Los Angeles DASH bus system fares set to double

Fares on the Los Angeles DASH bus system would double over the next 13 months under a plan approved Friday by the City Council.

On a 10-0 vote, the council agreed to increase fares from 25 cents to 35 cents starting Aug. 1 and to 50 cents starting July 1, 2011.

A second vote is scheduled Tuesday, when the council will be asked to approve an ordinance enacting the fare increases. The increases are part of a larger plan backed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s appointees on the Transportation Commission for cutting transit lines and boosting revenue.

As part of that plan, fares also would go up on the city’s Commuter Express system, which runs from downtown to outlying communities, such as Redondo Beach and Sylmar.

Commuter Express fares currently range from 90 cents to $3.10, depending on how far the buses travel. On July 1, 2011, fares would range from $1.50 to $4.25.

Under the city’s cutback plan, the Department of Transportation is scheduled to eliminate three DASH routes downtown and three routes that operate in Hollywood, Hyde Park and Warner Center.

The agency also would phase out three Commuter Express routes: Line 575, which travels from Simi Valley to Warner Center; Line 413, which runs from Van Nuys and North Hollywood to downtown; and Line 430, which goes from Pacific Palisades to downtown Los Angeles.

Shortly before the vote, several council members voiced dismay about a plan to eliminate the city’s charter bus program, which takes seniors and children to concerts, museums and special events for free.

Council members Ed Reyes and Janice Hahn asked transportation officials to search for money to preserve at least a part of the program. Councilman Dennis Zine said the city has no choice but to move ahead with the cuts.

“The problem is, there’s only so much money,” he said. “And we have to come to the realization that we’re going to have to make some cutbacks to every service we provide.”