All I Want is a Cheap Ride
Monday, January 03, 2005, at 03:03PM
Starting next Monday I'll be going from downtown to USC and back three days a week. This semester it was two, and I used the bus most of the time. Since I was adding a day, and on one of those days I would most likely be making multiple trips (I have a six hour break between classes), I thought I'd look into getting a bus pass. Metro offers a reduced fare pass for college students, and even though it would be a few more dollars than I'd be putting into transit otherwise I figured the convenience might be worth it. Looking at the application, though, this assumption might need to be rethought...
A regular fare monthly pass is $52. That cost seems higher than the utility I would get out of it. The pass page says you'd save money after 41 boardings. Assuming 3 days of transit use per week I'd probably make 24-32 boardings each month. Obviously the fact that I don't usually make any transfers keeps that number pretty low. At full price 24-32 boardings would be $30 - $40. If you bought tokens ($1.10 each), that would go down to $26.40 - $35.20. So at that point the $30 pass becomes a good buy.
But the requirements of the application (PDF) seem to be a major hassle. The way a reduced fare works is that you fill out an application to get an ID card. Once you have the card which marks you eligible for a certain discount fare, you buy monthly stickers to go on the card. For the application you need a picture and then documentation of your enrollment. That seems reasonable enough, but the language in the application sort of scares me. Things like needing to get documentation stamped by the registrar's office or having a school official's original signature on a letter giving your enrollment status. That kind of stuff is a pain to get.
And needing to leave 20 business days for getting your card means I wouldn't get it until part-way into February, at which point I'd need to turn around and get another application in for the card that's valid from March 31 - October 31. This all sounds like work, and I don't like work.