Proposed bus fare increases anger riders
June 1, 2010
In a move to compensate for a 16-percent reduction in state funding, San Luis Obispo city staff is asking for higher bus fares, an end to free transfers from one bus to another and a reduction in trolley services in the city.
The proposed transit reductions are scheduled to be considered at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
“I don’t see why they have to raise the prices,” said Charles White, a regular bus rider when told of the proposal fare hikes. “It will devastate me because I am on a fixed income.”
San Luis Obispo transportation officials will ask the City Council to set a date for a hearing to discuss “transit fare modifications.” The proposed increases, which could go into effect on Sept 1, will raise the cost of a trip across town by as much as a 100 percent.
Staffers are requesting permission to raise standard fares from $1.25 to $1.50 and disabled fares from 60 cents to 75 cents, said John Webster, public works transit manager. Riders, who currently use free transfer passes from bus to bus, would have to pay the full rate for each transfer or purchase a $3 day pass, more than doubling the cost of riding the bus if the fare modifications are approved.
In addition, the downtown trolley, which currently runs Thursday through Sunday, would only operate on Thursdays.
Standard fares were increased from $1 to $1.25 and disabled and senior fares from 50 cents to 60 cents last September.
“In bad economic times, why increase fares?” Bus rider Clarence Troche asked. “Why not try to increase ridership. Basically they are discouraging people from riding the bus.”
Another bone of contention is why the city purchased a double-decker bus at a cost of more than $300,000 during a time of budget deficits.
The 14 foot high bus does not fit under railroad bridges and tree lined roads, such as Mill Street and Highland Drive. Because of this, the bus is unable to cover all but a portion of one existing route.
In addition, public works officials are planning to reconstruct the opening of the maintenance building to accommodate the two-story vehicle. Additional costs, such as hiring an outside firm to wash the bus because it will not fit in the city’s wash station, are also expected.
“They can’t manage their money and they lay it on us,” Troche said. “Less people will ride the bus and it will be less money for them.”