“It’ll be more money, but that’s the only effect it will have on me,” said Danam with a shrug. The proposed fare increases are part of a restructuring plan approved in 2004 to help make fares more equitable, said Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell. Under the previous zone plan, passengers from areas such as Anaheim paid more for tickets to Union Station although they traveled a shorter distance than those traveling from the Antelope Valley, which is nearly 50 miles farther. To get to school at College of the Canyons, Elias Tapia, 22, finds rides with friends from his home in Burbank to save money. Sometimes he rides the train, but he said today’s fares are already out of his price range. “It’s disappointing,” Tapia said about the proposal. “It makes me mad.” About 42,222 people ride Metrolink trains each day. When gas prices soared last spring, the number of commuters hopping aboard Metrolink trains increased, but then dropped back to normal when prices at the pump fell. With an operating budget of $134.8 million, Metrolink receives about 44 percent of its money through fares and 10 percent from other sources, such as dispatching trains. The remainder – about $62 million – is subsidized through transportation taxes from the five counties the trains run through: Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles. Notices left on passengers’ seats April 3 and on Metrolink’s Web site alerted them about plans to raise fares. Tyrrell said the agency did not hold a public hearing for the proposed increases because of low turnout at previous events. However residents can still speak out about the plan during the public comment portion of Friday’s board meeting at Metrolink’s main downtown office, Tyrrell said. About 50 passengers have sent e-mails to the agency opposing the fare hikes, with some saying they’re already feeling the burden of rising gas prices to drive to the train station. A few others said they might not be able to afford to ride the Metrolink if prices increase. One person in an e-mail supported the increases. To get to his Bell Gardens home from plumbing jobs in the San Fernando Valley, Erik Omar Estrada, 28, takes the Metrolink train to Union Station and then rides two subways, which may also have fare increases this summer. Estrada said that from gasoline to public transportation, rates are going up everywhere except in his paycheck. “I seem to make less and less money as I pay more and more for transportation,” Estrada said. [email protected] (818)713-3746 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Metrolink fares could jump 10 percent – and 30 percent for long-distance passengers – over the next three years under a plan that charges passengers by the miles they travel. The Metrolink board is scheduled Friday to vote on the phased-in increases, designed to help cover rising gas and operating costs. The first increase would raise all fares at least 3.5 percent and some up to 10 percent and could take effect July 1, with similar hikes in 2008 and 2009, based on the distance traveled rather than by zone. “Cost increases are never a happy moment,” said David Solow, Metrolink’s CEO. “Metrolink has experienced increased prices in fuel, insurance, security, technology and personnel. This represents virtually every area of our business that makes it possible for us to provide safe, comfortable and convenient service to our passengers.” Areli Sotelo, 37, rides Metrolink a couple of days a week between her home in Lancaster and her housekeeping job in Sylmar. She bit her lip at the news of possible fare increases. “That means I have to pay more to go to work,” Sotelo said. “It will take my money away.” The proposal would raise the price of a monthly pass between Lancaster and Union Station – a 72-mile one-way trip – from $282.25 to $298, beginning in July. The 65-mile trip between Palmdale and Los Angeles would jump from from $277.75 to $291 a month. Lancaster resident Erik Danam says that even if the train trip costs more, it’s still better than traveling on the region’s congested freeways to his community college job in the San Fernando Valley.