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AC Transit Directors Ponder 5 Ways to Increase Bus Fares By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday May 17, 2005

With continued budget shortfalls looming, the AC Transit Board of Directors has scheduled public hearings this week on proposed fare increases or fare restructuring, as well as a proposed new $24 parcel tax on the 2005 or 2006 ballot. 

The hearings will be held at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. May 18 at the Scottish Rite Center at 1547 Lakeside Dr. in Oakland, near 17th Street.  

The board is considering five separate fare proposals for comment at the hearing. 

Two of the proposals, 1 and 5, would both cut 50 cents off the $1.50 adult bus fare and 25 cents off the 75-cent youth, senior, and disabled bus fares, but would eliminate transfers as well as pre-paid tickets and passes (except for the senior/disabled pass). 

Proposal 5 would also offer a 31-day youth ticket. Proposal 1 would add an estimated $8 million to AC Transit’s annual budget, while Proposal 5 would add $6.1 million, according to the district. 

Proposal 2—the moderate fare hike—keeps all of the passes, but raises adult fares by 25 cents and youth, senior, and disabled fares by 10 cents, as well as doubling the present 25 cent transfer fee. This proposal would add $7 million to the annual budget. 

Proposal 3—the steep fare hike—keeps all of the passes, issues free transfers, while increasing the adult fare by 50 cents and the youth, senior, and disabled fare by 25 cents. This proposal would raise $8.7 million for the annual budget. 

Proposal 4 is not a fare hike at all. It freezes fares at their current levels and introduces a weekly, unlimited ride ticket. This proposal would decrease AC Transit’s annual budget by $300,000. 

AC Transit has declared fiscal emergencies for the past two years, reducing both service and staffing. Two parcel tax measures designed in part to assist the bus system’s fiscal problems, Measure AA and Measure BB, were passed in recent years. Still, AC Transit’s operating budget shortfalls are projected to reach $40 million by 2008. 

AC Transit fares were last raised in 2002. 

To be included in the public record of the hearing, any written comments must be received no later than 6 p.m. on May 18, addressed to AC Transit Board of Directors, 1600 Franklin St., Oakland, 94612, or faxed to 891-4874.ˆ