March 2020. The month where everything changed from one day to another. It was the beginning of the pandemic and many companies and organizations were hit hard. LA Metro was one of the organizations that was affected. They started to see a decline in riders because many people were scared of COVID-19, quarantine had just started and schools were remote. I stopped using the bus after UCLA became remote, not only because we were in quarantine, but because I was nervous about how Metro would go about sanitizing, keeping the buses clean and limiting capacity. But to ensure riders’ safety, Metro decided to make a few changes to help everyone have a safe trip.
To ensure riders’ and drivers’ safety, Metro asked that riders board using the back doors rather than the front to enforce social distancing. This took effect on March 23, 2020, and at that time there weren’t many people using the bus, so there was enough space to social distance. However, they allowed those who needed to use the ramp to go through the front. They also provided masks for riders who needed them. I saw many people use them, which was and is helpful because accidents happen and sometimes masks can break or get lost.
However, the fareless system has officially come to an end for everyone. On January 10, 2022, Metro made it official to have everyone board only from the front to start fare collection. On their website, they explain that they could no longer keep the fareless system because they counted on riders’ fares to keep their system running. For almost two years, Metro kept running on this system helping many people get to their destination. But they just can’t keep doing this, so even though fares are back they have lots of discounts to help riders get settled back into the system. There are three different discounts:
- The first discount is for everyone. They are offering six months of half price passes, which are already implemented on their website. The regular 30 day pass is usually 100 dollars, but is now 50 dollars. Keep in mind that these discounts will come to an end on July 20, 2022.
- The second discount is the Low Income Fare Is Easy (LIFE) pass. Anyone interested can apply on their website.
- The third discount if the GoPass Program. The GoPass is for students from K-12 and community college. The program allows students to not worry about the fare and help them to get to their destination. However, not all schools are eligible for this program so be sure to check it out to see if your school is eligible.
Aside from offering discounted fares, Metro has introduced Metro Micro, a small vehicle that offers trips within several zones in Los Angeles for one dollar. If you think about it it’s kind of like an Uber or Lyft, just cheaper and limited to certain destinations.
Francisco J. Valencia, college student and transit enthusiast, decided to try it out by making his first trip from North Hollywood to Burbank. He said it was a “perfect ride share service, that was reliable and cheap.” He finished off by stating that he will keep using this service and recommends it to everyone who has the chance to try it out.
For now, there are only eight service zones in Los Angeles county, but Metro has plans on expanding their service in the future. One of their zones includes UCLA/Westwood which can be helpful for many students to get around the city. I’ll be sure to try it out once schools go back to in-person classes. If you’re interested in knowing what the other seven service zones are go to their website and if you sign up you’ll be eligible for two free rides.
It’s a bummer that there will be no more free rides, but we should see it as a way to help our community! Don’t miss out on these great discounts and make sure to stay safe as always!