By Christian Zerbel Herald Writer
Community Transit bus riders will see fare increases starting Feb. 1. The transit service, which reaches into all of Snohomish County, will charge all local riders 25 cents more per trip, making regular fare $2.
Other fares will increase on commuter, vanpool and Dial-A-Ride services.
According to Martin Manguia, public information officer, these increases expect to bring in $2 million and are intended to maintain current transit service levels while keeping the agency at pace with inflation.
“Community Transit in the ’90s got about 30 percent funding from the state,” Manguia said. “Right now, it’s about 2 percent.”
The transit system has approximately 9.2 million riders per year and Manguia doesn’t expect for the price increase to result in too many lost customers.
Community Transit increased fares in 2008 and 2010. Both times, “we didn’t see any depreciable drop in ridership.” Manguia said.
As of now, the only state funding entering into the transit system is a portion of the retail sales tax. “It’s .09 percent, that’s about 9 cents out of every $10 dollars spent,” he said.
With inflation driving up maintenance costs, “we may have to raise prices again in 2015.” Manguia said that Community Transit’s budget goals run on 6-year cycles, and the last proposal recommended that unless other sources of funding could be found, prices should be hiked every other year.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, the system has had to raise fares, layoff employees and cut routes.
“We can [now] get by without having to cut services as long as we raise fares,” Manguia said.
Bus service in King and Pierce counties have faced the same problems.
Manguia said Community Transit is lobbying for sales tax increases or a bump in vehicle tab fees to help pay the bills.
“We would love to not have to raise fares but we don’t want to keep cutting services,” he said.
For more information or transit pricing visit commtrans.org.