Common Council OKs bus fare increase

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

From a story on
MADISON, Wis. -- In a rare move, the Madison Common Council voted early Wednesday morning to increase Madison Metro bus fares by 50 cents instead of the 25-cent hike approved by a city commission last month.

The meeting went into early-morning hours after a public hearing in which dozens of local residents spoke out, many opposed to any increase in bus fares.

The council subsequently voted 11-8 in favor of raising bus fares, which brings the total to $2. Metro bus fares are currently $1.50.

The 50-cent increase is 25 cents more than approved by the city's Transit and Parking Commission in January. The council's vote lines up with Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's proposed increase, which the commission had rejected twice.

The mayor called the TPC's approval of a 25-cent increase the worst of both worlds, because it charges more money while still forcing cuts to service.

"My concern with the TPC is they did not act responsibly," Cieslewicz said. "At first, they refused to raise fares at all. That left them with a $700,000 deficit, which they refused to close."

The mayor said the increase in fares is needed to avoid cuts in service.

"I think increasing bus fares is the right thing to do. It's never easy," Cieslewicz said. "We haven't increased cash fares in nine years. Over that time, since 2000, the cost of fuel for our buses has gone up 230 percent."

A small group gathered outside the Common Council meeting on Tuesday night to protest a rate increase.

"A strong Metro is one which is affordable and convenient," said Susan De Vos, a Metro rider.

The Madison Peak Oil Group opposed the increase.