Valley Metro will be giving us the opportunity to voice an opinion on the proposed changes to the fare structure for bus and METRO light rail services. This is an important process which could have an effect on the new light rail system within it's first year of operation. From what I can tell, there is a lot of pressure to raise the fees because of the limited tax revenue due to current economic conditions. I find it interesting that, back in October, the proposal was to raise a one-ride local fare from the current $1.25 to $1.75. Now, just a short time later, they say "a fare increase of up to $1.00 on a one-ride local fare." Yes, "up to" can be "less than", that's just not how I see it playing out. The huge budget problem that is upon our state is something that needs to be addressed in many different ways.
One thing I find interesting is the timing of the rate increase. Most people will assume that the rate increase is due to the opening of our light rail system when, I don't believe this is the case. Back in October, Kerry Fehr-Snyder reported on AZCentral.com that "The increases, if approved, are expected to reduce ridership while increasing revenue. The proposed increases are projected to generate $76 million more in fare revenue from July 2010 through July 2013 while decreasing passenger boardings by 28 million over the same period."
One of the things that has not been studied is the effect light rail will have on Arizona ridership numbers. If successful, the system could introduce people to public transportation that had not used it in the past. Since the system is not yet operational, there is no one (in my opinion) that could give an accurate figure as to the effect. This truly will be an interesting process. Here is a copy of today's press release.
PHOENIX (Dec. 9, 2008) – Valley Metro, the regional public transit agency, is hosting public hearings to receive the public’s input on proposed changes to the fare structure that guides the price of bus service (local, regional, express and RAPID), Phoenix and East Valley Dial-a-Ride and METRO light rail service. Public hearings allow riders and interested individuals to give input on the proposed fare changes. A final recommendation will be presented to the Phoenix City Council and the Valley Metro Board of Directors in early 2009.
The last fare change occurred in December 2007, which included the elimination of transfers. Current proposed fare changes are due to a decline in sales tax revenues that fund a majority of transit service in the Valley. The agency will accept comments on the proposed Regional Fare Policy that includes a fare increase of up to $1.00 on a one-ride local fare that is currently $1.25. The new fares could be in effect in July 2009.
Comments are being accepted through January 22, 2009 in the following ways: public hearings, email, customer service phone line, and written responses mailed to Valley Metro RPTA. Details are given below.
Regional Transit Fare Policy Public Hearings
Times for all Meetings:
Open House begins at 5:30 p.m. (with the exception of the meeting on January 15)
Public Hearing presentations and public input starts at 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009
AvondaleCity Council Chambers
11465 W. Civic Center Dr.
Avondale, AZ 84323
Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009
200 E. 5th Street
Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009
Grace United MethodistChurch
2024 E. University Dr.
Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009
802 E. Vogel Ave.
Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009
Cesar Chavez Public Library
3635 W. Baseline Road
Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009*
Maricopa Association of Governments
Suite 200, Saguaro Room
302 N. 1st Ave.
*Open house begins at 12:30 p.m. and the public hearing begins at 1 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 22 , 2009
GlendaleCity Council Chambers
5850 W. Glendale Ave.
Glendale, AZ 85301
Other methods to give input on the proposed fare changes:
·Email comments to fares@ValleyMetro.org
·Customer Service will accept comments at 602-253-5000
·Written comments can be sent to:
Valley Metro RPTA
Attn: Fare Program Manager
302 N. 1st Ave. Ste. 700
To arrange disability accommodations, contact Rosalia Lopez at Valley Metro by calling 602-534-6331 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Valley Metro/RPTA is an organization of 14 local governments that provides or funds transit services to citizens in the greater Phoenix metropolitan and surrounding areas. For more information about Valley Metro public transit services, call Transit Information at (602) 253-5000; for callers with TTY (602) 261-8208; or visit the Valley Metro website at www.ValleyMetro.org.