Plan proposes hefty bus fare hike

Plan proposes hefty bus fare hike

CREATED Mar 27, 2012

Reporter: Stephani Ruiz

TUSCON (KGUN9-TV) - City council members delayed a discussion Tuesday to hear the Transit Task Force's proposal to raise bus fares.

"The transit task force looked at numerous options," Interim Deputy Director of Transportation George Caria said.

The proposal is to raise one-way fares by 25 cents and boost low-income riders from 50 to 85 cents each way.

That might not sound like much- but a low-income rider that takes the bus to and from work five days a week will pay $8.50 instead of $5, adding an extra $14 to the monthly budget.

Caria says there are tough decisions ahead.

"We're at the pleasure of the mayor and council. We've given facts to the Transit Task Force and we'll inform the mayor and council of that to come up with any number of scenarios that they feel necessary," Caria said.

The city says it falls $3 million short without the fare hike- blaming $1.5 million in added fuel costs. The rest of the shortfall comes from $2 million the city must pony up to trigger $24 million in federal funding.

Without the fare increase, the city may have to cut services, which SunTran says it doesn't want to have to do.

Normally we're told soaring bus fares cause the system to lose riders, but that has not been the case this past year. That's likely because of high gas prices and the bad economy.

Fares have been raised three times in the past four years. The Transit Task Force is looking at a five year plan to hopefully space out future increases.