Bus rides to cost seniors, disabled

Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Sara and John Wacker take a bus to go everywhere - a prospect that's about to get costlier for the two seniors and others with free or discounted bus fares.

They used to drive their old car around. But after John, 75, had a stroke in December, the bus has become the couple's main means of transportation. They take a bus to do grocery shopping, see doctors or just for fun.

"John always lets me take the window seat," said Sara Wacker, 71. "He knows I like to look out of the window."

The couple can take free rides because they are seniors. But starting in August, each of them will have to pay $12 a month.

To increase revenues, the city will raise bus fees. Seniors like the Wackers and people of disabilities, who currently take the bus for free, will have to buy a monthly pass for $12.

The youth monthly pass will increase from $10.50 to $12. Bus tokens will increase from $21 to $24 for a roll of 20 tickets.

At its Monday meeting, the Assembly passed an ordinance unanimously authorizing the increase. City Manager Rod Swope had suggested increasing the bus fare to tackle the city's budget shortfall.

Assembly member Marc Wheeler said, "Although the bus fare increase might be a problem for some people, it is still reduced."

Capital Transit manager John Kern said he had contacted the city's seniors and Americans with Disabilities Act Committee to make sure that they were aware of the fare increase.

The Wackers said they didn't know about the bus fare increase until Monday. They were in town to eat at McDonald's. "We were stuck at home the whole day," Sara Wacker said. "It's nice to come out for a ride."

She said the increase will be a financial burden for them.

"We live on fixed income," she said. "Our monthly check from Social Security goes to the house, TV, garbage, groceries and medication. We don't have much left. It's going to be hard for us."

• I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.

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