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Tell Cap Metro What You Think About Fare Hikes

Capital Metro bus in downtown Austin
Photo by KUT News
Capital Metro wants to raise bus fares to balance its budget.

Capital Metro is holding another public hearing tonight on a proposal to increase the price of taking public transit. The hikes are intended to help Cap Metro balance its FY 2011 budget. Most of the agency's operating revenue comes from local sales tax. Cap Metro says that's an unreliable source of income because of fluctuations in consumer spending.

KUT's Mose Buchele reportsthis morning that the most contentious fare hike proposals affect vulnerable members of the rider base.

“Right now seniors and persons with disabilities ride bus and rail services at no costs, we would start charging them a reduced rate at 50 cents per ride or a 31 days pass would cost 15 dollars,” said [Cap Metro spokesperson Misty] Whited.

You can read the full chart of fare increases here and compare with current fares here. The increases are scheduled to take effect in January.

The fare proposals come in the wake of a "Sunset Review" of Cap Metro earlier this year, in which a state committee criticized the public transit agency for financial mismanagement, among other things.

KUT's Matt Largey reportedearlier this month that Cap Metro says it is getting better, and earning some cautious encouragement from one of its most vocal critics.

“As those reforms are implemented, there’s going to be some heartache from time to time, because change is going to be hard,” said State Senator Kirk Watson, who wrote the legislation that started the Cap Metro review process. “But I think those reforms are going to be necessary for Capital Metro to have the kind of credibility that we taxpayers deserve.”

Tonight's public meeting is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Milwood Public Library in northwest Austin.  There's another meeting on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m at the Ruiz Library.

Cap Metro is also hosting two online public hearings, one on Wednesday, October 20 at noon, and another on Thursday, October 21 at 6 p.m.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.