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RT to raise prices by 20%

This topic contains 11 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  Aggies49 2 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #177002

    EGL Admin
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    If you use Regional Transit, get ready to pay as much as 20% more starting this summer according to a report in the Sac Bee. I wonder if this will have any impact on E Tran and their fares.

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article56092425.html

    BY TONY BIZJAK
    tbizjak@sacbee.com
    Sacramento Regional Transit is proposing to raise bus and light rail fares by as much as 20 percent this summer, saying increases are needed to pull the agency out of the red.

    The agency has struggled financially for nearly a decade as ridership stagnated in the recession amid service cuts. RT reports it has lost money in each of the last two years, forcing it to dip into its reserves. The transit district has launched several cost-reduction and revenue-enhancement steps in the last year. Despite those, the agency forecasts it will face operating deficits annually over the next five years unless it raises rates.

    Bank lenders recently increased the agency’s borrowing rates, and put the agency on notice that it faces a potential borrowing covenant violation.

    RT board members are scheduled to discuss a complex set of fare changes, including a few reductions and new lower fare types, on Monday at 6 p.m. at RT headquarters at 29th and N streets in midtown Sacramento. A final transit board decision on fare changes is expected to take place March 14. New rates would take effect on July 1.

    Agency officials say they hope to achieve a fare increase of 20 percent overall across a variety of ticket and pass types.

    Under the proposal, the single bus fare as well as the single ride fare on light rail would go up from $2.50 to $3. Discount bus fares would increase from $1.25 to $1.50.

    The regular daily pass would rise from $6 to $7.50. The discount daily pass would go from $3 to $3.75.

    Monthly passes, now $100, would increase to $120. Senior monthly passes would go from $50 to $70. Fares for Sacramento State University students would go from $1.25 to $1.50.

    RT’s monthly pass for Paratransit riders would be eliminated, and Paratransit single ride fares would increase.

    In an effort to reduce the financial impacts on riders, RT is proposing testing out a lower fare option for riders who take short trips during off-peak hours that start and finish in the Central City area. Those fares are expected to be in the $1 to $1.50 range. Riders would have a one-hour time limit to ride buses or trains.

    The agency also proposes to re-institute transfers for riders who use RT’s new Connect Cards, saving them the cost of using a second bus.

    The agency also will discuss creating a new time-based fare through its mobile phone app. The time-based fare, as proposed, would cost $3 for the first 90 minutes of bus or rail riding, then $1 for each additional hour of riding.

    RT last raised fares in 2009. The RT board voted several months ago to begin instituting fare increases every two years.

    Agency officials say they want to make a bigger push to reduce fare evasion on trains. The agency’s inspectors current check 10 percent of riders to see if they have tickets or passes. The agency wants to increase that to 20 percent.

    The proposed increases are being challenged by some community members. Pam Haney of the Wellspring Women’s Center and a transit advocate complained the the fare increases are too big and unfair to poorer people and disabled riders who rely on transit.

    “Fare increases need to happen some time, but a 20 percent increase is significant, and the elimination of the Paratransit monthly pass is huge,” Haney said. “That is going to all but eliminate some people’s ability to use public transportation. This is going to dramatically decrease the quality of life for some people who rely on RT.”

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article56092425.html#storylink=cpy

  • #291753

    Bainc
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    Seems like bad timing. A one way fare would now be $3.00 and $6.00 round trip plus $2 to park at CRC. Gas prices have dropped considerably and vehicles continue to get better gas mileage. They’ll drive away the choice commuters and leave LR trains and buses to be used by the elderly, disabled, and degenerates only.

    Based on current gas prices and my vehicles MPG it’s under $3/day in fuel. Or I can pay $8.00 per day and still drive a considerable distance to CRC. What would every person with the option do? DRIVE!

  • #291750

    gearshark23
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    Here is an idea.

    Maybe you shouldn’t have built that stupid extension to CRC and saved that money…..

    E-tran, will probably not be effected, I’m seeing more and more people with the E-tran passes that you have to put in the machine. Since I have an RDO, and use a state vehicle every now and then, (Also, my department only sales RT) it would make since for me just to use the daily passes from RT. I pay 18 bucks for 24 of them. So that’s 12 days of taking the bus.

