Sun Tran fares likely to rise

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Transit Task Force has recommended fare increases for Sun Tran bus routes.

If the city council approves, the economy fare will raise for the first time in eleven years, to 60 cents.

Sun Tran driver Kent Meecham  was one of many drivers who spoke to the the Transit Task Force Thursday night to convince them of the need to raise fares and to tell his story.

"I'm going to lose my job.  My family is going to have problems.  You guys don't see that," said Meecham.  "It's not just  about the people on the buses, it's about the people driving around."

As the committee weighs fare increases and route cuts, many say go ahead, raise the fares, but don't cripple service by cutting routes.

"It only makes sense that the fares need to go up," said Councilwoman Karin Uhlich.

Last time fares went up was 2009, a 25 cent increase.  But the low income fare hasn't been touched for 11 years.

"It's hard to not increase fares at all for that long of a time and I think people understand that," said Uhlich.

No question the city is in a tough spot. It needs to find $1.6 million to fund the system.

But activist Brian Flagg says, "Don't balance the budget on the backs of poor people."

He says the controversy has pitted riders, who want low fares, against drivers, who want to keep their jobs.  Instead he's calling on drivers and riders to unite.

"These two things shouldn't be pitted against each other," says Flagg.  "The city can find other ways to come up with money."

"We're very sensitive to how much people are hurting right now," said Uhlich

But the reality is, if buses are going to keep rolling through town, something is going to have to give.