GRTC proposes fare increase

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - GRTC wants to raise the cost of a bus ride for the first time in 17 years. The plan is to raise the rate from a $1.25 to $1.50 per trip. It's being called a necessary step.

It's a question of arithmetic for GRTC riders like Kenneth Jones.

"Adding up a year's worth of rides, that's putting you at maybe a thousand dollars a year or better," said Jones.

The math may not be exact, but the truth is a 25 cent per ride fare increase will make a difference for riders.

"Raising fares is always a last resort," said GRTC CEO John Lewis.

Lewis says other tactics have been tried to close the $5-million gap in GRTC's budget. Routes have been eliminated; a hiring freeze has been in place for the last year, but costs have steadily risen.

"Every good and service has increased its cost over the last 20 years. Inflation has finally caught up to us, and we just cannot continue with the current fares of $1.25," Lewis said.

In addition to rising costs, the transit company is receiving less in subsidies from state and local governments that make up a large part of its revenue.

It all adds up to a bigger burden for bus riders. The fare increase isn't the only change in the works-- GRTC has also proposed ending bus service at 10 p.m. instead of 2 a.m. This is worrisome to some riders.

"Especially when you have people that have jobs starting at 11:00, and if they were to cut the time back to 10, it's going to be very hectic on them," Jones said.

Changes to routes and fares require changes to local laws- so the final decision rests with city council and county governments.

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