The Capital Metro board of directors adopted a proposal to streamline Capital Metro’s fare structure and policy. The board also approved the agency’s $283.7 million budget for fiscal year 2014, and the recommended service changes for spring 2014.
The approved fare restructure includes a phased approach for 2014 and 2015 that will eliminate the complicated zoned-fare structure for MetroRail, streamline reduced fare options and increase some pass prices.
In 2015, the base fare for local service will increase from $1 to $1.25. Currently, Capital Metro’s $1 fare ranks as one of the lowest in the state and also the nation. When adjusted for inflation, the single ride fare has less value than the fare in 1985 when the agency was founded.
As part of the fare restructure, a new premium fare category will be introduced in 2014. In addition, Capital Metro will restructure its contract deals with large employers and retail outlets that sell passes.
“Capital Metro has improved nearly every aspect of its business over the last few years, and financial transparency and stability are at the top of the list,” said Linda S. Watson, Capital Metro president and CEO. “While we’ve taken great strides to make our operations more efficient and our service more productive, we need to improve our fare structure, as well, to ensure we have the funds necessary to continue serving our rapidly growing community.”
The agency’s farebox recovery, which is the amount Capital Metro receives from pass and ticket sales, remains low at 13 percent. The industry standard is 20 percent, which Capital Metro’s board has set as a goal for the agency.
Although the cost of doing business has steadily grown, Capital Metro has not passed its rising costs along to customers. From 1990 to 2008, the base fare remained at 50 cents, even though the cost of gas increased by 150 percent during that same time period. Capital Metro did have modest fare increases in 2008 and 2010. In 2011, the agency introduced a half-priced fare for seniors and persons with disabilities.
Capital Metro’s board also voted to cut, by half, a proposed MetroAccess fare increase, and delay any increases until 2015. As part of the fare restructure, a new MetroAccess fare will be introduced, allowing customers the ability to purchase a single ride for $1.50 in 2014, rising to $1.75 in 2015. The original proposed changes included a single ride fare of $2 for 2014 and $2.50 for 2015 to the maximums allowed for ADA paratransit service under Federal Transit Administration guidelines.
A 10-ride booklet will cost $17.50 in 2015, up from the current price of $15, while monthly passes will increase from $40 to $46.50 in 2015.
Said Watson, “We did an extensive amount of community outreach for the proposed fare restructuring, and the changes that were made to the MetroAccess fares are a direct result of the feedback we received.”
“We recognize that even with some of the lowest fares nationwide, there are many vulnerable people in our community that have a limited budget,” she said. “We have always had a strong commitment to ensuring our system is accessible to all our neighbors, regardless of their income, and we plan to continue the partnerships we’ve developed with local non-profit and social service organizations to ensure our low-income, transit-dependent neighbors can continue to use the system.”