July 31--The Memphis Area Transit Authority is raising fares by as much as 50 cents for most riders, something the authority hasn't done since 2007.
MATA officials say the increase, which will take effect on Nov. 7, is needed to cover rising operating costs.
But some riders say the service they receive doesn't merit paying more money.
"We have tightened our belts in every area and now we can no longer lessen the impact of rising costs without additional revenue," said William Hudson, president and general manager.
The hikes would raise adult fares from $1.50 to $1.75 and city student fares from $1.20 to $1.35. Senior and disabled fares would go up from 75 cents to 85 cents.
A day-pass would increase from $3.25 to $3.50 but a 31-day FastPass will stay at $50.
"We've had some service changes over the years to help us with efficiencies and costs savings, but it's not enough with the shortfall in our budget," said Alison Burton, director of marketing and customer service.
MATA has a budget of $52 million with $22 million coming from the city of Memphis. That amount is the same as last year, Burton said.
Meanwhile, prices have gone up for everything from healthcare to fuel to bus parts.
City buses roll on six tires, which used to cost about $350 each, Burton said. Recent bids for new tires have come in at $688, $593, $475 and $411.
They'll take the $411 bid, a $61 increase per tire.
"So that's like a whole other tire," Burton said.
Anne Watkins, 48, was the only rider interviewed at the American Way Transit Center who didn't think the fare increase was excessive.
"You have to do what you have to do. That's fine, a quarter. I know I've got to get to work every day," said Watkins, a day care employee who lives in Orange Mound.
Other riders felt differently.
"I don't think they should because the way the buses are running," said Stan Schabel, a maintenance worker for Shelby Residential and Vocational Services Inc. who lives in Hickory Hill.
"That's too much money for buses and then the buses don't run everywhere," said Stacy Carlton, 29, a FedEx employee who lives in East Memphis.
Too often, the buses run late, break down and have had broken air conditioners, Carlton said.
"That's crazy," she said.
MATA will hold a public hearing on the rate hikes on Aug. 9 at Central Station on Main.
-- Linda A. Moore: (901) 529-2702
MATA Fare Increases
Adult -- $1.50 (current fare) rising to $1.75
Students -- $1.20 to $1.35
Senior & Disabled -- 75 cents to 85 cents
One-day FastPass -- $3.25 to $3.50
Seven-Day FastPass -- $15 to $16
Base Fare -- $3 to $ 3.50
Regular Trolley -- $1 to $1.25
Senior & Disabled Fare -- 50 cents to 60 cents
No change for 50-cent lunchtime fare
View the new fare proposal at MATAtransit.com.
A public hearing on the fare increases will be held at 5 p.m. on Aug. 9 at Central Station, 545 S. Main.
Copyright 2011 - The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.