160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Raising fares undermines the very purpose of mass transit in L.A. – keeping commuters out of their cars. The MTA needs to find ways to make its operations more efficient, not to make its services more costly. And that undoubtedly means shelving outrageously costly pipe dreams like the subway to the sea while concentrating on cost-effective measures to make our lives better now. THE Metropolitan Transportation Authority is looking at a $104 million budget deficit next year, but that’s no reason to go ahead with plans to radically increase bus and subway fares. The sad truth about public transit in Los Angeles is that most of those who use it do so only because they have no other choice. Southern California is too spread out, and transit options are too limited, for trains or buses to be a very efficient means of transportation for many. The one thing the MTA has going for it is that it is, relatively speaking, cheap. But if the MTA goes ahead with plans to increase individual fares by 60 percent, or quintuple the price of a senior pass, it will only scare away many of its passengers. For some, transit will simply become unaffordable; for others, it will provide too little incentive not to drive one’s own car. When the Riverside Transit Agency, for example, raised its rates by 25 percent in 2005, the number of its passengers dropped 11 percent. A comparable drop in L.A. would wreak havoc on our already congested roads and freeways.