AC Transit Set to Raise Fees In Response to Cuts, Deficit

Photo: AC Transit plans to introduce fare increases July 1.
Emma Lantos/Staff
AC Transit plans to introduce fare increases July 1.





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In order to offset a $57 million deficit, AC Transit will be raising daily fares for all users starting July 1.

Adult riders will face a 25-cent fare increase from $1.75 to $2, while children, senior and disabled riders will have to pay an additional 15 cents, increasing their fare from 85 cents to $1.

Riders who purchase multi-ticket packages will also experience increased fares. The price of the 10-Ride package will change from $8.50 to $10.

Transbay fares will also increase from $1.70 to $2.

"We tried as best we could to keep fares as low as possible while gaining some kind of revenue," AC Transit spokesperson Clarence Johnson said. "We really don't have another way to raise money because we rely so heavily on subsidies."

The fare increases are part of a larger plan to prevent large service cuts and layoffs, officials said.

Though there are a number of contributing factors that have led to the revenue shortfall, Johnson said the lack of state funding is the primary reason behind the service cuts and rising fees.

Since 2000, AC Transit has lost a total of more than $100 million in state funding, he said.

"Over the next five years, we have been notified we will not be getting any funding," he said.

Anthony Matthews, senior consultant for Assemblymember and Budget Committee Chair Noreen Evans, said that transit is one of the many services that are facing deep cuts from the state.

"We eliminated all budget for transit in February. We're not in a revenue-rich environment," he said. "We don't have a budget revision passed yet, and unless (transit funding) is somehow part of the revision process, that will not be changing for the 2009-10 year."

Greg Harper, AC Transit director of Ward 2, said there are other problems that have contributed to the agency's deficit, such as spiking operational costs due to high inflation.

Harper added that the agency's pension plan could be reformed to help balance the deficit.

"A major contributing factor is the pension plan," he said. "When the stock market crashed, that pension plan was devalued a lot, and we have to make up for that at AC Transit and that's costing us a lot of money."

Because the increased revenue from fee hikes will only trim about $5.7 million from the agency's $57 million deficit, the agency is counting on other actions to cut costs and increase revenue-including plans to cut routes in the near future.

Agency officials held a series of forums in May aimed at deciding which routes would be affected by service cuts, which are projected to save the agency about $20 million.

The agency also expects to see an increase in revenue from Measure VV-a November 2008 proposition that will increase parcel tax by $4 starting on July 1 to keep service costs low for students and seniors.

Nevertheless, regular users said the fare increases will be a hard hit.

Lowell Moorcroft, an Oakland resident, said he already pays too much for his 31-day pass, the price of which will increase from $70 to $80.

"(AC Transit) is my only form of transportation other than walking," he said.

Tags: ALAMEDA COUNTY BUDGET


Contact Jocelyn Ma at [email protected]



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