    If the price goes up, I may have to pay for the E-tran pass and then have me department reimburse me or find someone who can get me a E-tran pass from their department.

  • #291745

    EGL Admin
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    Problem is that they don’t have make enough money as it is. They are already heavily subsidized. It’s a no win situation. Raise rates to make more money and lose customers or keep rates the same and lose money.

    I agree on it being a waste of money. I knew some in the city want light rail to come here and I think that is a colossal waste of money. If they come to Elk Grove I would imagine that would add 2-4 more stops on the line? How much more time will that add to a trip to downtown?

  • #291744

    DivotMaker
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    A 40% increase on senior monthly passes, makes perfect sense.

  • #291754

    Aggies49
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    One thing I found interesting was that the current fare enforcement is 10% (which i think is an overstatement) and they want to up it to 20%. I think RT loses a lot of money from fare evaders. This is sizable increase for a subpar service. Eliminating monthly para transit passes is sure to anger those in the disabled community as well.
    I hope it doesn’t affect ETran fares but I would think it might lead ETran officials to look for a fare increase too.

  • #291749

    kindrlindr
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    As I drive in the morning to get my son to school we pass several empty buses……maybe instead of raising prices, they should cut some routes or times. It is not cost effective to run empty buses.

  • #291746

    EGL Admin
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    In Elk Grove, the fares only account for 25% of the cost of E Tran. The rest is subsidized by grants or the city.

  • #291748

    joy
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    How do they really know how many people are riding the trains if they only verify that people have tickets 10% of the time? Raising it to 20% still isn’t much. It seems to me that the people causing problems on the trains would be more likely to also be those who do not pay. Wouldn’t dealing with unticketed riders potentially solve a couple of problems they are having? I think that the only thing that would piss me off more than having to ride a train with someone who was bothering or scaring me would be to also know that I paid and they did not.

  • #291747

    EGL Admin
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    @joy 123381 wrote:

    How do they really know how many people are riding the trains if they only verify that people have tickets 10% of the time? Raising it to 20% still isn’t much. It seems to me that the people causing problems on the trains would be more likely to also be those who do not pay. Wouldn’t dealing with unticketed riders potentially solve a couple of problems they are having? I think that the only thing that would piss me off more than having to ride a train with someone who was bothering or scaring me would be to also know that I paid and they did not.

    I agree. If someone is getting it for free, that would piss me off as well. I would think it’s a pretty good guess that the % of troublemakers who don’t pay is very high. Maybe stricter enforcement of who gets on in the first place would eliminate a lot of the problems. Maybe then you don’t need security on the train as much as you need it at the pickup locations.

  • #291751

    gearshark23
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    E-tran needs to cut the bus line to Franchise Tax Board in Rancho. When I worked out there, I took it once. I believe they have 4 in the morning 4 in the afternoon. When I was on it, there were MAYBE 15 people on it. FTB has free parking, utilize it.

  • #291755

    Aggies49
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    Looks like they are backing off:

    Sacramento Regional Transit’s plan to raise bus and light rail fares by 20 percent appears to have died only days after it was proposed.

    A majority of RT board members said at a Monday night meeting they could not support a level of rate hikes that one community member called “blackhearted.” They told staff to look for ways to improve the agency’s shaky financial situation without leaning so heavily on riders.

    Board members were reacting to a staff proposal, aired last week, for hikes in July that would have affected all riders, including students, the elderly, the disabled and people on fixed incomes. The proposed one-way single ticket hike – from $2.50 to $3 – would have resulted in some of the highest transit fares in the country.

    In a presentation to the board, RT staff pointed out that the agency has not raised fares since 2009, and said the district needs to catch up with rising operations costs. The agency has had to dip into reserves to balance its budget the last two years, and is facing projected deficits in each of the next five years.

    After listening to community members describe the hardships the increases would cause, RT board members said the agency needs to come up with other options.

    “To hammer a catch-up fare increase all at one time is fairly unconscionable,” said board member Patrick Hume, an Elk Grove city councilman. “I can’t support doing that.”

