Capital Metro's budget situation is dire enough that it's already changing direction on moves that haven't even taken effect yet.
On Monday, in a specially called meeting, the transit agency's board of directors heard a proposal from staff to further increase and accelerate hikes in fare rates, which the board had already voted to increase next August. Now, due to a 5% decrease in sales tax revenue during FY 2010, staff suggest even bigger hikes, which would take effect in January 2010. Fares on regular single bus rides would still make the already-approved increase from 75 cents to $1, as would day passes from $1.50 to $2, but express bus rides, MetroRail fares, and multi-ride pass prices would be higher than originally planned (see chart). The board directed the agency to begin public outreach on the proposal but took no other action.
The board also took public feedback on staff's proposal to kill off the 'Dillo, the faux trolley cars intended to help Downtown pedestrian mobility. Staff said the formerly free 'Dillos were already lightly used, and ridership dropped further when Cap Metro began imposing a 50-cent fare. Since the 'Dillo routes duplicate other bus routes, staff recommends axing them altogether. The few members of the public who showed (the hearing was held at noon) urged either keeping the 'Dillos or merely mothballing the service and bringing it back when financial times improve. They noted that while other routes may duplicate the 'Dillo, they don't duplicate the 5-minute service of the trolleys, and that the 'Dillos are more inviting to tourists than regular buses.
Among the speakers was Thomas Butler of the Downtown Austin Alliance, who said that while the DAA would not oppose a suspension of the service, the organization definitely wanted to see a Downtown circulator service of some type in the future.
In other Cap Metro news, the agency's largest labor contractor, StarTran Inc., announced it would lay off 11 full-time and two part-time drivers due to declines in service levels and elimination of routes, but said it could probably rehire them to new positions in MetroAccess, Cap Metro's renamed service for passengers with physical disabilities.
Proposed Rate Increases
|Current Fares||Planned Increase Aug. 2010||New Proposal Jan. 2010|
|Local bus single ride||$0.75||$1.00||Same|
|Express bus single ride||$1.50||$2.00||$2.50|
|Metro Day Pass||$1.50||$2.00||Same|
|Express Bus Day Pass||$3.00||$4.00||$5.00|
|MetroRail – 1 zone||*$1.00||$1.50||$2.00|
|MetroRail – 2 zones||*$1.50||$2.00||$3.00|
|MetroRail – 3 zones||N/A||N/A||$4.00|
|MetroRail Day Pass||*$3.00||$4.00||$6.00|
Disabled/Senior Reduced Fares
|Disability Fare Card||Free||Free||$0.25|
|Local bus single ride||$0.35||$0.50||Same|
|Express bus single ride||$0.75||$1.00||$1.25|
|Local bus 31-day pass||$18.00||$25.00||$28.00|
|Local bus 7-day pass||$7.00||$8.00||Same|
|Express bus 31-day pass||$36.00||$48.00||$63.00|
|MetroRail 31-day pass||$36.00||$48.00||$75.00|
|Value Card ($15 stored value)||$12.00||Same||Same|
|MetroAccess Monthly Pass**||$22.50||$30.00||$35.00|
|MetroAccess 10-ride booklet**||$7.00||$9.00||$12.00|
|RideShare (in service area)||$45.00||$50.00||$60.00|
|RideShare (out of area)||$75.00||$85.00||$100.00|
Reduced Fare Passes
|Local bus 31-day pass||$9.00||$12.50||$14.00|
|Disabled/senior 31-day pass||Same||Same||$10.00|
*Of course, MetroRail still hasn't actually started service yet, but these are the rates that would have been in effect now.
**Riders eligible for MetroAccess ride free on Local, Express, and MetroRail.
Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.