Transit agencies hate raising fares. It hurts the mission of providing affordable transportation to as many people as possible. However, sometimes it’s necessary to balance the budget and maintain service.
How long will it be before COTA follows GCRTA’s lead? A rumor was posted in April that said COTA may raise fares in Summer, 2009, but it was made clear that this is only a rumor/speculation. Would anyone be surprised though? COTA hasn’t raised fares since January, 2006, when the price of gas was roughly $2.25 per gallon. If the cost of fuel nearly doubling in two and a half years has hurt your budget, imagine what it does to a huge fleet of vehicles running for 16 hours a day at 3 miles per gallon.
How many people would quit riding if their monthly local pass were $50 a month instead of $45? Historically, transit agencies lose about three to four percent of riders for every 10% increase in the fare, but I think the ridership loss might be much lower now that gas is so expensive. I ride Metra every day. They increased fares in February and are still setting record ridership numbers. They could double the cost of my monthly pass to $180 and it would still be a bargain.
I would argue that a fare increase could be exactly what is needed. It’s basic economics. If the demand for a good is greater than the supply, the price is too low. An increase could help thin out some of the overcrowding on buses, raise some money to offset diesel prices, and allow COTA to continue with the service expansion outlined in the long-range plan. I think this is the time when most people would rather have more service than inexpensive, limited, and overcrowded service. And if the people are willing to pay for better transit, I say give it to them.
RTA could raise fares by $.50 and cut services
Posted by Sarah Hollander July 01, 2008 11:47AM
Categories: Breaking News, Traffic
Bus and rapid trips could cost up to 50 cents more as early as this fall.
A Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority committee has recommended looking into adding a fuel surcharge as early as October to cover rising costs and dropping revenues.
The committee also suggested a 3 percent cut in service and a 2.5 percent cut in payroll next year.
“We’re going to have to take some probably drastic action from what I can see at this time,” said Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough, chairman of RTA’s finance committee.
If RTA makes no changes, expenses would outpace revenue by more than $20 million in 2009, according to the authority’s projections.
The timing couldn’t be worse, committee member and Euclid Mayor Bill Cervenik said. With the price of gas skyrocketing, more people are looking to public transportation. But services are getting harder and harder to provide, he said.
RTA expects to pay $8.4 million more for diesel fuel this year compared with last. And the authority expects Cuyahoga County sales tax revenue, its biggest source of income, to increase only slightly, if at all.
Lakewood resident and frequent bus rider Mark Madan said he’s fed up. “When are you going to stop raping this city?” he asked the committee. If he had to choose, he said, he’d rather see higher fares instead of more service cuts. “If they have to raise the fares, fine, but keep the buses on the streets!”
Dora McKeever, 85, said elderly and disabled passengers already have a tough time riding crowded buses and waiting for long periods in bad weather.
RTA last made a round a systemwide service cuts in December. And the last systemwide fare increase kicked in over two phases- the first in 2006 and the second this January.
A 50 cent surcharge would bring the regular one-way fare to $2.25.
Committee members said they will continue to lobby the state for more money for public transportation. But in the meantime, they need to start thinking about creating a realistic 2009 budget.
Public hearings will be scheduled for later this summer.