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Cap Metro Could Raise Rates

Courtesy of Capitol Metropolitan Transit Authority

You may have to dig out another quarter to board a bus in Austin.

Capital Metro Transit Authority met today to hear a proposal that could bump up fares over the next two years.

Though the transit board won’t approve anything until September, the possible move to raise rates by 25% could net as much as $2.2 million annually. 

Billy Hamilton, Cap Metro’s interim chief financial officer, says that the review of fares –which was spearheaded by Texas transportation consultant Nancy Edmonson – was to make fare structures more straightforward while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

Edmonson, who has worked with public transit authorities in both Dallas and Houston, suggested across-the-board raises in fares for 2015 and could also require University of Texas students, faculty and staff to pay a fare on Cap Metro Express buses. If adopted, the proposal could also include a simplification for so-called two zone riders, those riders that commute to Austin from surrounding areas on Metro Rail.

“If you look at all the major transit companies in the country, we have the lowest fares, sort of, hands down,” Hamilton says. “You know, we’re trying to be responsible here so a little bit of improvement would be good. And [Nancy Edmondson] recommends a 25 percent increase. And really what we’re talking about is going from a dollar to a dollar and a quarter for basic bus service in 2015.”

Austin had the cheapest fares of all Texas cities surveyed in the report – including Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston – well below the Texas average fare of $1.65.  

Hamilton says Cap Metro will have until September to decide on the possible rate hike, when the board finalizes their 2014 budget.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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