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.”
Two years ago, Capital Metro helped establish the Basic Transportation Needs Fund (BTNF), a non-profit organization that helps some social service agencies meet the transportation needs of their clients. So far, Capital Metro has invested $500-thousand into the fund. As the fund grows and becomes more established, Capital Metro plans to shift emphasis away from direct pass sales through the discount pass program. As part of the fare restructure, the board voted to add $100,000 to the BTNF for FY2014.
The fare restructure that will be implemented over the next two years is consistent with the board adopted fare policy that recommendations for fare adjustments be developed in conjunction with the annual budget process.
“Developing a fully transparent timeline for fare increases allows everyone to be prepared for changes, and keeps Capital Metro sustainable as we deal with the very real challenges of serving an expanding population,” said Capital Metro Board Chairman Mike Martinez.
As part of the fare restructuring process, Capital Metro held a series of public meetings over the past several months to solicit feedback on the proposed recommendations.
For more information about the fare restructuring process and full details about all of the changes going into effect during the next two years, visit capmetro.org/farechange.
Spring 2014 Service Change
Beginning in spring 2014, Capital Metro will implement service changes designed to accommodate the new MetroRapid service, initiate the transition of service from Congress Avenue to Guadalupe/Lavaca in accordance with Service Plan 2020, improve access to the new MetroRapid Route 801, and accommodate changes to the University of Texas Shuttle system on the Cameron Road (CR) and Wickersham Lane (WL) Shuttle routes.
As part of the changes to accommodate MetroRapid service, Capital Metro will replace service along Route 1L North Lamar/South Congress and 101 N. Lamar/S. Congress Limited with the new Route 801.
Route 1M North Lamar/South Congress (via Metric) will be renamed Route 1 South Congress/Metric and will maintain the same routing, stops, frequency, days of operation and span of service. A new route, 275 North Lamar Feeder, will offer service from Tech Ridge to the North Lamar Transit Center, providing service to stops along the northern portion of Route 1L North Lamar/South Congress.
Routes 7 Duval/Dove Springs, 17 Cesar Chavez and 20 Manor/Riverside will be realigned from Congress Avenue to Guadalupe/Lavaca. Riders will still be able to transfer to other routes downtown, and frequency will remain the same.
Capital Metro and The University of Texas will eliminate the WL Shuttle Route in spring 2014, migrating student riders to comparable service along mainline routes 20 Manor/Riverside and 100 MetroAirport.
Service along the CR Shuttle will be reduced beginning in spring 2014, and will serve the Camino la Costa area only. The route will operate every 30 minutes between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. on weekdays (finals service will also be offered) and every 60 minutes between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sundays. The CR Route will remain in service only until the end of the spring 2014 semester.
The agency performs a continuous analysis of its service, and makes adjustments three times a year, utilizing feedback obtained from the public prior to each change.
All changes are in accordance with Capital Metro’s Service Guidelines and Standards. For more information about the upcoming service changes, visit capmetro.org/spring2014.
By a unanimous vote, the board of directors adopted a $283.7 million budget, which includes $207.3 million for operations, $59.4 million for capital improvements (including implementation of the new MetroRapid service), $12.5 million for interlocal agreements, and $4.5 million for long-term commitments. The fiscal year 2014 budget takes effect October 1, 2013.
In addition, the adopted budget includes a five-year capital improvement plan, which has been estimated at $157.3 million through 2018.
Capital Metro sought input from the community during the budget development process through numerous involvement opportunities, including public meetings and online forums, to ensure feedback and suggestions were received.
“The fiscal year 2014 budget adopted today shows Capital Metro’s continued commitment to providing high quality service in a fiscally responsible way,” said Martinez. “Approving a balanced budget while continuing to invest in innovative new services, such as MetroRapid, shows Capital Metro can deliver on its promise to provide services that meet the transportation needs of Central Texas.”
Capital Metro’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.