Ticket prices at the popular carousel at the Santa Monica Pier will double for most riders beginning May 1, after the City Council decided Tuesday night that City Hall can no longer afford to subsidize the attraction.

Prices will increase from $1 per ride to $2 for those at least 15 years old, and the price for kids ages 3 to 14 will be $1 per ride. Since 2002, kids 5 and under have been allowed to ride the carousel for free and kids 6 to 14 have been charged 50 cents per ride.

The price hike is expected to net $150,000 in extra revenue annually and bring the ride out of the red.

During the fiscal year that ended last summer, it cost $262,000 to operate the carousel while ticket sales and facility rentals brought in just $158,700, a City Hall report stated.

The council also voted Tuesday to use $50,000 of the new carousel earnings to pay for the pier’s Twilight Dance Series, which had been facing a budget shortfall.

Several council members said they were uneasy about making an affordable family attraction more expensive, and representatives from several neighborhood groups blasted the carousel price increase for putting the interests of concert-going adults above the interests of young children and low-income families.

Proponents of the price hike said it was needed to keep the antique carousel self-sustaining in the long-term.

Council members Bobby Shriver and Terry O’Day voted against the increase, saying the carousel’s subsidy should be addressed during upcoming budget discussions.

The $50,000 contribution to the concert series put the Pier Restoration Corp. over its $92,000 fundraising goal, making it all but certain the PRC’s board would vote Wednesday night to hold at least seven free concerts at the pier this summer.

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