change?

  • shirley wofford

    David and Mr. Clifford: I had picked up a Metrolink newsletter in June but had not had time to read it, and I just looked at it today. It looks like the 3 percent increase went into effect yesterday, August 1.

    Reading further, it states emphatically that the free transfer policy will only be continued for monthly and 10-pass holders. Those making day trips will lose their free transfers effective July 1, 2010, provided the new turnstiles are all ready.

    My question is, “What happens in July, 2010?”

    It looks like all transfer riders are going to need a TAP card which cannot even be purchased at the station. It would have to be purchased in advance at outlets where the cards are sold — like a gift card.

    I looked at an LA Times article on the TAP card, with blog comments — it appears that the TAP card has been in business since last spring, and it is driving everyone crazy. One commenter, a conference visitor, said he hoped he never had to visit LA again if he needed public transportation. A question and answer column said that cash payments are still being accepted on the buses, but after the new system is official, there will be no more one-trip paper tickets.

    The minimum amount of money that can be put on the TAP card is $5 to ride all day. Such would absolutely not be acceptable to me — I might have to go back to walking everywhere. I have left an e-mail question for Metrolink as to what happens to a senior who might just want to ride one stop from Union Station to Civic Center, etc. I will let you know if they answer my question. It might be better if I visit the Metrolink information booth next time I go to Union Station.

    [It's sounding a bit complex. Buying 10-trip tickets isn't a bad deal, and that should eliminate need for a TAP card, right? (Right?) But where we'll get such cards if we don't want 10-trip tickets is a question that one hopes will resolve itself in the next 12 months. Yes, let us know what you find out, Shirley. -- DA]