Capital Transit has started a 30-day public comment period on its plan to boost fares and effect changes to the VIP bus pass provided to the disabled.
The proposal was developed as part of the fiscal year 2001 operating budget, according to the city's Public Works Department.
Fares will be increased by 20 percent and will be subject to the city sales tax. Cash fares will go up by a quarter, from $1.25 to $1.50; bus tokens -- selling in packets of 20 -- will rise from $1 to $1.25; monthly passes will sell for $38, a rise of $8; and student monthly passes will go up $2 from $18.
What were ``student'' passes will now become ``youth'' passes for riders 17 and younger. Youth fares -- with the same age criterion -- will now be available for $1.
The disabled will no longer be granted the free ``VIP'' pass on their own say-so or on other criteria such as receipt of Social Security disability benefits and Medicare. They'll now need to produce a doctor's certificate of physical impairment that limits the applicant's ability to access transportation.
The fare hikes will generate additional revenues for the bus system and are meant to prevent cutbacks in service beginning July 1, according to officials.
The city currently subsidizes Capital Transit to the tune of $1.8 million a year, said City Manager Dave Palmer.
At a recent Finance Committee meeting, assembly member Frankie Pillifant objected to the proposed fare hikes, explaining that the bus system ``still tends to be a system used by passengers who have to use it.''
At Wednesday's Finance Committee meeting, Pillifant pushed the assembly to expand the bus system to half-hour service on all routes.
Pillifant proposed funding for the expansion be taken from two planned road projects -- the Lena access road extension and the West Douglas road extension, the initial planning phases of which will cost a total of $750,000.
The two projects were part of the city's preliminary capital improvement program being considered by the committee.
``We're funding sprawl,'' Pillifant said. ``Are we spending the right amount (for transit), or building sprawling projects?''
Pillifant moved to take the road expansion planning funds from the capital improvement project budget for use on Capital Transit expansion. Her motion was rebuffed by the committee's 5-3 vote.
Written public comments on the proposed Capital Transit fare hikes and changes will be taken until 4:30 p.m. June 30. Comments should be directed to Ernie Mueller, Director of Public Works, 155 South Seward St., Juneau, AK., 99801.
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