Ten Reasons for a Metro Fare Increase
February 23, 2009 2:49 PM
On Tuesday evening the City Council will vote on a fare increase for Madison Metro. The issue has been debated back and forth since I proposed the new fares in October, so let me just offer ten quick reasons why I believe the Council should vote to increase fares:
1. With a fare increase we can add service. Without it we'll have to cut service.
2. We have not had a fare increase of any kind since 2005 and no cash fare increase since 2000.
3. Had cash fares just kept pace with general inflation, they would be at $2.00.
4. Even with the recent dip in fuel prices, our Metro fuel costs have gone up 230% since 2000.
5. The fare increase allows us to increase security at transfer points, where we have had some issues in the last few years. Everyone deserves to be safe riding Metro.
6. The adopted budget provides assistance to homeless and certain other low-income riders by doubling the Transit for Jobs program, which provides them with free bus passes. The Council and I would not have doubled this program but for the fare increase.
7. The fare increase would allow us to create a new program for low income riders. Over 3,000 passes that currently cost $48 a month would be just $27.50 for low income riders. Without a fare increase low income riders will continue to pay $48.
8. The fare increase will allow us to start building back Metro's cash reserve, helping us stave off another round of increases in the near future. Without the fare increase Metro's reserves will remain too thin.
9. The fare increase will allow us to put together a discounted pass program for small businesses, so that they can provide free bus passes to their employees just as large business can do now. It will also allow us to increase our marketing efforts, so that more small businesses take advantage of this program.
10. The increase in taxpayer support has grown much faster than fares. Since the last cash fare increase in 2000, levy support for Metro has increased 70%. Even with the $2.00 rate structure in place, cash fares will increase less than half that amount.
Finally, while I appreciate the TPC's attempt at compromise by proposing an increase to $1.75, this leaves a $210,000 budget deficit that could only be met by cutting service. In other words, riders would experience the worst of both worlds: a fare increase AND a cut in service. Moreover, we could not afford to implement the new low-income rider program that would benefit 400 people a month.