Thousands of bus riders in Connecticut may want to start setting aside more money for January, when fares are scheduled to increase an average of 15 percent.
The proposed new rate schedule for CT Transit would add 20 cents to the current $1.30 charge for a one-way ride, bringing it up to $1.50. Daily commuters on the relatively long-haul express routes would face increases ranging from $12 to $24 a month.
CT Transit proposes to raise all of its fares -- including youth discount cards and ADA paratransit 10-trip ticket books -- by roughly 15 percent starting Jan. 5. The state transportation department, which owns the bus service, will hold hearings on the plan this month.
The DOT last raised bus fares about 4 percent at the start of 2012. At the time it said further increases would follow because prices had stayed level for seven years in a row even though the cost of labor, fuel, repairs and new buses had been rising.
CT Transit's Hartford district, the biggest part of the statewide operation, had an operating budget of just under $60 million in 2010. Of that, revenue from fareboxes covered 21 percent -- while state subsidies paid 75 percent. The remaining 4 percent came from federal aid and outside funding, according to figures that the state supplied to the federal transportation department.
CT Transit runs separate districts in New Haven, Stamford, New Britain and Waterbury, and fares would increase for all of them. The senior and disabled fare would rise from 65 cents to 75 cents, and the ADA paratransit fare of $2.60 would climb to $3.
In advance of its hearings the DOT has posted the proposed rate schedule at http://tinyurl.com/o7yx8u2.
The biggest dollar increase would affect monthly passes for the express routes, most of which serve suburban riders commuting into Hartford.
Passes for Zone 2, which covers towns close to Hartford such as Farmington, Glastonbury, Newington and Windsor, would rise from $80 a month to $92. Zone 3 passes, for riders in communities including Andover, Coventry, Bristol, Enfield, Vernon and others, would rise from $104 to $119.
Riders commuting every day from Zone 4 towns, such as Cheshire, Mansfield, Colchester or Torrington, would need to come up with an extra $18 a month. Those passes are $128 now, and would rise to 146.
Zone 5, which covers CT Transit towns farthest from Hartford such as Essex, Old Saybrook and North Haven, is the costliest monthly ticket: $151. It would rise to $175.
Hearings on the rate increases are:
*Sept. 10 from noon to 2 p.m., city hall, 111 N. Main St., Bristol;
*Sept. 11, noon to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Hartford Public Library, 500 Main St., Hartford;
*Sept. 12, noon to 2 p.m., senior center, 55 Pearl St., New Britain;
*Sept. 17, noon to 2 p.m., town hall, 142 E. Main St., Meriden;
*Sept. 18, 4 to 6 p.m., Hall of Records, 200 Orange St., New Haven;
*Sept. 19, 4 to 6 p.m., Silas Bronson Library, 267 Grand St., Waterbury;
*Sept. 25, 4 to 6 p.m., University of Connecticut Stamford branch, 1 University Place, Stamford.
Comments on the fare increases also can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Connecticut Department of Transportation, Bureau of Public Transportation, P.O. Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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