06/14/12 — Riders' fares could go up

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Riders' fares could go up

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 14, 2012 1:46 PM

People who ride GATEWAY's rural buses could be facing a $2 increase in the cost of one-way fares or paying fees based on zones -- meaning those traveling from the more outlying areas of the county would pay more.

Both options were mentioned by Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority board members during their Wednesday afternoon budget workshop.

A second option, to reduce services, was not well received by the board.

The increased fees were suggested as possible ways to help the rural side of the system offset increased operating costs and potential state budget cuts for local transportation which, along with federal dollars, account for a significant portion of GATEWAY's funding for its rural and urban routes.

The rural budget proposal of $2,099,106 reflects an increase of $294,982 over the current year. It is proposed to use $222,822 from the fund balance, leaving $297,285 in that line item.

The urban budget is $3,005,460, an increase of $313,687. It does not call for using any fund balance.

The economy and GATEWAY's own success are contributing to the increased operating costs that will require the system to draw down on its fund balance for fiscal year 2012-13.

More people are riding the buses, meaning more expense for gas and overtime for drivers to provide the service, said GATEWAY Director Terry Jordan. On top of that, the system has an aging fleet of vehicles, he said.

No consensus was reached on increasing the $4 one-way fares rural riders currently pay. Board members asked Jordan to review the possible increase to see how much money it would generate, and to look more closely at a zone system.

A public hearing on the budget proposal will be held June 21 at 10 a.m. at the GATEWAY offices, 600 N. Madison Ave. The budget could be approved following the public hearing.

"With the increase in ridership there is the increase in expenses that come with it," Jordan said. "Once again with us operating at the same amount coming in as previous years or decreased in (other) funding -- that doesn't help either."

Jordan said he couldn't answer as to what the state might do -- 6 percent was cut the previous year.

"I can't even begin to speculate," he said.

Jordan said he also didn't want to speculate on proposed fare increases.

"It is just a discussion to find out if it is going to potentially benefit us at all," he said. "I mean if it is not going to show much benefit then of course it would not go into effect. If we see that it could gain some revenues, I guess would determine when it would happen.

"I wouldn't say that it would happen in the next six months or two months. I wouldn't say when. It is just a matter of us taking a look at it to see if it is even something that is beneficial."