    Several board members agreed the agency likely will have to raise fares, among other financial steps, this year. Don Nottoli said a 20 percent fare increase would prompt many poorer riders to simply stop riding, having the unwanted effect of reducing RT’s revenues.

    “Charging more to fewer riders, that can be a dead end too,” county Supervisor Nottoli said. “We just shoot ourselves in the foot.”

    Board member Steve Hansen, a Sacramento city councilman, suggested the agency consider raising rates 5 percent in July, then possibly another 5 percent next January.

    Hansen pointed out that the Sacramento Transportation Authority is considering putting a measure on the November ballot that likely would raise the county sales tax by a half-cent for 30 years to finance a variety of transportation improvements in Sacramento, including providing new money for RT.

    “I think we should pause any other (fare) increases depending on whether that measure passes,” Hansen said. “If it doesn’t, we have a very serious set of questions to answer.”

    RT staff members said they will come up with a new set of lesser fare increases and present them to the public at a series of five workshops around the county, beginning in mid-February, then bring a new proposal back to the RT board in March.

    RT has historically provided a series of discounted fares and passes to low-income and disabled people. Advocates said those lower fares are critical to allowing many people to get around town for shopping, doctors’ visits, and recreation.

    “I’m not talking about the frivolous ‘let’s go to a Tupperware party’; I’m talking about the necessities of life,” said Kathleen Berman of the California Council of the Blind.

    An emotional Genelle Smith of the Wellspring Women’s Center in Oak Park, told the board to rethink its proposals.

    “You have options; so many people don’t,” she said.

    The RT bus and rail agency has been on a downward financial spiral on-and-off since the recession hit in 2007. A series of service cuts and fare increases in 2009 eroded ridership, which dropped another 2.3 percent in 2015.

    Partly as a result, RT’s fare box revenues now represent only 21 percent of the cost of providing the service. The rest of the money comes from local, state and federal transportation programs and grants. The agency risks losing state grant money, however, if it doesn’t raise its fare box revenue percentage to 23 percent.

    The agency is in talks about increasing the number of fare checkers on light rail trains. Sacramento Bee calculations based on the most recent RT monthly fare evasion estimate in December suggest there are more than 8,000 instances of fare evasion a month on the light rail system.

    In addition to catching more fare evaders, RT officials have been looking into ways the agency can raise revenues other ways besides increasing fares, and have been looking for new ways to cut costs. Board member Hume touched on that issue at the Monday meeting, challenging RT staff officials to look harder at why its operating costs went up 28 percent in the last five years, and why it has been losing riders.

    “We can blame it on the economy, but unemployment is down, and people are going back to work,” Hume said. “If you don’t know why people are leaving, you aren’t fixing your system.”

    Several RT directors said the agency should push to make real headway this year on a long-stated RT goal to establish a new fare system that is based on how far each passenger travels. Board member Roberta McGlashan, a Sacramento County supervisor, said the agency could attract more riders if it offers cheaper fares for shorter trips.

    “We’d have many riders for short distance rides if there was a distance-based fare,” she said. “I think that would be the most fair system. There is a big difference between riding one or two stops and the entire length of the system.”

    Several board members said the situation calls into question the need for more discussion at RT about balancing the agency’s two primary roles – offering a lifeline service for the poor and others who do not own cars, and providing a good enough service to attract “choice” riders who will only take transit if it is clean, efficient and is cost-competitive with driving.

    Hansen called that RT’s “existential quandary. “What is our mission? We haven’t had that conversation.”

    The agency has been taking heat as well recently from the business sector. Early last year, a group of downtown business leaders challenged the agency to improve light rail security, and the cleanliness of stations and trains, before the new downtown sports and entertainment arena opens this fall.

    Some of those same business leaders last week issued a policy statement – directed at Sacramento mayoral candidates –saying the next mayor should appoint four business people to the RT board instead of four City Council members, which is now the case. The city has four seats on the 11-person RT board.

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article56626053.html#storylink=cpy

  • #291752

    gearshark23
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    RT has too many buses. Cut some buses, some of the issue will be resolved.

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