SunTran fare increase forum

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Monday night's meeting was sparsley attended, but those who showed up represented the various people who depend on the bus, such as students, low income residents, and the disabled.

Transportation staff seemed open to ideas for fixing the budget, but they insist a rate hike is the likely option.

"From the business end of it, we're out of options," said SunTran representative Katrina Heineking.

Representatives with SunTran and the Tucson Department of Transportation faced a tough time defending a proposed bus fare hike.

Riders accused the agencies of balancing the city budget on the backs of low income customers.

"It makes no logic and it's a terrible time, but on the other hand we're trying to maintain the services that we have," said Heineking.

Reps were also at the meeting to listen. And they got an earful.

"The spending within SunTran, transportation, where is the money going," said SunTran customer Angie Quiroz.

Some people suggested the city should scrimp on take-home vehicles for staff.

"They could be using our mode of transportation, instead of these fancy cars that the city pays the gas," said SunTran customer Tammy Lacy.

Daily fare will go up a $.25 to $1.50.

For the first time in 11 years, the economy fare will increase from 40 cents to 60 cents.

It was clear, however, that riders are very worried about changes to service.

"Before you cut service before you cut staff that impacts service, that's where analysis has to take place," said Quiroz.

Reps insist the rise in rates is in lieu of reducing routes.  Right now, the people who depend on public transportation say they're stuck.

They don't want to pay more, but they need it.

Not everyone was brave enough to speak up, so everyone was asked to fill out a comment sheet.

So how affective will the rate hike be?

The transportation department expects it to generate $1.6 million in revenue.