PLEASE NOTE:Â Just to clarify for everyone, even though this issue is outside my usual purview, I feel compelled to follow it because I rode the bus for almost 15 years when moving to Fort Wayne, up until I made the decision to begin driving again almost three years ago.Â I deeply care about the system and think it a vital part of our community.
I truly think Citilink hasn’t mismanaged funds.Â I want to make that very clear here.Â That is not the reason I am covering this.Â Do I think Citilink should have raised fares a year or two ago?Â Yes.Â Do I think they have been very frugal and responsible with spending?Â Yes.Â But now that they are in this dilema, it’s important not to make a misstep that could bring the house of cards down.Â
(The above two paragraphs added June 1, 2008.)
According to articles in the Journal Gazette and News-Sentinel, more details about rate hikes are becoming apparent.
The proposal would increase regular daily fares from $1 to $1.25 and its reduced fares from 50 cents to 60 cents. It would also eliminate its transfer program, requiring customers who switch buses to pay two fares.
To counter those increases, Citilink would begin offering a $3 day pass to provide unlimited rides for a day. The $45 monthly pass would not be increased in an effort to encourage riders to use it.
First of all, isn’t eliminating free transfers doubling fares for some passengers?Â If you’re not sure what a transfer is, here’s an example.Â Currently, if I were to board a bus at IPFW with a destination somewhere inÂ Waynedale, I’d pay my $1 for the entire trip.Â But under the proposed fare structure, I’d pay $1.25 at IPFW when boarding, and then when I arrived downtown at the transfer station, I’d get off the IPFW bus walk to the next bus and pay another $1.25.Â Theoretically, that would mean paying up to $5 for a round trip.Â The Citilink’s plan of offering aÂ $3 day-pass is intriguing, however, is it high enough for a day pass?Â
Also, only raising reduced fares from 50 cents to 60Â cents isn’t in proportion to the quarter raise in regular fares, close but not quite.Â Not raising the fee for a monthly pass is also a mistake.Â Yes, it will encourage people to purchase the monthly pass, but is this just shooting themselves in the foot?
The article also states the Citilink board will go before the Fort Wayne City Council on June 10, 2008 to request whatever funds would be available.Â Good luck with that.
The service cuts would eliminate one route, reduce weekday service on three others, Saturday service on another and restrict Access service â€” curbside service for riders with disabilities â€” to three-quarters of a mile from existing routes. Citilink also would lay off six full-time drivers along with its entire part-time Access staff.
Citilink’s budget shortfall stems from rising fuel costs â€” projected at about $386,000 more than budgeted â€” and the loss of an expected $634,150 in revenues from the governor’s plan to reduce the state’s reliance on property taxes.
Service cuts and layoffs wouldÂ be regrettable.Â So I guess more questions remain unanswered.Â How were the price increases arrived at?Â Why has Citilink waited so long to take action to raise their fares?Â I can remember numerous times over the past few years when they were having budget problems or concerns, and yet they steadfastly refused to raise fares.Â What is the long-term plan?Â Sure, this might get them through next year, but I haven’t heard anything about next year’s hit the budget might take from reduced property tax revenues.Â
I never received a response to my earlier email (see Citilink Woes).Â I will be making more of an effort this week to contact someone for a possible interview about the situation.