Residents voice pros, cons of Metro fare increase

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

From an article by Kristin Czubkowski in The Capital Times:

Nearly 100 people came to the Transit and Parking Commission meeting Monday night to give their thoughts on a proposed Madison Metro bus fare increase, with opinions ranging from outright opposition to those favoring a fare increase over service cuts.

The commission will face a decision on raising bus fares at its Dec. 9 meeting after Madison's City Council voted this month to pass on a deficit of more than $600,0000 in the Madison Metro budget. Under the model originally suggested by Metro manager Chuck Kamp, cash fares would increase 50 cents and other fares would increase proportionally, most by 20 to 30 percent.

Several attendees asked the commission to seek a new model that would help low-income riders, who could be disproportionately affected by a fare increase. Lisa Subeck of the YWCA suggested introducing a low-income fare similar to the senior and disabled cash fare, currently set at 75 cents and proposed to increase to $1. According to data from a 2000 rider survey, Subeck said more than 50 percent of Metro riders have household incomes under $25,000, with 31 percent of families using the cash-fare option having incomes below $15,000, making retaining low-income ridership a priority.

"We all love older people, we all love disabled people, but the reality is, we don't charge them a lower fare because we love them," she said. "We charge them a lower fare because we know that they can't afford the same fares as some of our higher-income folks. I'm asking that you do the same for all low-income people."

A few speakers at the meeting supported a fare increase because of the potential for the budget deficit to lead to service cuts, which they said would be more damaging to Metro than a fare increase.

Michelle Beasley, a Madison resident who moved recently from Tempe, Ariz., said a reluctance to raise fares in Tempe led to massive weekend cuts and limited service, essentially crippling their transit system.
And a letter by Dan Seball to the editor of The Capital Times:
Dear Editor: I can attest to Mike Barrett's statement that Madison's transportation woes are all of its own making.

When I lived in Madison the last time bus fare hikes and route cuts came to the table at the City Council, there was a large turnout for the public testimony period, and I can't recall a single citizen testifying in favor of such measures.

The relationship between land use and transportation has come up time and again at meetings over recent years, so there is no pleading ignorance on the part of the council or mayor. Although the City Council would spend countless hours debating an issue giving the illusion of cogitation, the prevailing vote was a rubber stamp of the city planners' desires.

An efficient city is one which prioritizes its transportation spending inverse to energy consumption: first pedestrian (mixed use and walkable communities), next bicycle (once all the rage in America, it can work), followed by mass transit, and lastly the automobile/motorcycle/moped.