Bus fares are likely to go up

Emily Jo Cureton, The Triplicate

Services cuts also possible in the fall

High gas prices and dwindling sales tax collections are driving local bus fares up by 25 cents, while service reductions could hit home this fall.

At a meeting last week transit officials tentatively put the brakes on a plan to scrap bus service to Hiouchi and Gasquet, but considered eliminating connections to Klamath Glen.

"That's up in the air for right now," said Redwood Coast Transit Authority Manager Mark Wall on Monday. "We'll have to decide on priorities."

The RCTA plans to coordinate with the Yurok Tribe about meeting service needs in Klamath, Wall said.

The local transit system faces a $163,000 budget deficit. The

proposal for a balanced budget would raise $20,000 through increased

fares and save $137,000 through spending reductions, both on management

and services.

At a meeting last week, the RCTA Board of Directors, (made up of

elected leaders from the Crescent City Council and Del Norte County

Board of Supervisors), considered changing the rules about who can use

Dial-A-Ride services and when.

Eliminating same-day Dial-A-Ride service would save $3,400 per year.

Reservations made at least 24 hours in advance would still be available

for a $1.50 standard fare, as would on-call return trip service.

Crescent City senior and Dial-A-Ride patron Elisabeth Burrows weighed in at the meeting:

"The most important thing is the doctor's appointment... One should

call at least two days ahead for the important things," she said.

"Same-day pick-up should be for emergencies only ... I thank you for

still having the service."

Under one savings proposal, the general public would be ineligible

for door-to-door rides, available on demand and mostly utilized by

seniors and disabled people as it is.

Since fixed routes expanded four-fold in Crescent City several years

ago, fewer members of the general public are using Dial-A-Ride, Wall

said at the meeting.

But the idea of making any group of people ineligible for a

particular service wasn't well-received by the Board of Directors and is

unlikely to make the final cut list, said Wall. His management contract

will also take a 10 percent pay cut next fiscal year.

Subsidizing taxi fares for Dial-a-Ride passengers might also glean some savings, say if only one passenger makes a reservation.

Dial-A-Ride policies, along with other proposed service reductions,

will be the subject of a public hearing scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 9

at the Flynn Center, 981 H St., in Crescent City.

Besides stops in Klamath Glen, other cuts proposed include closing

the urban system on more holidays and starting some urban Crescent City

routes later in the morning and/or closing them earlier in the evening.

The RCTA board is likely to approve a budget after the public hearing

Aug. 9. Fare and service changes would take effect by September, Wall

said.

Reach Emily Jo Cureton at ecureton@triplicate.com .

14029684
The Del Norte Triplicate
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