Nothing-Left-To-Cut California Budget Includes Free Bus to Dodgers Games


Celebrate the start of baseball season with a subsidized bus ride from a place that's never worth visiting (Los Angeles' Union Station) to a place that is rarely worth visiting (Dodger Stadium). 

Dodger Stadium Express was rolled out during the flush, booming economy of 2010 with funding from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC): 

A grant of $300,000 awarded to Metro by the MSRC was made in support of clean fuel transit service to link Union Station to Dodger Stadium. The MSRC awards funding within the South Coast Air Basin from a portion of the vehicle registration fee set aside for mobile source projects that result in emission reductions. 

"This is great news for the region and terrific news for Dodger fans," said Ara Najarian, Chair of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors. "With the vast network of rail and buses serving Union Station, this just makes perfect sense to provide this link to encourage the use of public transit as an alternative to driving." 

The grant funding will be used to offset the cost of fares for passengers possessing a Dodger ticket. 

Last year's $300,000 investment allowed 122,000 Dodger fans to get a ride to the stadium. That comes to $2.46 per ride. Regular bus fare in Los Angeles is $1.50. 

After a success like that, it's no wonder the Dodger Express is coming back in 2011. In fact, the devastating and severe cuts necessary to close the state's $25 billion deficit have made it that much more important that the grant be increased to $450,000:  

"Following last year's successful launch, Metro is pleased to offer fans the Dodger Stadium Express bus service which provides a direct link to Dodger Stadium from a vast network of buses and trains coming into Union Station," said County Supervisor and Metro Board Chairman Don Knabe.

Since Gov. Jerry Brown introduced his austerity budget back in January, it's been fashionable to note that low-income people are hardest hit. In this case that may actually be true. The Dodger Express will be providing state-funded service to people who can afford an average price of $44.68 for a single-game ticket, $5 for a Dodger Dog, and $6 to $8 for a beer. Here's some more blathering about the state's starvation diet: 

"The crisis is real," says Jack Pitney of Claremont McKenna College. "If Brown doesn't get something on the ballot, he has to go the route of austerity with an all-cuts budget." Apart from the Republicans, Brown is boxed in by the unions and Democrats who did now want to see him to giving in to G.O.P. demands. Meanwhile, the calendar is moving rapidly. "Brown sold himself as the old wiley guy, a pragmatic fixer," says Republican consultant Rob Stutzman. "Now the pressure is on." Without the special election, it is growing more likely that deeper cuts will have to be made — perhaps piercing straight to the bone. And it may be a bipartisan crisis. "An all-cuts budget is going to be unpopular," says Pitney. "I don't see an upside for Republicans who say they want smaller government." 

Other ways you're paying for the national pastime: