Bus riders face fee increase

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Four days a week, Noe Sanchez, takes two buses to get to and from campus. Sanchez uses a 30-day pass for $37, a discounted price for students from the regular cost of $55.

OCTA has proposed an increase to all bus fare by February 2013, including a $10 increase to student passes.

“Again? I don’t have a job. My parents have to wait to be called for work…” Sanchez said. He is uncertain about how he and his family will adjust.

With this change a single bus trip would go up to $2 from the current $1.50, and the cost of a day pass would be $5, a dollar more than the current cost.

OCTA claims to have postponed fee increases in the past, but the economic downturn is forcing the increase in order to maintain their same level of service.

OCTA’s revenue declined from $54.6 million in the fiscal year 2008-2009 to $50.6 million in 2011-2012. At the same time, operating costs climbed to $108.34 million in 2011-12.

Riders are required to pay 20 percent of OCTA’s costs to meet requirements of the Transportation Development Act, which supports public transportation with funding in each county based on population, taxable sales and transit performance.

But with unemployment rates of almost 8 percent and a slow job recovery, OCTA is forced to raise prices to account for fewer riders.

Orange County taxpayers are paying 80 percent for OCTA’s transportation services, and a fee increase would mean paying a larger percentage of their operating cost.

Sanchez added he would consider other forms of transportation in order to adjust the fee hike, “I would ride a bike or do anything to save money.”

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