Raising cost of passes also eyed
The cost of riding a bus in Baton Rouge could be changing, as Capital Area Transit System officials re-evaluate fares. The changes being considered include eliminating transfer fees and raising the price of daily, weekly and monthly passes.
CATS interim Chief Executive Officer Bob Mirabito told some members of the board on Thursday he would like to streamline the fare system to make it easier for riders by eliminating 25-cent transfer fees.
Getting from one destination to another on a CATS bus often requires two, and sometimes three, bus transfers. Mirabito suggested removing bus transfer fees and increasing the cost of a one-way pass.
The one-way pass would provide access to buses for a two-hour window, which Mirabito said is the longest it would take to get from any two points by bus.
He proposed increasing the price of a one-way pass from $1.75 to $2. While the cost of a one-way pass would be increased, the cost to transfer has been removed.
Discounted fees for elderly and disabled riders would be increased from 35 cents to 50 cents, but they also would be saving the cost of transfer costs.
Mirabito said budget projections show that the changes to the one-way passes and the elimination of transfer fees would generate slightly less bus fare revenue for CATS.
However, Mirabito also is proposing increases to the cost of other bus passes.
For example he proposed raising the price of a one day pass from $4 to $5 and the price of a seven day pass from $19 to $22. The cost for a 31-day pass would go from $56 to $90.
Mirabito stressed that the suggested rate changes are only a first draft. He said he’s open to feedback and making adjustments as needed.
The full CATS board is expected to discuss and possibly act on the proposed fare changes at its Tuesday meeting.
The Metro Council has final approval of any changes to the fare structure.
CATS board Chairman Marston Fowler said he supports making it easier for riders to pay for bus tickets by eliminating the transfer fees, but said he has concerns about the perception of CATS raising fares after voters approved a dedicated tax in April 2012.
Bus fares generate about $1.2 million per year for CATS, a small portion of the system’s operating costs. CATS also received federal and state grants and dedicated local tax revenue to support its operations.
Mirabito also announced on Thursday that the GPS software has hit yet another snag, and the smartphone app Route Shout will be turned off for about five weeks.
He said route data required for the GPS system to be accurate needs to be re-inputted from scratch.
The GPS system was publicly unveiled earlier this year, under the premise that bus arrivals could be seen in real time on a smartphone or computer.
The program has been panned by some critics as inaccurate and difficult to navigate.
Fowler said he suspects that the program was rushed earlier this year by former CEO Brian Marshall who was under pressure from the board and local transit advocates to begin to demonstrate improvements to the system.