Bad news for local public transit riders: Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) has announced that it will raise basic fares from $2.25 to $2.50 effective Tuesday, September 1. In addition to this:
* Transfers will be eliminated, meaning riders will have to pay $2.50 for each ride, regardless of whether they have just switched to a connecting bus or light rail train.
* The reduced rate of $1.10 for Central City Zone fares, and for Shuttle Fares (The Neighborhood Ride), will be eliminated.
* Discount fares will be increased from $1.10 to $1.25.
* The Lifetime Pass, which allows free fare for passengers age 75 and over, will be eliminated – although passengers who currently have a Lifetime Pass can continue to use the Pass after September 1 indefinitely. All other seniors will be required to pay the discount rate of $1.25.
A few things will not change: Prices for the Basic Daily Pass ($6.00), the Discount Daily Pass ($3.00), the Basic Monthly Pass ($100.00), the Senior/Disabled Monthly Sticker ($50.00), and the Student Monthly Sticker ($50.00), will all stay the same.
Also, effective Sunday, September 6, RT will begin a number of service changes – reducing the frequency of a few routes, discontinuing weekend service on others, and discontinuing a few routes entirely. (Check www.sacrt.com for information about the routes affected.) About the only good news is that, contrary to RT’s earlier announcements that this might be a possibility, light rail service after 9:00 p.m. will not be reduced or eliminated.
What’s the reason for the fare increases and service cutbacks? RT has stated that they are needed to close a $9 million deficit in its budget for Fiscal Year 2010. For the past three years, successive state budgets have adversely impacted local transit agencies; and declining local sales tax revenues caused by the current recession have made RT’s current budget problems worse.
Unfortunately, fare increases and the elimination of transfers and Lifetime Passes will adversely affect many in our community who depend on transit. This is particularly true of those who can least afford higher fares, such as the poor, students, and seniors and disabled persons on fixed incomes.
Want to get involved in issues affecting Sacramento’s public transit? RT has regular Board meetings open to the public, at their headquarters at 1400 29th Street (at 29th and N). The next one is scheduled for Monday, August 24 at 6:00 p.m. Next month, the RT Board meets on Monday, September 14, also at 6:00 p.m. For more information, go to RT’s website, or call (916) 556-0456.