Monday, September 10, 2012

Fare Increase Proposed for February 2013

The Community Transit Board of Directors has proposed a fare increase that would take effect on Feb. 1, 2013. The proposal would raise fares by 25 cents on local bus service, 50 cents on south county commuter bus service and 75 cents on north/east county commuter bus service (Routes 421, 422, 424, 425 and 821).

DART paratransit fares would go up 25 cents and vanpool fares would increase 10-15 percent based on the vehicle.

The fare increase is intended to keep revenues in line with inflation; in other words to pay for existing service not new service. Local and DART fares were last increased in June 2010; commuter and vanpool fares were last increased in October 2008.

As a service agency, Community Transit must bring in as much revenue as it spends to operate service. In recent years the agency was spending more than it brought in as sales tax revenues took a nosedive. The result was two major service reductions totaling 37 percent of bus service and 206 employee layoffs.

To help prevent the agency from landing in the same predicament, a Six-Year Transit Development Plan approved in early 2011 called for regular fare increases every two years. This first fare increase was to have been implemented this fall, but CEO Joyce Eleanor chose to push back the proposal to Feb. 2013 to provide some relief to riders who have endured so many cuts.

Still, the fare increases are an important revenue tool to keep the agency afloat. In 2011, fares paid for 18.5 percent of the cost of operating the agency's service. If the proposal is approved, that rate would rise to 21 percent in 2013. In other words, even with the fare increase about 79 percent of the cost of each bus trip (on average - some trips cost more than others) are paid for by sales taxes and other revenue.

Finally, while the agency has no near-term plans to add bus service, there will be 30 commuter trips added in Feb. 2013 thanks to a federal CMAQ (Congestion Management and Air Quality) grant. Even the 20 percent local match for that grant is paid for - by a small new pot of transit money authorized by the state legislature this year.

Here's how you can comment on the fare proposal.

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