By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

City staff were told to find an alternate route to Dial-A-Ride rate hikes Monday night.

The proposal, to raise rates for able-bodied adult passengers from $1.50 to $1.75 per trip coupled with a plan to reduce rates on Redwood Coast Transits fixed-route bus service, was intended to encourage customers to switch bus services.

The measure stalled, however, when the Crescent City City Council deadlocked on a 2-2 vote, forcing the proposal back to staff.

Were trying to decrease pressure (on dispatchers) by increasing the price? Councilmember Mickey Youngblood asked rhetorically before voting against the measure. I have a problem with that.

Councilmember Glen Garry suggested other ideas should be looked at before raising rates. Im just not sold on this, Garry said before he too voted against it.

Mayor C. Ray Smith and Councilmember Herb Kolodner voted for the measure. Councilmember Jack Burlake was absent.

We have some routes out there that arent paying for themselves, Smith said. Were going to have to raise rates eventually anyway.

The report and recommendations were prepared by City Planner Diane Mutchie and City Finance Director Carol Leuthold.

Both argued in favor of passing the recommendation, citing the measure would be revenue neutral in the long run, according to Leuthold, and it would be a step in the right direction for the city.

The problem, according to staff, is that people prefer the Dial-A-Ride service, which picks people up at their door and delivers them to their destination. The fixed-route buses are less accommodating, with people meeting them at pre-arranged stops and getting off at the stop near their destination. Both services charge the same fee.

The analysts are telling us that we have a Cadillac service in Crescent City and our people are spoiled and dont realize it, said Mutchie, adding that Dial-A-Ride service in other counties is usually reserved for handicapped and elderly passengers only.

According to the report, the Dial-A-Ride service here is strained by customers who could, with little inconvenience, use the fixed-route service, which has low patronage. Youngblood said he was receiving information to the contrary from the Local Transportation Commission.

Im getting these reports saying ridership is increasing (on the fixed-route) and everything is fine, said Youngblood. So, I have some questions.

The council directed staff to bring the report back at the next meeting with more information regarding how many families are using the Dial-A-Ride versus the fixed route.

Garry said he wanted to know how many children would be affected if rates were hiked for Dial-A-Ride and families were forced to switch services.