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By Dave Berman
Florida Today

May 10, 2014

Riding the bus in Brevard County could cost more in the coming months.

Space Coast Area Transit has proposed a package of fare increases that will be discussed Tuesday by the Brevard County Commission. The commission could approve the increases after Tuesday’s public hearing.

Under the plan, the full fare would increase by 25 cents to $1.50. The reduced fare for senior citizens, the disabled, students and veterans would rise 15 cents to 75 cents. The prices of multi-ride and 30-day passes also would increase. The increases would take effect July 1.

Additionally, SCAT proposes eliminating free transfers when riders switch from one bus to another in conjunction with the implementation of electronic fareboxes on its buses by the spring of 2015. Under the plan, riders wishing to transfer from one bus to another would need to purchase a $3 all-day pass.

Brevard County Transit Service Director James Liesenfelt said the proposed fare increases would raise about $192,000 a year for SCAT.

SCAT collected about $1.03 million in fares during its last budget year.

Fares currently cover about 17 percent of the bus service’s operating expenses, with federal and state grants and the county budget covering most of the balance.

Liesenfelt said the fare increase will allow SCAT to fully implement planned increases in service this summer on six routes.

SCAT held five public meetings to solicit comments from riders on the fare increase, as well as asking for comments on its website. Of the 162 fare-related comments it received, Liesenfelt said, about 60 percent were positive, 15 percent were neutral and 25 percent were negative.

Among the negative written comments from riders, which SCAT detailed in a report to the County Commission, prepared for Tuesday’s public hearing:

  • “Keep rates as they are. They are expensive enough.”
  • “I don’t think raising fares on handicapped and elderly is right. They are on fixed income.”
  • “I’m a female and homeless. It’s hard enough right now to get bus fare. It would be harder for me if you raised it.”

Among the positive comments:

  • “All for fare increase, especially if it is to provide more full-time drivers.”
  • “I think the fare increase is fine. It is a valuable service.”
  • “It’s still cheaper than car insurance every month.”

Liesenfelt said, even with the fare increase, the basic SCAT fare of $1.50 a trip would be lower than or at the same level as those in 25 of the 28 Florida bus systems surveyed.

He said SCAT’s only previous fare increase in the past 25 years occurred in 2006.

If You Go

Brevard County Commission will hold a hearing on the proposed fare increase during its meeting that begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Brevard County Government Center, Commission Board Room, First Floor, Building C, 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera.

Read more http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2014/05/10/proposal-raise-scat-bus-fares/8953723/

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