Transit may hike fares, cut holidays

It will cost $1.50 to ride a Clallam Transit Bus to Port Angeles if the bus system's proposed fare increases are approved, $1 for senior citizens.

Clallam Transit will hold public hearings the next three months in Sequim, Port Angeles and Forks to get comments on the increases and four holiday closures presented as an alternative to cutting bus routes.

Proposed changes include:

The 75-cent single-zone fare for Paratransit, Dial-A-Ride and adult Clallam Transit riders would increase to $1 effective July 1.

Paratransit and Dial-A-Ride riders also would pay a $1 surcharge for service more than three-quarters of a mile beyond a regular bus stop.

The 25-cent single-zone fare for seniors would increase to 50 cents.

The 25-cent charge for a second zone and 50-cent charge for a third zone would change to a single 50-cent surcharge for Route 30, the Port Angeles-Sequim Commuter, and for Route 14 between Port Angeles and Forks.

The cost of a day pass would increase from $2 to $3, and all Dial-A-Ride trips, now free, would cost $1.

The summer youth pass would increase from $10 to $20.

Monthly pass rates would not change.

The proposed fare increase would provide an additional $89,000 estimated revenue. It would be the first increase since 1997 when fares increased 25 cents across the board from 50 cents to 75 cents.

"The current Dial-A-Ride and Paratransit fare is 75 cents. We are proposing to attach a premium charge to that service in recognition of the high cost of providing it," said Terry Weed, Clallam Transit general manager.

Holiday cuts

Clallam Transit also proposes saving an estimated $64,000 by eliminating service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the third Monday in January; Presidents Day, the third Monday in February; Veterans Day, Nov. 11; and Thanksgiving Friday.

"The hope is with a series of small budget changes and a rebounding economy, Clallam Transit can delay consideration of the long-term solution of significant transit and paratransit cuts to balance the budget," said Weed.

The slow economy and resulting drop in sales taxes since 2007 have forced the agency to use reserves the past three years to balance the budget, he said.

Clallam Transit will need more than $700,000 from reserves to balance its 2010 operating budget of $7.48 million.

Those reserves will be gone by 2012 if conditions remain unchanged, Weed said.

Frozen salaries

Clallam Transit already has taken reduced discretionary operating expenses, frozen salaries, stretched out capital replacement schedules and maximized grant income, he said.

"It's really a short -term solution. The real question is, can we get our long-term revenues more in line with expenses?

"If not, we are faced with the big decision whether we cut services or ask for a sales tax increase."

Weed said fares account for 12 percent of Clallam Transit's budget, with the balance coming from the six-tenths of 1 percent sales tax.

The agency receives about $6 million a year from the countywide sales tax. It is authorized to collect as much as nine-tenths of 1 percent, but that would require a countywide vote.

Reach Brian Gawley at

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