Burbank may cut longstanding Metro subsidy for seniors

Burbank officials have proposed cutting a long-standing subsidy that gets Burbank seniors on the Metro bus for $7 a month.

The transit access pass actually costs users $75 for 30 days, but the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority charges just $14 for seniors over the age of 62.

Burbank for years has further reduced the cost for seniors to $7 by tapping Proposition A funds to the tune of roughly $35,000 a year.

Come July 1, that practice is slated to an end.

“We’re looking at the transportation program as a whole,” said David Kriske, deputy city planner for transportation, adding that the program is operating under a structural deficit. “We want to make sure we preserve other programs, like the senior and disabled transit, and the fixed-route services.”

Mel Klugman, 70, lines up once a month to purchase his 30-day pass for $7, something he’s been doing for 5 years.

The 33-year Burbank resident feels the proposed rate hike is drastic and foresees riders struggling to afford it. A price hike to $10 would be more reasonable, he said.

“It seems like such a minor cost,” Klugman said.

By cutting the program, the city will save roughly $35,000 a year in Proposition A funds, which are generated through a countywide half-cent sales tax.

The program is budgeted for $125,000 a year, but because of a reduction of participants in recent years, it actually costs about $70,000, Kriske said. Half of that comes back to the city from the $7 fees.

Kriske said that while roughly 300 riders will be impacted by the increased fees, the MTA senior discount from $75 to $14 — which is more than 80% off — is substantial.

“There’s already a pretty healthy discount,” Kriske said.

The senior bus pass discount isn’t the only transportation program in Burbank on the chopping block. Officials also proposed cutting Got Wheels! — a summer bus system for youth that costs $61,000 a year — amid low ridership.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is slated for Tuesday.


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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