Clallam Transit raises price of monthly passes

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

THE CLALLAM TRANSIT BOARD on Monday raised the price of its monthly passes effective in January.

Base passes are for travel only within a city, while premium passes are for the entire county.

The only pass that will not cost more is the $18 disabled and youth base pass.

Here are the present fares and the 2012 prices.

■ Adult base: $27 to $36.

■ Senior base: $9 to $18.

■ Adult premium: $36 to $54.

■ Disabled and youth premium: $27 to $36.

■ Senior premium: $18 to $36.
PORT ANGELES — In an effort to balance its budget, Clallam Transit on Monday approved a significant price increase
on monthly bus passes effective Jan. 1.

Transit officials said the increase is needed to help cover a $250,000 shortfall in the $7.3 million operating fund.

“We are looking for ways to create and to generate more revenue in such as way that we can maintain a balanced budget,” Clallam Transit General Manager Terry Weed said during a two-hour public hearing in Port Angeles.

“That’s our primary focus.”

Several regular bus riders spoke out against the price increases.

The nine-point proposal included a 33 percent increase for an adult base pass, a 50 percent price hike for an adult premium pass and a 100 percent increase for senior base and premium passes.

An adult base pass, good for getting around the rider’s chosen city, will be raised from $27 to $36 per month in January.

An adult premium pass, which is used for city-to-city travel, will climb from $36 to $54 per month.

The price of a $9 senior base pass and $18 senior premium pass will doubled and folded into a one-size-fits-all discount pass for seniors, youth and disabled riders.

“We’re trying to standardize it so that all categories are treated essentially the same,” Weed said.

He added that the new pass structure will be easier for riders to use while cutting administrative costs.

A discount base pass will be $18 per month and a premium discount pass will be $36 per month.

Pass incentive

The cost structure was designed to give people who ride the bus more than 18 times per month an incentive to buy a pass.

It will be a better deal for riders to pay cash if they take the bus fewer than 18 times a month.

“We standardizing so all the passes reflect that philosophy,” Weed said.

The public agency’s governing board voted 6-1 to approve the increase with board member Patrick Downie, the Port Angeles city councilman, voting no.

Downie made a motion to phase in the increase over two years rather than doing it all at once. The motion failed.

Transit officials and board members have been discussing the new prices for several years, Weed said.

The last time Clallam Transit raised the price of its monthly bus passes was in 1997.

Cash fares will remain the same: $1 for an adult and 50 cents for discount riders in the city; and $1.50 for adults and $1 for others on longer trips.

Cash fares were raised in July 2010.

“We’re leaving that as is,” Weed said.

Transit officials said the increase on passes will generate about $123,00 in annual revenue.

The eight other changes are:

■ Eliminate paratransit fare ticket books.

■ Require proof of eligibility for reduced-cash fares and passes. Clallam Transit has relied on the honor system.

“We feel there’s been a little bit of lost revenue,” Weed said.

■ Implement location-based pricing for paratransit trips.

■ Charge paratransit riders actual cost — or $3 per mile in 2012 — to travel more than three-fourths of a mile off a fixed route.

■ Eliminate pro-rated bus pass sales to government entities and agencies.

■ Reduce the commission for bus pass outlets that sell at least 20 passes from 10 percent to 5 percent.

■ Reduce Clallam Transit’s match on employer-sponsored bus pass programs from 20 percent to 5 percent.

■ Establish a 15 percent target recovery ratio and adjust annually. The target has been 12 percent.

The board approved each of the changes in a separate vote.

The only modification from the proposal was to phase in the actual cost for paratransit trip off fixed routes. The cost will be $1.50 next year and be re-evaluated every year.

Clallam Transit cut its total service by 5.8 percent in February to save $187,861 in annual costs. Some positions have been cut through attrition.

Bus rider Teri Foster said the price increase will be difficult for people living on fixed incomes to absorb.

“It’s already been hard to do $36,” she said. “Fifty-four dollars is going to be almost impossible.”

Eligibility requirement

Sandy McCormick and others raised concerns about the proof of eligibility requirement.

“If you believe you are disabled, then you’re going to fit within the auspices of the program,” said Transit Board chairman Bryon Monohon, who is the Forks mayor.

“We’re not throwing anybody out of the program. We’re going to catch those that have been taking advantage of it unfairly.”

Anna Wilson said the bus pass price increase should be phased in over time.

“This is a very abrupt increase,” she said.

Jane Childers pitched a no-fare model in which utility customers would pay $2.75 per month and the bus would be free.

She said the model has worked well for Benton County Transit in Corvallis, Ore.

“It’s really amazing how many people are using the bus, and how fast the bus moves people,” Childers said.

“I think it’s a great idea and I think maybe it’s something that this board should look in to.”

Board member Mike Chapman, the Clallam County commissioner, said Clallam Transit does not have the legal authority to raise taxes, nor would he support a three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax levy.

_________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at rob.ollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 17. 2011 11:22PM
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