By Chris Powers – Web Editor
The Interurban Transit Partnership’s board voted unanimously to approve fare increases for The Rapid.
Cash fares will now be $1.75 instead of $1.50. Student 10-ride cards will cost $10.50, up from $9. Monthly passes will now cost $47 instead of $40. The rates for other fares can be found on The Rapid’s website. The increases will generate an additional $428,000 per year for The Rapid.
The fare hike came after two public hearings last month, outreach to the community through social media and traditional media and a Fare Equity Analysis conducted by The Rapid. The public comments were mixed, but Rapid planner Nicolas Monoyios said that most of the negative comments were concerning lower-income individuals.
At today’s meeting, Monoyios explained that the Fare Equity Analysis followed a structure set out by the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure that any fare increases do not disproportionately burden minority and low-income riders. This analysis showed that non-minority riders will be impacted 17 percent more than minority riders and low-income riders will be impacted 22 percent more than their higher income counterparts.
Monoyios said that if the combined impact had been higher than 20 percent, the Rapid would be required to “go back to the drawing board.” The fare increases come just short of hitting that threshold.
The agency was also in contact with agencies in the Heartside area, whose budgets are already stretched thin.
“Their limited resources will now be able to afford less passes, and we recognize that concern,” Monoyios said.
To address the impact on low-income riders, Monoyios said the transit authority is looking into creating a special low income fare category. Reduced fares are available for low-income individuals in other cities around the country.
Today’s meeting was also full of Amalgamated Transit Union members and supporters, who are in the middle of a collective bargaining battle for their pensions, who spoke out during the public comment section of the meeting.
Daniel Harvey, vice president of the local ATU chapter, asked the Rapid board to consider keeping the retirement plan intact.
“Most of you have parents who grew up in an era where, when they retired from a company with a long amount of service, they were rewarded with a pension,” Harvey said. “No one wants to be 75 years old and try to figure out when their money’s going to run out.”
Board members entered a closed-door meeting to discuss the collective bargaining agreement immediately following the public session and were not available for comment.