Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Capital Metro to raise fares in January—state employees in line for fare break

December 2, 2014  

by Ann Fowler

AUSTIN – Fares for those riding Capital Metro buses and trains will increase Jan. 11, according to transit officials. For buses considered “local” like route 333, fares will increase from $1.00 per ride to $1.25. A 7-day pass that was $9.00 will cost $11.25, and a 31-day pass increases from $33.00 to $41.25.

Premium fares for buses like the Oak Hill Flyer or the South Mopac Flyer—routes 171 and 111 serving the Oak Hill area—the single fare increases from $1.50 to $1.75. A 7-day Premium pass costing $13.50 in December will be $16.75 on Jan. 11, and the 31-day Premium pass increases from $49.50 to $62.00. Premium passes can be used on all Flyer, MetroRapid and local routes.

The basic Commuter single-ride fare will be raised from $2.75 to $3.50. The $22 7-day pass increases to $27.50, while the 31-day pass jumps from $77 to $96.25. Commuter passes can be used on all Capital Metro routes.

Capital Metro officials say the new fares are still lower than in many other large Texas cities.

Occasional commuter Linda Velasquez said, “Even with the increase in the fare, it is still cheaper than driving back and forth.”

Daily commuter Janine Lyckman also believes it is cost effective for her to take the bus.

But some of the regular Oak Hill commuters say the increase is at or close to the tipping point of pushing them back into their cars.

Sylvia Myler has been taking the bus for years, but she does not believe it makes economic sense to continue riding with the latest increase. She added, “Some folks may not be able to afford it.” She is unsure whether she will continue to ride the bus once the increase takes effect. She said, “If Capital Metro increases the fare, then it should provide better services—such as better buses, seats and locations.”

Tom Thayer told the Gazette, “It makes less economic sense to take the bus with today’s gas prices, but even with $3.50 gas, it is still more expensive to take the bus if you have free parking. Now, there is wear and tear on your car and the hassle of driving during rush hour, so it is probably still worth it. However, riding my bike is essentially free, so I will be less likely to use the bus as prices rise, and I don’t have to deal with traffic jams on my bike.”

Some who ride the bus are not concerned with fare increases—they ride for free. These include employees of the city of Austin, UT, Austin Community College and Travis County. Even federal employees receive subsidies for using mass transit. The one government group lacking such benefits are state employees—and Austin has many. But these employees may eventually receive a break for using public transportation.

Sen. Kirk Watson told the Gazette, “Providing state employees a little financial encouragement to use public transportation is a common-sense approach that will reward our hardworking state employees while also relieving congestion by getting more cars off the road.”

Melissa Ayala, communications specialist with Capital Metro, said, “We estimate that a transit benefits agreement should be in place in 2016, with the potential for offering passes at a 20-30 percent discount even sooner.”

 

This is good news for the state employees who commute from Oak Hill. Linda Velasquez said, “If state workers were given a discount, I would probably ride it more often.”

Capital Metro has a MetroWorks program to allow companies, schools and government agencies the opportunity to create a transit package for employees and/or students. For more information, see http://www.capmetro.org/metroworks/.

Oak Hill commuters say the transit agency needs to improve service to and from the Oak Hill area to increase ridership. Lyckman said, “They need to work on making public transportation a convenience so that more riders will continue to use their services. At this time, it is not a real convenience for me as [moving the park and ride from ACC to the other side of the ‘Y’] has added an additional 15 minutes to my commute home. They have increased our fares with no added benefit to their riders. I ride for economic reasons. The additional miles I drive in the afternoons to go home increases my fuel bill vs. what it had been in the past.”

Like many of the Oak Hill commuters, Lyckman complains that Capital Metro often substitutes the larger “Flyer” buses with smaller ones that lack Wi-Fi. She said, “The 6 a.m. bus is equipped with Wi-Fi, however our afternoon buses are not consistently the Wi-Fi buses. We pay the premium fare and get a local-fare bus.”

Thayer voices a concern heard from many of the commuters: drivers that don’t know the Oak Hill Flyer route. He said, “I don’t care about the buses themselves or Wi-Fi, but it would be nice to have the same bus driver on a consistent basis. Many drivers don’t know the route well and have to be directed by passengers. It would be good to have some consistency.”

 

 

 

 


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