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Light Rail Fare Collections Fall as Ridership Declines

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Fare collection for Metro light rail, like the system's ridership, is trending in the wrong direction.

The system brought in an estimated $547,294 in March, says Metro Light Rail. That's slightly higher than the $528,000 it collected in February (more days in the month, remember), but still much lower than in January, its first full month of operation.

Since opening, the system has been plagued by technical glitches at the fare boxes that resulted in an estimated $235,000 loss in fares in February. The problems weren't fixed in March, obviously. However, bad equipment might not be the only thing causing the decline.

Daily ridership of the light rail trains fell from February to March, so the rise in fare collection may seem like a good thing at first glance. The bad news becomes clearer when you pull out the calculator:

The system pulled in about 58 cents per rider in February, but in March that amount fell to 56 cents.

Possibly making the situation worse, it seems more people are relying on the still-unreliable station platform fare boxes to purchase rail passes, rather than buying them elsewhere. Fareboxes accounted for 88 percent of light rail revenue in January; in March, it was 92 percent.

That could be another incentive to fix the fareboxes ASAP. 

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