But fares account for a tiny part of the agency’s revenue stream – just $279 million of more than $3 billion in the current fiscal year – and the long-term cost of such a hike could be catastrophic to ridership. Indeed, the agency gets nearly two-thirds of its revenue from sales taxes. Increasing costs for consumers means a revenue bump for Metro – not to mention even more incentive for the public to look for cheaper commuting alternatives. Right now, a Metro day pass costs $3, less than a gallon of gas, and is a pretty good deal. But at $5 in July and $8 by 2009, which is the proposal, a day pass isn’t much of a savings, if any at all. Is this the future the agency board really wants for L.A.? Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has proposed a much more modest fare increase, as well as other revenue-gathering suggestions. That’s part of the answer, but it’s just the beginning. The real solution is for California to make a substantial investment in practical public-transportation projects. And not just in overpriced Westside subways. Freeways will always be a part of California’s landscape. But they do not have the ability to serve as the backbone of the state’s transportation system throughout the 21st century. And until elected officials and policymakers understand that, they will continue to go the wrong way.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SOUTHERN California sits at a figurative crossroads for public transportation. Gas prices are soaring, a traffic-weary populace is clamoring for alternatives to the daily commutes, and the state has billions of transportation dollars to spend. It’s the perfect time for elected officials to set a sound agenda for public-transportation projects over the next two decades. So why are policy leaders running off in the other direction? Instead of blazing the way toward innovative ways of moving people around, elected officials from the governor down to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board seem intent on placing barriers to a transportation revolution. On Thursday, the Metro board will consider a fare increase over the next couple of years so steep that it is sure to drive down ridership. Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – the self-professed green governor – has proposed stealing $1.3 billion from a fund for public transportation. He is focusing on fixing freeways, which, while important, is not the answer to the state’s transportation crisis. Nor is it very green. Metro officials are legitimately worried about the expected gap of $1.8 billion between revenues and costs. Even while investing in new buses, the agency was barred by a court consent decree from raising fares for more than a decade.