Bus fare hike? We're still not convinced

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

From an editorial in The Capital Times:

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is not an enemy of buses or public transportation.

The mayor's proposal to raise bus fares to $2 per ride is a response to genuine budgetary challenges. And we reject the notion that this veteran environmental activist -- who has long been an advocate for alternative modes of transportation -- has somehow abandoned his principles during the course of the protracted struggle to balance the books at Madison Metro.

But we are not ready to embrace the $2 fare.

The mayor has worked hard to make the case for this increase. He has done his best with charts and statistics. And we have been sympathetic to his presentations. There is no question that he believes that only a fare hike will prevent serious cuts in services.

But it strikes us that this is a managerial response to a creative challenge.

We continue to be more influenced by those who oppose the fare hike, who are currently arguing:

-- Public transit is a basic service that benefits everyone, not just bus riders.

-- Higher fares will hurt low-income people the most, and the proposed low-income monthly pass will be available for only a maximum of 400 people.

-- There will be no significant improvements in service from a further fare increase -- much of it will go into reserves, at a time when many people need the bus more than ever.

-- Service cuts will not be necessary because we stop the fare hikes.

-- Metro says that raising fares will raise more money, but it won't if it decreases ridership, as fare increases have done historically. We need to make our bus system stronger, not weaker.

-- Getting people out of cars and on the bus is one of the best things a city can do to be cleaner.
Comments about the fare hike can be sent to the mayor via mayor@cityofmaidosn.com and to alders via allalders@cityofmadison.com.


Ed Blume said...

Can the funds for projects proposed by the mayor come from savings from lower fuel needs of hybrid buses rather than a fare increase?

See the article below on hybrid buses.