Members of the Bus Riders Union protested in the middle of a Metro board meeting Thursday. While the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors addressed a separate issue, protesters interrupted, demanding to be heard, even though the board promised to address fare hikes later in the day.
“The board for the last four months has basically lied to us, saying they were going to hold a public hearing on the fare increase,” Esperanza Martinez, the protesters’ lead organizer, said. “They crossed the public, they crossed bus riders and instead had a sham of a meeting.”
Metro Spokesman Marc Littman called the demonstrators out of order. Outside the meeting, he maintained that the fare increase that takes effect July 1 is reasonable.
“Our basic fare will go from a $1.25 to $1.50. That’s still among the lowest of any major transit property in the United States," Littman said. "New York, Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia and others charge $2.00 to $2.25 or more. Our customers will still only be paying 28 percent of what we need to operate the buses and trains. The rest is subsidized.”
Littman said fare hikes would raise $24 million dollars toward closing a $250 million deficit. After protesters began to demand a public hearing, Metro board members continued their meeting in closed session.