Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bus fares, bad? or worse?

I want to bring up a little known issue that affects nearly a quarter of Livermore’s population and many of Livermore High’s students, namely, bus fares. As it stands, the Wheels bus fare is at one of the highest levels in the bay area, rivaled only by ACE transit. ACE transit, however, features one thing that Wheels does not: a lower fare for youth riders. The cost for a person seventeen or under to ride ACE is 85¢, as compared to the $1.75 regular fare. Wheels charges $1.75 right up until one is a senior citizen. This a significant problem, especially when considering that many of our students are forced to use the bus to get to and from school each day, since the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District does not provide school buses for them.

This means that students without cars, under the age of 16, or without parents willing or able to transport their children to and from school every day pay $3.50 each day just to get to and from school. That’s $17.50 a week, for a total of $630 every school year. Even with Fare Busters tickets at $14 a week, that still totals $504 dollars a school year. With Super-Saver bus passes, it comes to $477 a school year.

This places an unnecessary financial burden upon the parents (or often the students themselves). I propose that Wheels enacts a lower fare for youth riders, to alleviate the impact on our more financially or mobility constricted families. While one might argue that this would lower revenues for Wheels and cause it to run at even more of a loss, I’ve seen the budget, and the majority of the costs are construction related. Perhaps the next few times a construction proposal crosses the table, it will be denied instead. I’m dismayed that Wheels would rely on a section of Livermore’s population that is dependent on these services to make revenues above actual, non construction costs.

*update, Wheels did in fact raise fares. It is now $2.00 general fare and $1.00 for seniors. All of the additional prices have ratcheted up as well.

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