Politics & Government

Pierce Transit proposes fare increases

Pierce Transit wants the public to weigh in on several fare increases, the first of their kind in a decade.
Pierce Transit wants the public to weigh in on several fare increases, the first of their kind in a decade. Staff file

Pierce Transit wants the public to weigh in on several fare increases, the first of their kind in a decade.

Riders are invited to speak about the transit agency’s proposed $153.5 million budget for 2016, which includes increases to youth, senior and disabled and paratransit shuttle fares. Public hearings are set for Nov. 9.

The last time the transit agency imposed hikes on those fares was March 2006. If approved, they would go into effect next March.

Standard adult and day-pass fares would remain the same because they were already increased within the last five years, Pierce Transit spokeswoman Rebecca Japhet said. Adult fares are currently $2.

The proposal calls for 25-cent increases for youth, senior and disabled fares, from 75 cents to $1. Shuttle fares would increase slightly more, jumping from 75 cents to $1.25.

Those groups will also see higher costs for monthly passes: $36 for youth, senior and disabled passes in addition to $45 for a shuttle monthly pass — each up from $27.

Japhet said the agency has worked hard to keep fares low in the decade since they were last increased, but keeping them flat now isn’t feasible.

“The cost of providing transit services continues to rise,” she said.

Japhet noted that the increase in paratransit shuttle fares is still a fraction of the actual cost to the agency (about $53 per ride) for providing those services to the elderly and mobility-impaired.

“At a $1.25, it would still be a good value,” Japhet said, adding that federal law allows Pierce Transit to charge up to $4 for shuttle fares. “We’re not even going close to that.”

The additional revenue from the increase in fares will go into the agency’s operating budget.

Japhet said Pierce Transit is aiming to boost service hours by 30,000 next year. That would build upon service restoration of about 14,000 in 2015, according to the agency’s preliminary budget.

The goal is to boost these fixed-route services by September 2016, Japhet said.

In the meantime, the agency will conduct an analysis of its services.

The last comprehensive study was done in 2009, amid the recession and before voters rejected two ballot measures aimed at increasing taxes. The resulting revenue pitfalls led to drastic reductions in service countywide.

“Unfortunately, because of the recession and declining revenues, the timing was not right to implement a comprehensive service update and expansion,” Japhet said. “Now the timing is right to take a comprehensive look at all Pierce Transit’s routes to make sure we are serving the public where there is the greatest need.”

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682

kari.plog@thenewstribune.com

@KariPlog

IF YOU GO

What: Public hearings on Pierce Transit’s proposed budget and fare increases

When: Monday, Nov. 9 at 4 p.m.

Where: Pierce Transit Training Center, Rainier Conference Room, 3720 96th St. S.W. in Lakewood

Visit Pierce Transit’s website for more information.

PROPOSED FARE INCREASES

Youth

Current: 75 cents

Proposed: $1

Senior and disabled

Current: 75 cents

Proposed: $1

Shuttle

Current: 75 cents

Proposed: $1.25

Youth, senior and disabled monthly pass

Current: $27

Proposed: $36

Shuttle monthly pass

Current: $27

Proposed: $45

  Comments