More frequent and dependable bus service — seen as key to increasing ridership — will produce winners and losers when Metro Transit revises its routes and increases some fares next year.
The transit agency conducted the last of nine public meetings on the changes Wednesday at the Ralph Ellison Library in northeast Oklahoma City. About a dozen members of the public attended.
Plans are to eliminate routes 1 (Garden Day), 4 (Belle Isle) and 20 (SE Oklahoma City). Route 11 will become a S 29 Street crosstown bus, eliminating service to Will Rogers World Airport.
Other routes will be extended or shortened, covering some of the stops from eliminated routes while ensuring buses run at least every 30 minutes on most routes.
Regular fares are to increase from $1.50 to $1.75. Express fares will increase from $2.25 to $3.
The price of weekly and monthly bus passes will not change. But passes will be of reduced value for Metro Link, Metro Transit's limited evening and Sunday service.
Some seniors will no longer get reduced fares; the qualifying age will increase from 60 to 65.
Gloria deLeon is a Vietnam-era veteran and an associate librarian at Capitol Hill Library, where she works 20 hours per week. At age 62, she commutes all month on a $25 unlimited-ride pass.
While the trip from her apartment near Penn Square Mall to the library in the 300 block of SW 26 Street can take 90 minutes each way, she said the bus is a good value for her.
Fare increases could change that.
Her monthly pass will no longer be good for the Metro Link service she uses on weekday evenings, after regular buses stop running, and on Sundays.
DeLeon figures her monthly cost to commute could go from $25 to $165. Working for about $19 per hour and paying for a $490, two-bedroom apartment, there's little room in her budget for her commuting costs to increase.
"This is going to have to come out of my grocery, my medicine money," she said.
Metro Transit expects to review comments from its public meetings and implement service changes and fare increases by early next year.
For more information or find out how to make a comment now that the public meetings are over, go online to gometro.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 235-7433.
Copyright 2013 - The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City