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Capital Metro Board approves system-wide fare hike

Thursday, August 28, 2008 by Austin Monitor

The Capital Metro Board on Wednesday gave final approval to increase bus fares from 50 cents to 75 cents, a hike that had been in the works for several months. The local government committee had previously approved the same proposal.


The purpose of that committee of local elected officials, Acting Board Chair Margaret Gomez said, was “to kind of check us over, to see if we were really honest and straightforward about the need for the increase.” She told reporters at Wednesday’s meeting that the rising cost of diesel fuel was a big part of the need for the fare increase.


“In order to keep our buses driving, we have to pay for the gas. We know that we can’t really cut down on the miles driven,” she said. “But we thought the 25 cent increase was appropriate. We want to continue getting people to work, and we want them to be able to depend on us to get them there.”


During a presentation on the agency’s proposed budget, staffers said that while the agency spent $11.6 million on fuel, they projected the agency would spend $25.4 million on fuel during the upcoming budget year.


In contrast to the lengthy hearing and discussion of the fare hike during the meeting of the local government committee, the final approval of the hike came with little public comment. One person, Austin Van Zant, spoke against the fare hike after it had been approved. “I think these fare increases will put more drivers out on the roads and will increase congestion,” he said. “I’ve told you before that increasing fares is the most regressive form of taxation. It hurts the working poor even more disproportionately than a sales tax increase.”


The new fares will go into effect Oct. 13. Raising the cost of a single bus ride from 50 cents to 75 cents will help the agency increase its fare revenue by 67 percent from the 2007-08 budget. The fare will increase again to $1 in Oct. 2010. Fares for some – but not all — other Capital Metro services, will increase. Staffers in the budget office estimate Capital Metro’s fare box recovery rate from its bus operations will rise to slightly more than 12 percent.


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