For the first time in its 17 years of providing transportation services to local communities, Bay Transit is considering doubling its user fares.
Since 1996, the nonprofit public transportation system has allowed all individuals to ride its buses at $1 per trip within county lines and $1 more for cross-county transfers.
Lancaster County is the exception by currently offering bus trips to customers at $2 per ride.
Riders may also use Bay Transit’s trolleys in Urbanna, Kilmarnock and Colonial Beach for just $0.25 per trip.
But on June 26, Bay Transit Director Ken Pollock said his organization is proposing to raise the bus fares to $2 per trip for general door-to-door service, and trolley fares from $0.25 to $0.50 per ride.
Pollock said that raising the bus and trolley fares could assist with the operation’s rising expenses.
“We have just had cost increases over the last 15 years that we haven’t passed onto our riders,” said Pollock, adding that the fare increase could be considered as a way for the user to help contribute to the cost of their trip.
“We just feel like now it’s time that we have to ask more from our riders,” said Pollock.
Although Pollock added that Bay Transit’s nonprofit services are heavily subsidized by funds from the state and federal government, he noted that the organization could only keep asking the two entities to make up the difference for so long.
Pollock pointed out that the fare increase alone wouldn’t accomplish Bay Transit’s long-term goal of increasing the amount and availability of public transportation within the region.
He did, however, say that a majority of the money from the proposed fare increases would help offset the federal and state funds contributed to Bay Transit.
He also drew attention to the potentially negative implications of the higher ticket costs that are being considered.
“We know that it might place a hardship on people,” said Pollock. “To offset that, we offer discount books of tickets.”
Currently, residents can purchase a book containing 10 fare tickets for multiple rides at $8, which means they would be able to travel at $0.80 per trip as opposed to the regular cost per tide of $1.
“We’re proposing a book of 10 tickets be $12 in our fare increase,” said Pollock, meaning that regular riders would then be able to travel on the bus at $1.20 per trip compared to a single bus fare of $2.
We’re hoping that, with the discount tickets, people can purchase a book of tickets and the increase won’t be felt as deeply,” said Pollock.
He added that local residents who typically use public transportation are those who don’t have immediate access to automobiles, among them individuals who are elderly and/or have disabilities.
But Pollock emphasized that Bay Transit is open to the entire public.
“That’s one thing we want to make very clear,” said Pollock. “It’s public transportation for all people for any reason whatsoever.
Bay Transit will present the proposed fare increases to its board of directors following two public hearings, the first on Thursday, July 18, 1 p.m. at Port Town Village in Urbanna, and the second being held Monday, July 22, 7 p.m. at the Bay Transit Regional Facility in Warsaw.
Bay Transit is also accepting written comments until 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 23. Comments can be submitted by emailing email@example.com or mailing Bay Aging at P.O. Box 610, Urbanna, VA 23175.