Due to low ridership, San Luis Obispo Transit is seeking to raise bus fares. Don’t worry, Cal Poly students will not be included in the fare raise.
The proposed rates will affect non-student and faculty adult riders by increasing transfer fares to 75 cents and elderly and disabled transfer fares to 40 cents — both of which were once free. Additionally, the elderly and disabled monthly passes will be raised from $12.50 to $15.00.
Though Transit Manager John Webster said that “none of the proposed changes would have any affect on (Cal Poly) students,” some may worry that Poly students will be affected if revenues continue to falter.
This proposal comes after a 2009 fare raise that lowered ridership. The San Luis Obispo City Council turned down a proposed fee hike at the end of July, which would have raised fares for the general public by 20 percent, to $1.25 to $1.50, and for senior citizens and disabled riders by 25 percent, from 60 cents to 75 cents. The council feared that the prior decrease in riders would translate to another decrease and leave San Luis Obispo transit in an even deeper financial hole.
Webster said that the fee hikes would probably not be the primary reason for decreasing ridership numbers.
“Raising fees could impact ridership, but (the) economy (is) more likely a reason for a drop due to high unemployment levels,” he said.
Meghan Gross, a frequent bus rider who would be affected by the fee raise, said she would not ride the bus less but would buy a day pass to offset the transfer fee.
“It seems pointless to me,” Gross said. “It’s $3.00 for a whole day, so $2.00 for an hour is a rip-off. It would suck if the day pass got raised.”
Some Cal Poly students, though not affected by the raise, may be less likely to ride the bus if their own fees were raised.
“If I were to ride as a paying adult, I would be less inclined (to ride),” said Alex Alaura Reyes, a civil engineering sophomore. “(SLO) isn’t too big, so I would rather walk the rest or use my bike.”
The fee raise isn’t the only way that SLO Transit is planning to increase faltering revenue. They also premiered an $850,000 double-decker bus to run on the no. 4 and no. 5 routes on Sept. 8. However, some find the bus to be more of a waste than an asset, even though riding a double-decker bus was of definite interest.
“I should like to ride a double decker just for fun. Who wouldn’t?” said Teja Gambhir, a biomedical engineering sophomore. “But with the economy and the budget down, I don’t think it was a very wise decision even from an investment point of view; although, perhaps the decker will bring in more cash despite the price raise.”
Ken Hung, a computer science senior, said the double-decker was “awesome,” yet he would not be more inclined to ride it.
“I wouldn’t because I’ve been on one already,” Hung said. “I think for those who haven’t, they might be more excited about it.”
Alaura Reyes said he “wouldn’t mind trying it out,” but “wouldn’t especially ride it more than once if (he got) around by other means. It’s a good idea though.”
Gross was less interested and more confused by the double-decker.
“I don’t see a need for the double-decker because the buses are never full, except when the high school students ride in the morning,” she said.
She recently moved into the area and has not yet experienced the overflow of Cal Poly students that SLO Transit expects, Gross said.
The San Luis Obispo City Council will vote on the proposed fare increases again this month. Though SLO Transit is experiencing economic stress, riding the bus remains an asset for those without cars as well as those trying to be more environmentally conscious.
Alaura Reyes has great hopes for the continuation of the SLO Transit for environmental purposes.
“I think (San Luis Obispo) is a pretty green town,” he said. “So I hope people continue to use the bus, walk and bike around the place, keeping the air clean.”