The Connect Transit board is expected to delay a 25-cent fare increase that's scheduled for Jan. 1.
Board Chairman Mike McCurdy said at Saturday's meeting of the Connect To The Future (CTTF) working group that the board intends to delay the fare hike from $1 to $1.25. A new date was not specified. He told working group members and community stakeholders that it would not make sense to enact a fare increase while awaiting a report from CTTF.
The increase was initially planned to take effect in June, but was further delayed until Oct. 1, and again until the start of the year. Connect Transit’s Board of Trustees has not yet voted to delay it again. The transit board’s next meeting is Dec. 5.
Deb Presley chairs the CTTF subcommittee focused on sustainable funding. Presley told CTTF members Saturday meeting that her committee arranged its recommendations into a list of priorities. She identified high priority as things the group wants to see happen no matter what, versus lower priority things that could take more study after the working group’s report is finalized.
Top priorities included a fare cap structure based on what is affordable and an annual review of that structure to identify what works now versus what will work in the future, Presley said. She noted the previously recommended $1.25 universal fare for all riders, including Connect Mobility users who currently pay higher fares. The subcommittee’s calculations show the $1.25 fare would amount to an additional $612,000 in revenue per year.
The working group was created in April partly in response to criticism of planned fare increases, service changes, and the transit system's leadership. Five months in, Connect Transit’s CTTF working group is approaching a consensus on recommendations to address some of those challenges.
Saturday’s near four-hour discussion ended with members on the same page about ridership and access, land use and development, economic partnerships, and sustainable funding.
Only six of 13 members were present at the meeting: Presley, Steven Kossman, Dylan Hile-Brand, Linda Foster, Kimberly Klepec, and Julie Hile. Without a quorum, the group was unable to take any official action, instead using the time for discussion. The facilitator, Beth Osborne with Smart Growth America, asked committees with member representation to present information that changed, was added, or updated since CTTF's October meeting.
As a result of the proposed $1.25 fare increase, Presley said the increased revenue should assist in funding a paratransit program. The group recommended Connect Transit look at purchasing smaller vans to serve individuals with disabilities.
Presley said the sustainable funding group worked closely with the ridership and access subcommittee in preparing its report.
Ridership and Access
Kossman chairs the ridership and access subcommittee and said his group was in complete agreement with the work of Presley’s group.
Kossman reiterated sentiments from previous working group meetings that riding with Connect Transit needs to be affordable and easily accessible for priority populations, including seniors, low-income riders, and people with disabilities. Members agreed and expressed interest in increasing choice riders.
Members supported a strategy of attracting more choice riders by overserving the transit-dependent population with frequent service, shelters, and on-board amenities.
Julie Hile serves as a trustee on the Connect Transit board and also is a member of CTTF. She heads the economic partnerships subcommittee.
Hile said her group has received a lot of good news from local businesses since the last CTTF meeting. She said local business owners have “a lively interest” in supporting the system in a variety of ways that are yet to be determined.
There were no members from the land use and development subcommittee present.
Since there was no quorum, the CTTF members were unable to vote on how to proceed with the report.
Facilitator Beth Osborne asked members to identify what style they would like the report to be in. Present members decided to have Osborne and Smart Growth America compile the report but include attachments from each subcommittee’s separate reports. Osborne and her team will seek responses from the members who were not present.
- Draft report due Dec. 2
- CTTF meets next Dec. 14
- Proposal due to Connect Transit in January
Members not in attendance were Judy Buchanan, Tim Bassett, Marty Eckert, Josh Barnett, Katy Killian, De Urban, and Jose Antonio Patino.
Editor’s note: As a matter of disclosure, Connect Transit Board Chairman Mike McCurdy is also WGLT’s program director.
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