Tuesday, the finance committee of the RTA Board of Trustees met to discuss the proposed 2016 budget, which includes a fare increase and service cuts.
Though RTA continues to say that no final decision on a fare hike will be made until public hearings are held — "likely in February or March of 2016" — and the Board gets to further deliberate, the increase seems all but certain.
In current proposals, the standard fare would increase by 25 cents, from $2.25 to $2.50. Paratransit fare would increase from $2.25 to $3.50.
"The only alternative,"
read an RTA press release this week (italics added), "would be to further reduce needed services. Some service reductions are likely in 2016."
The slight service reductions will more than likely involve under-performing bus routes. The goal, said RTA Media liaison Linda Krecic, is to affect as few people as possible. She stressed that rail service — which has seen increased ridership for two consecutive years — would not be cut.
Krecic said that there were three or four people who made public comment at Tuesday's meeting, and more will be welcomed at the board's meeting on Dec. 15.
RTA says that it has not raised fares in seven years, during which time costs of living have increased (including an increase in downtown parking rates by 32 percent, they claim,) and that the state's investment in public transit has decreased by $10 million.
Still, most local users of RTA are poor, and noted in a recent survey
that their primary public transit concern was affordability.
“I already thought that $2.25 was really steep,” said one respondent. “I’m just taken aback that it’s going up.
The chair of RTA's finance committee is Euclid Mayor Bill Cervenik
. He was unavailable for comment Wednesday morning.