Metrolink's board today backed off from a six percent fare hike that it had threatened to put into effect starting Jan. 1. Instead it's

going to pursue more creative options in order to try to deal with a budget gap.

The train system is hurting in this economy — just like everyone else — because ridership is down. The board is looking at a nearly $8 million shortfall for this year's budget — and they want the riders to pay up.

The system is also facing legal and safety costs stemming from the September, 2008 train collision in Chatsworth that killed 25 people.

Train riders already faced a three percent hike in fairs in August. Some members of the board sympathized with Joe Train Rider and suggested now is not the best time to double dip into pocketbooks. Ideas on how to deal with the budget gap include reductions in the frequency of train service and delays in some construction plans.

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