Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

City DASH bus riders who use TAP cards, mobile apps or other electronic methods will pay cheaper fares under an ordinance approved Friday by the Los Angeles City Council.

If the discount fares are also approved by the mayor, riders who use electronic payment systems will be charged 35 cents per trip, while seniors and disabled riders would pay 15 cents. Riders who pay with cash will still need to pay the current 50 cent or 25 cent fares.

Other discount fare categories also approved today include $5 seven-day passes — an attempt to appeal to tourists — and 31-day passes that cost $9 — half of the regular amount — for K-12 students, college or vocational students and people who are disabled, seniors or on Medicare.

City DASH buses serve downtown Los Angeles and 27 other neighborhoods around the city, including Boyle Heights, Watts, Northridge, Koreatown and South Los Angeles.

City officials said at a recent Transportation Committee meeting that switching riders to electronic payment systems — such as the Metro-issued TAP cards — could help speed up bus boarding time.

City transportation officials are also hoping the discount fares will entice more people to use DASH buses. While total revenue has risen since fares were doubled to 50 cents in 2011, DASH ridership has fallen and revenues appear to have peaked, officials said.

In addition to TAP cards, DASH fares can also be paid with the city’s recently introduced LA Mobile smartphone app.

According to Los Angeles Transportation Department spokeswoman Tina Backstrom, 70 percent of DASH riders in the downtown area use cash to pay their fares, while 80 percent use cash on routes in other parts of the city.

While it is difficult to predict the impact of the cheaper fares, at worst it could mean a $2 million loss in revenue for the city, city staffers told the Transportation Committee recently.

—City News Service

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