Modesto considers bus fare increase

03/09/2014 6:56 PM

03/09/2014 10:09 PM

It soon could cost as much as a quarter more to ride the bus.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider raising passenger fares for all Modesto Area Express and Modesto Area Dial-a-Ride services, which would be the transit system’s first increases since 2008. The rate increases would start July 6 if the council approves them.

The proposal includes raising the fares to ride a MAX bus from $1.25 to $1.50 for adults; from $1 to $1.25 for students; from 60 cents to 75 cents for seniors and the disabled; and from $2.50 to $3 for those who use dial-a-ride. The cost for monthly passes and ticket books also would increase.

Transit Manager Fred Cavanah said the fare increases are needed to ensure MAX continues to receive state funding. He said 19.2 percent of MAX’s revenues come from fares, about 56 percent from the state’s Transit Development Act and the rest from the federal government.

He said the TDA requires transit systems that serve cities with at least 50,000 people in counties with at least 500,000 residents to collect 20 percent of their revenues through passenger fares. The population counts are based on the most recent census. Stanislaus County topped 500,000 residents as of the 2010 census.

“We’ve tried to keep (fares) at the same level as long as we could because of the recession,” Cavanah said. “We know people are short on cash. But we have to raise fares or lose state funding, and we can’t afford that.”

He said Modesto needs to come into compliance by its 2015-16 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2015. If the fare increases are approved, they are expected to provide 20.5 percent of the transit system’s revenue by the 2015-16 fiscal year.

They also are expected to bring in an additional $478,480 in revenue by 2015-16. Modesto’s transit system had a nearly $14.4 million budget and transported 3.78 million passengers in the 2012-13 fiscal year, which ended June 30.

Cavanah said Modesto last raised fares in 2008. He said those increases were prompted by a spike in fuel prices and ranged from increasing the adult bus fare from $1 to $1.25, to increasing the cost of using dial-a-ride from $2 to $2.50.

The City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Tenth Street Place basement chambers, 1010 10th St.

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